Community policing: a business somebody should start (hint, hint)

I know many sites that need community policing — responding to alerts of bad posts, getting rid of the bozos who forgot to take their meds, cleaning the racist/sexist/xist graffiti from forums.

They are all dying to outsource this — not forum hosting but community policing. Somebody should start a company to do that. Has somebody?

When we started forums at, my last employer, we thought we needed moderators in each forum to spark conversation and slap the misbehavers. But that was the old-media way to think, the controlling way to think. We hired an expert who quickly taught us that we didn’t need moderators — people are perfectly capable of deciding what they want to talk about, thank you — but we did need people to arrest and try the bozos. He also taught us that if users saw results from sending in alerts to bad stuff — to snitching, in short — they would do it. And he was way right. Advance has 100 million page views a month of happy community campers’ chatter. At first, he hired people who were homebound to do the work (including one woman who was legally blind and used what sight she had to ferret out references to “poop,” which always struck me as, well, sad).

I tell this story to others who know the value of interactivity and they want to have that service without having to do it on staff. They want to hire it out. And there’s no reason that wouldn’t work. I’m not sure you could outsource it to Bangalore, given that cultural knowledge and sensitives are needed, but it’s possible to document and train that. (For a brief while, Advance’s community cops handled the forums for Conde Net’s and the background material explaining what was a no-no regarding fashion or Vogue or Paris Hilton was great reading; oh, if I’d only saved that memo!).

So does anybody know a company that does this? Anybody want to start one?