Topic owner = topic moderator

As I was away from the Discourse ecosystem for a (long) while, I was wondering: anyone suggested/implemented a feature that allows topic owners to moderate their own topics (without having moderator rights outside his topic(s))? A quick search didn’t return any relevant results, so maybe it would be useful to start a discussion here. Would you find useful such a feature?


I’m not aware of any such discussion but we did add Category Group Moderators, which allows a group to be added to a category for moderation abilities.


No the OP can’t moderate their specific topic unless they themselves are a moderator. This is why moderators exist - see justindirose’s link for more info.

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Very useful. There are large forums that use self-moderated topics successfully but for very specific purposes and I agree that these are just edge cases.

So far we are instructing OPs to use flags.

For obvious reasons OP can’t have access to moderator sections (Review) but it would be useful to make them easy to flag post for deletion or edit them in their own threads.


I think users should be able to “moderate” topics they “own”, but in a particular way: users should be able to close/delete their own topics (under conditions), “partially hide” (like a spoiler) replies they consider harassing, offensive (see last Twitter feature…).
What do you think?


I can just imagine @codinghorror’s reaction…


This should only be possible for users with a certain trust level.

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Discourse is, first and foremost, a discussion software.

Being the OP, just means that you started a discussion. After people read and start replying, you don’t own the discussion anymore than every other participant.

From this angle, it makes no sense allowing the OP to moderate a topic.

If you need a system where you have complete control over the interaction on your content, you may want to use a Blog or a microblog software.


I agree to some degree, but it’s still a discussion if it’s (micro-)moderated. All communities are different, so I don’t see any harm in allowing people to choose at what level discussions are moderated and who can do this.

A blog/microblog usually has a single moderator, so it’s a different “animal” than a self moderated forum. A blog farm is arguably harder to manage, but it may be a closer comparison. The problem with that is that discussions happen “further apart” (I’m not sure how to explain this in English as this is not my native language, but I hope it makes sense). In a forum that is self moderated you give power to your users, but you, as an administrator, can still keep structured discussions by using categories, tags, etc


Perhaps, It can be just something (as an administrator) you can toggle on when you have larger communities. You can grant to a specified trust level users some special actions :smiley:

(for example, this is the Reddit case)

Disagree. Once your topic gets replies, there is no changing in topics “ownership”, regardless how many replies there will be… topic starter = OP = topic owner and should be able to moderate his/her content (with reasonable restrictions ofc).

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I don’t understand what you are trying to say?

No they shouldn’t as that defeats the point of moderators and flags. : )

I think that this topic starts badly with a problem of terms based on two incorrect assumptions. That’s why the two sides can’t understand each other. Their assumptions are different.

The title and first post in this topic asserts that the:

  • The topic originator (who is by convention the OP = original poster) owns the topic.

  • A moderator can have a scope as small as their own topic, i.e. the topic post.

The short answer is that both assumptions require us to ignore actual legal rights and dictionary meaning:

  • There is no legal right for the topic originator (who is by convention the OP = original poster) to own a topic in this forum. However, there are legal rights to the content in that post.

  • The commonly accepted and dictionary meaning of the word moderator do not allow a scope that only includes the moderator’s content. In other words, a moderator is commonly a third party appointed to an office.

Read on for a longer explanation.


The issue of who owns what is easily determined because ownership is primarily about legal rights.

  • Ownership of the topic content - an important distinction from the topic itself - is decided by legal interpretation e.g. forum T&Cs; and statutes of copyright and hate speech.
  • The forum owner decides who owns which topics.
  • An OP only has ownership of their content and do not own the topic, post or reply which is the container for their content.
  • Creating the first post in a topic gives no ownership rights to any other posts.

Legal rights generally trump moral rights so it’s not worth the effort to address arguments about the moral right of the OP to own the topic.


A moderator (as a person and not a chemical substance) has two specific attributes:

  • A function: to arbitrate or mediate between two other parties.
  • An office: appointed to a position of authority or service.

The original proposition fulfils neither meaning:

  • A member cannot normally be a moderator for themselves.
    The one exception would be a supreme being who has no higher authority in their arena. Universally, that person would be God; in this forum, that person would be codinghorror.
  • A moderator should be appointed to the office.
    Where all members are moderators then effectively there is no distinct office of moderator that signals a difference in authority. So we shouldn’t use that term in this case.

By the way, I use member rather than user because some users are irrelevant to this discussion e.g. AFAIK anonymous users who can’t create topics and staged users who can’t amend topics.

We can prepend an adjective as a qualifier to denote the level of authority e.g. the aforementioned category group moderator. But this shouldn’t be used for the proposed topic-level authority that is available to all members and where members are not appointed to the role.

Someone will probably say, but if I moderate my contribution then I should be able to use the term moderator. The problem with this approach is that use of the noun moderator is not normally determined by the use of the term moderate in its verb (to make less extreme) or adjective (less extreme, more average) forms. If I have moderate views or if I moderate my extreme views then I become a moderate not a moderator. Instead a moderator essentially uses verbs like arbitrate and mediate and does not rely on the use of the verb moderate except with the specific meaning to monitor an Internet forum or online discussion.

Someone might argued that we could use that specific meaning to apply the term moderator to anyone who monitors their own discussion. Except that we run into the same issues again. A monitor is also associated with an office - in other words, in an official capacity - and this is almost certainly the intended scope of monitoring in relation to moderating in a forum.


The tone and level of discussion in this topic has gone off the rails quite a bit. In addition, there are already other topics talking about the virtues and problems of this feature, and I see no new insights about how to implement this in a way that avoids the mistakes of the past.

This topic will be closed as it’s not exactly a shining starting point for implementation, and @Stefan’s question was answered: “No”