User trust should be category specific


(Ottomatias Peura) #1

I think visitor levels should actually be (or there should be an option to be) tied to categories, too. We now have first levels covered, and I guess it’s not worth adding one username more to @mentions after a thousand post or so.
So: 0 and 1 as @codinghorror presented them, 3 would gain moderator rights to the category where he/she has been most active (so where she/he actually passed the tresholds). 4 could be full-blown moderator and 5 admin.
Also, gaining moderator rights (even some moderator rights) to the whole forum just by posting is a problem, I think. Let’s consider Reddit, for example. Would you let someone moderate the whole Reddit because he/she is an active member of r/NSFW, for example?


What do user trust levels do?
Should Discourse require reading to gain initial trust?
Admin or Moderator without the Admin panel
When moving posts, links/quotes (that were moved too) don't get updated
(Harald Eilertsen) #2

I like the idea of having to earn privileges in the sections you are the most active.


(Brentley Jones) #3

I had to do more than just “like” this. I think it’s very important that your “reputation” past a certain point is only within the section(s) that you earned it. Sure, for the first level or two it defines who you are at the forum level, but past that, if you are reputable in Science it doesn’t mean you are reputable in Religion.


When moving posts, links/quotes (that were moved too) don't get updated
(Lowell Heddings) #4

I think that depends greatly on how big the forum is. If you have only, say, 500 posts per day on the entire forum, there’s no reason to tie reputation to a particular category. If you have 50,000 per day, the current category format isn’t going to work for a variety of reasons, since the Latest page will be very hard to deal with.

It’s important to first figure out how category navigation is going to work - or more specifically, how can you better separate a larger forum into sub-areas? At that point, there should be a discussion about moderators and category-specific trust levels.

It’s also important to avoid making the permissions too granular, because that’s a big problem with a lot of forum packages - they are so complicated that it ends up being a nightmare to administer.


(Lowell Heddings) #5

So what happens when you are the most trusted and reputable person in the Windows 7 category, and then Windows 8 is released, so the admin creates a new category. Does your reputation not transfer over? Suddenly you can’t help the community?

If somebody is a trusted and reputable person, they are usually a trustworthy and reputable person no matter where you put them or which category they go into. If they start flagging people incorrectly, the algorithm will punish them. They won’t want that.

Any forum that combines Science and Religion together will, and should, implode no matter what you do.


(Brentley Jones) #6

Even in my small gaming oriented forum, we have segregation based on games that you play in. Someone can be an Officer in one game but should have no “power” in the sub-forum for the other games. Maybe moderators tied to specific categories would be enough for this, but I also like the natural growth of users earning moderator levels of trust.


(Lowell Heddings) #7

So what happens when Elder Scrolls 6 is released? Aren’t all the game mechanics going to be very similar to version 5? It seems like anybody who is an expert on version 5 should retain their reputation in version 6.

I suppose there are arguments for either side, but in my experience, trustworthy people are always trustworthy, and people who aren’t, just aren’t. The system algorithm should be available to praise or punish them collectively on everything they do.

That said, I don’t know that allowing full moderation privileges based on reputation is actually even planned. For the top-level privilege right now, this is the proposal:


(Brentley Jones) #8

Well, I’m more concerned with sub-communities built within Multiplayer games :wink: For your example, I would never have an Elder Scrolls 6 Category, that would be a tag within the Elder Scrolls category. For us it’s stuff like WoW, Guild Wars 2, FFXIV; and we have sub-communities that live within those games, with their own Guild/Clan structure, but are all part of a bigger gaming community.

I think “trustworthy” needs to be defined better. A previous example was r/NSFW, but you correctly countered with the size of the community. In my own case I know of people that are very civil and trustworthy in regards to Game X, but are stupidly hostile/trollish towards Game Y.

A thing to consider as well is if we go down the route of a two axis trust system. I think that sort of system would also greatly benefit from having the trust be (partially) tied to category.


(Lowell Heddings) #9

But if the trust system is global, it would punish them across the board. So then you wouldn’t have high-trust users in one category harassing people in other categories.


(Brentley Jones) #10

True, but if we have separate (or partially separate) trust levels then they can just stay in their own corner, or at least when they venture where they have burned bridges they will not have the same authority. Again, they might be exactly the person that Category A needs, and is the perfect citizen there, but is a monster in Category B. My situation might be unique on the small scale, but I’m pretty sure it’s more common on the large scale.

Also, you might just argue that they should be nice everywhere or nowhere, why should the forums allow something like I’m describing? All I know is that I wouldn’t want this person to stop contributing (and having power) in Category A, so I have to have an environment that suits that. With current (admittedly bad/outdated/whatever) forum software I can make that happen. ACL can be more harm than good, but this is one thing that it does very nicely for us.


(F. Randall Farmer) #11

Before deciding to break up trust, we need to ask what is it used for? Also, what is the threat, if someone has “too much” trust in a context?


Without clear answers, I’m of the same mind as Geek:

Sure, we can add a category trust value - but what would we use it for?

Think of it this way - StackOverflow has contributors with wildly opposed points of view about programming techniques, paradigms, and languages, but only one trust system. They don’t do trust-by-tag, even though the argument would be the same as presented here by Ajarn. Why not? Because there isn’t any ability granted by being more-trustworthy in PHP than Sorting Algorithms. Sure, there are badges that tell an observer that the person answering this question knows a LOT about Code Refactoring - but doesn’t have more curation or moderator powers.


(Brentley Jones) #12

As long as trust doesn’t cover moderation, nothing. It’s when moderation comes into play that I don’t want someone to be able to moderate in a category that they would troll in. Again, I want them to be able to moderate in their category, I “trust” them there… I don’t trust them to not do harm in the other category though.

So, to tie back to the multiple-axis example, I want the Management axis to be able to be based on category. Sure, I will have forum wide moderators, but I also want content/category specific moderators.

Reading my argument, it seems that I’m actually asking for something different than what we are discussing, since currently you can only be selected/elected as a Leader or Elder… but I still want the ability to have category specific Leaders or Elders… Hopefully that makes sense.


(F. Randall Farmer) #13

Ajarn - you didn’t address my StackOverflow example - if here on Discourse, why not there?


(Brentley Jones) #14

I’m not well versed in StackOverflow, but I’ll take a shot at answering it. I assume the difference is something that isn’t yet different, having moderators for sub-sections. StackOverflow doesn’t even have sub-sections (sub-catgegories, sub-forums, sub-communities…), it just has tags. I’m assuming it’s moderators are simply trusted everywhere. And how Discourse is now, fits that perfectly. For my community specifically though (which is all I can speak to, though I have seen others chime in with similar requests), I would need the ability to have moderators that are not global, that are moderators only of their section.

StackExchange though, it has sub-communities. In those specific communities people have their own reputation. I can easily set up my discourse to mimic that though… I would just have to have multiple Discourse instances. I don’t want to wall things off that much though.

Re-reading your question though, to answer more specifically, the reason Discourse needs it where StackOverflow doesn’t, is because I feel we need the ability to moderate on a category level.


(Lowell Heddings) #15

Discourse is built for community moderation though. That’s the goal, and it’ll get better over time.

Instead of having a set of power-mad moderators abusing others and flaunting their power, the community does the moderating.

At that point, you just need moderators to settle disputes, rather than police every post.

When I switched to Discourse, I let everybody know that we weren’t transitioning any moderators at all. Everybody would need to join in and help moderate the community together using the built-in features (flagging, mostly, at this point).

I did this because I knew that many of those moderators were nice some of the time… and total dicks at other times. They drove people away from the forum.

At first, the moderators were angry that they were losing their power, but after launching, most of them (the nicer ones) are now happy regular members in the new system, and the few really bad apples didn’t switch. Win!


So I guess my final point is: You don’t even need moderators for every single category in Discourse.

Discourse shouldn’t be about granular-level titles and permissions. It should be about trust and reputation, built over time. If somebody is a dick, they are always a dick. Just because they are nice to their friends doesn’t mean they should profit from it.

Somebody once said to me “You can tell if a person is a dick by how they treat their waiter.”


(Jeff Atwood) #16

In modern tech terms, “you can tell if a person is a dick by how they treat Android users.”


(Brentley Jones) #17

For the most part I agree with this. But I’m talking from a point of view where there is assigned power within a sub-group. Why shouldn’t they be able to pin topics and moderate stuff within their category, and only their category?

To reverse the question, why should @codinghorror be an admin/moderator? Simple answer, because he owns the forum. Well, these people would own their category (or at least have all the powers of ownership, AKA being a moderator). I’m hoping the answer to this isn’t “just have another Discourse instance for them,” because I don’t want to segment my community that much.


(Jeff Atwood) #18

I think you’re complaining about this scheme (I can’t possibly have moderators in Android be moderators in the iOS section!!) without actually trying it.

You’re assuming that the way you have things set up now is “correct”, when we would argue that it is not. Your statement that

Is a huge, HUGE red flag to me and others who have read it. People being hostile and trollish regardless of the circumstances is not correct, and should not be tolerated, ever, period. To argue that you need to build artificial walls to enable this is crazy to me.

Either these people should be on the same forum, or they should be on different forums.


(Brentley Jones) #19

Let me focus on another aspect to try to get my point across then, since I also agree that the situation I described shouldn’t be something that a normal forum has to deal with (if only I lived in an ideal world…). I’ll try to do so with a more fleshed out example, but changing things so people can better understand it.

Say I have a soccer related community, and within that community is also a number of smaller communities for individual teams. These teams have leaders. We have a forum where we can talk about things related to the community, including stuff specific to the teams. Now, this forum has moderators and admins that handle all the normal managerial things that you expect them to, basically global moderators like what Discourse has now. Now, I/the community trust these people, like one should trust moderators.

Enter the team leaders. These team leaders need to have moderator powers. In ACL terms, they need to have limited moderator powers to be able to Pin, Delete, Move, Split, etc. within their section of the forums. I/the community at large don’t necessarily trust these users, they just need to have these certain powers within their section, which they basically “own”.

So, to address your comment of:[quote=“codinghorror, post:18, topic:5746”]
I think you’re complaining about this scheme (I can’t possibly have admins in Android be admins in the iOS section!!) without actually trying it.
[/quote]
I know from first hand experience that I need to provide limited moderator powers to someone that I would never trust with them outside of where they need those powers. They don’t have to be trollish, they could just be untrusted outside of their section (they could be very young/inexperienced for example and decide to do bad things elsewhere). Limited moderator powers exist in every existing (successful) forum software most likely for this reason.