2010-09-06 09:20:24The hidden Deleted Comments page
John Cook


There was a comment posted overnight by one of the authors linking to the Deleted Comments page. This is where all the moderated comments go - it shows the comment, who deleted it and the reason given for the deletion. I hadn't spelled this out to Authors but the deleted comments page is only accessible for users who have moderator or author privileges - so the ordinary user would only see a blank page.

A while back, the moderators had a vigorous discussion on whether we should make the deleted comments publicly available. One argument was that transparency was a good thing and giving the reason for the deletion would encourage users to improve their behaviour. The other side said that having a Deleted Comments page could be a distraction - could lead to people more focused on issues of moderation rather than science. Also, the argument that users would improve their behaviour depended on everyone acting in good faith, genuinely trying to contribute constructive scientific discussion. This is obviously not the case in many instances.

So we opted not to make the Deleted Comments page publicly available. But it is useful for the moderators, particularly for me when I get an angry email demanding why their comment was deleted. I can go to this page, see their comment and the reason given by the moderator. In almost all cases, I agreed with the moderator's reason and was happy to explain the reason to the angry commenter. The situation works quite well as it is now - if the situation changes in the future, we'll look again at whether to make Deleted Comments public but for now, status quo is the go.

Anyway, I've just created a new sticky thread at the top of the Moderation forum explaining how moderation works. The basic idea is to have a number of moderators across different time zones so generally, any new trolling comments get deleted before they can turn into a whole off-topic discussion. There's very little extra obligation in being a moderator - it's just a matter of as you read the comments, delete a dodgy trolling comment as you happen upon them.

If anyone would like to become a moderator, email me at john@skepticalscience.com and I'll upgrade your account.

(and yes, it is permissible to delete other moderator's comments - happens quite often, in fact :-)

2010-09-06 15:56:43


"and yes, it is permissible to delete other moderator's comments - happens quite often, in fact"

One of those gruesome facts of nature, also known as "adelphophagy."