Automatically add moderators / staff when using Make Personal Message?

(Sam Saffron) #1

One thing we should possibly change is when we “Make topic private” we should automatically invite @moderators to the message. I really like that idea @codinghorror

(Kane York) #2

Invite all of @staff unless you want to be generating extra “admin viewed PM” logs.


Very few situations where I use Make Personal Message involved behaviours where all Staff needed to receive an automatic notification and be updated on every subsequent reply, and to invite all Staff automatically defies members’ expectations of what a Personal Message topic is.

Example: members get into a heated discussion or go slightly off-topic, but no bad will or rule-breaking as such, mod makes it private so they can thrash it out in peace and not derail topic – this does not require all Staff receive notifications until they log-in to remove themselves from the message topic.

If this is changed, I would have to explain that I made that section a PM because it was going off-topic, but also, all Staff are now getting notifications of every subsequent post – this is not Make Personal Message so much as Take You Off The topic But Invite All Staff To Your Chat.

Another thing I use Make Personal Message for is when a troll joins, and either begins a topic or derails an existing one: members will try to set them straight until it becomes obvious this isn’t possible, I ban troll then make the whole topic, or the derailed section, a PM to save my time, so I don’t have to individually notify people what happened.

I aim for transparent moderation and simply “disappearing” someone, who may have been passing themselves off as simply obtuse or opinionated, and who has got people riled, is not my style – if good members have invested time and effort, I like to give them closure.

This can be especially relevant where the troll is engaging in borderline rule-breaking but when checked, their IP address or other data exposes them as someone who was previously banned, and I wish to let everyone who interacted with their new persona know why that person has been banned, where, perhaps, their actions may simply have seem confused or misguided.

Moderators (and anyone above TL1) already have the option to Invite other Staff to the Personal Message topic very easily if it’s necessary.

And forums already have the option to have a private Staff section to log what was done in the event of rule-breaking, suspensions, and bans.

When I make a topic a PM and have also taken any action that limits a member (ban, suspension, TL demotion or lock), I log these in Staff and copy-paste in relevant material to that post using select > Quote from the topic.

Based on my most recent uses of this function, I believe it will create unecessary notifications to busy Staff, as members continue replying in what is ostensibly the private space a moderator created for them, and this creates notifications eating into the 100 notifications a day limit.

And the Staff in question would need to log-in to opt out of the PM manually to stop receiving these.

May I therefore suggest not making the Staff invitation automatic, but instead offering it as an option to select along the way?

(Jeff Atwood) #4

I agree with @ubik, I can’t say that “automatically add moderators all the time” is a wise idea @sam.

(Sam Saffron) #5

Not following, Make personal message is a “topic level” action, not a “post level” action.

If stuff gets heated for say 5 posts in a 50 post topic you are stuck first splitting the topic before turning it into a PM. Bringing it back to the topic is going to be an adventure.

The reason I think adding mods makes sense is that, the reason, in general, for making something private is that you are performing some sort of moderation. So the default of making other moderators aware is sane.

That said, you already can opt in to this by invite mods after turning it to a message, so this, at best is just a minor usability improvement.

Note, by default moderators have the tracking notification level on group pms to moderators, so this does not flood notifications, it goes into the aggregate one. It’s the same bucket as “a moderator replied to a flag”.


We may have crossed wires :slight_smile: as I did not mention bringing the newly-created Personal Message back to its original topic? But rather, using it to inform members what happened in the troll example with a single reply, or, to permit two members (occasionally more) to continue their back-and-forth without derailing a thread.

But it will generate notifications with each new reply made, and they will contain the full text of replies sent immediately to the email inbox of all Staff, meaning the personal space I gave people to have their discussion is not private. Unless I am misunderstanding something, which is possible.

I would anticipate members feeling rebuked by the fact any discussion made private is being monitored by Staff. It stops being a service to give people ability to hash out a topic between themselves, and becomes a kind of naughty-step/panopticon crossover.

