If one is to design a site aimed at lots of general users (as opposed to targeting a focused group, for example programmers), what would be a good algorithm/design for moderating discussions/comments with the explicit goal of having the users moderating themselves? The kind of comments that would be most necessary to remove would be the kind that would be labeled as racist/sexist/hateful/etc.
Looking at stackoverflow et al, there seems to be a working system, based on reputation. The question is: is this because the target group is a specially professional type of people, or would this work for any type of user (aka am I kidding myself thinking programmers are better than other people)? Additionally, this would require something to base the reputation/score on, which may, or may not, be possible in a general forum.
The traditional way would be to keep a list of known good users who are appointed as moderators, but this would not be very dynamical and self-going and would need constant meta-supervision.
Are there other, completely different approaches?
What I think I need are examples of successful, working examples of large scale low-maintenance moderation "algorithms". Do you have any, or do you have any insightful comments on my claims about this subject?