FEU Policies & Staffing Procedures

Planning on gradually working on this over the next week. It’d be great to have feedback from the member-base as we forge our “rules.” This isn’t about adding new restrictions or anything like that, but moreso about offering transparency to our staffing procedures and getting the community’s response. Typically, you are all pretty well behaved (as evidenced by the fact that we really haven’t needed to write rules yet).

§1: Posts, Flags, Warnings, and Suspensions

  1. Posts are flagged, by community members and staff, for one of several reasons:
    a. Inappropriate content that would be reasonably deemed offensive to an objective observer.
    b. Spammy posts which add nothing of value or shamelessly advertise.
    c. Posts that are so off-topic, staff could not have justified splitting it into a new topic.
  2. Discourse’s forum software includes several built-in “good behavior” protections, and will not allow posts that consist of:
    a. Fewer than 10 characters (no image-only posts).
    b. A body of text written entirely in ALL CAPS.
  3. Posts that more traditional forums might consider “off-topic” are generally acceptable at FEU, so long as they spawn at least 5 replies. At which point, the posts shall be moved into their own topic by staff.
  4. Topics are frequently recategorized and titles are routinely modified by staff members with the goal of improving the site’s search indexing. This is simply maintenance, and is never done with punitive intent. Community members who have increased their trust level can also modify topic titles, and recategorize topics.
  5. “Necroposting”, so long as the post adds value relevant to the topic, is perfectly permissible.
  6. Wiki posts are a fantastic community organizing tool, and must be treated with respect. Frivolous edits will result in a warning, and a second infraction will disable the user’s ability to modify wiki posts.
  7. The flagging system is a way of involving the community in the broader “policing” and maintenance of the forum. As observed on other forums, reserving this power exclusively for staff tends to promote strenuous relations between staff members and the community they represent. By including everyone in the same system, we hope that our members will feel invested in FEU and respected by its leaders.
    a. Flags are added to a queue, and staff members will choose to Accept the flag (which hides the post), Reject the flag, or Defer the flag (which is, in 99% of cases, what we choose to do). If a Flag in the queue belongs to a staff member, it must be responded to by a different staff member (this requirement can be waived if direct action from an admin seems necessary).
    b. Posts that receive several flags will be hidden and made view-able only to staff.
    c. When considering whether to flag a post, a user should judge the post based solely on the merit of its content. Frivolous use of the flagging system, for the purpose of targeting either an individual or set of ideas, shall not be tolerated. The first infraction shall result in a formal warning, the second will result in the user having their trust level set to 0.
  8. There are several consequences for accruing multiple flags:
    a. When a user reaches 3 flagged posts, they will receive a formal warning from a staff member.
    b. When a user reaches 6 flags, they will receive a 1 month suspension.
    c. When a user reaches 10 flags, they will be eligible for banishment.
    d. If a user accrues 5 flags of the same type within the span of a month, they will be eligible for a 1 month suspension.
    e. Deferred flags still count towards a user’s flagged post count.

§2: Trust Levels

  1. Discourse’s software natively build in restrictions for new users, which the lead developer describes as a “sandboxing” approach. “Discourse does not quite trust new users yet.” I disagree with that sentiment on a philosophical level; how can we expect newcomers to place trust in a community that starts from a position of distrusting them? On FEU, everyone starts at the native trust Level 2, to allow full access to Discourse features for every new member.
    a. If a user has received more than 5 offensive/spam post flags, or has been suspended, they cannot increase their trust level.
  2. Users with a trust level of 3 can recategorize topics, rename topics, and post in the Drafts category. In order to increase their trust level, a user must fulfill the following requirements:
    a. Must have visited at least 50% of days their account has been active.
    b. Must have replied to at least 10 different topics.
    c. Of topics created in the last 100 days, must have viewed 25%.
    d. Of posts created in the last 100 days, must have read 25%.
    e. Must have received 20 likes, and given 30 likes. (Likes in PMs do not count)
    f. or have demonstrated considerable merit as to be promoted to Level 3 by an admin.
  3. Users will have their trust level set to 0 upon returning from suspension, for a minimum of 1 month following the suspension.

§3: Handling Questions and Requests

  1. Once a question has been answered, the post containing the answer will be marked as the solution (either by the original poster or by a staff member). This puts a checked box next to the topic’s title on the forum index.
  2. This system also applies to the Requests category. Completed requests are marked as the solution.
    a. Upon completion of a request, the topic will be re-categorized appropriately (usually to either Resources or Documentation).

§4: FEU Staff

  1. Staff members shall perform the following duties:
    a. Actively respond to flags as they enter the queue (pursuant to §1.7).
    b. Flag posts as they deem necessary (pursuant to §1.1); posts flagged by staff cannot be responded to by that same staff member (pursuant to §1.7.a). Each post shall be considered solely on the merit of its content (or lack thereof), without bias against any one individual member.
    c. Split divergent conversation threads into new topics (pursuant to §1.3).
    d. Recategorize and rename topics as they deem necessary (pursuant to §1.4).
  2. Staff shall faithfully execute their responsibilities as arbiters of the community. They shall not in any way abuse the authority imbued upon them by exceeding the scope of the duties outlined in this section.
  3. If a member feels that, in the course of their interaction with a staff member, a staff member has violated the policies outlined in this section, community members can request a “malpractice warn” by speaking directly to an administrator. The admin shall judge ease case based on its merit, and consult the opinions of other community members.
    a. If a staff member receives an reasonable amount of malpractice warns, they will be demoted.
    b. (Hopefully this never becomes an issue, because I like to think that I would delegate power to responsible individuals).
  4. Staff openings will be filled at the administrators’ discretion, but will require a majority of existing staff to agree in a yes/no vote.
  5. The administrator shall retain authority over the Policies & Procedures outlined in this document.

