networks. On Slashdot, each comment posted by a user, receives a score rangingfrom -1 to 5, indicating the quality of the comment. Once a comment is posted, it may be checked or “moderated” by selected users who can change its scoreaccording to the quality of information provided (Chen et al., 2007).The scholarly literature emphasizes the importance of moderating content inonline communities. Davis (2005) argues that community moderation appearsessential for the discussions to run smoothly. In order to achieve this, moderatorsare given the power and authority to remove any content that does not correspond with the community’s policy (Johnson et al., 2004; Preece, 2001).Several ways of power use to moderate online content have been discussed in thepast (Edwards, 2002; Wright, 2006). For instance, moderators use their power tofilter, facilitate and help online discussions by removing those that disrespect community’s rules, as well as mediate when individuals come into conflict.
However, as observed in the literature, moderators have not always used thepower that is given to them to regulate information sharing in the right way, asonline community moderation if done incorrectly can be worse than having nomoderation at all. This is confirmed by Wright (2009) who claims that “the fearremains, however, that the power to moderate the content of online forums maybe abused.” Wright (2009) also explains that this could be done when moderatorsuse their power to set overly restrictive rules or ignore ‘fair’ rules and deletemessages.Despite the fact that online communities have existed for almost 30 years, littleresearch has been done on how moderators can influence user’s willingness toshare information. Interestingly, we find that there is a gap in existing literature astheories about online communities (Ridings et al., 2002) focus on just one part of community members, users, without taking into consideration moderators. Wealso observe that past research mostly discusses that moderation is positive(Preece and Maloney-Krichmar, 2003; De Schutter et al., 2004; Berge, 1996).Strangely enough, negative ways of power use to achieve moderation have not been examined thoroughly.
To comprehend the concept of power that is given tomoderators, it is wise to examine the existing literature on power and authority.According to Ba (2001) and Bahruth (2000) power is often defined as the capacityfor one social unit (e.g., the leader) to determine the behavior of another (e.g.,