I’m seeking advice and experience from admins/mods that have moved from vBulletin (or any platform using warnings and infractions) to Discourse and how your moderation process has changed. We were dependent on warnings and infractions and being able to reference them during forum policy violations.
In the past, if the offense wasn’t blatant or minor, we would send a warning PM and apply a warning to the user account, which was tracked at the user account level (accessible to all mods). If the offense was blatant or the user was around longer than a “new user” and committed a violation, infraction and PM. Recurrence of offenses (infractions total hit a limit or some time period) or just blatant violations would be met with temporary or permanent bans.
Now on Discourse, with just official warnings, we’re wondering how others sites and teams are approaching this. Are you simply making everything an official warning and PMing, so you can track the action/behavior at the user level, with that information available to all of the mod team members? Or are you still informally warning with a PM first? If the latter, how do you keep record of this offense for later reference if the user does violates policy again and you need to be able to make that connection?
Even on VB our mod team had a spreadsheet where we recorded offenses, and used that as a reference for all moderators.
Any other tips you could share would be awesome. Thanks!
I migrated a large vB forum onto Discourse. That included transitioning my mod team of ~55. Some of them found it challenging, others embraced it. From my perspective it was a success, although there was a teething period. @Mittineague@cpradio and @TechnoBear were members of that mod team and can will doubt add their personal insights.
My primary advice is to use this as an opportunity to review your moderation processes. Ours had become antiquated and time consuming. One of the most powerful aspects of Discourse is that you move some of that onus off your mods and onto the wider community. Rather than looking at your current processes and trying to replicate them on Discourse, I’d use this as a chance to start over and educate your members – empower them to self-moderate as much as possible. Then you can redeploy your mods in more strategic growth or engagement centric roles.
But I digress. To specifically answer your questions – in the case of minor offences when you’d prefer just to send a PM, utilise the Staff Notes functionality to keep a paper trail at a user level. All staff can see those. Then you can keep the official warnings for more serious violations. You should def not need a spreadsheet.
Staff Notes is something I failed to look deeper into. I’ll be sure to review those. And the reexamination of our mod process has definitely happened in some form. We already made the decision to better communicate with users rather than just assume they’ve read the forum rules and hand out warnings like in the past. And the self-moderate member features were something that we and the community were all very excited about. We’re a small team that doesn’t have 24 hour coverage of our forum, and the community was looking to help us out. Thanks for bringing attention to that, because we’re definitely impressed in the features that Discourse offers admins and community members.
We’re definitely all about reducing the need for tools and apps, to help simplify the mod process. Thanks for sharing your experience!
This is fantastic advice for moving to any new technology. Don’t try to replicate stuff that’s an artifact of something that doesn’t exist anymore. An analogy: If you have bold and italics, you don’t need underlining, which was devised solely because typewriters couldn’t change fonts.
Another thing I should mention – positively framing the new control that members will have over making the community the kind of place they want to hang out in is a good way of overcoming some of the fear-of-change based anxiety that will surround the moderation.
This is what we do (at SP). Granted, as a mod, you have to manually copy your PM to the staff note. But when you issue an official warning, that generates the staff note automagically (so just minor offenses require copying them). Oh, and you have to copy the contents of the PM for the minor offense, not just the URL, as unless it is marked as an official warning, it isn’t shared with all Moderators.