What are some of the hardest moments you had as a moderator?

Basically it’s is the abusive language that is hurled at you and thrown around casually directed at other members. Most of the times by members who cannot socially interact with another. As you can imagine this is not very interesting or motivating in anyway for anyone. :slight_smile: Furthermore, people who are suspended but keep making accounts using different measures.

And I just realised I have bumped this after 4 months - after posting :frowning:


You can look at their IP address to know for sure (pretty sure) that the suspended user has created a new account. This may not always hold true as I have one member who signed up with one IP address and suddenly started logging in with another. The user hadn’t moved and has the same provider. Apparently the provider just shifted her to another address… maybe as an update for speed? But checking the IP is one thing you can try to see if they actually are creating new accounts. Also, are the email addresses similar?
We don’t get any abusive language on our forum… I guess we’re lucky. So suspensions are really working in your situation? That’s a shame. There are a few people that will always be a thorn in everyone’s side, no matter how many times they get warned of their “naughtiness”.


What if they use a VPN to circumvent this?


Did you ever try fingerprinting to fight this? We had it running, and at first it used to work, but now it seems to be broken.

1 Like

FYI, as you may not have noticed this terse reply earlier in the topic, an increasing number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are sharing pools of IPv4 addresses rather than providing static IP addresses. CGNAT is the main method used.

This is one of several reasons device fingerprinting and IP address blocking are increasingly less reliable.

Many people are familiar with NAT (Network Address Translation) which is used in local networks. Rather than every device getting a public IP address, the gateway device has one public IP address and all devices in the local network receive private IP addresses, e.g router is and other devices use addresses from to

1 Like

Yes, @ondrej had PM’d me and brought that up. That would be one way around it. But they’d still have to create a new email address - not that that’s hard to do, but it can be a bother… especially if you keep getting suspended. As I mentioned in our PM, this person - if he’s created multiple accounts after suspensions - sounds like a troll.

While I was reading about fingerprinting, I got to wondering whether the cookies Discourse sets on one’s computer could also be checked. A new user wouldn’t have cookies that are older than their “new” sign up date/time. That would work - if it’s possible to check them - even if someone used a VPN.
Got to eat dinner. I’ll give this more thought when I’m done. :wink:


If possible, would this work even if the new user was part of one or more Discourse communities prior to yours? :thinking:

1 Like

That’s something one of the Discourse team members would have to answer. I don’t know exactly what the cookies contain. It does seem “intreging,” doesn’t it though? I’m sure there has to be a difference in what is in the cookies as I am currently a member of 4 Discourse forums and I doubt if the same cookies are used by all of them. They’d each have to had set their own “variations” of them for them to work properly… I’d imagine.
Maybe going about it in a slightly different approach would be to have a third cookie set that IDs the PC/phone/iPad, etc… Then whenever that is used to access the forum - especially when a suspended user creates a new account - the cookie will show that PC was used to login before. IP address would even need be a factor. (I’ve logged in both at my own home and at my son’s home… different IP addresses but with the same cookies.) Thinking about more, maybe one wouldn’t need any additional cookies, just the fact that there are existing cookies already set. Then a log could show that cookies weren’t set because of already existing cookies. That could be one way to possibly indicate what you’re looking for.

But what happens should the user delete all cookies? You’d be starting from scratch. What a PITA a troll can be. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


We’ve been around 17 years, so we’ve seen all sorts of moments. Losing one of our original moderators to illness 2 years ago was probably the worst, though. It devastated the entire community, members and moderators alike.

We’ve had members fake their deaths complete with Photoshopped obituaries and distraught letters from their “spouses.” It’s actually mildly disturbing how many of those we’ve had over the years. Each thought they had come up with an amazing, original idea, I suppose.

Personal stalking was initially hard, but you become complacent to it, really. Most were harmless. Few occasions had to be escalated.


It isn’t bothersome at all. Especially with Protonmail.

Yeah, cookies don’t really help.

1 Like

Sorry for the bump; there’s something new I learned over the past year, and I’d love to share it with the community.

If you’re a moderator that sometimes struggles to handle a situation, don’t worry. It happens. Even after 3 years of moderating it’s sometimes hard for me to handle some situations. But there’s a pretty simple method I recently discovered that helped reduce the stress as a moderator.

Recently our forum has been surging with activity :tada: , doubling that of last year, and as the only active moderator, the work I had to handle began to be pretty unbearable. So I decided to promote 3 long-time TL3’s to TL4(Leader) and see how much it affects the work I have to handle myself, and it worked! They’ve been brilliantly doing most of the small moderation(Such as closing threads, etc.), and the work I had to handle was minimized to 1% of that before the promotions.

Another interesting benefit of having some TL4 non-moderators is they can be pretty good people to reach out to when making harder decisions such as borderline user punishments. All of the punishments are discussed between the TL4’s and myself, and it definitely makes the decision-making much more efficient.

So how exactly did I choose the TL4’s from the 65 total TL3’s we currently have?
These are the following traits you’d probably want to look for:

  • Mature – Maturity takes up 50% of the importance. If they are not mature, then they’re likely to cause drama and trouble
  • Active – Having TL4’s for a brief period of time would not change much. You’d want to find people that are committed to the forum.
  • Trustworthy – If you can’t trust the TL4 user, then it will just cause more stress than good. When promoting anyone to TL4, make sure you can fully trust them.

I’ve been having these TL4 users since April, and I’ve had no issues with them. The little “experiment” I decided to try out was very successful. Most of the issues I’ve previously noted, such as the “difficult user” was easily solved by having 3 TL4’s put to place. It’s magic.

Hopefully this provides any moderator with some tips on how to manage some of the workload, and helps reduce some of the stress caused by moderation. I definitely have to say thanks to the Discourse Team for implementing TL4 in the first place – Who knows what would it be like if TL4 didn’t exist for our forum.


I am surprised you were the only moderator. Most moderators work as a team. However, I’m glad that you have found a way to help yourself and your community.


The funny thing is – We used to have 5 moderators active, but most of them became inactive after a few months. All 3 of the people that I promoted to TL4 were active for 100/100 days, and one is even active for 2 years, so I get some assurance they won’t just leave after promotion, which worked.


Personally, I was always thinking (on my forum) you might as well give them moderator instead of TL4 since a TL4 user should be really trusted and so should a moderator. However, your PoV on this has helped. I only used TL4 to see how well the user would do as a moderator to see if they could be trusted not to close or edit everything before I granted them moderation.

Are they still moderators at this point?


They still have their moderator permissions. Sometimes they come back to check back for ~1 week, but since they haven’t caused any trouble it doesn’t hurt to have them as moderators.

That does make sense; it’s probably the main reason TL4 is there. There’s something that makes having non-moderator TL4’s easier than managing moderators. I’m considering having them moderators soon, but I find it easier to have them as only a TL4. It’s probably because there was some previous trouble with review queue “collision” between moderators, where they argue over flag handlings. It’s pretty nice to have TL4’s just flag them and I can take care of them myself. It’s probably one of the benefits of being a solo-moderator. But I’ll still have multiple opinions on certain actions such as punishments and borderline flags, so it just works so perfectly.


This is indeed excellent advice, and I’ve been thinking the same thing for quite a while now… such that I want to incorporate this feedback into Discourse itself.

One idea I had is to dynamically show this advice when the flag queue is large, e.g. you are looking at a queue of 10+ flags, we might put in a little alert

:mega: That’s a lot of pending flags! Have you considered promoting some trusted community members to trust level 4 so they can help moderate your community?

like so


Awesome! :tada:
TL4 could definitely be some method for non-admin moderators to “self-sustain” themselves by promoting some active users. This is definitely for our case, where our site-admins usually rarely check on the community, so it’s purely relied on the moderators to control the community, which means TL4 promotion is more than useful because moderators can’t grant others moderators.

TL4 is great because it’s a method for moderators to get some extra assistance, and the permissions are set so the non-moderator TL4 users get all permissions neccessary in forum-moderation, such as closing threads, edits, etc.

This would definitely be important for moderators, especially for larger forums where moderators are likely to be receiving hundreds of review queues. There should also be some email sent to forum admins if the system sees that moderators are taking on too many review queues, such as.

Hey there,
We are noticing that your forum is seeing an increase in pending review queues. Consider promoting some users to moderators or Trust Level 4(Leader).
Here’s a list of some active users <Side note: Discourse should list top n active TL3’s>:
Active User 1 <Possibly include hyperlinks to their /admin page?>
Active User 2
Active User 3

I think the most important part is that site admins should be regularly notified about community health, and it might be a nice idea if admins are notified if the system detects too many pending review queues, etc.

This is definitely something any forum needs. :+1: Moderators usually don’t notice they’re taking on too much work, it’s important to have reminders like that.


Not related to Discourse, but it reminds me of a story that happened in… 2001 I think.

Internet was way different at this time. Rules weren’t the same. Internet was still kind of “new”, ADSL was almost a luxury, and, most importantly, there were fewer legal regulations of websites’ content I believe.
A forum’s owner wasn’t responsible for their forum’s content, for example, from what I remember… Or maybe they were, but the Internet was way less regulated anyway.

I was a moderator along with other ones on a very large forum for a few years, on a section where nothing was being taken seriously. It was a fun forum, with of course little dramas like anywhere.

One of our members was a young boy (aged somewhere between 13 and 15 at this time I think), who was kind of mocked by the community for his behavior and how he wrote. He seemed so naïve and bizarre. One day, he was angry from being mocked all the time and said he would commit suicide in a very silly way. That made people laugh, as usual. We thought he was being silly again. And I, as a moderator (and others too), didn’t take that seriously as well.

The administrator of this huge forum reacted quickly. He fired all the moderation team from this very active forum section without any warning and banned definitively most (if all) of the members that mocked the message of this young member.

It made all of us, regular users but also moderators, understand that we weren’t living in a fictional world and that words had consequences. His decision was hard to swallow at first, and a lot of us didn’t understand why he reacted so “violently”, but he obviously made a good decision. It’s almost like he was the only one who grasped the seriousness of the situation.

It was a hard moment for a lot of people, but it was also a good way to make everyone learn that we weren’t responsible as we should have been, especially us, the moderators (that’s… Literally our job and we failed to the worst).

The young boy didn’t commit suicide, continued to post, was still considered weird but way less mocked (and sometimes encouraged in his projects) and things became… Both the same and different. The forum was still the same and still fun, but we all learned our lesson. No similar event ever happened on this forum for years and years after this, from what I know.


Sounds to me like this person should be put in charge of more of the internet… and also illustrates the flip side of the “absolute rule of one person” law.

Share moderation duties with multiple people . Having a single focal point for all mod decisions is fatiguing and can lead to undue flashpoints, and personal attacks. If there’s only one person in charge, is the forum “you”? What if you’re tired, or cranky, or in a bad place? What if you find yourself overly involved in a topic and want to defer moderation to someone else? That’s a dangerous path to be on.