Community Manager Post/Topic Tracking (a cue from Blizzard forums)

(John Nelson) #1

I have always liked the idea of Blizzard’s Blue Tracker feature of their forums. The posts from Community Managers or moderators show up in a special feed.


It would be awesome to see a similar feature in Discourse. That gives the leaders of the community a chance to stand out at a higher level from everyone else. It also makes for low hanging fruit for more casual visitors. Depending on the core topic of a Discourse site, it can be valuable to skip right to posts/topics that have community manager participation. In Blizzard’s case, they tend to discuss opinions on upcoming features or existing grievances, and even circulate news for patch notes and community content like blog posts. At the very least, it gives the community managers an opportunity to guide the community in a certain direction, possibly even in a subtle way.

A user page, but for a group
(Adam Heath) #2

This seems like it would be a good plugin.

As it would not be useful for a number of forums (where moderators just keep things in order), but would be very useful for the types of forum you mention (including this one, where posts by @codinghorror and the like have more weight).

(John Nelson) #3

I think that’s the key. It has to be a forum that has a core topic, and that topic has to have some momentum of change (as software typically does).

In the case where a white moderator only keeps things peaceful and relatively on topic, it might not work. It really requires Community Managers, which may or may not have insider knowledge regarding the central topic. At the very least they serve as leaders in the community, or maybe evangelists. From that wiki page, an interesting definition:

A Community Manager is a [user] that monitors the…forums, acting as a liaison between the [users] and the developers, along with other community-related responsibilities.

Another relevant quote from that wiki page concerning the CM role:

One of my functions a community manager is to provide information as it becomes available and is approved for posting. When I receive information, or am able to extract information from an appropriate source, I begin the approval process to make it public.

(Jeff Atwood) #4

We don’t have that – but you can easily go to my profile and filter my feed to just posts I’ve made:

So there is a fairly easy way to view activity from individual moderators at the moment, it’s just not consolidated (all moderators in one feed).

We also badly need a moderator indicator in the left gutter, so when I post you know I am a moderator – I’m not saying it matters all the time, and it should not, but you have a right to know.

(Jeremy Banks) #5

I kind-of like the idea of moderators being undistinguished except when users need to know. Having a constant reminder of authority might slightly distort the way other users interact with the moderator in general discussions.

For this reason, consider Reddit’s approach of allowing moderators to display an indicator beside their name when they’re “speaking as a moderator”, but allowing them to hide it in other cases.

This would also help in finding authoritative posts like this thread is asking for. In forums where the moderators are regular participants as well, it would be nice to see moderators’ posts about moderation issues without also seeing their posts about movies.

(Jeff Atwood) #6

Well, it’s just CSS, so they could style moderator names / avatars however they want including “not visible, ever, just like regular users all the time”.

(John Nelson) #7

My motive behind this feature idea is being able to use it to help generate content for daily digest sites like these:

The assumption here is that the specialized CM/Mod feed would be exposed via some public API at some point, allowing a third party to provide this kind of content.

I’m a passive consumer of those forums, mostly because of how aggressive their communities are. It’s more economical for my schedule to skim a daily post of “important” information. Then, when I have free time I can waste it on skimming “unimportant” posts/topics.

You may have to dig through those sites a bit to see exactly what I’m talking about. These sites do more than aggregate forum posts. They do things like data mining patch bits, twitter conversations, blog posts, events, etc. (FWIW: I think this is a great way to engage a larger group of people in your community). The people that care will always participate in the forums. Fact is, there’s a ton of people who still care but enjoy watching from safe distance.

Divergence Ahead:

If there’s a lot of concern about shedding too much light on a moderator post, especially when they’re generally ordinary users/contributors, what about a specialized feed that is broken up by day. Topics could show up in multiple days (color coded if their hot streak spans multiple consecutive days?), but in general topics would be grouped by day starting with today:

  - Users on fire for demanding popcorn with coffee   [Ponies]  [o][o][o]	11	3	1k	1d	1m
  - Something ordinary for extraordinary people       [Ponies]  [o][o][o]	2	3	500	3d	4m
  - Jelly Bellies are for trolls                      [Misc]    [o][o]		10	4	499	3d	2h
  ... ... ... ...
  - Users on fire for demanding popcorn with coffee   [Ponies]  [o][o][o]	11	3	1k	1d	1d
  - Something ordinary for extraordinary people       [Ponies]  [o][o][o]	2	3	500	3d	1d
  - Jelly Bellies are for trolls                      [Misc]    [o][o]		10	4	499	3d	1d
  ... ... ... ...
Two Days Ago
  - Something ordinary for extraordinary people       [Ponies]  [o][o][o]	2	3	500	3d	2d
  - Jelly Bellies are for trolls                      [Misc]    [o][o]		10	4	499	3d	2d
  ... ... ... ...

Forgive the crude illustration. But you see the point. It fights the topic landslide that happens, and gives an extra chance to highlight trending topics. Seems like a great way to catch up on what happened if you normally participate daily, but missed a few days because of travel or something.

(Jeff Atwood) #8

There are moderator indicators in the left gutter now on usernames. You’ll see one on me, for example.

This is just CSS, so if you don’t want it on your forum, style the CSS to default.

Also, we don’t yet have the ability to insert arbitrary mod messages in a topic – that is coming – but when we take mod actions that does insert moderator posts. See my demo below.

(Jeff Atwood) #11

We now have this feature:

(Jeff Atwood) #12