10 Steps to Outsource Text Moderation
It can take years for a business to build a reputation. To destroy it, a moment may be sufficient.
This might be the biggest driver for moderation services.
In today’s online world, many businesses make efforts to build thriving online communities with their business and products at the center of it; communities where there is an ongoing conversation, either with the business or amongst the users themselves. Not only does this provide insights to the business about user behavior, it also creates a huge amount of user generated content (UGC) that, not having been created by the business, has great value as a source of authentic information for visitors.
Online interaction is often seen as the best way for a business to understand its customers and their needs as it is in a ‘natural’ setting without any pressure to cook up the inputs, as might happen when you conduct a survey. It can be used to improve your product, your strategy or even decide to kill off an offering that is not making sense.
Of course, UGC can be created in many formats, video, audio, image and text being the most common and well understood.
While most UGC is genuine and of acceptable standards, some of it can be malicious and hurt sensibilities. To protect its image from being sullied because of such content, moderation is required.
This article will focus on text moderation, which could be defined as the process of monitoring and blocking or amending content submissions that either violate the policies of the site on which they have been submitted, or of civic society in general.
Who Needs Text Moderation Solutions
If you have a web presence which is open for public participation, the sanctity of content on your website is subject to the vagaries of the people who visit it and their moods. While most content that gets created is genuine and sane, one can never rule out the possibility of a person creating content on your website which either violates the policies you have defined for your website or, in a more general sense, is not within the general rules of civil society, and hence, not acceptable.
This requirement is not limited to a certain kind of business or industry. Whether you are a car manufacturer or an education portal or an e-commerce platform or a matchmaking portal or a news platform or a furniture maker, if you permit open interaction on a web property owned by you, text moderation will be needed by you.
The Case for Text Moderation Services
There could be abusive language. Or hate speech. Or insult to symbols and beliefs held in high regard by some. Or a challenge to the rule of law. There could be many other issues of a bilateral nature which are surfaced on such sites, but, in the context of the possibly national and global scale issues, are perhaps of lower significance.
Where could these be posted?
Once again, anywhere. There are many different channels for communication that exist in the online world. There are reviews of many kinds, book reviews, film reviews, art reviews and product reviews, like on ecommerce websites, to name a few. Anyone can access these spaces and post a review. There are comments that can be placed on articles and posts in cyberspace and on news items published by established media houses. Thriving online communities are a part of many businesses, like technology platforms. For a consumer business, it is difficult to directly respond to each and every query being raised by individual customers, as there could be millions. Many businesses and SAS platforms are particularly good at this, creating communities where questions raised by some members could be responded by others. Some of them even have a system of rewards for members who are the most active in providing accurate and fast responses. Then there are forums (or fora), profiles, and the ubiquitous social media presence. Content that may need to be moderated could be on any of these.
Moderation will, to a large extent, keep you safe from exposure to issues like trademark violations, PR scandals, brand image compromise and even legal tangles.
Outsource Text Moderation or Keep Inhouse?
The need being established, a natural question to emerge at this stage is whether to outsource the activity or create the skills to do it inhouse.
While each business still needs to make the choice, going by the choices made by many, at this stage it does appear that the outsourcing content moderation option seems to be an overwhelming favorite. The reasons could be many:
Text moderation services are applicable in a fairly uniform manner to most platforms, overlayed with specific website moderation rules that your business might develop, which are also fairly similar to rules created by others. Hence, there is no uniqueness for which a skillset needs to be created.
Moderation is not a core competence or skill of your employees. Their skill most likely pertains to your business. If they do moderation, they will probably be incompetent and uninterested moderators.
Moreover, your business activities will suffer as your staff is engaged in other work. And your primary work, since it is your core competence, cannot be done in a better way by a partner through outsourcing. It needs to be done by you.
Thus, at this point of time, to outsource text moderation is the preferred option.
The 10 Steps to Outsource Text Moderation
Having been done thousands of times, the process of outsourcing is well established, and perfected by vendors who take on text moderation solutions work of clients. Of course, improvements are always possible and also, there could be multiple ways of reaching the common goal of a smoothly operating shop run by a partner.
A recommended sequence of activities is shared here:
1. Define the process, identify part to be outsourced
In order to produce the product or service which eventually is sold to a client, businesses run a series of processes, the output of one being the input of the next.
Though it has been decided to outsource text moderation, at this stage, the business needs to ignore whether it is outsourced or not, and update its Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to reflect the addition of text moderation as a part of the overall process, and defining the inputs into and outputs out of it. This also ensures the people involved understand that it is an integral part of their business and not a random activity being done for them by a partner as and when it is outsourced.
2. Forge consensus on approach
It is important to get everyone in the organisation ‘on the same page.’ This can be done through open sharing of information about the proposed outsourcing, inviting feedback and criticism, and giving all concerned a chance to be heard.
Documentation also helps achieve clarity and consensus, hence, reasons for outsourcing should be documented along with the benefits analysis.
This phase should result in consensus on the decision to outsource text moderation.
Effort should also be made to identify the project lead for the planned outsourcing, if not the entire project team.
3. Create the outsourcing blueprint
Some outsourcing deals run into heavy weather because one of the parties, typically the buyer, or outsourcer, has not put adequate thought into it. The greater the clarity in terms of requirement and expectation, the greater the chance of success. Now that the project lead has been identified, this would be the right time to flesh out the details to the next level. This detailing will also help in setting the right expectations with potential vendors interested in the contract. A recommended checklist of items that this phase should cover:
- Objective of outsourcing
- Details of the process
- Types of for and web properties to be moderated
- Consumer profile
- Defining rules
- Domain knowledge requirement
- Quality standards
4. Establish criteria
Though this could be considered a part of the previous step, as a key step in eventually selecting a partner, it has been carved out separately.
A recommended list of capabilities and attributes to look for in a partner:
Experience of doing similar work – Helps in getting off to a flying start and enables a view of what it will look like when you outsource.
oWorkers has successfully executed several text moderation projects for global clients. With our 24×7 operations, we are up and running to cover anyone, anywhere, posting on your web properties, so that you can sleep soundly.
Quality and accuracy – Familiarity with the type of work brings value only if executed to the required accuracy levels. Quality level offered by the vendor will be of importance in any outsourcing not just when you outsource text moderation. Existing client testimonials validating quality levels will always be of value.
Consistently providing accuracy levels above 99%, oWorkers has a global client list, many of them referenceable.
Processing Speed – While quicker turnarounds are of value to business in general, for text moderation services the importance is immense, as many businesses have a process of pre-moderation; reviewing the content before permitting publication. Customers, on the other hand, want to see their contribution become visible quickly.
With three global centers, 24×7 operation, and the flexibility to work from home, oWorkers provides unmatched response times, with SLAs of response under a minute also possible.
Pricing – A necessary part of a contract. Clearly, low is good, but since it is a B2B arrangement, where it is a customised basket of services being contracted, the focus should be on value and not merely the lowest price.
Clients of oWorkers advise save 80% in comparison with their pre-outsourcing cost. Our pricing is transparent, with a choice of per hour or per output unit pricing.
Multilingual capability – Instead of contracting multiple vendors for the same service in different languages, a vendor’s multilingual capability in text moderation solutions can allow the client to focus their efforts on a single outsourced engagement. Again, an important consideration since texts can be created in any language.
Supporting over 22 major languages across three global centers, oWorkers is uniquely positioned to support you, regardless of where your consumers are and what language they post in.
Current Technology – There could be an avalanche of activity on a website from time to time. Some websites could be ones where there is heavy footfall all the time. Human intervention being expensive and slow, automated, AI driven solutions, are becoming a necessity for handling text moderation services.
With its partnerships with leading technology solutions providers, oWorkers makes available to you the best technologies for your requirements.
Data Security – Joined at the hip with technology is data security. The digital data being generated for a client needs to be maintained and transacted securely.
Being ISO (27001 and 9001) certified, oWorkers implements the latest in security practices and protocols for ensuring security of client data, in transmission as well as in storage and while being worked on.
Scalability – Being a human activity, a regular supply of jobseekers is as important as the ability to expand the hiring number for a short period of time to cater to a sudden spike in client business volumes.
oWorkers data outsourcing services ramping up and down by a hundred headcount in 48 hours. This is made possible by our deep connects with the communities we operate in.
Financial health – A stressed financial situation often leads to suboptimal decision-making and hesitation in making investments in business, eventually impacting on client projects. It is important to ensure that the company to whom you seek to outsource text moderation to, is in reasonably healthy financial condition. Further, it is recommended that this be validated once a year.
oWorkers has been a consistently profitable enterprise. It is registered as a local enterprise in each of its geographies and pays local and social taxes for its employees
Training facility – Required to ensure rapid upskilling of new hires to join the process and contribute to the work being done, for text moderation solutions training acquires an added importance of having to refresh the skills of its workforce as the practices and tools in the environment may keep changing.
oWorkers relies on independent training facilities attached to each of its three facilities to train new hires and keep the knowledge of existing staff fresh by conducting refresher sessions.
5. Seek participation from interested parties
Having lined up your ‘ducks in a row’ with the outsourcing blueprint being prepared and selection criteria being established, all that remains is for competent providers to ‘come to the party.’ Which, of course, is easier said than done. For that to happen, the word needs to be spread in the right communities and through the right channels.
In many cases, it eventually boils down to one of the following channels to communicate the message:
- A Request for Proposal (RFP) is issued. This is generally preferred by large enterprises. An RFP is a standardised proposal form where you specify the information you seek.
- Direct outreach to providers who you know provide similar services to competitors.
- Advertising in trade circles, if you are a part of them.
- Direct contact through databases like Yellow Pages and web search. They will respond if interested.
6. Review and Shortlist
If the communication has been done effectively, you should have received interest from vendors.
Assuming you have received interest from may parties, this stage involves sifting through the applications and identifying the few with whom you would like to go into more detailed discussions. Unfortunately, as time is at a premium, it is advisable to not do that with all applicants. A B2B partnership needs to be carefully navigated and negotiated, hence it is recommended that you go into greater detail with a few rather than less detail with many.
Of course, if you don’t have responses, you would need to go back to the drawing board and try to figure out the reasons. Were your requirements not clear? Were your terms too stringent? You may need to do one more round of interest solicitation, delaying the process.
7. Detailed discussion with a few
This is where the detailed discussions will happen and both parties will be required to share information. In most B2B cases, this will be preceded by the execution of a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which binds both parties to treating the information received as confidential and enjoins them to ensure it is handled with the utmost care. This is the stage where the potential vendor will make a case for being selected, scope of services will be discussed, including indicative pricing. This is one of the key phases of the process. This is where detailed discussions, site visits, interacting with staff members, exploring combinations, negotiating on price and service levels, all take place.
8. Shortlist down to 1
Eventually you will decide on the most suitable partner and issue a Letter of Intent. Contractual terms, which would have been already discussed during the previous stage, would now be formalised. The other shortlisted vendors will be retained as backups if this partnership falls through for some reason.
The formal agreement is executed based on mutually acceptable terms and conditions.
9. Implementation and Transition
Implementation of the Project Plan, that would have been agreed during the commercial negotiations, is now kicked off, leading to the eventual transition and stabilization of the process with the vendor.
Initiation of a Trial Run, if agreed upon, will happen at this stage, with success criteria and actions following achievement or non-achievement, clearly defined.
All other dependencies, like identification by the vendor of the team that will support activities under this contract, outsourcer arranging the initial training, technical handshakes required, hiring of staff, finding the physical space for the new team, will be handled as per the Project Plan.
10. Begin work, test and then go full steam
Work begins. If volumes are large, there is a ramp-up generally provided for in the Project Plan. Staring slowly, the work gradually ramps up to handle the agreed volumes.
Note: This is an indicative sequence of steps and not mandatory. Not all steps will be needed in all cases. In some cases, the sequence could also change, like a Trial Run could happen before a contract is signed.
Keep your business safe from abuse by seeking the right partner for your text moderation.
Identified as one of the three best data services providers in the world, oWorkers should be part of your evaluation exercise for a suitable partner. We are the preferred partner for many businesses around the world. We hope we will be yours too.