Validation: The Key to Secure Online Discussions

Photo by Nathan Dumlao
 on Unsplash

Online anonymity can afford individuals more freedom to express ideas and opinions openly and honestly. But with this privilege comes the responsibility to remain respectful. For some, the temptation to break the rules without consequence is too great. That’s why validators are so vital. 

Let’s be honest, providing people with an anonymous online discussion platform is a little like leaving a group of small children in a room alone with a bowl of candy and instructing them not to eat any. The situation could escalate pretty quickly once one of them breaks that boundary. That’s because human morality is malleable. Even just thinking about breaking a rule can change the way we behave. And when we know no-one will be able to pin-point us for committing the crime, there’s less threat of repercussion and fewer reasons not to stretch beyond the ethical limits.

In fact, according to this study on rule-breaking in anonymous settings, there is a strong correlation between non-identifiability and non-accountability. It reveals that when placed in a situation that offers anonymity, individuals are more likely to display antisocial behaviour. This likely has something to do with the sense of liberty experienced by those who believe there won’t be consequences for their actions.

So as an online business platform providing total anonymity for its participants, how do we retain the sense of candidness that anonymity provides while ensuring that discussions remain constructive and courteous? Cue the Validator.

Where facilitators moderate discussions within published threads, validators provide the very first line of defence. Before being posted publicly, messages are filtered through validators who screen comments to make sure they stick to a site’s guidelines. This is also known as “pre-moderation”.

On the Innodirect platform, discussions are business-related, meaning messages not only need to be personally respectful, but professionally constructive too. We pride ourselves on creating a secure, bias-free space in which productive business discussions are developed and solutions reached.

That’s why we have a thorough validation process in place to screen each message for offensive or irrelevant content before it’s posted to a discussion board. Once a participant creates and sends a message, it is filtered through a validator. This human intermediary checks to ensure the content sticks to our three Golden Rules, which stipulate that messages should remain: 

  1. Anonymous. Paramount to our platform is anonymity. It is in this way that participants are able to express themselves safely and freely. Not only this, but anonymity paves the way for effective communication across boundaries and sectors, sparking innovation within a company. We believe more creative and effective solutions can be reached through de-individualisation, that’s why we do not publish comments that reveal their author’s identity.
  2. On topic and understandable. As we are a solutions-based platform, we encourage participants to keep in mind the discussion question and the ultimate goal of the board. Comments that are off-topic, confusing or unintelligible can easily unravel the thread of a discussion. That’s why we reject content that is irrelevant or incomprehensible. 
  3. Courteous. We realise constructive criticism and productive debates are an important part of a discussion’s growth and productivity. That’s why we encourage our users to participate actively, think critically and challenge ideas, all whilst remaining respectful of others. While we encourage freedom of expression, we are a business platform, so we request participants to remain professional when constructing their responses. Hate speech and harassment are strictly not tolerated and will be rejected immediately.

Each message is checked to see whether it adheres to the three rules and, if it does, it is approved and posted to the discussion board. If the message violates one or more of the rules, it is rejected, and the author of the comment is informed.

It’s in this way that we are able to offer our clients a secure platform from which to launch creative, productive, time-efficient, cost-effective, goal-oriented discussions. 

Want to know more about how we can streamline your business discussions?

By Kirsten Sokolovski, Sophie Juignier and Philippe Meloni

The Innodirect team

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