Consequences of using or bypassing Trust Levels for company/organization staff?

(Jonathan Sick) #1

At the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope we have recently setup a Discourse installation at We’re using it for a dual role of hosting internal project discussions among LSST staff and also for supporting the community who will use our software and data.

Discourse’s Trust mechanism is of course great for community users who we don’t know. But I’ve gotten some flak from members of our LSST organization for applying that Trust Level mechanism to them as well (imagine for a moment a tenured astronomer in the project complaining that the forum doesn’t ‘trust’ him enough yet to put an image on his post).

The remedy so far has been to assign all LSST staff to a LSST group, and then give that group a default Trust Level of 2. I’m tempted to relent and give all LSST staff trust level 4. After all, LSST staff have a professional reputation to uphold, so I’m not worried about spam in this case.

However, I also know that the Trust Levels exist to foster a well-functioning community. For instance, trust levels are tied to how much a person read and learns from the posts of others, rather than how loudly/frequently that person speaks. For LSST, this community-building aspect is very important because we’re a large organization that works remotely from 5+ sites. Unlike a company, scientific projects like this are somewhat more democratically run, and so sometimes the only way to promote best practices is by example and invisible systems than top-down edicts.

Some my question is: if I bypass the trust levels for project staff, will there be repercussions to how the community of project staff grows on our Discourse site? I’d be curious to hear what @codinghorror thinks since I know he cares deeply about the sociology of online communities.

(Jeff Atwood) #2

As long as the users are vetted, you should be OK. I would not give people trust level 2 though, TL1 should suffice.

Note that in 1.4 we changed the defaults such that TL0 can post one image by default.

(Jonathan Sick) #3

Is the reason not to give all project staff a default TL > 1 because they may not necessarily be experienced enough to use the additional functionality idiomatically (like splitting topics, or turning posts into wikis?)

(Jeff Atwood) #4

TL2 can’t split topics or turn posts into wikis. Perhaps you are thinking of TL3?

(Jonathan Sick) #5

Sorry if my OP was unclear. I’m thinking of giving all project staff TL4.

(Jeff Atwood) #6

As long as the accounts are 100% secure and vetted, you can give them as many rights as you like with no risk.

The risk comes from new signups.