Active moderation mode - a slow mode alternative

I recently replied to a topic that had been put into “slow mode.” I got involved because the topic had gone a bit off the rails, and its OP was asking a question that hadn’t been adequately answered in the previous ~50 replies. After posting and then being prevented from editing my reply, it struck me that slow mode is a feature that’s designed to give moderators some breathing room, but it’s unlikely to do much to resolve the tension among the topic’s participants that caused the issue in the first place.

This got me thinking that Discourse doesn’t provide much functionality to allow a moderator to gain control of a discussion. I’m wondering if there could be some value in adding an “active moderation mode” to Discourse. When a topic was place in active moderation mode, users would only be allowed to reply directly to moderator’s posts.

For example, in the topic I’m referring to, a moderator could have reiterated the OP’s question and made it clear that any replies unrelated to the question would be deleted: “This topic is getting out of hand. If anyone has information about how to prevent forum content from being used to train LLMs, please reply to this post. Any replies unrelated to that question will be deleted.”

Active moderation mode could also allow replies to be limited to users who had been mentioned in a moderator’s post. For example:

  • @username does this answer your question?”
  • @user1 @user2, I’m selecting you as representatives of the two sides of this discussion. Can you discuss this issue privately and get back to us with a list of points that you’ve found agreement on, and a list of points that you continue to disagree about?”

Note, this is largely based on the assumption that much of what goes wrong on the internet is due to a lack of attention. Instead of forcing people to compete for attention, the idea is to guarantee that sufficient attention will be given to a subset of a topic’s participants.

I’m using the label “active moderation” because it ties into the idea of active learning and classroom discussions (where discussions are mediated by a teacher.)

As is generally the case for me with these types of posts, I’m posting partly to see for myself if the idea makes any sense. Possibly the idea of giving moderators tools to take control of discussions is good, but the suggested mechanism of only allowing replies to moderator posts is flawed. Any ideas about how to approach this would be appreciated.

Somewhat related: Political (and other contentious topics) moderation strategies - #31 by simon


Could be a good idea. I think it would apply when a discussion is unproductive or repetitive or not fruitful, whereas slow mode is, I think, intended for when discussion is heated and people are responding with adrenaline rather than calm evaluation.

What I might do today in such a case, as a mod, is close the thread with a post redirecting to a new one, where I would try to summarize the position(s) and lay the groundwork for progress. Possibly using quote texts from the previous discussion, And noting that an on-topic discussion is expected of everyone.


the mods on my forum do topic time outs - they will temporarily close topics that are getting heated or out of hand/ off topic and post warning (or reason) messages, then re-open later. i could see an active moderation mode or equivalent being useful on busy forums with lots of opinionated posts. interesting idea :thinking:


I like these ideas, at least as an experiment … sounds like plugin territory to me to explore the value of such a technique.

I guess the key to how effective this would be would having a hard working, fair moderator that was themselves patient and able to work through the discussion in detail to pick the right people to take it forward.

The only issue I see is sometimes you get that special contribution from some random that resolves the argument somehow by bringing some new perspective or a calming, rational presence. If you are actively shutting others out you will lose those sometimes crucial contributions.