Had a dipshit user register and power-level himself up to trust level 1, then begin sending inane PMs and posting inane messages to threads. Rather than allow flags to accumulate, I’d rather take direct action. Banning’s always an option, but honestly, I’d rather have more granular putative measures at my disposal.
Specifically, I’d like to be able to:
Toggle on or off a user’s ability to send private messages
Manually demote and lock a user at trust level 0
In lieu of #2, being able to manually create a limited user group (with rate limits set on daily post and topic creation) and drop problem children into it would be a fine substitute
It’s not that I want to just eject people all together, but community guided self-adjustment takes time—I’d rather be able to provide an immediate adjustment that’s a step of severity in between “nothing” and “ban.”
I did indeed try manual demotion via the user’s admin panel, but Discourse doesn’t like that:
A suspension for a new user who just comes on really strongly and stupidly feels like too much of a stick, ya know? I don’t necessarily want to send the misbehaving user into timeout; I’d like to be able to say “you can play in this sandbox, but not quite so hard.”
As far as PMs go, the user in question already PM’d me and another moderator asking for the posting rate limits to be raised because they kept bumping into them; I replied back that the rate limits were in place so new users didn’t jump in and act crazy without taking the time to learn the rules first and that the poster needed to chill.
I dunno—a PM plus a short suspension feels a little TOO putative. Like I said, I’d like an intermediate step between “ask the user to please stop” and “shove the user in time-out.”
I know other Discourse instances have asked for things like ignore lists and shadowbans—I don’t necessarily think either of those measures are all that conducive to actual corrective action. But a per-user “can’t send PMs” flag or the ability to temporarily demote a user to newbie jail would be nice.
The other action I could potentially take is either greatly increase the thresholds to hit trust level 1, or nerf trust level 1 and make sure I manually pull “good” trust level 1 users up to trust level 2.
This is kind of the difficulty in creating a trust level system with no provision for bidirectional movement up and down the scale. It’s presumed—correctly, for the most part—that Discourse communities will self-police, and the higher trust levels do indeed have both automatic and manual demotion. But I’d still like another level of discipline available between “ask them to behave” and “kick them out for a day.”
So send them a PM and ask them to cool it. Why does every facet of trust have to be redefined for a single too-aggressive user? Just ask nicely (first), that is how this is supposed to work, and they hit all the limits they were supposed to hit already… So I would argue that part of the system is working.
That’s totally a valid question, yeah, and I definitely don’t want to make this into a bike shed discussion when the bike shed has long since been built, painted, and it’s got all our bikes in it.
But I think it’s overreaction to see this kind of request as a redefinition of every aspect of the trust system. Rather, this is about empowering community management to act efficiently and directly, rather than asking for compliance from a user who might not be a wholly rational actor (and, who truly is on the Internet?).
Community pressure to behave is a powerful and underrated force, and one that I am inordinately pleased that Discourse emphasizes. However, having participated in and managed online communities (between Ars and the Chronicles of George) for 15-ish years now—probably about as long as you have!—there are certain broad sets of characteristics that “bad” new users all seem to exhibit, and having a few more tools in the admin toolbox to hammer down the nails that are sticking up would help make the existing systems function more efficiently.
Put another way, I suppose, the river of a well-visited, active, healthy forum generally shapes its own banks and stays well within them. But right now, if a tiny part of the river slips its bank, the only options I have as the, uh, river-admin (?) is to kindly ask the river to please stop, or bring in a gigantic growling diesel-powered backhoe and reshape the bank with extreme prejudice. I’d like a gentler option to ensure compliance in between “talk” and “giant backhoe.”
It wouldn’t necessarily even require redefinition of trust category abilities, or additional toggles on a user’s admin control panel—merely the ability to manually demote a user from level 1 to level 0 would be fine. As near as I can tell, that’s the only level threshold that doesn’t allow bidirectional movement.
At level 0, a user who is in the process of reshaping themselves from a square peg into a round one to fit in the forum’s round holes can still participate in the discussion to a certain degree. It just feels like a better method than suspension, which is more like, “Go stand outside until you learn how to fit in here.”
Clearly, as you note, the system is working. However, it feels like that by giving admins flexibility to directly address edge cases, it can be made to work better.
Apologies for writing a book. Didn’t intend to, but it seems like what I always end up doing.