Alternative names for trust levels

I’m looking at trust levels in my community. I hope you don’t mind if I think out loud here - please jump in if you have suggestions based on your experience. If you changed the names for trust levels on your discourse, what names did you choose and why?

Here’s my current thinking for changes I’d like to make in my community:

  • TL0 = new (change to “New Arrival to the Forum”)
  • TL1 = basic (change to “Forum Reader”)
  • TL2 = member (change to “Forum Contributor”)
  • TL3 = regular (change to “Frequent Forum Contributor”)
  • TL4 = leader (change to “Forum Moderator”)
  • Moderator
  • Admin

To explain a bit further:

  • our forum is only one of many services we provide to members of our community. So it is quite possible for a member to be a community leader (e.g. faculty at a leadership course, authored a publication, etc) but still a new user or lurker in the forum. Hence the narrowed titles to e.g. “Forum Reader”. Might work but clunky.
  • it seems to make sense to use names that more directly indicate what they mean. So for example TL1 is really about people who have been reading a bit in the forum but have not yet jumped into conversations yet. TL2 is about people who have taken the plunge. They are involved.
  • So far, we appear to have only acquired one TL3 member organically.
  • We will be inviting people to become forum moderators for renewable 6 month terms. We will start them off as TL4 and as they grow into their role may give them moderator privs as well. It would be nice to give them the ability to whisper on topics they have access to.
  • Moderators typically are staff members who need access to the stats and user list on the admin dashboard, as well as whispers. We’d like to downplay these folks in favor of TL4 because not all of them are actively involved in moderating discussions on the forum.
  • We only have one admin (me). Occasionally I give others access temporarily, e.g. when I go on vacation or when a programmer needs to jump in to help.

Looks good. The only one that catches me is the forum moderator TL4 are not moderator even if they have basic moderation abilities. That would confuse users perhaps?


Thanks! I thought of that too. But TL4 privs are pretty close to full moderator privs, so blurring this a bit may not cause any particular problem for the community at large.


It is annoying you can’t get a TL4/sort of mod actions that can be enabled or as a new TL


Just some friendly feedback, feel free to ignore.

Having two names with the word moderator could be confusing since in writing many people will tend to write with the shorter name, e.g. using Moderator when they really mean Forum Moderator.

I know TL4 has some pretty powerful privileges at their finger tips that can be used for moderation, but they should not be confused with a moderator.


Right after I finished posting this, I saw the other reply which is essentially the same as this. No intention to step on what you wrote.

I will leave this here because if two people see it the same way it carries more weight. :smiley:



Thank you both. I guess what I’m trying to move toward and figure out if I can do is downplaying the moderator role, and emphasizing the TL4 role. So for example the title would be “Forum Moderator” for those who will play that role, and while moderators would still get the badge showing they have privileges, we would not make such a big deal out of it for those people. They could choose a different title if they do not want to play a forum moderator role.

The about page would list TL4 folks and not moderators - not sure how to do that.


So if the TL4 are on the about page, where do the mods live?


Again just some advice.

If TL4 and moderators are so close in privileges, and since both are not earned but assigned by administrators, then why not just skip using TL4, and have only real moderators?

That is rhetorical, no need to answer.

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I can see how this can get confusing and will have to be careful. :wink: I don’t think the mods and TL4s have to “live” anywhere in particular, but I do think the about page should only list people who are useful to list there, e.g. people who can be contacted about forum discussions.

I’ve thought of this too, and it may in fact be fine to just skip TL4. I just want to roll this out carefully and be sure not to give too many people too many privileges too fast. The people we’d recruit to TL4 are trusted but still need to be trained up. And in many cases they don’t actually need any moderator privileges at all…


The positive part of all of this is that you have put in some serious thought, I can’t tell you how many times I answer on SO and feel like I have drag the OP along.

Another rhetorical question.

Do you need full moderators from the start?

If not then let the cards play out and reserve the assignment of moderators for if and when you need them as the admins can deal with the heavy lifting.


On the security side, if this were my site I would have two-factor authentication enabled for my admin login. Also have another login that is not admin if you don’t use admin functions often.

Maybe Discourse should have the su and/or sudo functionality via screen.

On the site I use daily, my account has two-factor authentication and it was no harder to set up for Discourse, than either gmail or GitHub.

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These are helpful ideas… thanks. I think I am looking at a few aspects here and it’s worth looking at them in turn.

The Admin vs Moderator vs leader topic is helpful in elucidating the difference between TL4 and moderator and admin. In short, TL4s can moderate in topics, but moderators can also manage users. I did a quickish test just now and can see that moderators are able to access some admin functions on users, including silencing them. They also have access to some potentially confusing admin dashboard stuff including plugins and logs.

So… while in most cases there is no harm in giving forum moderators access to full moderator privs, it may confuse them and involves me telling them to stick to what they understand and need to moderate discussions and me trusting them to do that. This is not an entirely bad way to operate but comes with a bit of risk. Some of the concerns raised in that topic have been fixed - e.g. moderators do not necessarily have access to email addresses (admin settable) and they cannot download user list or user data of others.

My preference still would be to have a separate group for forum moderators and display members of that group on the about page, and to give forum moderators TL4 by default and upgrade them to moderators as they grow into the role.

I think this has come up elsewhere on meta - we don’t need to talk about hardening security of admin access here.


As someone who works on a bunch of sites, my gut is to leave them as they are. As more people become familiar with Discourse those terms will be understood by users who have used Discourse elsewhere (not just Discourse experts who are trying to help debug some problem).

I agree that those default words don’t mean much, but it’s not clear that yours are any more descriptive. (I tried to come up with some, but failed.)


Thanks, Jay! I can see your point and agree with you there.

Maybe the answer is to continue to leave trust levels alone and just use them for admin purposes as we have been. We only use TL1 and TL2 badges now.

Then I can create a new “Forum Moderators” group and put everyone in there that has committed to help with moderator duties. Then I can give TL4 or moderator privileges to those folks when the time is right for each of them. People in this group can be given access to the lounge and the “Forum Moderator” title.

I can also of course add folks to category moderator groups as well.

All that remains is to figure out how to display members of this group in the “Our moderators” list on the about page instead of folks with moderator privs.

Probably not quite so simple but getting there… :wink:


I feel the same way, but if someone @tobiaseigen wants to “show” to other users that a certain user is a “Community Leader” or whatever title he wishes to use (without Mod rights), then why not create a badge that is manually awarded and has a title that can be used. If the user doesn’t use the title, then a Mod or Admin can make it so.


Thanks, Jim! I have arrived at this conclusion. I will create a new group with associated title and badge.

I’d like to also list the people in this group on the about page instead of everyone with moderator access - if anyone has any advice on how to make that happen, let me know. Maybe I need to start a new topic to suggest it.

Now I am back to the original question, though - what is the best name for this group? Despite the confusion with moderators, I think “Forum Moderator” is still be the best I can think of. It’s an appointed role specific to the forum that comes with benefits and obligations.


Good luck, hope all runs fine. :slightly_smiling_face: