policy in-progress
Who will moderate, and under what principles shall they do so?

How will that set of 'who' change over time? Appointments? Elections? Some privilege level mechanism?

What tools will be made available for moderation purposes?
Top Answer
I don't know what *will* be done, but I'd like to offer some proposals (recognizing that this question is pretty broad).

**Who will moderate?** That should be up to each community.  From a platform perspective, we shouldn't care whether they choose founders, hold elections for permanent positions, draw straws every six months, or make "moderator" just another privilege that is gained through site activity.  The platform's job is to provide a means of designating someone a moderator.

**What tools do we need?** This will be constantly evolving.  We should start with the minimum that gets the job done.  I think that means:

- A way for users to flag content for moderator attention.

- A way for somebody to hide/delete content.  Initially, this probably means a manual process.  Later it could be community-driven (enough flags, for example).

On day one I think that's enough.  Soon after I think we will also need:

- A way to lock content -- prevent edits to a post, prevent new messages in a chat room, maybe other things.  When faced with vandalism like a spew of rude comments/chat messages on a post, there should be an option that's milder than deleting the post to which the activity is attached.

- A way to address users who are behaving in ways that are disrupting the community.  This could mean suspensions, but it could also mean revoking specific privileges, depending on what the privilege system ends up looking like.  Or it could mean imposing rate limits.

I propose that moderators be the ones who wield these tools and make these decisions.  Things baked into the system tend to be good fits for some communities and bad fits for others.  Initially, give the power to the human moderators, and then see what patterns emerge.

At some point we're going to be successful enough to be facing spambots coming through Tor, and that'll need better tools.  I don't know how early we need to consider that; my gut feeling is that our earliest concerns are about disruptive humans who can prevent communities from taking root by setting a bad mood, rather than insurance spammers that everybody knows to ignore.
Answer #2
Jack Douglas
We don't have a complete answer to this question yet. What we do have is our first 'moderation'-like feature, just released.

Our hope is that this will be a model of other features as they are slowly rolled out in response to need. However it is also a trial of sorts, and subject to significant changes based on feedback here, after people have tried it out for a while. The idea is to break the overall 'moderator' role down, into finer-grained areas of expertise and trust.

Before getting into the feature itself, one thing needs to be said very clearly: ***all the following actions will be public***. Your name and identicon will be attached to posts you flag, and visible to others, including the OP.

Here's how the new feature works right now:

* Every post[^1] initially carries a 'flag' button next to the 'subscribe button':  
   ![Screenshot 2019-12-10 at 20.33.29.png](/image?hash=21a5ee117c4df5dd87e9937840564784f9bee54ddabf600e00aca96c91ba7e0a)  
   Each community can decide it's own 'flagging' guidelines, but the expection is that it would be for content you'd want deleted: spam, off-topic questions or junk for example.
   flagging a post has two effects:
   1. The post is immediately hidden from all unregistered users
   2. A notification is sent to members of the post cleanup 'crew'
* Unlike regular registered users, members of the cleanup crew flag in a different way:
   * As soon as a 'crew' member flags, the post is hidden from all non-crew members
   * Crew members also have the option to 'counterflag' — this overrides regular flags user and makes the post visible again
   * If multiple crew members flag and counterflag, the overall action is based on the majority.
   * if a clear majority forms, outstanding notifications are cleared.

In normal use I expect something like the following to happen:

1. Several users flag a post drawing it to the attention of the 'crew'. Comments are made in the question chat room  if necessary.
2. The first two 'crew' members to visit the post confirm the flags and the post is then effectively deleted (invisible to everyone except 'crew' and the OP).

Finally, I anticipate that each community will decide on the rules for an automatic background job. The job will flag questions that meet certain criteria (e.g. no answers or votes after 4 weeks).

[^1]: except your own — and right now it is only working on questions (answer will follow if the feature is well-received, otherwise it is back to the drawing board!)
Who will moderate and what tools will they have access to?
Jack Douglas replying to Adám
idk I tend to think revenge like that makes the person committing it look bad so they will look for something less public. Of course there are some who just don't care, but the vast majority of revenge on SE is 'deniable' — we will find out in due course of course :(
Adám replying to Jack Douglas
*You flagged me, so I'll flag you!*
Adám replying to Jack Douglas
Since the total number of posts was limited, the user could only flag so many, so we counter-flagged all of them, but with time… Maybe the ability to flag should be earned (e.g. earn 10 stars without being flagged by anyone else)?
Jack Douglas replying to Adám
what sort of revenge? there isn't anonymous downvoting to contend with and less passive-aggressive revenge is going to be more public and I think easier to deal with. Account deletion is always an option though of course sock puppets are an issue everywhere
Jack Douglas replying to Adám
probably eventually have user flags and a crew to deal with them.
Jack Douglas replying to Adám
vandalism is a bit strong, it's more of an irritant at this stage isn't it? Right now any action we take (and the scope is unlimited) has to be taken by devs — the mod tools simply aren't in place. We can manually mass delete flags or prevent particular users flagging. Let us know if you *want* us to take action and we'll chat about what is appropriate…
@Jack Since one's user profile is attached to one's flags, how do we prevent revenge?
Adám replying to Jack Douglas
What do we do about disruptive or offensive user names?
Adám replying to Jack Douglas
OK, on day 2 of CG.TA being live, we've got vandalism. A user is mass-flagging posts. Now what?
samcarter replying to Jack Douglas
Thanks for the clarification!
Jack Douglas replying to samcarter
currently: the flags and counterflags simply cancel, leaving the original flags which hide the post from unregistered users. However a crew member can't both 'flag' and 'counterflag', they can switch from one to the other at any time. Longer term when crews have >3 members, initial flags will notify 3 at random, and if there is not unanimity more random notifications will go out to get more eyes on the post — that's the rough plan anyway, it might evolves as we go along!
@Jack Quick question about "If multiple crew members flag and counterflag, the overall action is based on the majority." What happens in case of a tie? For example two clean up crew members used the flag to delete, then the posts gets edited and both of them then counterflag? Does this undelete the question or does it need 3 counter flags?
@Jack Second the request for this to be on question posts. We have 10× the potential usage on answers as questions, that's where it needs to be tested.
@Jack nice idea on the flag experiment.  I think answers are more likely to be flag-worthy than questions, so if it's not hard I suggest adding that.  If there's no confirmation on flagging (I haven't tested it), could you put a little more space between the flag icon and the subscribe icon?  On a desktop with a mouse I can be precise; on my tablet with my finger, maybe not so much.  (If the flag requires confirmation then this becomes merely an annoyance rather than a false flag.)
Jack Douglas replying to Caleb
at some point some sort of stress testing might be useful. We have a private community for testing already so we could use that and give you access, or perhaps just create a new one just as a sandbox
Paul White
I will say there doesn't seem to be any appetite for star-score-based 'privileges', and that is a good thing. Extra features and abilities should be granted on merit, but I don't think we want to go quite the same direction SO/SE did with that. Adding arbitrary levels of complexity isn't usually the right solution to a problem.
Paul White
The point of my earlier message was that the question as stated here is incredibly broad, and I don't have much of an answer *right now*.
Paul White replying to Caleb
Please don't do that, it wouldn't be at all helpful ;)  
Yes of course we will need to handle irritations like spam and vandalism. There are discussions about that here on meta as well as elsewhere. It's not being ignored, it just hasn't been the highest priority yet. If a problem like that were to happen right now, it would be dealt with manually, much as I guess SO/SE did in the very early days. They are only really able to keep on top of problems using free labour (Charcoal, other projects, users flagging) and there's no reason to expect something radically different will arise here.
We can take it from broad to specific as nuanced cases come up, but "too broad, we don't know what we need" is a way to _not_ start.
Caleb replying to Paul White
Excuse me being kind of blunt, but this is kind of a naive approach — at least at the extreme you are presenting it as. You _NEED_ some moderation tools. For example you don't want to wait around for spam to happen before you start working on a way to cut it  off an the knees. If you don't believe me I'll write a bridge between my spam mailbox and the  site. For good measure I'll post each one via new accounts coming from Tor. I think you'll decide you need some tools pretty quick, and that the tools need to be in quite a few hands.
I'm not a fan of rep-based privileges (including moderation) because being good at answering questions does not tell us anything about one's suitability to wield tools like account suspension and content deletion.
SE got some things right and some wrong.  I don't think mods should generally be the ones enforcing scope by (e.g.) closing questions; that's for the community.  Which means the community needs to actually be able to do it; 5 votes are easy to get on large sites and hard to get on small ones, for instance.  So that implies some per-site customizations of thresholds, but that's beyond the scope of a moderation discussion.  My point is that mods should be exception-handlers more than curators.  (As community members they should of course also be curators.)
On day one we need a way to make bad stuff disappear -- spam, hate speech, porn, etc.  These cases, pretty much by definition, don't require subject-matter expertise, so that *could* be a few TopAnswers-wide admins.  But it shouldn't just be one person, and it's probably better for community engagement if there's at least one person within a community who has those privileges.
Paul White
This question seems too broad to be answered at the moment. We simply don't know what we will *need*. There is a temptation to put things in place too early, based purely on experience gained on SO/SE. We can usefully discuss specific site moderation needs as they arise, but for the moment I agree with Tom that effort is better directed elsewhere.
Caleb replying to Jack Douglas
Yes I do ;-) I think though  one of the issues is that the best answers to this question are actually going to vary by community a little. SE got away with the cookie cutter approach because the advantage of smaller sites getting the exposure being associated with the network largely outweighed the downsides it sometimes brought, but I don't think anybody trying to foster an alternative is going to get away with a one-size-fits-all approach.
Jack Douglas replying to Caleb
do you have strong feelings about how moderation *should* work on a site like this? It seems to me that the SE model sometimes worked well and in other was failed badly in the end
Caleb replying to Tom V
I kind of get what you're saying but I don't think I can fully agree. There are at least half a dozen solid software platforms out there for doing Q&A. The issue for me (and probably many others evaluating this) is less about the software than about how the community will come together and how bad stuff will be dealt with. For me knowing how things will be managed is more important than working out the bugs in chat and what font to use!
Tom V
For now I think there are more useful things to direct the effort to and hopefully by the time we actually need janitors the site will have grown more into a clear direction, and the community will have a clearer view on what issues might arise and what would be a good way to handle it
Tom V
I think some sort of moderation will be needed at some point. Be it by an appointed moderator or a larger community.
Colin 't Hart
But I agree with Jack; try to hold off implementing something until it becomes absolutely necessary, though hopefully not too late.
Colin 't Hart
Most other online forums let the founders be moderators and they can appoint new ones. Why can't that work for us?
Colin 't Hart
Are there other examples of moderation systems that we can study?
Jack Douglas
you are right we need to think about it — and this question will be a good placeholder for that at each stage, thanks.
Technologically that scales easily, but I think it will fall quite flat. Reputation is generally come by by activity and is not a measure of sensibility. This is why not just SE but almost all forums have the concept of privileged users, and rarely if never a flat scale like that for getting them. I wouldn't say try to emulate SE right off the bat, but leaving out the "humans will be humans" out of the equation will eventually be a problem. Better to think about what mechanisms you'll use to solve that problem before they blow up.
Jack Douglas
things like that scale easily
Jack Douglas
for question deletion for example, I've been pondering a rep-lock: a user hits 'delete', hiding the post from everyone with lower rep; a higher-rep user can override the lock but only a yet-higher rep user can override the override
Jack Douglas
@Caleb I'll be interested to see what responses we get here but my initial 2c is that we'll try and learn from the SE experience and not rush to put something like their system in place