Is auto-promoting TL3s a sensible choice?

For me at least the point is you can give category moderators TL3 if you explicitly want them to have that additional power.

If not they can’t affect change outside the area where they are CM.

You can always make TL3 harder to attain or practically unattainable if you’re concerned that others will misuse those powers.


For context, these are currently our TL after barely 1 month.


There are users that are really dedicated on the forum and with how generalist our forum has become over the years, we have had users with very strong opinions and not that very strong self control that will surely mess up the community if they were able to move topics etc etc.

I’ve edited TL1 and TL2 requirements in our forum to make it a little more linear to progress, Discourse tend to give away TL1 in a moment and TL2 quite soon after that, I changed it so that TL1 is achieved after at least not pretending to read something and TL2 requires actually being active.

TL3 is default and it’s still quite a high threshold and despite that, 10 users already reached it and I’m sure others are close by as I am basically there myself with being just shy of a couple thousands post reads to reach the threshold.

Anything that can be obtainable automatically should not be giving permission to mess with the content of others. It may be fine with small communities but not with big, heavily trafficked or company owned ones. I don’t really know from where this decision came in Discourse team. It seems that there is a “wholesome” expectation behind lots of decision which… is fine when you want to talk about the direction this software want to push through, but it shouldn’t ignore the reality in which most often we are, as staff of a discussion board.

I don’t know if this is going OT again so I’ll just drop it here.


Are you sure about that? Meta is company-owned and in the same order of magnitude (50k vs 80k) and is approaching nine years old. We have lots more TL3 and the only notable incidents stemmed from ignorance rather than malice.

TL3 doesn’t have to be an expectation either. You can always make it totally unattainable in practical terms and just give it out to category mods you trust to influence what arrives into other categories (and in turn move things into the categories they moderate).

That’s the brilliant bit about using the software to build the software. It’s an experiment that’s almost nine years in the running. Things that happen here do influence the software that everyone else receives, with lots of options to tune behaviors to your specific community.


You are comparing a brand new community born with the, let’s call it “wholesome” approach from the beginning, with communities that are tens of years old, or have high volume of traffic from lots of different users with different reasons to participate, or company’s that may and will have complaints or just plain “haters” and so on and so forth.

meta is not really something you can compare with this use case as it’s a forum for the software used to manage communities. The average users is most probably “staff” of other communities, developers or PR/Owner of companies.

To further clarify. I won’t ever think of coming here talking about my political view or opinion about social aspects. Even just those topics alone will draw so much heat that communities that also offer a space for those topics are in an entirely different plane of existence from this board.


I think that really illustrates my point though. You presented an absolute where there are very obviously exceptions.

You can neuter the utility of TL3, or be far more selective with access and empower trusted category moderators.

TL3 is a tool, you can make it work for you to solve your perceived gap in category moderation.


I just want to add that the ability to change the category and edit posts will be changed to depend on groups. Then you can give that power to your categroy moderators without changing the trust level


my2c i don’t think it does at all though.

The ability to move topics around is clearly and plainly not something that a normal user (no matter how dedicated) generally expects, should get or even cares for, specifically because it is automated; it seems clear to me that the default should be something more restrictive and not the other way around, since that would work better for the higher number of communities. :sweat_smile:


I’m sorry but this passive aggressive kind of response is the reason users then resort to send PM among themselves in this very community that you think is so much of an example of harmony.

The lack of ability to act on their role is not perceived.

The actions allowed to a regular TL2 user that belong to a category moderator group are laughable at best if compared to a regular moderator.
TL3 is an automated role given by the system in which you have no control apart from making it harder or easier to obtain and thus, it cannot be considered a solution because the staff have no control in that regard.

I was astonished when category moderators told me “we cannot move topics, can you do it for us?” or “we cannot enable slow mode, can you do it for us?” because it’s part of what I would expect a moderator of a category was able to do in their categories. If I have to do such “routine” tasks myself (or a moderator have to do it) when a category mod ask me, then why even have that feature at all.

All of these is anyway just talking for talking sake because if the direction discourse wanted to set was what you are implying, that communities self-moderate. Why have TL4 being only manually assignable? Why even have category moderators? Why is that TL4 are near-moderators forum wide and category moderators have still less control compared to them? Can you see the confusion that can easily arise from the current state of “tools” offered?


I mean, there’s a lot to unpack here, but I’ll prefix this with the universal reminder to keep conversation cool, calm and collected. Discussing Discourse features should not be a fraught experience. :slight_smile:

The category moderation seems to be a small part of what your OP raised and it’s a shame to distract from that, but just in case you missed it:

You can manually grant TL3 from the admin/user/ page for a user, as well as lock a TL to a lower one if, for instance, someone attains one but turns out they can’t be trusted with the added perks it brings. Have you considered manually bumping your category moderators up to TL3 so they can move topics between categories?

Admittedly Slow Mode is currently a TL4 feature and you may not want to grant those abilities sitewide, but (as I mentioned previously) I think there is a good case to be made for allowing that to be a cat mod perk if you create a feature request for it.

Are there any other abilities you think are missing?


i really struggle to see how beneficial it is for a random user to get these capabilities, and with them the ability to really mess up a board, automatically.
what’s the rationale behind it?

what are the pros?

do you really not see the potential for a malicious actor to really make it a terrible day (days if you automate it a bit…or load a backup) for normal users and staff?
have you never seen forum drama before? :sweat_smile:


I think the idea of automatic promotion to trusted status comes from a place where forum members are mostly well-behaved, and where bad actors will not naturally last long enough to reach the higher levels.

In a forum of mature adults, or a forum that’s part of a company or a shared endeavour, this seems to me like a good model.

