We’ve had a lot of curiosity over the years about how being a mod here works and what mods see, so we thought we’d make a permanent page displaying some of the most pertinent information about how modding works from the back end.
Notes on Flagging
- When in doubt, flag a post you think we should have a look at. That doesn’t always mean it gets close enough for a deletion or warning. It’s perfectly okay to flag posts which you think we should be aware of for any reason at all.
- With one exception (see below), it doesn’t matter which reason you choose for flagging, because we’re not actually shown. Just use any option to get our attention, that’s good enough.
- Said exception: “I disagree with this user”, because that does nothing and we will not see the flag.
- Users don’t get a notification or are made aware that their post has been flagged by you, so don’t worry.
- While we can track down a post through the mod panel when it gets flagged, due to Disqus borkiness, we don’t always get the full context. If you think a flagged post may look relatively innocent out of context, it’s best to flag and also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to explain the context. Links and screenshots are ALWAYS appreciated, as well.
The Disqus Side
Most of what we do is clearing the queue of posts that end up there, either because they are flagged or because they’re caught in one of Disqus’ various filters (for example, we don’t filter “I just paid”, Disqus does). Comments can be filtered automatically by Disqus when users have a low reputation, which is basically a ratio of posts vs. flags/spam flags, because a phrase Disqus doesn’t like is used like “I just paid”, or because Disqus flags the user or comment as “toxic”. What defines “toxic” is pretty obtuse, but here’s Disqus’ explanation. We don’t see a lot of things Disqus auto-mods: most of the time posts we see in the “pending” filter are items that were flagged by Avocados.
We also answer emails with questions or concerns, approve people to have publishing access, make edits or changes to the site itself in WordPress as needed, feature or unfeature comments, sticky or unsticky threads, keep an eye on arguments that look like they may get out of hand, and any number of smaller duties. For more information about our own moderation policies, see this page.
Now, on to the fun stuff: what mods see!
First, this is what the main page of the mod queue looks like, with pending comments. This is what we look at most of the time. As you can see, we can see pending comments, approved comments, comments marked as spam, deleted comments, and all comments. So yes, we could theoretically see everything posted on the Avocado, but we use that rarely.
Here’s what our pending approval queue looks like.
As you can see, when a post is pending approval, we see the username, the thread it was in, the actual post, the person’s Disqus rep, and in red why it’s in the queue. What I blue’d out here would be a partially redacted email address and IP address, like what you’ll see below.
If we click on any post, we get a bit more detail about the user. So, we see the option to trust you (whitelist all your posts) or ban you. If I click on that little person icon, I’ll see options to “view all from Username”, “view all from Email Address”, or “view all from IP address”. Please note that the email addresses and IP addresses are mostly redacted: we never see your full IP address, and we are only able to see full email addresses if you’ve signed up to post with WordPress. However, we do not look at those email addresses unless you ask us to for some reason. In the rest of the panel, we’ll see a users “reputation”, which is determined by Mysterious Disqus Forces, how long ago they joined, the redacted IP, how many comments they’ve made, how many flags they’ve gotten, and how many of their comments have been marked as spam.
When a comment is flagged, we can view it in context of the rest of the thread (assuming it’s not a standalone comment), and the history of that particular comment: whether it’s been moderated in any way, deleted by the user, or highlighted (featured), unhighlighted (unfeatured), or moved between moderation queues by another mod. Please note that we mods can see your comment history even when your profile is set to private.
And that’s all we see in that part of the panel, and all the personal info we can see about you.
Now, on to what the banned list looks like:
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but you see here that we can ban by username, email address, IP address, or all 3. We don’t do IP bans a lot because we don’t want to accidentally include an innocent party in a banning. But we frequently ban by both username and email address.
The Slack Side
We do most of our moderation team work on a shared Slack. Currently, we have channels for moderation, automated alerts for new emails, concerns about moderators, announcements regarding modding, polls related to modding, and a handful of non-moderation related channels we use to chat with each other about life, The Simpsons, music, etc. All mods can see all those subchannels, though if we have a concern about a specific mod, that mod will be removed from the “modconcerns” channel while we discuss the concern, then an entirely new modconcerns channel will be created so the discussion is not visible to them. Former mods are allowed to stay in the non-moderation channels if they choose: NO MODERATION INFORMATION is ever seen by former mods. Site admins who are not moderators also have access to the sitechat channel. Site admins who are not moderators NEVER have access to moderation information.
The Email Side
The moderators share the email@example.com email address and each mod is able to login there. We change the password periodically or any time a moderator is removed or added. Site admins who are not moderators do not have access to the mod email.
We have set up strict guidelines that the moderation team must follow. They can be found here.
If you have feedback or concerns about the mod team as a whole, you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have concerns about a specific mod or would otherwise prefer the entire team not see your concern/feedback, you can ping an individual mod through Disqus. The list of moderators can be found here. There is also an anonymous feedback form which is only seen by a select few mods and can be found here.