Adding a privacy policy

There needs to be a terms of use or a privacy policy you have to agree to when joining discourse. Allow me to explain my position. Also, please excuse me for putting this in the wrong category, if I did, please change it to the appropriate one.

I don’t feel really comfortable on other discourse forums with administrators (some teenagers) looking at my private information. I think it is absurd having them look at my IP address and my email address, especially considering that it says that it won’t be shown to the public. There should be something you have to agree to on what will or won’t be shown and of course, some other things as well that would be mentioned in a terms of use. I have been on discourse for a couple of years now and I only knew about this just recently. “But why not turn on a VPN?” I would, but I am not sure if my last known IP will be shown to moderators after I put it on. I want some answers, please, I am very bewildered about this.

Discourse administrators from one instance can’t get access to your details in another instance.


If after becoming aware of the terms you now feel uncomfortable with a Discourse forum that you joined without reading or understanding the terms, IMHO you should contact that site’s Admin and ask them to anonymize your account at that forum.

I was thinking of like a toggle, maybe, to make it not shown?

If you go to

under “other” you should see a setting for

◯ Hide my public profile and presence features

Will that make it completely not shown?

I guess it depends on what you mean by “completely”.

I do not know if enabling that setting hides a profile from all except the Admin or all except Staff.

Maybe you’re thinking of something like a “super-admin” that has moderator abilities that “regular-moderators” don’t have? To some extent this is already the case. For example, only Admins can access messages and query the database. i.e. Admins have full access to everything.

AFAIK communities vary, but for some, Admins concentrate on the community as a whole and do not get involved in routine moderator activities. I imagine some Admins do some amount of moderation, but for larger forums it could be quite a workload to do all moderation by themselves.

Again, a forum’s Admin should be trusted to have trustworthy moderators. IMHO if you feel uncomfortable with a forum, you should ask to have the account anonymized.

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Thank you. I understand now, thank you for answering my questions.

Just to add some info,

I’m an admin over on the forums he’s speaking of, and prompted him to post here with his concerns. We’re a fairly small forum (20k total users, but probably no more than 100 active users currently) so certain admins cover certain aspects of moderation. We have a relatively young userbase so Killian was concerned with teenagers being able to view IPs and emails (they’re all covered under an agreement, we’ve never disclosed IP information). We’ve been pretty open with being able to view IPs for a while, but recently it’s been a concern of several members.

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Personally I don’t understand being concerned about IPs, I may be ignorant of something but AFAIK nobody could find out much about me based on what IP I used other than perhaps my general location.

Email addresses are a different story, for example it would not be a good thing if a moderator was harvesting email addresses with malicious intent.

Knowing various account information is crucial if moderation is do be done fairly. Having access to account information is something that should not be abused. Admin -> Logs -> Staff Actions can be filtered by “show email”. Not that logging is fool-proof, but it does provide transparency and accountability.

IPs give locations down to the city on our forum, but from my experience it’s likely not fully accurate. It’s covered under our forums agreement not to share any IP related information (other than potential alts, mostly to prevent ban evasion) though Killian might have other IP related concerns.

I’ve actually taken a look through the check email logs and it’s actually been done somewhat recently, though the internal policy we have is mostly not to check them without good reason. I suppose if there’s nothing that can be done Discourse side we could make a topic on our forum concerning what information is available to moderators/admins. Though Killian seems to be concerned with this ability across all Discourse instances so I’m not sure how much that would help.

For your forum you could consider having trust level 4 members in lieu of moderators. They would still be able to perform “forum duties” and would not have access to account information. But yes, that would be your decision for your forum and not all other forums. There may be some forums that have no moderators other than the admin, but I don’t know of any.

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We’ve got a system where potential moderation team members go through a helper phase where they’re TL4 only (in contact with everyone else though) before they’re graduated up to moderation permissions. It probably wouldn’t work for all moderators though, they do a lot of stuff (anonymizations, name changes, suspensions etc.) that are moderation permissions only. How do most other forums handle this problem?