How can moderators coordinate their efforts?

I need some help or advice on a problem our moderation team is having. We are getting some complaints about inconsistency in moderation, where one moderator may be more strict than another in applying rules. The result is users getting a Jekyll and Hyde experience. We need to improve our communications about moderation decisions. It could be I’m not using all the tools available, which is why I’m asking here.

Q: Is there an easy way to turn a flag on a post into a Staff discussion thread?

Q: Does anyone use Whispers to allow moderator discussion within a thread, and how well does this work?

Example: User X has a comment flagged for use of the pejorative term “poopypants”. Moderator Andy sees the flag first and hides the comment. Later on, moderator Dan sees a similar flag for “poopypants” but doesn’t think it is needs to be removed, and ignores/disagrees with the flag. Q: How can Andy and Dan better coordinate their efforts?

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Hey there,
Good questions. Have you seen this? It might be helpful Discourse Moderation Guide

We use whispers heavily here on Meta. They are really handy for making decisions and leaving an audit trail. We also use Staff notes against user accounts.

All moderation requires a bit of detective work though. The moderation dashboard is a good place to start.

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They should be speaking to each other ideally – there is a built in Staff category that comes in every Discourse instance, where only staff can see those topics.

I’d turn those specific incidents into staff topics to be discussed in the staff category so everyone can get on the same page. I don’t see a software fix for lack of communication, unfortunately.

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I’ll request Whispers be turned on, and keep pushing for better communications. - Thanks.

Let me rephrase my question: is there an easy way to turn an unresolved flag into a discussion - and I take the answer to be no. That’s OK, but I needed to ask.

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It’s a good idea; I wonder, could we have a “Start Staff Discussion” button in the flag handing area? That would kick off the creation of a new topic in the Staff category with the flag title, etc? What do you think @eviltrout ?

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Some moderation types already have attached conversations in the moderators inbox, and some don’t. Frankly, it’s a bit confusing. It would be great to unify this and be able to start off new conversations with the moderation team for all items in the review queue :ok_hand:

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Eh, it’s not that confusing. Either you use an existing flag type, or you PM the moderators. :woman_shrugging:

We really don’t want or need a conversation topic for every bit of spam that appears in the world…

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I think that this would be a nice addition. I have also come across the problem Dan outlined in the topic. I did some digging and I found this topic (from 2015 so its pretty old now) with the #planned tag not sure if there is any updates on this?

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That reminds me of an old idea I should revive; adding a hashtag on moderator communications to make it easy for other mods to search for them. This worked well on Google Plus when there very few moderation controls.

ETA: This experience might be worth sharing: back on G+ we tried to have agreement among 2-3 moderators about non-obvious decisions, or review of decisions afterwards (we had a group of thousands and over a dozen mods in the US, Europe, and India). This was a big help in learning to make consistent decisions as a group. Part of our problem now is mods don’t see what other have decided unless they go looking for it. No specific suggestions here, just trying to explain a communication process.

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I think this is a great idea. I’ve added it to the next release plan.

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There are also moderation logs etc etc.

But it is nice to try get all mods on the same page.
That is often an internal discussion as only the site operator has any clue as to what really constitutes infractions etc.

You also need to get your USERS on the same page too with a general site proclamation of some kind.

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That’s where a TOS (Terms Of Service) comes in. :wink:

But alas, TOS are like Privacy Policies - no one ever wants to read them. :neutral_face:

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Enforcing discobot on new users can help with TOS scenarios.
Same with the CANNED REPLIES which save a lot of of typing and allow you to drop short form links on users to read the readme’s :smirk:

There is also the specific moderator areas eg LOUNGE where they can confer to reach a consensus on issues.

Just wish canned replies were PER MODERATOR and not GLOBAL.

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2-person approval for any moderation decisions that someone is unsure about is a very powerful tool and I highly recommend making sure you have some sort of chat channel for getting it quickly. (1 Proposing moderator + 1 checking moderator)

Anything that requires more than 2 moderators to agree should be a Staff topic.


EDIT:

Also, I think I probably suggested this at some point years ago :sweat_smile:

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One suggestion I’ve also seen is to display flagging information (number of silence/suspensions in the last 6 months) and set a step of penalty defaults so 1st/2ond/3rd strike penalties would default to a standard list of 1/10/30 day suspensions, for example. This would allow mods to quickly be able to act more uniformally when responding to flagged items.

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One site I lead‑admin runs a review and approve all pending users policy. We often embark on completely separate email traffic to determine suitability.

It would be nice to record the status of that process on the Review page. Given that the process is specific to our community, I guess a drop‑down text box where admins could leave notes would be one option.

Or have I missed something? TIA

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Why not create a Staff Topic for this? Only staff will see it and individual users can be discussed and decided upon… without having to resort to using email. One drawback I see with this is that a staff member would have to enter each user being reviewed for approval individually. Maybe create a Staff Category for this and use individual topics for each user? Once someone is approved, that topic could be marked as Solved. Depending upon how many new users you get, there could be a lot of topics though.

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I agree, but I’m not entirely clear where this would be shown; can you provide a quick UI mockup?

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It would appear when applying penalties:

In the penalty modal, moderators would be able to see previous moderator history against the user, and the length of penalty will be autofilled to a date, based on a rhetoric in site settings matched with the user’s penalty history.

I realize this particular case wasn’t in the OP’s question, but it’s similar enough to be within scope here. Anything that software can do to better normalize moderation decisions I’d consider a win.

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The specific issue we are having is that certain flags or approvals should be discussed, and that is difficult to coordinate. There should be a staff topic, but what often happens is the flag/approval is cleared without the other moderators ever knowing there was a decision to be made. We really need to be able to share our thoughts and review certain decisions so we can act in a consistent manner on future decisions.

In my G+ days our standard for non-trivial decisions was at least three mods to review and a majority to agree. This was slow, but it allowed us to be very consistent. It was also a big help when bringing new mods on board because they could see how we worked out problems.

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