Moderator Discussion: How do you handle when to edit vs delete vs doing nothing to a post that violates forum policy/user conduct

I wanted to see how other communities handle flagged posts that aren’t blatant spam, but require some action from the mod team to conform to your forum policy/use code of conduct. When your moderators agree that a change to the post is needed, what do they do? Especially in cases where only part of the post is in violation, how are post edits/deletions handled? Secondary question, if you do make edits, do you communicate those changes to the user?


  1. Agree with the flag, make no changes to it, and put the responsibility of correcting the post on the post creator. Nothing more than the default PM is sent to the post creator.
  2. Agree with the flag, make no changes to it, and put the responsibility of correcting the post on the post creator. You send a second PM to the post creator outlining exactly what text is in violation and should be changed
  3. Agree with the flag, edit the portion of the post that’s in violation of policy, by either removing the violating text, or replacing the text with something like [comment removed for violating forum policy]. Unhide the post.
  4. Agree with the flag, but delete the entire post

We’re trying to balance action on our part and communication to the flagger that action has been taken, while also not fueling the argument that the we censor our community.

About our community
Our forum focuses on finance and trading, where everybody has their own “right” way of doing things and being successful, so discussions about what does and doesn’t work often get heated. We’re also plagued by salesmen, many who start out as legitimate members of the community, build a following, and then start to subtly promote or advertise or even spam our members. We also have seasoned members who’ve made it their mission to “out” new members who they feel are spreading inaccuracies or don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. Those long-time and experienced (in the trading sense) members are often super helpful and thoughtful in their replies, while simultaneously offering rude/negative/inappropriate comments about the “bad” actors.

Thanks for the feedback and thoughts!


Many of our moderator actions depend on the type of violation.

Usually we use this method:

I do not like to send PM, except in special cases, because an explanation given in PM is read by a single person. A public explanation is useful to many other users.

We also had such cases (I was just a user at the time - 7 or 8 years ago - and it was a nightmare). It’s a bad behavior, it creates a sense of malaise throughout the community. In these cases (for me) the best choice is to punish severely 1 or 2 to make them understand that no one is untouchable (this after repeated warnings via PM that their behavior was damaging to everyone).
Sometimes it’s better to lose a bad super-user for the good of all and “buy” new users willing to learn and grow.


I’d defer the flag, edit the post and PM the OP explaining the change and why. That way the flagger is told that it’s being addressed but you can control the messaging that goes to the OP.

I agree with this in theory but public correction can be devastating to some people, regardless of how well intended.


Note that users are notified of edits to their posts by default, so technically putting in an edit reason with your edit should cover this.


Is this configurable? It doesn’t appear to work that way in my staging or production environments. As an admin, I edited a new user’s post, added a reason, saved, but no notification was sent to the user. Is the notification a PM? Or maybe something on the post itself (this is Hawk editing to test out the PM that is sent)?

Searched the admin settings page, but didn’t find anything.


Hmmm, I believe deferring means NO PM is sent to the flagger? Did you mean also PM the flagger manually?

We’ve been doing this, except agreeing with the flag. So the flagger gets a notification (indicating action on our part), and we can craft a unique message. Of course the offender gets two PM’s now, which might confuse the situation.

Our debate internally is also how much editing we should be doing, if any at all.


Sorry, actually that’s what I meant (rather than defer).

This is an interesting read: Would You Be Happy Or Sad If I Reworded Your Discussion Topic? - Managing Communities - FeverBee Experts

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I just edited your post above and added a reason. Did you get a PM?

My personal approach is not to edit. If the post is clearly in breach of a rule I will delete it, if it’s in a grey area I will PM the OP, explain the issue, and ask them to revise their post.

Most people are reasonably open to redacting or retracting their own posts, some aren’t. Some respond publicly to my PM.

My line on editing someone else’s post is the result is neither their content, nor mine. The only real exception to this so far as been where a user has posted personal details which I didn’t think they wanted public (in which case I PM them, and tell them why I removed their email addy etc.).

Actually, yes, PM received. Sorry, missed that! I’ll have to figure out why that’s not happening on our end. Thanks!

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Generally I agree with you but I think there are exceptions. e.g. “I need help” titles. These are of no use to anyone so I edit them to add context.

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Titles I edit too, mostly to correct spelling mistakes (for the sake of people being able to find them later via search), but also to give them some more context. I don’t think anyone has ever flagged a topic because an issue with the title though.

Excellent discussion BTW. Thanks for sharing. On title edits, we get many, many “I need help” or “what do think about this” titles, and feel the need to add context, like you shared. We’re not really worried about SEO in those cases, but hoping to make it easier for the community to decide whether a topic might be interesting to them.

Thanks for sharing everybody!

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It is not a pm, it is a notification only.

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Ah, that explains it. It worked anyway!