Put TL4 in the "moderator/admin" category instead of trust level

TL4 is confusing. It can only be attained by manual promotion and it grants you some potentially destructive abilities i.e. splitting & merging topics.

It is my understanding that it started out as a trust-level because we figured we might be able to devise a safe promotion-condition for it after seeing more Discourse communities in action:

But it doesn’t seem to me like we’re ever gonna get there. Rather, the default TL3 level is already very picky, and it usually filters your prospective TL4 candidates down to a very manageable level. My impression is that we’ll never have a great algorithm for TL4 promotion, nor do we need one since we have the list of TL3s to pick from manually with our amazing human brains :challengeaccepted:

I suggest we take TL4 out of the “trust level” model and instead make it the lowest level of Moderator & Admin.

Some name suggestions:

I’m a big fan of Curator. Our most avid members are doing a great job curating the content of our forum by linking to older topics and guiding newcomers .


I have some huge reservations here.

Naming is everything, and we could not simply give it a “new label”, we would need a new column on the user table and to migrate every tl4 check internally to use the new name and define new UI for this. (assigning it on admin page)

These kind of changes scare me, have huge potential for regression and would require a non-trivial amount of work to implement.

So let me point this back at you :slight_smile:

Do you think it is worth “3 weeks” of dev time to make this naming change?

Not at all worth it for a “deep change”, no. But if we could change it cosmetically, that’d be a good start. E.g.

  • Keep it in the TL system for now, but name it “Curator”, same as the name of @plugin_authors is the prettified Plugin Authors.

  • Change the docs to reflect that we have no intention of making it automatic, but rather it’s the last and manual step of the Trust Level system. Sort of a gray area in between TLs and Moderator/Admins.


Renaming “Leader” to “Curator” is doable: Leader badge on Discourse Meta, that would not be a huge change.

Docs can change as well, no objection to improving docs.


Using the name Curator connotes content specialists such as the curators in zoos, museums and cultural collections. I don’t know if that is the deliberate intention but it does remind me of the request for a category-specific moderator which is also looking to have something similar to curated categories.

This looks like an opportunity to make removing TL4 from the trust system an early phase of implementing category-specific moderation. Without a specific focus like that I can’t see that, as @sam points out, it is worthwhile doing any more than changing the TL4 name and separating it from the trust system in the documents. It’s not like there is any new functionality coming with the name change. I also doubt that there is any rationale for making it an additional staff group - but some of the staff might have a different view on this.

I also understand that category-specific moderation is not being implemented because nobody has come forward to fund it. It seems to be a popular request, a logical improvement for Discourse, and now justifies removing TL4 internally from the trust system.

P.S. Although removing TL4 from the trust system is probably not required unless TL4 does have staff status.


I wouldn’t say it is popular, since none of our customers have really needed it. However, it will be much easier to convert TL4 to “something” approximating that, for sure.

1 Like

I agree that your paying customers don’t really need it.

My impression is that the sites that most want it don’t have paid staff and are trying to spread the moderation load as widely as they possibly can while limiting the scope of their activities to specific categories. This minimizes the opportunities for rogue moderators to negatively impact the entire site.

1 Like

It’s simpler than that: they don’t trust the people they choose to work with. So they are making bad decisions (based on mistrust) from the outset. Companies and orgs like that don’t do well in my experience, and don’t tend to grow, get larger, etc.

We also trust users (at tl2 and tl3) to do things that are “illegal” in 99.9% of other forum software. Our model is to add trust, not remove it.


Good insight, thanks.