Ability to block / mute / ignore another user


(mtndewforbreakfast) #1

Feature request: Say I am an everyday user with no administrative or moderation privileges on a public forum, such as here at Meta, and there is another user whom I think is unpleasant for whatever reason. I’d love a way to block or mute that user so that his/her posts appear collapsed or otherwise hidden by default when reading a thread they participated in, but with a way to still optionally view that post after all if it’s important for that particular context.

I make super heavy use of Mute filters on Tweetbot for iOS/OSX, which was my inspiration for this idea.

On a somewhat related note, after a cursory search I couldn’t find any existing functionality relating to blocking another user anywhere. Is there currently no way to protect oneself from harassment, spam that made it past the filters, etc. for PMs?

Moderator note:

For the #pr-welcome task, see this:


Will Discourse ever gain ignore user functionality?
"Hide" a user from another user?
Feature Request: A Civilized Mute for Users
Crazy idea: give users limited moderator rights in their own topics
Topics by muted users should not appear in Latest
Blocking a user
Blocking user from replying to my post or my posts
(Iszi) #2

Mutes make sense to me on Twitter, and in chat rooms. Not so much on forums.

That said, I think muting people so that they’re “seen and not heard” (allowing you to expand their posts at-will) would be the preferable way to go if a mute function is implemented at all.


(Jeff Atwood) #3

I was somewhat surprised to see the results of this forum survey:

Ignore, Mute, Killfile: how often do you use it on fellow forum members?

Lots: 5 (5%)
Rarely: 52 (49%)
Never used it: 48 (45%)
Don’t care about this poll: 2 (2%)

Almost half the users in this sample never use ignore, mute, or killfile on other forumgoers.

And the ones that do use it, apparently use it very rarely and only in exceptional circumstances. Heavy users of ignore are a teeny tiny minority.

Given this data, I think we don’t need to care about implementing a general purpose “ignore user” any time soon, the type that prevents any content they create from appearing on your screen.

However, I do think it’s important that we provide some way to prevent certain users from ever pinging you with a private message or @ name mention. It would really suck to keep getting pinged, even with email notifications off, by people you don’t ever want to interact directly with.

That case seems somewhat different than just scrolling past their topics or posts. Also, this comment was interesting:

It might be over-designing, but if you’re going to be providing ignore functionality, it seems like an explicit built-in “ignore in this thread” and “ignore for X time” function might be used by some people, given how frequently I’ve heard them mentioned here and elsewhere.

That’s somewhat analogous to the timeout feature that some twitter clients have, where someone you follow just goes nuts for a day or so and you need to mute them for a limited-in-scope time or space only.

I don’t think we need that either at the moment, but it’s a much more thoughtful feature than “make this user disappear from the planet”.


Will Discourse ever gain ignore user functionality?
(Lowell Heddings) #4

On most other forums, if there is even a mute feature for a particular user… I don’t think most people know where it is. Plus, when you mute somebody, it makes conversations on other pages very difficult to understand… you start wondering what people are talking about, and then realize that you don’t know because you muted somebody.

I agree, the primary goal is “make this person stop messaging me”. Private messaging is irritating on forums.

I’ve also noticed that the types of people that would make others want to mute them… are the types of people that ruin and destroy forums. They cause trouble, take over threads, and insult people, and so the real goal of any Mute feature should be to identify the bad eggs and eventually kick them out if necessary. More like a “This guy is awful” button than a Mute button.


(Kevin P. Fleming) #5

… and that would be the “Flag this post for attention” feature that Discourse already has.


(mtndewforbreakfast) #6

Your arguments to shelve this idea for now all make sense to me, thanks. And it might be something that could be better served by a plugin or a client-side user script than as a core feature anyway. I like to use shutup.css or one of its various browser-extension ports for blocking comments on a lot of public sites, as an example of the latter.

I do think there’s a place for ignoring users for PM/@-mention purposes somewhere down the line, though.


(F. Randall Farmer) #7

Please - no per-person forum post mute

If a user is pissing people off (and it’s not a violation of TOS/Comunnity Guidelines) the community needs to let that person know.

Disallow PMs is another matter - as long as the sender (who’s PM has been blocked by the recipient) gets an error message saying “PMs to that person have been blocked.” - or something to that effect.

If possible, we want to convert “bad actors” into good ones - keeping message-mutes secret from them works against that…


(Iszi) #8

I wholly agree with enabling mute for PMs. Mute on @mention though, I’m not so sure. If someone’s driven me to the point that I want to mute them at all, I think I’d still be interested to know when they’re actually talking about me.


(Iain M Norman) #9

I like the idea of being able to minimise the impact of a given users on my experience. Having posts completely disappear off the planet though would definitely be confusing.


(mtndewforbreakfast) #10

In case it was at all ambiguous: I’m not advocating “mute” functionality as any kind of moderation tool. What I was envisioning would be a client-side preference that allowed us as users to avoid dealing with a community member we don’t enjoy, and would only affect your own reading experience while logged in - other readers’ experiences would remain unchanged. I’m not sure whether either of you might have interpreted the idea otherwise @iainmnorman @frandallfarmer


(Iszi) #11

Your arguments make sense, and I do agree in principle. However, I think there needs to be a certain amount of flexibility on this to allow the communities (and community owners) to make this decision for themselves - make the option available at least, so that it can be enabled/disabled to suit each community’s culture.


(F. Randall Farmer) #12

There are a lot of priorities for the core development team, and client-side per-user post-muting shouldn’t be one of them. Data has already been presented that this is a rarely used, non-critical item:

This feature does nothing to help improve user behavior (since it typically doesn’t let the muted user know that anyone is muting them) and has been proven to cause confusion in threads because people aren’t responding to the same conversation.

Lastly - would this plug-in also mute quoted replies? Man, that’d be awkward to read/understand. A real mess. :tongue:

This looks like an excellent candidate for the “please, feel free to build it yourself…” category of request.


(Adam Davis) #13

I used to wonder what the purpose of ignore was. Then I got to the point with a certain user where I could not resist his trolling - I felt I had to respond to his idiotic remarks every time he posted. At that point I realized ignore, for me, wasn’t so I didn’t have to hear his ranting and raving, it was so I wasn’t tempted to respond to his baiting.

I think the poll is slightly flawed in the gap between lots and rarely. I would be interested in seeing a different poll, “is the ignore feature necessary, or would I be happy visiting this forum if it did not have ignore?”

The two concepts we’re discussing, though, should be considered separately.

Yes, the are trouble users that should be identified and somehow dealt with. If someone is consistently reported for trolling, either the system needs to take care of that automatically (their posts are lighter than other posts, for instance, encouraging people to skim them) or they need moderator action.

However, there are situations where two users simply rub each other the wrong way. The phrasing one uses just makes the other user’s skin crawl because they can’t overcome their assumptions and take the posts at face value. Whatever the reason, these two users will clash and clash again over semantic issues, baseless assumptions, and personal history with each other, where if they never read each others posts they’d be great contributors.

So there is a compelling need for ignore beyond the simple “some users are bad”.

It may not be necessary for the initial release, however I don’t believe it is something that people will be willing to forego for very long.

Note that the above is something I wrote many months ago right after I had started muting this individual. I recently unmuted them and have since had no issues. Looking back on things I note that I went through an experience I didn’t realize was having such a negative impact on me, and it was likely that nothing about this user had changed, but I could no longer handle them due to changes in my own life. The mute actually enabled me to continue to come to the forum, wheres I was seriously considering leaving it. That would have been bad, though, as, again, looking back that forum provided a tremendous amount of support to me during that difficult time.

The reason I suspect the survey is so skewed is because the feature is not advertised. Every time it’s brought up in forums I’ve participated in a number of users are obviously surprised that such a feature even exists, and more than once has it caused a discussion about the merits and ethics of such a feature.

I believe that well-implemented such a feature could actually result in a happier forum, but it would have to be, to some degree, advertised or more frequently suggested as a solution for some moderation issues. In fact it would be interesting to give some thought to using it as a tool of moderation. Rather than a ban, block the two problem users form each other for a period of time and see if that cools things down. Not applicable to most moderation activities, but I can see certain situations where we wouldn’t have to lose users because of bad blood.

Mute may not be a first class feature, however I don’t believe it should be low on the priority list, particularly since it touches so much on the whole system. It should be tackled early.


(jon) #14

This issue came up for recently. This forum has several users who don’t violate the TOS but can be very opinionated or disruptive. I think some rethinking of this might be in place. What about a spoiler wrapping their whole thing? Or a collapsed box similar to when something has been flagged as offensive.


(Kane York) #15

[Warning, this is a slightly sarcastic post. I don’t really support this feature, and this is a very awkward and inflexible way to do it. It will work, though, and some people will want it enough to do it like this.]

Sure, you can do this with user styles!

Install Stylish (chrome | firefox), then go into the settings and start “Writ[ing] a new style”.

Find the user ID of the person you don’t like, and put this in the CSS box:

article[data-user-id="4612"] {
  display: none;
}

Then set the website that the style “Applies to”, and save, and you’re done!

Before/After:


(Jeff Atwood) #16

I think mute / ignore is actively dangerous, and here’s why:

  • It allows you to ignore bad behavior. If someone is a jerk, why complain? Just mute. No more problem. Except for everyone else that gets to see a person being a jerk to another human being in public. Which means you are now sending a message to all other readers that this is now something that is OK and accepted in your house. Hint: it shouldn’t be.

  • It puts the burden on the user. A kind of victim blaming – if someone is rude to you, then “why didn’t you just mute them?” The solution is right there in front of you, why didn’t you learn to use the software right? Why don’t you take responsibility for the person abusing you?

  • It does not address the problematic behavior. A mute is invisible to everyone. So the person who is getting muted by 10 other users is getting zero feedback that their behavior is causing problems. It’s also giving zero feedback to moderators that this person should probably get an intervention.

  • It causes discussions to break down. Fine, you mute someone, so you “never” see that person’s posts. But then another user you like quotes the muted user in their post, or references their @name, or replies to their post. Do you then suppress just the quoted section? Suppress the @name? Suppress all replies to their posts, too? This leaves big holes in the conversation and presents many pretty hairy technical challenges. Given enough personal mutes and ignores, all conversation becomes a weird patchwork of partially visible statements.

  • This is your house and your rules. This isn’t Twitter or Facebook or some other giant public website with an expectation that “everyone” will be welcome. This is your house, with your rules, and your community. If someone can’t behave themselves to the point that they are consistently rude and obnoxious and unkind to others, you don’t ask the other people in the house to please ignore it – you ask them to leave your house. Engendering some weird expectation of “everyone is allowed here” sends the wrong message. Otherwise your house no longer belongs to you, and that’s a very bad place to be.

Mute is a deeply unhealthy thing to allow in your community. Of all the Discourse communities we host and know of, none of them have “needed” mute. And if they told me they did, I’d give them the same explanation.


Feature Request: A Civilized Mute for Users
(Lowell Heddings) #17

I agree that Mute is a bad idea on a forum.

What I would like to see is a way to flag a user with “I really dislike this user”. Enough of these flags from many people would trigger a notification to the moderators to maybe have a talk with that person.

Because that is the behavior that is annoying and hard to stop… Users that are following the rules but are just really annoying and frustrating.


(Bill Ayakatubby) #18

What alternative solution do you two propose for the situation of an abuser tracking down and harassing a victim on your forums, e.g., by baiting the victim openly or sending a barrage of PMs?

Make block/mute a flag against the user that a mod will see.

So do a lot of other actions/features in Discourse that are all answered in the FAQ/welcome PM or that you’re happy to let victims users figure out for themselves.

See block-as-flag concept above.

All this says to me is, “We don’t want to have to put thought into this, so here are some questions that might be hard to answer.”

That only works when the user wanting to perform the block or mute action runs the forum. Otherwise, they either have to continue seeing the abusive posts or leave the forum.

See block-as-flag concept above.

[Edited first paragraph for clarity of intent.]


(Dave McClure) #19

Most of the conversation to date has been about users who people just find kind of annoying. It seems like you have a very different use case in mind. Perhaps that should be discussed separately and specifically?

If someone is really harassing and abusing someone, shouldn’t the “Inappropriate” or “Notifiy Moderators” flag handle that?

I think this idea has some merit, but I think it would have to be done with care. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I have some worry that it could be abused or have unintended consequences if not implemented very thoughtfully.


(Lowell Heddings) #20

Those people should be reported and probably banned immediately.