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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- “Necroposting”, so long as the post adds value relevant to the topic, is perfectly permissible.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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).
- 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.
- 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 3 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).
- Once per year, the administrator shall create two new moderator positions. The first position shall be filled by the administrator’s nomination, with a yes/no vote among the existing staff. The second position shall be filled via communal nomination. Moderator candidates shall be nominated in a public topic, and each member shall be given the right to nominate one member for promotion. These nominations shall be tallied, and each candidate shall be put to a yes/no vote among the existing staff in a private topic. The votes cast in favor of each candidate shall be added to the number of nominations received (someone can be nominated by multiple people), and the top two candidates shall be eligible for promotion pending the administrator’s approval.
a. If a member declines interest in the post, anyone who nominated them can then nominate another member for promotion.
b. The administrator shall reserve the right to cast a tie-breaking vote, if necessary, and the right to veto a nomination.
- The administrator shall retain authority over the Policies & Procedures outlined in this document.