The Power of Self-Moderation


Hi all
Many of you already know that one of our goals is to create a community that is responsible and mature enough to be given the tools to moderate the forum by themselves to the best extend possible.

Over the last days we have spent some time tweaking the trust level system, forum settings, spam settings and other settings to best accommodate our goals. Of course we’ll have to continue tweaking them but it appears that we’ve pretty much nailed it for now.

So, how are we (the community) are going to manage ourselves?

  • Gaining trust through your activities to raise certain post and other limitations
  • Utilizing the like :heart: if you like someting and the :triangular_flag_on_post: for inappropriate content
  • Post feedback and suggestions in the feedback category

Bear in mind, we’re building and maintaining this forum for you, our community and not for us. At the end of the day it is up to every single one of you to contribute to the growth of this forum which will determine what’s allowed and what isn’t and which will also reflect into the quality of the discussions and the community. It is not for us to tell you who you are and what to do, it is for you to decide what you want and how you want it.

Always remember… great power comes with great responsibility, always keep that in mind. :wink:

#The Trust System

Level 0 - New users

  • Must reach trust level 1 before being able to create a new topic.
  • Max 2 replies in a topic before another user posts a reply.
  • Max 25 replies in day 1
  • Max @ mentions per post 2
  • Max limit for external links 1
  • Max images on the first day 5
  • Max attachments 0
  • 60 seconds cool-down between posts

In order to reach trust level 1 a new user must

  • Enter 5 topics
  • Read at least 25 posts
  • Spend at least 1 hour on the forum

Users invited by another member via email are automatically set to trust level 1.

New users can not

  • Send private messages to other users
  • Reply as new topic in the right gutter (UI removed)
  • Flag posts

Level 1 - Basic

  • Use all core Discourse functions
  • Upload images and attachments
  • Flag posts
  • Have all new user restrictions removed

Level 2 - Member

Members keep coming back to the site, and have participated long enough to earn complete citizenship. I order to reach level 2 a user must…

  • Visit for 5 days (not necessarily in a row)
  • Gave at least 5 likes
  • Received at least 5 likes
  • Reply to at least 10 different topics
  • Enter at least 20 topics
  • Read at least 75 posts
  • Spend a total of 4 hours reading posts

Users at trust level 2 can…

  • Invite outside users to PMs making a group PM
  • Use the “Invite others to this topic” button for one-click on-boarding of new users to participate in topics

Level 3 - Regular

Regulars are the most active readers and reliable contributors over long periods of time. To reach level 3 a user must…

  • Visit for 30 days (not necessarily in a row)
  • Gave at least 100 likes
  • Received at least 250 likes
  • Replied to at least 100 different topics
  • Entered at least 50 topics
  • Read at least 100 posts
  • Spend a total of 4 hours reading posts

To maintain level 3 a user must (in the last 100 days)…

  • Visited at least 50% of days
  • of topics created in the last 100 days, must have viewed 30%
  • of posts created in the last 100 days, must have read 30%
  • must not have been suspended
  • must not have received more than 5 spam or offensive flags (with unique posts and unique users for each, confirmed by a moderator)
  • These likes must be across a minimum number of different users (1/5 the number), across a minimum number of different days (1/4 the number). Likes cannot be from PMs.

Unlike other trust levels, you can lose trust level 3 status. If you dip below these requirements, whether from flagging or the passage of time, you will be demoted to Member. However, in order to avoid constant promotion/demotion situations, there is a 2-week grace period immediately after gaining Trust Level 3 during which you will not be demoted.

Level 4 - Leader

Leaders are regulars who have been around forever and seen everything. They set a positive example for the community through their actions and their posts. If you need advice, these are the folks you turn to first.

They can get to trust level 4 by…

  • Manual promotion only (at the moment)

Users at trust level 4 can…

  • Edit all posts
  • Pin/unpin topic
  • Close topic
  • Archive topic
  • Split and merge topics

They can possibly become moderators by…

  • manual appointment by another moderator
  • a not-yet-implemented election process

#Community Topic, Post and User Moderation

The tool we’re using here is the :triangular_flag_on_post: (flag).

Flagging a user, post or topic will trigger a notification to the members of the Moderator and GH Staff groups. However, if a number of members flags a topic, post or user (which represents a “community consent”) immediate action will be triggered automatically without the need for a Moderator or member of the Staff group to intervene immediately.

  • Flags required to hide a post = 5
  • Flags required to block a new user = 5
  • Number of unique users flags to block a new user = 5
  • Number of unique flags to close a topic = 8

As you can see the values to trigger a community moderation are rather low right now. We’ll gradually increase those value over time as the community grows in an effort to tweak the flag system to a level where a majority community consent is required to trigger one of the above actions while avoiding “group building” to exploit the system at the same time.

What we certainly do not want is a small number of members having the ability to “force their will” on the rest of the community or upon new members.

#Limitations / Spam Control

The following limitations are currently in place to minimize spam. All of the following settings may change at any time without explicit notification.

Rate Limits

  • Cool-down between creating new topics = 60 seconds
  • Cool-down for new users between topics = 180 seconds
  • Cool-down between posting a new reply = 20 seconds
  • Cool-down for new users between replies = 60 seconds
  • Max topics a user can create per day = 25 topics
  • Max private messages per day (combined) = 200 messages
  • Max likes a user can give per day = 100
  • Max flags per day = 25
  • Max bookmarks per day = 50

Spam Control

  • Shared links are rel nofollow (Don’t spam for ranking, wont work)
  • Users must wait 10 minutes before they can edit a post hidden by the community
  • 3 links to the same host shared by a new user will block the account for moderation
  • Max 2 new accounts per registration ip. If there are already (n) trust level 0 accounts from this IP (and none is a staff member or at TL2 or higher), stop accepting new signups from that IP.

Please feel free to comment bellow. Our community guidelines and forum rules are to be published shortly as well. In the meantime let us know what you think about this. :wink:

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What is the difference between “entering” and “reading”? Time spent viewing the topic?

Does this mean that multiple people in the same household (behind the same router and sharing an external IP address) cannot all have an account?


One is topics, the other posts / replies.

[quote=“quigley, post:3, topic:247”]
Does this mean that multiple people in the same household (behind the same router and sharing an external IP address) cannot all have an account?[/quote]

Good point. The limit has been changed to max 2 “new” accounts. Additinal sign ups from the same IP are possible but not if there is already 2 accounts signed up from the same IP, both with a trust level of 0. I will edited the OP.


Hopefully I’ll make it to leader one day :wink:


Thanks for laying this out in an understandable and informative way.

I like how this is structured. Especially the part where regulars have to keep up to date to keep their status.


TL3 is already a very powerful level. We actually just found out how powerful it was yesterday and we had to make some minor adjustments to the requirements for TL3 in order to prevent forum abuse.

We also changed access to the Safe Room to TL2 instead of TL3 for now while we continue to tweak the entire system to ensure that we maintain the security of the forum while giving the members as much freedom and privileges as possible.

The current changes to TL3 are reflected in the OP.