2010-10-09 09:36:14YAS from commenter


Roger Wehage made a suggestion ( http://www.skepticalscience.com/Skeptical-Science-housekeeping-Comments-Gluttony.html#27538 ) to the effect that "the system" automatically notify a person whose comment has been deleted, with a copy of the offending comment.

This seems like a nice idea. 

If such thing were to be implemented ("were to be" meaning John has to code it...), such emails could also include the moderator's remark about why the comment was deep-sixed. Not only would this ensure completely consistent treatment of deleted comments regarding whether authors get any cues for improvement, it would be a deterrent to folks such as myself who sometime record flip remarks about why a comment was rejected. 

2010-10-09 16:51:10More transparency with moderation
John Cook

A while back, we discussed whether to make the moderation more transparent by making the deleted comment page visible. There was no clear consensus so I opted for the option that was the least work for me. But now with comments exploding and a nifty forum to document our discussion (as opposed to emailing the discussion between us and all), this might be a good time to reopen the discussion. There are 3 issues I'd like to bring up and I welcome other thoughts/angles to consider:

1. Do we make the deleted comments visible to all?

2. Do we show who moderated the comments?

3. This is an idea to make moderation more standardized and consistent - I add a drop down in the moderation form that lists the deletion reasons from our comments policy. So if you moderate a comment, you have to pick a reason. This is what displays on the deleted comments page (adding extra text in the comments field would then be optional).

4. Should the system automatically notify the user when their comment is deleted?

2010-10-09 17:59:29


John, respectfully, nothing wrong per se w/"outing" moderators, identifying them,  but in my case I'd then probably choose -only- to moderate as opposed to both moderate and talk in comments threads. I don't think it would be possible to participate in discussions as a known moderator in the same way as we do now, it would be on people's minds always. Plus, the whole "collective" identity thing then sort of goes out the window, while that objective of lack of slant, of depersonalization is something we should strive for. 

I've been a long-time proponent of making deleted comments visible. You've pointed out some caveats that certainly give pause for thought, probably the most compelling being that people would tend to point to them from other comments both as "victims" of moderation as well as a way of mocking people (I -think- you made that last point?). 

One of the things I like about Roger's suggestion is that it would ensure there's always acknowledgement a comment was received and vanished for a reason. Adding the "reason for deletion" to these emails would be helpful to the "victim" and a way of keeping us honest. Finally, automatic generation allows a means of easily accomplishing the "email from moderator" option without personalizing moderators.  

2010-10-09 19:32:56Outing moderators
John Cook


I'm not advocating we out the moderators, just opening it up for discussion. My personal leaning on the 4 questions is:
1. Yes
2. No
3. Yes
4. No (is automatic notification necessary if the deleted comments are visible on the website?)

2010-10-09 19:52:44


Ok, ballot time! 

1 No (your powers of persuasion, John!)

2 No

3 Yes (this is a great idea, as long as there's an "in addition" open-ended field)

4 Yes (disarming, going the extra mile, invitation to revise and resubmit, consistent, not humiliating) 



2010-10-12 04:07:00Vote
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

1. Yes (glasnost/openness)
2. No (if visible to other moderators only, then yes; otherwise I'd follow Doug's path on this))
3. Yes (standardization good)
4. Yes (there will still be many who grouse about moderation and being banned, but who won't check the deleted comments bin).

The Yooper

2010-10-12 05:35:06


1. no

2. no

3. yes

4. yes


1. this is a "no"  because people will tend to compare which and why other comments have been deleted.

2. this is a "no" because it is important that just one (John :)) takes the responsibility. Corollary: John will jump on us if we make a mistake

3. this is a "yes" because, having to pick a reason which refers to the accepted set of rules, we will think twice.

4. this is a "yes"  because it will make the user think twice before complaining with John. And, why not, for fairness.

2010-10-12 11:47:09


I'm tempted to vote "No" to everything, just on general principle.  (Why change it when it's working OK, why create more work for John, etc.)  But, delving a little deeper:

(1) Preferably no.  I think it would become a distraction.

(2) No.

(3) OK, I actually think this one is a good idea, though I don't like the idea of giving John any more work.

(4) No, though I don't really have strong feelings one way or the other. 

2010-10-13 01:04:34comment
Robert Way

(1) No
(2) No
(3) Yes
(4) Yes

All we do for the last one is have a standard choice of three things (off topic, offensive, nonsense???) Anyways something like that and the moderator just chooses from the standard menu which it is and subsequently an email is sent notifying the person their comment was deleted because it was deemed off-topic or something? Sorry John, this is just an idea you know, you don't HAVE to implement it lol
2010-10-13 04:21:36


In addition to what I said before, the problem with #4 is that there are several situations possible. For the programmer (John) it might be a nightmare. In case of spam or blank messages, for example, sending the email is useless.

I said yes to #4, but it's not a necessary feature. If it requires to much work, just don't do it.

2010-10-13 10:35:59Re points 3 and 4
John Cook


It's not that big a deal to add a drop down to the moderation form. I'm definitely doing this, am a big fan.

As for point 4, it's not that hard either to add another field to the database of "reasons for moderation" that specify whether the reason gets emailed or not. So then spam and blank messages don't get emailed. I'm not 100% convinced of point 4 yet although the prevailing sentiment is yet - will program point 3 soon and have another think about 4. Maybe add an extra step in moderation - after you delete a comment, it then gives you the moderator the option to send the email or not.

Thanks to all for your feedback.