White papers or admin notes for Discourse


(Bill Snider) #1

Hi All,

I just wanted to know if there are any admin notes/manuals for the Discourse? I would help get more familiar with the platform more quickly.

(Khoa Nguyen) #2

You’ll get one after you install a new Discourse instance

(Bill Snider) #3

I did install an instance. And I have admin rights to it. I’m currently restyling it and getting familiar with how it works. But it would be nice to have some documentation for how admin and moderation works on the back-end.

(Kane York) #4

Hm, try reading through the Howto and Faq categories here on Meta.

(Bill Snider) #5

You mean to say that there is no consolidated documentation for administrators and moderators on how to work the platform, aside from forum posts?

(Jeff Atwood) #6

You are the first person who has asked for it :wink:

The idea is that it is simple and easy to figure out most of all, and usually the people operating the site have done similar stuff before, so they don’t need manuals per se.

On top of that, things change rapidly in open source and by the time someone has “documented” it, the feature may be different or removed entirely (see: stars and starring). This will probably stabilize over a period of years.

It is common to develop on-site FAQs based on what your users and community discover they need pointers on. This varies from community to community.

(cpradio) #7

I do agree with the idea. However, please keep in mind that the moderation system of Discourse is unlike anything I’ve worked with in the past. So we had a HUGE learning curve and we still find ourselves second guessing on the appropriate ways to use it.

Documentation around the moderation tools would likely be time well spent. I don’t see that being changed with any frequency, so what is there should be easy enough to document (and you can still make it a post/topic in the Staff category by default).

(Bill Snider) #8

More than anything, I’m looking at a way to consolidate how moderation is done on Discourse. Documentation would be a kind way to do that, even if someone on the community would take the time put what they know down. I just haven’t seen anything.

Please understand that moving to Discourse from our existing community would not allow me to have the time for a “HUGE” learning curve. And if it’s really that simple, then throwing down some Discourse rules of thumb for moderating should not be that difficult. I’ll even help.

Moderation needs

  1. How a post is identified as unmoderated (how to turn that on)
  2. How to move posts
  3. How to ban
  4. Where to keep user admin notes
  5. How to turn off the Delete post button (we don’t delete any post)
  6. What all can flagging a post do for moderators
  7. And, any other moderating tools I don’t know that Discourse has

Hopefully, I got all the important ones.


Oh, and I forgot to add, how to block replies.

(Jeff Atwood) #9

The general idea is that you set up a test instance and play with the tools to get a sense of how they work. That will be easier.

To make a crude analogy, there are two ways to learn how to ride a bike: 1. Have someone explain how riding a bike works 2. Get on the bike and try to ride it :wink:

Warning, though, we have no concept of items #1, #4 (there is a plugin), or #5. Really I suggest trying it out.

(Mittineague) #10

AFAIK if you close the Edit time window the ability to Delete is also removed

(Kane York) #11

Self-delete, but admin/staff can still delete. But I think that not deleting posts is fine as a soft rule among the moderators.

(Scott Trager) #12

We like to make it a hard rule. We can CSS out the buttons, but what if you instead made an Admin Option: Deleted Posts Moved to: < Category Box >

This would allow any posts deleted (self or by staff) to instead automatically be moved to a hidden category.

This ability is important for legal reasons - if you have a need to (lawsuit, criminal complaint, whathaveyou), you want to be able to go back and look at any posts they might have made that would help your case.

Similarly, you might want it for technical support (as an example) purposes (an agent having trouble determining the cause of a problem can research a customers past posts to see if anything stands out that they might not have mentioned on a call or email.) I can think of a tons of different reasons why you might need to look up “deleted” posts - what if a moderator goes off the deep end and no one notices for a few days?

Also the ability to hide boards from moderators would be a useful side-effect of this :wink:

(Kane York) #13

Posts can’t be moved out of their topics without serious consequences and fixups. (That’s why the code for moving posts to a new topic is so hairy and buggy.) All deletes in the UI are soft-deletes, which solves your legal concerns.

There are only two ways to permanently delete content from the visibility of an administrator:

  1. Restore an old backup
  2. Running SQL on the database

The second is not available through the UI, and the first one requires several steps, and is fairly destructive.

(Mittineague) #14

The main problem we had was being able to find them. Once they fall off the limited Staff Actions no-scroll result set it is virtually impossible to find them unless the URL has been noted somewhere. The Profile Notes plugin has proven to be indispensable in making up for the native absence of a long-term “paper trail”

(Kane York) #15

Hm? There should be a link from the user account pages to see all of their deleted posts.


Just checked, that’s visible to any staff.

(Mittineague) #16

That would be of use.We’re on 1.2.0.beta4 this is something since?

(Kane York) #17

Click on that! The “7 deleted posts” is clickable.

(Mittineague) #18

Thanks! I didn’t know that it was a link (I’m not in the habit of randomly clicking on things, especially when they’re not styled as links and there’s no documentation available to indicate they are)
@cpradio @TechnoBear should know about this too :smile:

(cpradio) #19

Yep, I’m aware of it, but it is only helpful if you recall the user who’s post you deleted. Better access to data that is logged is still critical to being able to appropriately moderate.

(Bill Snider) #20

I’m currently using Lithium as a community platform. So, I’m used to having moderation flags to let me know when a post hasn’t been moderated. What is the Discourse equivalent to moderation flags?

I read that it is really laborous to move a post from one forum to another. We have to do that multiple times, 10-15 times daily. Are you saying that we’re not easily capable of moving posts from forum to forum in Discourse?

I get what you mean by deleting posts and can work with that. And I’ve seen how to block replies on a thread. So, I’m getting it. What I’m really after with documentation is what are all the different kinds of things that I can do with Discourse that I may never trip over. Point me in the right direction and I’ll read all of it.

Just so you know, I had much of the same issues with Lithium and documentation. Things change regularly and it’s really hard to update the documentation to cover it. So, I am aware of how daunting it is. But even with some of your updates in your releases, you need to be a programmer to get it. I’m not a programmer, I’m an administrator, but I do love to read.