How do I actually do the checkmark thing, because I was going to do that but I haven’t figure out how

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Dang Arch getting fancy with those legal code markings. §


Hit “show more” (the “…”) and there should be a little tick boxy thing


Yay I’m going to get all analytical because this is the kind of thing I actually really care about (you can blame Reddit for that).

1d is redundant with 7, but I guess that doesn’t hurt.

This got cut off?

Does that spammy ‘social’ wikipost still exist, or were we basically just treating that as a test of the wiki system? If we’re going to have things like that then some rules clarification around them is probably needed (i.e. people shouldn’t get dinged for shit-editing in the shit-wiki thread).

Lol I kept reading and raising objections, only to find them addressed (though perhaps not exactly as I would have). This looks pretty decently thought out - though it would be good to cover what trust levels 0…2 actually mean (even just linking to a Discourse FAQ).

I wonder if newer users shouldn’t be suspended for fewer flags, even if they start out with the same forum privileges (mainly to cut off spammers). Or even for offensive posts, if all anyone ever posts is offensive, it makes a bigger impression than the absolute number of such posts IMHO. Oh, and if staff can hide something that was only flagged once, will they also be able to overturn the community flagging something multiple times?

… You know what, actually all of this seems more like bridges to cross if/when they’re reached. If the community is that far out sync with the staff WRT unacceptable conduct (or if they’re, say, mass-flagging specific users to ostracize them) then that really needs to actually be talked out on a case-by-case basis.

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It’s moreso to do with people who go in and change download links on directories for funsies, or go mess around with the communal to-do list. Any spammy wikiposts, past or future, would be exempt.

I don’t know if it will be hidden automatically until the flags are either accepted or deferred, but staff can reject multiple flags on the same post (if they feel the flags were unjustified). One concern is that we don’t want the flagging system to become an avenue for systemic bullying, even though I don’t foresee that occurring.

Part of the point of writing this up is, hopefully, that we can proactively avoid rifts between staff and the larger community by being transparent about our staffing practices. Some forums don’t even have a set of standard procedures for their staff, let alone transparency or consistent application of the rules.

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What if people are stingy with likes, and don’t tend to do them much anywhere?


Spam all the likes

Then you should be excommunicated, you damned non-participant!

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At least I’m not a heretic.


idk, these just seem like excessive activity checks. Especially a.


Level 3 looks like something that shouldn’t have requirements like that anyway, edtiting topics and such seems like it should stay in the realm of someone specifically promoted.

Unless, currently level twos can’t recategorize/rename their own topics? If so, why not lol

I’m only a level two, but I’ve only made one topic so I don’t remember if I could do those things.
EDIT: Oh, I can edit my topic titles. Editing other people sounds like a mod thing that shouldn’t be auto-granted to anyone then.

Also, am I personally failing at math, or isn’t is possible to lock yourself out of the 50% one?

It’s a math failure. Given you’ve been a member for N days, you need to have been on at least N/2 days. If you’ve been here (N/2)-M days, you’ll need to be online for at least 2M days, for a total of N+2M days member, and (N/2)+M days active.

The problem is that humans have an upper limit on how many years they can stay alive. Even when we get the ability to upload our conscious into cybernetic brains, the universe will eventually suffer heat death, recompression then another big bang and I don’t think Discourse software is robust enough to survive that.


Unfortunately, we live in a flat universe. Heat death will occur, and then nothing. The universe will go out with a whimper, not a bang.

These requirements and permissions granted are all part of Discourse’s default settings.

They can’t edit post content, just topic titles/categories. But yeah, I might be able to turn off auto-promotion outright. The whole “trust level” system is kind of unnecessary, but I like the concept of being able to selectively disable features for users. If someone abuses the flagging system, their flagging ability would be revoked by setting them to Level 0. Unfortunately that means they also lose PM rights, images/attachment posting rights, and the ability to edit wikiposts. It’s kind of difficult to run a forum the way you want to when there are so many developer preferences shoved into Discourse’s core functionalities.

You can read jatwood’s explanation of the trust level system here.

Finally got around to writing the part that I really wanted to include. I don’t think we have a “staffing problem”, but I think that outlining the scope of the staff’s authority is a necessary part of maintaining and building an enduring trust within the community.

But basically, it all comes down to this: if everyone commits to leading by example, then we’ve got nothing to worry about.

Staffing Problem: We’re not as totalitarian as Serenes yet. Please fix.


*looks at his avatar* Obviously I’m qualified to fix any staffing problems around here. I can staff like the pros.