A plan for handling moderators and admins on this site

#1

Hey all - now that we’ve learned a little bit more about the Discourse platform, here’s a proposal for how we can handle two particular classes of users: Moderators and Admins.

We only have 5 total spots for both Moderators and Admins, so I think we should:

  • Reserve Admin status only for people who know the guts of how Discourse works, and are willing to dig into it and modify site settings etc. Right now, I think this is me and @consideRatio
  • Reserve Moderator status for people who are willing to make moderating the Discourse (e.g., being a reliably-present helpful face here, helping to keep the communication positive, noting CoC violations, etc) a part of their role within the community.

Both of these lists of people can be found here:

http://discourse.jupyter.org/about

What do folks think?

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#2

Keep in mind that only admin and mods can access the “Staff” section AFAICT.

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#3

It is my impression that support for using discourse is strong and growing across multiple parts of the project. To encourage to broader adoption, I think there should be admins and/or moderators representing at least the major GitHub orgs (hub, lab, widgets, ipython, standards/protocols) and work areas of the project (Steering Council, events, design). I don’t see any way that 5 is sufficient for either of these classes (especially moderators, where I can imagine multiple moderators for each category). I like Chris’s idea of clarifying the roles and responsibilities that admins/moderators have - and that we shouldn’t give these out without people being aware of those and willing to participate in those ways.

Some of the associated questions:

  • What are the roles (admins and moderators) and their responsibilities? Chris has a good start on this.
  • How do people become admin/moderators?
  • What decisions do admins/moderators make and how? How do we empower parts of the project (repos/orgs, areas of focus) to grow their community on discourse?
  • What is the process for new category creation?
  • What are the principles for moderation? Administration? Category creation? Permissions?
  • How we we use those principles to enable distributed decision making?

Maybe a hackmd to start drafting these things out?

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#4

I think defining what we want people who are in the currently limited-to-five “admin category” to do is a good idea.

I just got a notification saying that I am now a regular and as such can recategorise and rename topics. Every user can flag any post as spam or abusive. When you do that they get highlighted to the admins who can take action. I think if enough people flag a post then it is automatically hidden/marked as spam even if no admin takes action.

How did I get to this status? Purely by using and interacting with discourse. Which is great because it means we don’t have to do much in terms of administrative tasks for growing the pool of users who have these powers. We “only” do have to do the social work of encouraging people.

Overall I think the power to move topics, rename them and flag posts is 95% of what I’d expect to do as a moderator.

I could imagine that if we make it a requirement for the five admins to visit the forum twice a day (their morning and afternoon) and deal with admin notifications, category creation, backups they can get a lot of work done as a team.

To fill roles like “greet new people” and “reply to help requests” people don’t need to have a special admin role. One thing worth investigating is if there are plugins that let us give users “flairs” to signal “I am a super question answering machine” etc

There is no reason why a SC member or sub-project lead needs to be an admin. A SC member just needs to have access to the private(??) steering council area of the forum. I’d be strongly against giving special rights to people in this forum purely because of their other roles in the project. For example being a SC member doesn’t mean you have the time or qualifications or motivation to be a good moderator here. I’d argue that it actually makes you less suited to fill that role because you already have a lot to do with your current role.

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#5

Thanks for the feedback! Some quick thoughts from me.

  • What are the roles (admins and moderators) and their responsibilities? Chris has a good start on this.
  • How do people become admin/moderators?

I think for admins, the roles should be something like “ensure that the Jupyter Discourse page is functional, and help complete and specific technical changes that the community wants”. Given that we are still pretty early on in the Jupyter Discourse, I’m fine with this role being a “wheel greaser” that makes it easier to try new things etc.

For moderators, I think we might want those to have more explicitly defined roles and authority, especially if their job is to wade into CoC territory etc. We haven’t run into any challenge yet, but if enough people use Discourse we eventually will.

To echo @betatim’s point, I think that one of the pre-requisites for being a moderator is: “you have been active in the Jupyter Discourse for a good amount of time, have shown that you are a positive voice in the community that can be trusted with an explicit role to keep conversation in the Discourse healthy and productive, and you are interested in being ‘on the hook’ for helping to achieve this moving forward”. A lot of Discourse is based around the idea of trust, and as a general rule it tries to slowly give more amounts of trust (and more abilities) as people continuously engage in the community in a positive way.

That said, my general take on this is that we don’t want to over-engineer a solution when we still aren’t sure what the problems are. Discourse has only been around for a couple months, and while it’s growing quickly in adoption, there’s still a lot that we’re learning about how to use it effectively. I’d be happy to keep revisiting these questions moving forward as we learn more.

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