In a forum of less disciplined people, or in a space where hostile people might join up and work hard at being destructive, it’s not so good. In these cases, the forum admins should set the thresholds to put things out of reach, and use manual promotion (and demotion.)

The automatic and self-regulating nature of the automatic promotions and demotions: as your forum gets bigger, it automatically gets more moderator-like attention.


This is a fairytale in any open registration forum. :sweat_smile:

I’ve been part of tens of communities during the years, i’ve seen people getting upset over anything from pixels to pizza recipes to wardrobe choices (not the clothes, the furniture) to who’s stronger between “hulk” and “the thing” (and i’m talking about adults here, let’s forget minors) - not a single one could count on EVERYBODY to behave, quite the opposite; you can only count on having one or more determined assholes.

Some of them even collapsed due to malice and internal drama.

The default behaviour shouldn’t be to automatically give powers like these around, because you shouldn’t be giving moderating powers to people just for sticking around, but to people who stick around that are somewhat well adjusted and trustworthy too.
If you can’t be bothered to administrate your board, automatic moderation won’t save it.

I can see tho that this is a different design philosophy so i’ll stop bothering and keep quiet :sweat_smile: :+1:


Just to note, it’s possible to pin someone’s trust level. So, anyone who seems unstable or counterproductive can be pinned, early in their career, to TL1 (for example.)


If that were the case you’d see a bunch of topics here about how forums had been trashed by people who got to trust level 3 and made a mess of things.

Have you experienced an issue with this on any forum you manage or have visited? If you know that your forum has a bunch of users who will participate for 100 days, logging in for 50, receive 50 likes and not get more than 5 flags, your can change those defaults. The easiest is to change the number of days to a million or more.

And for forums where the staff is non existent, auto promotion to TL3 is probably safer than not doing so.


This is the most common response in this forum and it’s a bubble-effect in full swing. This forum is not a good use-case for real life scenario and should never be used for it.

There are plenty of communities that use discourse today and whenever the focus of the community is something for which there is some passion from the community as a whole, you will find conflict.

This board is made by users that are:

  • technical
  • management
  • PR

Of the three, none is “invested” in the project enough to waste time arguing when the “staff” tells them “it’s fine”. They will simply either move to other products or make the modification they want.

What will happen is that they will simply “unsubscribe” from the notifications to not be bothered and move on. That is not how it works in communities that are not “meta”.


Right. So change the defaults if they don’t work for your community.

Have you had a problem using Discourse Wyeth the defaults? If so, please share it. From what I understood, you expect a problem but haven’t actually had one. But you know your community, and there are certainly communities where the defaults are not applicable.

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I believe that the key to managing a forum lies in people rather than a spherical super perfect forum software in a vacuum.

Your forum has 80k+ users, but only 10 TL3s. Let’s say 100% of TL3s are bad guys (oh my god, that’s a disaster). You also only need to deal with 10 saboteurs. Editing the title or the category will cause the user to be notified, after that users can flag it, so moderators should be aware of it quickly. I think it should be the moderator’s job to deal with only 10 bad guys out of 80k+ users.

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Jay sometimes I feel like you skim read. It’s not a problem of defaults or not. It’s a problem of missing options.

The point is, raising “but in meta doesn’t happen” it’s a moot point. It’s like saying “but I’ve never seen a cow in my life”. Sure, doesn’t mean they don’t exists.

The answers to raised issues in terms of lacking options or opinionated choices in how the options are provided tend to be met with “it’s by design” so one simply go and make its own modifications which of course takes time (people need to learn how discourse "vanilla works before being able to know what/how to change it) and contribute to creating the equivalent of the dependency hell of many languages in which there are N discourse installations but multiplied by M plugins configurations which makes harder overall to provide help even just in the community.

I’m tempted to ignore the message because I’m tired of the constant “poking” like the part in parenthesis but just for the sake of “discussion” I’ll tell you what is the problem that clearly is escaping you at this time.

TL3 are automatically assigned over time. Let’s go along for an hypothetical ok?

  • It will take a couple days to create a bot with puppeteerJS that farm a user account (reading time, reactions, etc) and sooner or later (depending on how you increase the requirements) you’ll have some accounts that reach TL3 (source: years of experience in web development)
  • Let’s say instead that a troublesome user just participate and is often suspended, silenced, TL0’ed but simply, really simply just create a new account and start all over again (source: direct experience)

Moderators will deal with him (or it, if it’s a bot enhanced account that is smart and stay low) but over and over and over, it will be tiring and expensive in terms of time spent trying to protect the community.

It’s not a job. Moderators, unless you are talking as if discourse is used only by companies and moderators are only employees, are not paid personnel. They have to deal with the worst side of the community and do it for free. If you write something like that above, you either have never been a moderator and/or have never been in a community that has some serious traffic.

The title of this split is probably misleading (not intentionally) as the discussion was born while discussing another topic and this was a secondary topic that came out of it. The overall discussion is more about how the “positive” philosophy behind Discourse is often not accounting for real world scenarios in which it doesn’t even offer an option to deal with. Which is not the case for the TL3 actions as you can hunt for what a TL3 does in the settings and change it, but there are things you just cannot prevent.

I’ll just disable notification here now, because I feel that the topic has lost it’s original focus and we are just talking about something else entirely.


But the point was there would be topics here written by community managers reporting the problem at meta. It was not that the problem does not happen here.

If you set tl3 requires days visited to 101, that will not work. Because no one can reach that in 100 days.

And i think for most communities autopromoting is the right choice. Since it supports the idea, that useres partly organize themselves. And those, where it is a problem can change it. Other discourse feature also do not work for every community, but still are active by default.


This seems like a good place to tie this one off. I’ll close it and we can always reframe and reboot if the discussion comes up again. :+1: