Forum moderation questions, answers, tips and tricks

If you are interested in learning more about forum moderation, how it works, how to become a moderator… you have come to the right place. Share your questions and your advice.

You are especially welcome if you are a moderator or have a similar role in another community, at Wikimedia or elsewhere. It is always interesting to compare different practices, tools, and lessons learned.

Basic reading:


I’ll start with a simple trick. Discourse allows moderators to set a timer to close or delete a topic automatically.

Here is a real example: Forum Weekly Report - #33 by NPhan_WMF

The Forum Weekly Report has been active during the community review, but now it’s over. We have moved to a monthly cadence. Nhu says that we will be closing this topic soon. At that point, moderators can set a timer to close the topic automatically (in this case 7 days) and forget about it.

It is possible to set timers relative to the last comment. For instance, you can set a timer to close a topic one month after the last reply. If it’s been 27 days of silence but then a new reply arrives, the timer is reset and another month needs to pass to close the last topic.

You can even set a timer at a category level. For instance, imagine a “Hot Topic Only” category. If a topic is not hot, it doesn’t have a place there. Very well. You can set a timer for that category so that topics without any replies after one week are closed automatically.

You can also set a timer to auto-delete comments on a topic. Why someone would do that? Imagine a topic “Forum help, just ask!”. Some people ask questions that haven’t been asked before, and moderators can split those questions into new topics that will be useful for future users. However, some people ask questions that have been answered before, maybe many times. The replies are polite links to existing topics where these questions are answered. Instead of accumulating these comments that after a while become noise, you can set a timer to auto-delete replies after one month. If a reply was not informative enough to be moved elsewhere, it will be removed, and the topic will stay pruned and fresh.

(This was supposed to be a tip of a couple of lines, but I got carried away! :sweat_smile: )

Share your questions, answers, tips and tricks!

1 Like

well, I will chime in to say that right now, I don’t view myself as a likely moderator for the forum. as you know, I am rather opinionated, so I prefer to comment as a participant, rather than as a moderator. (I’m not ruling it out for some point in the future though! :grinning: )

however, one role that I do see myself as already assuming is as a community facilitator. I would like to suggest that as a thought, option, or possible avocation, for all the highly valued colleagues here.

In a community as large, diverse and as sprawling as ours, those who promote and highlight new methods of discussson and discourse (lower-case “d”) are performing a valuable service indeed!

lastly I would like to commend, thank, and applaud our friend and colleague @Qgil-WMF , as well as all the great WMF stafff who have made this forum a reality. you have truly put your heart and soul into this forum, and it is deeply appreciated. I firmly believe that this forum will remain a valuable resource for decades to come!! I hoist a flagon in your direction! :beers: :beers: bravo!! :grinning: :grinning: :clap: :clap:

Tagging is an activity anyone can do, and it is a routine for good moderators. Just like a wiki page without categories is incomplete, a forum topic without tags is also somewhat orphan.

If you want to help to the organization and sustainability of the forum, tag away! Here is a list of topics missing tags, sorted by popularity. Even this topic misses a tag right now! :wink:

If you want to use a tag that doesn’t exist yet, you can go to Suggestions for tags and share your suggestions.

And the tip for actual moderators: when adding a tag to an old topic, it might happen that the topic is bumped to the top of the timeline. This might be annoying because users click it only to find that it has no new content (no new posts). Moderators can “Reset bump date” on these topics, and doing this will put the topic back to the date of the last comment.