Moderation tool

Moderation tool

The Contribly Moderation tool is used to control your Contribly instance and moderate user contributions. It includes a number of features to assist in the verification of submissions.

Accessing the Moderation Tool

The moderation tool is accessed at

Sign in using your organisation’s username and password. If your organisation uses Google accounts to access Contribly, use the Sign in with Google button instead.

Sign in


What is an assignment?

Assignments are the topics, or challenges that you set up for your community. Assignments are created in the moderation tool.

Each assignment has a unique name, or title, which is defined when you create the assignment, and a unique web address, or URL, created by Contribly, made up of the website url and the title you define.

You have the opportunity to tailor this URL in the moderation tool when you create your assignment by editing the URL words field.

It's a good idea to think about the assignment title and the URL when you first create your assignment as although it can be edited later, any bookmarks or social links will be affected if the url words are changed.

Assignments can optionally have an end date which can be specified on set-up, or added or amended later. The assignment will be ‘open’ until the end date is reached.

When an assignment is 'open', users can contribute their images, videos or text. When an assignments is 'closed', contributions can no longer be uploaded. Accepted, or published contributions can still be viewed.

An open assignment can be embargoed with an embargo date and time, which means that contributions can be uploaded, and moderated, but will not be publicly visible until the specified date and time. This is useful for competitions, and to invite users to send in news scoops, or assignment suggestions for example.

You can have as many open assignments as you wish at one time.

Use the moderation tool to manage which assignments are open by editing the assignment end date.

All assignments are moderated - that is, user contributions need to be 'approved', using the Contribly moderation tool, before they appear in your galleries.

Creating an assignment

From the moderation tool dashboard, select 'Assignments' from the main menu at the top of the screen.

This displays all your assignments and a new menu which allows you to filter this list, or search.

Choose the new button on the right.

New assignment button

You can now go ahead and set up the details for the new assignment.

Once you press the 'Create assignment' button, the assignment is created and will appear in the list of assignments in the moderation tool.

New assignment



This is the name, or title for the new assignment.


Use this text to explain what you are looking for and encourage your users to get involved. This text is displayed on your Contribute widget - that is, the form that users see when they contribute to your assignment. You can include basic HTML (for example some hyperlinks to where you are going to display the contributions). It's a good idea to inform users where you will publish the content they share with you, as this can be an good incentive.

URL Words

This displays the Contribly-generated URL fragment based on the assignment name. Edit this to make changes to the default if you wish.


An assignment can optionally be ‘featured’. Featured assignments are promoted to the top of the whitelabel site display, if youare using this.


Optionally, you can set an end date and time for the assignment. Contribly automatically closes the assignment when this date and time is reached. Once closed, contributions will no longer be accepted.


If this is set, the assignment will be open. However ‘approved’ contributions will not be published until the embargo date. This may be useful for a competition, where you wish to invite contributions, and moderate them, in advance of the closing date for entries.


An assignment with a scheduled start, or launch date in the future, will not accept any contributions until the launch date. This enables you to create all the assignments you have scheduled for a campaign, for example, and to set up batches of assignments for your organisation’s planning cycle.


Set this if you want to insist on a media file being uploaded. Leave this unchecked if you wish to accept text-only submissions.

Allows anonymous contributions

You can decide whether or not to insist on users signing in to your registration system. NOTE: leave this checked unless Contribly has been integrated into your own registration system.


This provides control over the public visibility of the user supplied location information.

Users may have inadvertently submitted a precise location. Use this setting to obscure this potentially sensitive information (for example, a home address) for this assignment.

The possible settings are:

  • SUBMITTED The latitude and longitude supplied by the user will be shown exactly as it was submitted by the user. The name of the nearest street will be used as the location name. This setting is useful when exact placement on a map is required.
  • STREET The latitude, longitude and name of the street nearest to the user supplied point will be displayed.
  • CITY The latitude, longitude and name of the nearest city or town will be displayed. This setting may be useful when an approximate location is required but the contributor's precise location needs to remain private.
  • HIDE No location information will be displayed.


Assignments can optionally be grouped into logical topic areas or subjects using tags. Select the tags you want to use from the drop-down list. Note: you'll need to set up the tags first in the 'Settings' area.


