Title: Moderating virtual sport consumer forums: exploring the role of the volunteer moderator

Authors: Abel Duarte Alonso; Michelle O'Shea

Addresses: School of Management, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 2571, Australia; School of Marketing Tourism and Leisure, Edith Cowan University, 100 Joondalup Dr., Joondalup, 6027 WA, Australia. ' School of Management, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 2571, Australia

Abstract: Social media platforms, including blogs and online forums have dramatically changed the way people communicate. Interactions facilitated by social media platforms can be powerful contexts in which users come together and forge online communities. As a consequence, organisations in different sectors are seeing these online communities as an important marketing and communications contexts. The present research is interested in exploring how professional sport organisations are moderating online communications. In particular, the research considers the role of the social media moderator, an area that despite its ethical and socio-economic implications continues to be under-researched. The perceptions of nine moderators of a professional sports organisation are gathered. The findings indicate that their strong passion for the club they moderate for is the main motivator for these individuals to perform their 'duty'. While little benefit is perceived in doing so, they consider their role in safeguarding the integrity of the forum as essential, thus suggesting that passion alone can be a stronger driver than other incentives. These findings have several implications for professional sport and other organisations.

Keywords: social media; online communities; online forums; volunteer moderators; professional sports; sporting organisations; forum moderating; social networks; web based communities; virtual communities; sport consumers; forum integrity.

DOI: 10.1504/IJNVO.2012.048332

International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations, 2012 Vol.11 No.2, pp.173 - 187

Published online: 16 Aug 2014 *

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