About the project

This small, applied project kicked off in February 2022…


Social media is a key site of social activity and support, for many identity-based communities. Administrators and moderators of large online groups or pages often play key leadership roles in such communities.

The role of ‘admin’ is an untrained, unpaid, under-recognised position – yet in practice, this involves considerable labour, responsibility, and skill, in responding to abusive or dangerous speech within, or on behalf of, the community. Many admins are also public advocates or activists, but despite how many hours go into this kind of labour, there are little to no funding, training, resources, or support services, they can access related to this work.

Project aims

This project aimed to learn from, and build capacity amongst, admins and moderators in Aotearoa NZ. In particular it focuses on communities that are common targets of dangerous speech, hate speech, or others forms of harmful speech.

The project aimed to record and analyse some of these leaders speaking about their experiences and strategies in responding to dangerous speech, in order to draw together and then publicly circulate some of the knowledge they already have.

Who is involved?

The project was funded by Internet NZ, and run by researchers at the University of Otago.

You can read more about them on our ‘About the Team’ page.

What was done?

Interviews: In April – May 2022, we conducted 14 interviews in total, with people who were currently (or had recently been) admins for social-media groups or pages. For this first part of the project we are focused on interviewing people from rainbow/queer/LGBTQIA+ groups, and from disabled, chronically ill, and/or neurodivergent communities. These interviews were analysed, for key themes

Hui: In July 2022, we facilitated an online symposium/hui give these and other admins, from a wider range of groups, a chance to interact, share support, and discuss their experiences. We also shared our initial observations and findings, and gathered feedback from this larger group, in order to develop them.

Resource: We then worked with graphic designer & illustrators at Studio Rebeko to come up with an accessible resource, that can be shared freely online. The resource summarises some of the themes and advice, from the hui and interviews.

All parts of the project have been approved by the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee (approval number 22/036).