Rate-limit first-responders in specific categories

Continuing the discussion from Thoughts from the Elm community on Intentional Communication and “The Hard Parts of Open Source”:

Very interested to hear similar stories from other communities and how you did or couldn’t address them. All I know for sure is that this would have to be category-specific because in a category like our #support there’s very little wrong with being a frequent first-responder.


I faced this in a community I managed. This was a community for experts and novices and we found that “experts” were more willing to respond with confidence, so any topic that was started would fairly quickly accumulate comments from this specific sub-group and not necessarily give space for new participants.

We tried creating topics that would encourage new, less expert, members to participate, but there was no way to stop the well-meaning experts from getting involved, so our less confident members continued to read, but not post.

We tried adding new members to a “hidden” group that showed them certain topics that were not visible to all members, but ultimately this was confusing.

We also had a similar experience when having a conversation about the differences in attitude to our subject between the genders. It seems the male members were still a little too willing to offer their advice (even if intended to be positive and constructive).

A means to (temporarily or in a focused way) limit the rate of participation of a group in target areas could be a useful feature.


This one is very tricky.

I completely understand and agree with the concern but it is hard to come up with rules that work here which would not have other unintended consequences.


Perhaps “rate limits” could be a moderation tool, an addition to the more extreme ban and timeout tools.

If the setup was “they can post N times per T”, it is possible to run out partway through a constructive interaction. I think “conversation flows” would improve the dynamics here. “Can participate in N conversation flows per T” is an interesting rule because now you cannot run out partway through, and those conversations are naturally gated by the participation of the conversation partner.

So I’d propose it as a moderation tool. If it proves itself in practice, I’d consider expanding it to a voluntary option for folks who want to reduce their use of the internet. (With so many companies designing for addiction, I personally think websites should give you tools to use them less!) If that is good, then there’d be a lot more data to consider a broader application.


One thing you can do (and I’ve done multiple times here on meta in the past) is lock certain users to trust level 0, which has fairly strict rate limits on how often people can post. That puts them in the “I want minimum levels of participation from this person” box.

Putting a specific topic in lockdown mode is something that has been discussed before and I tend to agree is correct, because some topics are farrrrr more controversial than others by their nature. See

I would like to see this happen automatically though (kind of the way we execute a timed close on topics with too many live unhandled flags) because otherwise we’re heaping a bunch more emotional labor on staff to somehow know when topics are heating up and take manual action.

Also, just wanted to point out other discussion rate limits in Discourse that kick in, depending on thresholds in site settings

Pop-up reminders for all users

  • Replying to the same topic too much (dominating the conversation)

  • Replying to the same person in the same topic too much (get a room)

  • Multiple sequential replies

Limits for all users

  • Max 20 new topics per day

Specific to new (trust level 0) users only

  • can’t reply to the same topic more than 3 times until another not-new user replies to them first

  • must wait 120 seconds after creating a topic before creating another new topic

  • must wait 30 seconds after posting before creating another post

Specific to users in their first day after posting for the first time, regardless of trust level

  • can only create a maximum of 3 topics

  • can only create a maximum of 10 replies

One thing that has been discussed is a limit on the number of sequential replies a person can make to a topic, and I definitely support that, but I also think a limit on length is necessary to go along with it – otherwise you could keep editing your last reply to make it longer and longer.

Or for that matter only reply 3 times, but each reply is 10,000 words…