Perhaps this is a difference of how we conceive this role, and reporting: I consider anything that manually limits (or increases) member access to any function, and anything that consitutes a caution or warning, to be worthy of logging in the Staff section for all Staff to see; but, making things PM in the examples I gave above is slightly more like moving a topic to a better category, it IS a moderator action but it is not something all moderators need to receive automatic notification of, and be plugged into until they opt out.

And where the thread is moved to a PM and someone who took past has been TL-demoted, TL-locked, suspended, silenced, or banned as a result of their actions, I would log that in Staff so that all Staff have a single easily-searchable location for 1. the username of the banned person, plus their IP where relevant and 2. any data or comments I wish to add without sharing that with other members.

Everything this would do is already covered by the ability to easily invite Staff which is there for all TL1+, and by the facility to have a Staff section to log moderator actions (or to be specific, the reason and background for these, since the action itself appears in Logs).

This is why I suggested making adding all Staff to the newly-created PM optional for forums who do not use a Staff section, or whose moderators don’t engage in this kind of reporting.

(Sam Saffron) #7

Hmm I think we are talking about a different feature then, especially since you say:

Nothing new is created when you click the wrench and then click “Make Personal Message”.

Its the exact same topic except that it was “re-categorized” as a private message and all the people who replied to the topic are recipients.

We use this feature here on meta if

  • Someone posts a security exploit publicly (in which we would also strip some extra recipients)
  • A customer posts something that really should have been sent to team email, in which I would invite the team group

That said, even my two examples above have edge cases and adding moderators would not necessarily make stuff any better.

I am happy to just keep status quo for now.

When you turn a topic into a personal message nothing is logged in /admin/logs/staff_action_logs we should log both when you turn something to a PM and when you turn it public.

Cause I was going to audit the last 10 times we used the feature and could not find anything :persevere:

(Sam Saffron) #8

Note, with data explorer we have:

SELECT id post_id, topic_id from posts where action_code = 'private_topic'

So it is actually audit-able.

From actual real-world use on meta.discourse, adding @moderators would create work for us, cause our general use case it to invite @team.

We can look at a few other sites, but there is definitely nothing urgent to do here.

(cpradio) #9

I’m both okay with having it default add or leaving it with the status-quo, we generally manually add @moderators to the Personal Message when we feel it is relevant. However, to be honest, we don’t have to use the feature all that much, so I can’t really tell you if we do it often or just seldom occurrences.

In both situations, it is easy enough to both invite or remove said group from the PM. If either of those were difficult, I could see arguments being made on this, but that isn’t the case.

(Ryan Leach) #10

@sam Did the other thread this one stem from get deleted? I was going to link to it from here for context, but it’s just gone.

(Jeff Atwood) #11

We felt that discussion was not going anywhere productive, so you’ll need to find an existing topic (there are several) on unlisted if you want to try again.

(HopscotchRemixer) #12

This would be useful on my forum

Mainly because the mods don’t allow PMs because they can’t moderate them. If the the Discourse Team adds this then they can allow PMs again!

(Sam Saffron) #13

Yeah not following, Discourse already allows all of this. Hopscotch moderators can turn any topic to a message and then add moderators to it.

I doubt they would consider setting a precedent of lots of moderated private messages cause it would introduce enormous amounts of work to the moderation team.

(HopscotchRemixer) #14

Are you saying that they can already view all Private Messages?

(Sam Saffron) #15

Yes, that is the reason it is called personal messages not private messages

(cpradio) #16

Admins can. Moderators can only see ones that are flagged or are marked as an Official Warning.

(Baha Hijazi) #17

maybe it depends on size and activity of the community? and what drove me to comment was the feeling that you are very cautious when things come to automating :sweat_smile:

Note: I had a bit longer reply, but a message saying “Your post contains words that aren’t allowed.” kept popping! And I’m sure I was being polite! so it would be great if you give me a link to understand what was happening, Actions on Watched Words didn’t help much. Maybe it has something to do with me not being a basic member here?