Public moderation logs

I am now an active moderator at the Sponge(Powered?) Forums, and I’ve noticed a missing feature in Discourse: public moderation logs.

There have been issues in the past in related communities with forum moderator transparency, so I think a public log of deletions would serve to increase trust in the forum staff by the community.

Design example: Wikipedia

Design example: 4chan ban logs
(NSFW) hxxp://

A few notable qualities:

  • There is a coherent reason displayed
  • The moderator performing the action is visible (Wikipedia)
  • All deletions are logged
  • The deleted post is sometimes visible to the public

Here’s what I think I would want to see in a Discourse deletion log:

  • Post number, topic number
  • Owner of deleted post, with fallback to “(deleted user)
  • Details of any flags on the post at deletion time, as well as if the post was marked for self-deletion (even if a moderator deleted it immediately via restore→delete)
  • Moderator who deleted the post, with special display for self-deleted posts cleaned up by the system
  • Raw (non-cooked, no clickable links) content of the post

Additionally, admins / moderators should be able to censor certain columns here, and there should be a quick way to hide the raw content immediately after clicking the delete button. (Quick paint mock)


Not entirely sure this is a healthy idea for some of the reasons covered here (lounge topic so limited access, quoted here in entirety)

One of the places I did a tour as a mod has a very transparent process, with all users able to see which posts of there were deleted and why. The majority of deletions were bycatch. Sometimes it’s necessary to stomp on stray embers to prevent more fires from breaking out.

And TBH, I’m not convinced that a relaxed-but-dictatorial style is a bad thing.

Giving deletion reasons and dealing with the fall-out from those reasons takes a huge amount of time and effort for little reward, it needs a greater number of mod-staff, which in turn encourages an us v. them attitude, along with needing almost constant recruitment due to mod burn-out. And this is even before you start having to actually write rules to keep all the mod team on the same sheet.

And you don’t end up with page after page of “Post Deleted - because Reasons”

Not to bash, but you could apply those same concepts to anything regarding transparency.

Granted, I’m seeing the post out of context.

I think this would depend a lot on the community. Some may benefit greatly from the added transparency.


I have no problem discussing the eg. “Dictator! Why did you censor my post?” with the member that posted a sexist hate rant midst a lengthy otherwise helpful reply.
But I think if such actions were to be publicly visible there should be member anonymity

Let’s just focus on getting the private logs good first.

At the moment there is no place you can go as an admin or moderator and see the list of content that got deleted (potentially filtering by moderator)

We should possibly extend the staff logs to include this. I find it much more compelling to need this feature as a moderator (catch up cross time zones etc)

This is an unquestionable need, lets solve this first.


I thought we were talking “public” here.

But yes, I agree whole-heartedly that a Moderator Log “paper trail” type of thing would be a great thing.
I’ve been known to have made mistakes :shock: and if it would help in correcting them that’s a good thing.

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Thanks for clarifying this. (I had been wondering if it was a bug that I wasn’t seeing post moderation activity in the Staff Actions log.)

this is still true, right? was just in need of this today and am missing it.

Depends, there is a latest?status=deleted hidden option that shows deleted topics.


ah - that is handy. thanks for sharing!

We really should link that somewhere in the admin pages.


Since I talked about this, Boing Boing has switched to a partial public sanitized log of significant (not mundane, like spam removal) moderator actions… I think this is a nice middle ground, but it’d be hard to automate.

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Yup, filtering out the mundane post deletions is needed when the actual concern is “when I go down I want everyone to know the reason why”.

UI reminders to make a post, button to prefill a report, maybe?