An optional custom form to use for contributions to this assignment (see customising the contribute form).


An optional cover image can be used to highlight your assignment. Upload your chosen cover image here. 900 x 600 is recommended.

Remember to press 'Create assignment' to make your assignment 'live'. You will be returned to the Assignment screen.

Next steps:

Now you've set up your assignment, you're ready to start receiving content from your users. Do this by pasting the Contribly 'Contribute' widgets on to your webpages. These code snippets are accessed from the Widgets screen, where they can also be previewed. Do this to make sure you're happy with the way you have set up your assignment.

Editing an assignment

Select 'Assignments' from the top level navigation menu. From this screen use the filters or the search box to navigate to the assignment you want to edit.


Once selected, a summary of the assignment and contribution thumbnails are displayed.

Assignment details

Choose the 'edit' button on the right.

Edit assignment button

The assignment details can now be edited.

Edit assignment

Using tags to organise assignments

You can use tags to logically group your assignments. For example: food; sport; travel; culture. Tags are grouped into tag sets.

Tag sets and tags are defined in the ‘Settings’ menu, which is accessed from sub-menu under your signed-in user name on the top right hand corner of the moderation tool.

You can define a URL Word for your tag. This will mean new assignments set up with this tag will have this word included in the URL fragment. You can also define a colour.

Once set up, your tags are available to select from on a drop-down menu when creating or editing an assignment.

Scheduling an assignment to go live at a later date

Use the ‘Starts’ date and time when creating or editing an assignment to specify the future date and time that your assignment will go live. i.e. when will it on the whitelabel website and begin to accept contributions.

Before that date it will only be visible to users who know the assignment’s web URL.

Set the start date using the date picker popup.

Embargoing contributions for publication at a later date

To do this, set the ‘Embargo’ date when creating the assignment to the date in the future when you want to publish the user contributions. The assignment will be ‘open’ - be visible on the whitelabel site and accept contributions. Approved contributions will not be published, however, until the specified Embargo date and time.

For example, you can run a photo competition and set an embargo date for the competition closing date. In advance of that closing date users can submit entries, which you can moderate and approve or reject as usual, on an ongoing basis. Only when the embargo date is reached will the approved content be visible.

Closing an assignment

An assignment is closed automatically when the specified end date is reached.

To close an assignment immediately edit the assignment and use the date and time picker to set the 'Ends' date accordingly.

Reopening a closed assignment

Reopen an assignment and start accepting contributions again by editing the ‘Ends’ date.

Navigate to the assignment, select the Edit button and then change the Ends date. Leave the date blank to keep the assignment open indefinitely.


Once you've set up your assignment, you'll want to start receiving user contributions and publishing the content that's coming in on your webpages. Contribly widgets are code snippets that enable you to insert your assignment callouts and galleries of approved contributions into external webpages.

The code snippets are available from the Widgets page. Each code snippet is generated at the assignment level - that is, you will have a set of widgets for each of your assignments.

From the assignments screen, locate your assignment and click the widgets link.

Assignment widgets link

The widget page shows the HTML snippets which can be cut and pasted directly into external pages. As well as Contribute widgets (inline and modal) there are map widgets which show approved contributions an a map, and gallery widgets.

The AMP widget is for use on your Google AMP pages.

All of the widgets can be previewed from this screen for testing purposes.

Assignment widgets page

Contribute widgets

You can preview both the modal and in-line widgets here.

Contribute widgets link

As well as previewing the widgets you can also test them by uploading a contribution from here, as this screen shows the code snippets pasted into this page, so they look and behave as they would be on any other webpage that you may wish to use.

If you wish to make changes, you can do so by editing the assignment. In this example, the Airshows assignment is using a form, so any changes to fields would mean editing the form.

Click the copy button to copy the snippet directly to the clipboard to be pasted into your webpage.

The WYSIWYG widget is designed for use on a Wordpress site.

Moderation dashboard

The moderation dashboard provides an overview of your contributions and the moderation 'queue' - that is, contributions received, awaiting moderation actions.

Moderation dashboard

The top main menu lets you move quickly between contributions, assignments and contributors.

The main blocks displayed represent some of the more immediate activities:


User contributions waiting to be moderated.


Live user contributions that have been ‘flagged’ or reported by users and require attention from a moderator.


User contributions that have been voted as 'interesting' by users (for example, on the whitelabel site a user has highlighted ‘recommend’).

Contribution activity

A visual overview of contribution activity. The horizontal axis show the months of the year, 1 - 12, and each week within each month. The degree of shading represents the relative number of user contributions.

These blocks and the main menu on the top of the screen and the search box enable you to navigate easily between tasks.

Searching and filtering contributions

Select the ‘Contributions’ link from the top-level navigation menu.

You can use the ‘Find Contributions’ search box to search contribution 'title' and 'body' fields by keyword.

Media preview image with metadata summary

You can also filter contributions by:

  • Moderation state
  • Assignment
  • Media type (image / video)
  • Country
  • Contributor

Searches and filters can be combined to quickly drill down to particular content of interest.

Filter contributions by moderation state

Navigate quickly to the contributions you are interested in eg ‘Approved and interesting’ by choosing ‘Contributions’. Apply the desired filter by clicking the moderation state you are interested in.

Moderation state filter

Thumbnail view

You can choose between list view, and thumbnail view, to process contributions and make moderation decisions. Use the icons at the top of the view to do this. The example below shows switching to the thumbnail view....

Thumbnail view quickly scan through image and video thumbnails.

Thumbnail view

Video contributions can be identified by the video icon in the centre of the preview image.

Video thumbnail

How to preview a video

Clicking a video contribution opens a popup where the video can be viewed, with the option to download the original. Clicking outside the pop-up window dismisses it.

Contribution details

Clicking on a contribution's 'Show all' link opens a screen with the full set of information captured during the submission process and the full moderation history.

Contribution details screen

Moderating user contributions

Moderation states

As a moderator, your will make moderation decisions to publish, reject or seek further clarification on an individual piece of content.

When user contributions are received by Contribly they are marked as ‘awaiting’ - that is, they are awaiting a moderation decision.

The moderation actions available to you are:


Approve and mark as potentially interesting

Approve and mark as interesting


Refer to Legal


Selecting any of the first three moderation actions in the list above results in the contribution being approved. The rest do not.

The ‘Notes’ field can be used to capture the background to your moderation decisions so this can be shared with team members.

These different moderation states can be used with the 'notes' to highlight contributions to collegaues, or for future reference.

For example, if there's a query, a contribution can be marked as 'deferred' with concerns entered in the 'notes field. Subsequently these can be picked up by a colleague using the filter to select only contributions that are 'deferred' i.e. awaiting a decison. The specific queries are visible in the 'notes' field of each contribution and can be addressed, with a decison made to to approve or reject using the moderation toolbar.

The moderation toolbar

Use the moderation toolbar to action your moderation decisions.

In tiled view, bring the moderation toolbar by hovering over the bottom right corner of any image to bring up the moderation toolbar - highlighted below. This allows you to quickly approve or reject images when you're working with a lot of contributions and the subject matter is straightforward.

Moderation list view

The most likely actions are : clicking the green tick to approve, or the red cross to reject.

Hover over the green tick to bring up the additional 'approved' states (Approved and potentially interesting, Approved and mark as interesting; represented as two ticks, and three ticks respectively).

These additional states are useful for example, if you want to highlight a subset of contributions that are of particular quality, perhaps for a print publication or a competiton shortlist. All of your 'approved' contributions will show in any galleries, including any that are highlighted in this way. Conributions marked as potentially interesting, or interesting, can be filtered, for example to be shown to competiton judges, exported, or downloaded.

Hover over the ... to bring up additonal options which may be required in more exceptional cases, or to quickly access Google image search.

Moderation list view

Selecting either Defer, Refer to editorial or Refer to legal means the contribution will not be published; rather it will stay in this selected state. Use these options to 'mark' contributions that require further action before a publishing decison can be made.

The moderation toolbar is shown on the right when moderation in list view:

Moderation list view toolbar

And on the top right when looking at the contribution details:

Moderation show all toolbar

Editing a contribution

Headlines and body text

In some cases you may wish to edit the text element of a user contribution, for example to correct a spelling. Clicking on the headline or body text opens the text editing tool where changes can be made and saved.

Media orientation

A user may have submitted an image or video which is incorrectly orientated (typically by holding a smart phone on a slight angle). The media orientation can be overridden using the rotation dropdown on the media details view.

Selecting an image rotation

Cropping Gravity

When images need to be cropped to different aspect ratios (such as square images) the crop will be made from the centre of the image. In some situations this will not produce the best result; a portrait orientated image may have heads cropped out.

The gravity setting can be used to override the default cropping.

Correcting the cropping gravity

Moving a contribution to a different assignment

Users may have submitted contributions to an inapproriate assigment. This can easily be corrected by moving the contribution to the correct assigment.

Click the assignment name on the contribution heading bar.

Contribution assignment

This will open a popup which will allow you to move the contribution to another assignment.

Requesting clarification from a user

The contribution notify dialogue allows a number of templated notifications to be emailed to the contributor.

Open the notify dialogue for a contribution by clicking on the notify link, under the 'Notes' option:

Notify link

The available notifications include 'published elsewhere' and 'child protection' queries.

If the contribution has been approved then a 'published' notification is available, informing the contributor where they can see their approved contribution.

Notify dialogue

How to take down a contribution

Do this by changing the moderation status to any of these using the moderation toolbar:

  • Defer
  • Refer to editorial
  • Refer to legal
  • Reject

These alternative statuses allow contributions to be highlighted to colleagues. For example a team member can log in to the moderation tool to examine items in the ‘Refer to legal’ stream.

Take down

How to deal with a contribution that has been flagged by a user

Flags allow issues with approved content to be flagged to you by users. Contributions that have been flagged appear in the ‘Flagged’ block on the moderation dashboard, so they are clearly visible and can be dealt with promptly.

Flagged contributions shown on moderation dashboard

Click through to the contribution details screen. The flag details are shown on the flags panel.

The flagged contribution and the user who has raised the flag can be investigated. For example drill down to see whether the flag been raised by a ‘credible’ user’ by looking at the users’ contribution history.

Actions to deal with the flag include dismissing the flag by closing it or taking the content down by changing its moderation status to ‘Reject’. Once action has been taken, the content will no longer feature on the ‘Flagged’ block of the moderation dashboard.

Verifying user contributions

The moderation tool provides feedback on obvious discrepancies between a user submission and the media metadata, highlighting these in red directly below the preview when in list or tole view.

For example if a duplicate submission is made; or the media creation date is not the same as the submission date.

Location information, user information (eg contribution history) and media creation date can be used to authenticate user submissions. For example, an assignment call out for photos of weather today at a particular location can be validated by checking the media creation date and the user submitted location.

Use the ‘Search’ link at the bottom left of an image to quickly carry out a Google web search for the image.

Media metadata

The Media metadata summary is shown with the image.

Media metadata summary bar

File dimensions, creation date, device details and embedded location inferred from the media files metadata are shown if available.

If the EXIF data contains a location then it can be identified on a map by clicking the latitude and longitude.

Verifing an EXIF location with the map view

If inconsistencies in the metadata are detected a message is shown with the discrepancy details.

The raw metadata and EXIF data can be viewed by clicking on this media metadata summary.

Raw contribution EXIF data

Contribution location

The contribution location panel, available in the contribution details screen, summarises the user submitted location and location information derived from media metadata and the network the contribution was submitted from. The publicly visible location for the contribution is also shown.

Contribution location

Consistency of location information should be a consideration when verifying a contribution.

In this example the location data extracted from the image file appears to agree with the user's stated location. The network address used to submit the contribution resolves to a different country, suggesting that the user has made this submission sometime after the fact.

How to highlight a contribution to colleagues

Use the different moderation statuses to approve / reject and also highlight images. The ‘Notes’ field is useful for sharing information on your decision making rationale.

Setting up notifications for when moderation action is required

The ‘Alerts’ option, available on the 'Settings' menu, sets up automated emails to nominated email accounts when events occur which may require their attention. For example, colleague(s) can receive an email when a contribution is flagged, or when new content is received and waiting to be moderated.

setting up moderation alerts

Alerts can be set for specific assignments.

Including contribution contents in notifications

Notifications may optionally include the contribution body text and a thumbnail of the attached media. Check the 'include contributon content' checkbox to include the contribution body text and thumbnail in a particular notification.

