2011-09-27 11:27:42Reforming the moderation system
John Cook


In past discussions, the issue of whether to make deleted comments public or not swung on one main issue - would making the deleted comments public become a distraction? The danger of people obsessing over them was the main reason, in my mind at least, to put the issue on the back burner.

Now that issue is moot, moderation is a distraction BECAUSE the deleted comments aren't public, and I think it's time we made them public. Transparency is a good thing. I also propose we make one other change to the moderation system. Whenever you delete a comment, it's compulsory to choose from a drop down to specify the reason for the moderation. The options are:

  1. Accusation of dishonesty
  2. Ad hominem attack
  3. Political
  4. Link or pic only
  5. All caps
  6. Profanity or inflammatory tone
  7. Off-topic
  8. Copying and pasting from other comment
  9. Cyber stalking

Adding that extra restriction will just make the moderation a little more controlled - the moderators can't delete a comment without a valid reason. The transparency will also make the moderation more controlled too, I'm guessing.

So thoughts, comments on any other reforms the moderation system needs?

2011-09-27 11:30:14
Alex C


>>>So thoughts, comments on any other reforms the moderation system needs?

Comments have also been deteled by request or because they follow from deleted comments, don't restrict it too much so that these are not included.

2011-09-27 13:17:01


My apologies - I hadn't found this thread yet. I posted relevant to this on the new "Disclosure options" thread.

2011-09-27 17:17:16
Dikran Marsupial
Gavin Cawley

Sounds like a good proposal to me,  The list should also contain "reply to deleted" as that is a fairly common reason why posts get deleted.

One other change that would be helpful would be to sort out what happens when two moderators edit or delete the post at the same time.  Specifically it would be helpful that if two mods add a moderation note at the same time if the notes are concatenated rather than the most recent overwriting the first.  Also if someone is adding a moderation note and somebody deletes the post mid-edit, then the post is deleted, but the mod adding the note is listed as the person responsible for the deletion.  If moderated posts are to be made public then either the name of the mod needs to be withheld or this feature be sorted out.

2011-09-28 01:30:23


What about options for "duplicate" and "deleted by author's request"?

It might also be feasible to add an option labelled "other, please specify" where an additional field needs to be filled in. This, obviously should only be used if really none of the other options fits the need.

2011-10-01 16:43:23
Glenn Tamblyn


Definitely agree with this approach. I would also add one for repetitive comments

Also another one would be responding to a deleted comment is also a deletion.

Some thoughts for other features. Not sure what I think of them, just putting them out there.

- Deleted comments available on a per-thread basis

- Stub remains in the main thread saying 'deleted' and the reason.

- A different moderation feature I have suggested before is not deleting an OT comment but moving it to an appropriate thread. Then a stub saying that it has been moved and a link across. Being OT is not in the same class as stalking or profanity.

2011-10-02 00:50:39My opinion
John Hartz
John Hartz

We're dealing with Tempest in Teapot. The current system works quite well in my opinion. No matter what SkS does, nut-jobs like Anthony Watts will find something to nit-pick.  Let's not overeact and tie ourselves into "process knots." KISS!  

2011-10-04 13:16:21
Tom Curtis


This sounds like a very good idea to me. A couple of thoughts:


You ought to add "moderation complaint" as a reason as well.

I agree with Glenn that a Stub should remain in the original thread.

Carefull consideration should be given as to whether you wish to allow comments in the graveyard.  If you do, deleted comments should be clearly distinguishable from comments made in the graveyard so that we do not get accused of moderating the latter.

It is probably better to not allow comments in the graveyard.

I disagree with Glenn about OT comments.  Keeping posts is a matter of courtesy, and if commenters cannot make that effort, I see no reason for saddling moderators with the need to search out the appropriate thread.

Deleted fragments from within a post should also make their appearance within the graveyard.

Finally, some accusations can be sufficiently dematory as to expose SkS to legal action is we allow them to be posted.  Moderators should have the option to send such comments to a non-public bin to avoid that possibility.  The label on the stub should be "Defamatory and actionable" or the like.  Possibly, such posts should be reviewed and reinstated to the original thread or the graveyard if several moderators disagree with the assesment.


2011-10-04 13:20:46
Tom Curtis


While I agee with John Hartz that SkS will be criticized no matter what we do, I do not agree that that is not a reason for making the system better, and I believe John Cook's suggestions to be a genuine improvement.  That being said, we should be aware that in the month after we impliment this, if we do, the graveyard will be gone through with a fine tooth comb by our enemies looking for reasons to criticize us.

2011-10-06 09:25:20Check out...
John Hartz
John Hartz

the comment thread management system deployed by Southern Fried Scientist. It has some bells and whistles that might meet some of the perceived needs for more transparency in the SkS comment thread.

2011-10-12 09:22:13
John Murphy

I also think that moderators comments should be strictly to do with, for example, welcoming newcomers; pointing people towards other, more relevant threads; explaining why comments have been moderated, etc. I don't really think they should be used for making comments which could better be done by the moderator posting their own comment in response in the normal commenting fashion.

However, I did like the way that damorbel was moderated, by moderator comments getting answers out of him in a linear fashion, one following the other. But, perhaps something similar could be done by having a separate comment thread just for that - in the way that Deltoid has separate threads for various of his more disruptive deniers - which is the only place that they can actually make any comments on that site.

2011-10-13 13:58:39Moderator comments should be kept out of general posts!
Tom Curtis


I have in mind posts like this one by Rob Painting:



Making a threat of future moderation policy is, IMO, a far worse look than moderators discussing science within moderator comments.


With regard to discussing science, I think DB's habit of posting relevant pictures or graphs is actually very valuable.  Also posting links to relevant rebutals , and including relevent quotes from those rebutals (so long as it is clear that it is a quote) would also be valuable.  Actually entering into the debate, however, should be avoided.

2011-10-13 14:14:28
Rob Painting

Really? How weird. The better option would have been to delete Smits post in the first place - why should we tolerate known trolls? My comment made it clear to any new lurker that he is well-known here.

I know some here are hyper-sensitive to moderation, but I believe that is down to seeing the world from the perspective of their dealings with "skeptics" I couldn't care less about the facilitators of the looming apocalypse - they'll get what they deserve in the end.   

2011-10-13 14:33:52
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

One of the weaknesses of the current moderation system is that the standard moderators comment box lacks the editing/WYSIWYG tools found in the Admin comment box (which has the same as the Forum message box or the Author edit box).

It is far easier to moderate with those tools present.  Otherwise one has to use multiple html hash codes & it sometimes is a pain to get the syntax right.

And, yeah.  I should've just deleted Smits' comment in the first place as it was only remotely tangential to the OP.  Sorry for the kerfluffle that followed; my fault.  But I was just trying to help.

2011-10-13 18:04:35
Rob Painting

No worries Yooper. Maybe I overreacted.