Your contributions may contain sensitive material. Enabling this feature distributes that content from Contribly into other potentially less secure systems (such as 3rd party email services). You should consider the sensitively of the content and your organisation's information protection policies before enabling this feature.


Downloading full sized contribution media

Clicking an image, or video contribution opens a popup showing a more detailed view, with the option to download a full sized media file with a suitable file extension. Clicking outside the pop-up window dismisses it.

The full sized contribution is a full sized replica of the end user's original submission which has been converted to a standard format and had the user supplied metadata stripped. This file is intended for safe internal distribution within your editorial team.

Media popup

Tracking full sized contributions outside of the moderation tool

Full sized images are tagged with IPTC metadata to allow contributions to be identified even if they have been downloaded from the moderation tool. The following contribution fields are mapped onto metadata fields.

Contribution fields Metatag tag
headline dc:Title
body dc:Description
created dc:Date
attribution dc:Contributor
email iptcCore:CreatorWorkEmail
submittedPlace iptcExt:LocationShown

The metadata is attached to the downloaded file's XMP block.

Downloading original contribution media

The original is the exact file as submitted by the end user. Caution should be exercised when opening files which have been submitted by third parties (ie. there is a risk of malware or viruses). If the original is being downloaded for internal distribution within your editorial team, then the full size contribution (above) may be a safer option.

Exporting a contribution

A single contribution and it's accompanying full sized media elements can be exported as a ZIP file, by clicking the Export icon from the contribution attribute bar.

Export contribution

The exported ZIP file will include a Word document containing the contribution headline, attribution, publicly visible location and body text, as well as any publicly visible form responses.

Exporting a collection of contributions

A collection of contributions can be exported from either the list view, or tiled view, view in one of two ways. The exported ZIP file will contain a Word document and the full sized media elements for each contribution. An additional Word file (all.docx) will contain a rollup of all of the selected contribution text.

  1. Exporting 'all' of a group of contributions. The contents of the export can be selected using the contribution filters prior to requesting an export.

In the example below, the 'Wildlife near you' assignment, approved contributions shows two contributions

Export contributions

Selecting the 'export all' icon

Export contributions

selects all the contributions in the current filter for download.

Export contributions

  1. Exporting selected contributions. Select the items for download using the selection buttons

Export contributions

And use the 'download selected' icon to export the selected group

Export contributions

Export contributions

The maximum size of a contribution collection export is 300 contributions.


Search for specific users

From the moderation dashboard, select ‘Contributors’. From here, use the Search box or filters to locate the user or users you are looking for.


User details and contribution history

Clicking on the user name link displays the user details screen.

Information displayed includes date signed up and contact email and/or linked social media profile(s), contribution activity including number of approved and rejected contributions and behaviour over time, plus any additional data attached to the user (eg captured on sign-up) and location and contributions in thumbnail view.



Customising the contribute form

The 'contribute' widget can be customised by defining a new form.

A contribute widget with additional form fields

Editing forms

To create or edit a form, select the 'forms' option from the 'Settings' screen, accessed from the top right hand menu.


The forms screen lists your existing forms. To create a new form, click the 'new' button.


The form editing screen will open.

New form

Your new form requires a name and fields.

To add a new field select a field type from the Add Field drop down then press the Add Field button. The field type drop down contains special field types as well as generic form elements such as drop downs and radio buttons.

Special field types

The Title, Question, Media and Location fields types are mapped to the title, body text, media and location fields of contributions.

They should be used in preference to adding your own generic text and textarea fields.

First name, Last name and Email are mapped to the contributor contact details; use these fields for capturing contributor details.

The label text for special fields can be overridden if you'd like them to be named differently.

Field details

Most fields will have optional label, description and placeholder text. These can be used to provide instructions to the contributor.

A field can be be made mandatory by clicking the required checkbox.

Saving your form

To save your form press the 'Create form' button. Your new form is now available to be attached to assignments.


Access usage statistics for your Contribly instance.



Customise your Contribly instance.



Linking a YouTube channel to Contribly allows your approved video contributions to be published to YouTube.

Videos attached to approved contributions will be uploaded to the linked YouTube channel. If the contribution is later taken down, the linked YouTube video will also be taken down.

To link a YouTube channel select link YouTube channel and follow the YouTube dialogue.

Linking a YouTube channel