Archive for August, 2013

August 2013 Newsletter

2013-08-12 by Grace Note. 0 comments

Moderator Timeline View

Moderators now have access to a ‘timeline’ view on posts which lists activities that have happened to the post in chronological order. The timeline includes edits (suggested and otherwise), deletions, migrations, comments posted, flags, close votes, entries into the review queue, and answers posted (when looking at a question).This new view is designed to help unravel the events of a post: who was involved in the action, when it happened, and the hows and whys of the action’s resolution. You can access this timeline on any post as follows.

    On any post → ‘mod’ » ‘actions’ » ‘timeline’

On any post which has had flags or deleted comments, you’ll also be able to find a link to the timeline on the left side margin.

About Me History Tracking

We added an edit history to the ‘about me’ section of user profiles. Although rare, there are occasions when a moderator must intervene to edit a user’s profile (for instance, to remove extremely abusive language). We do not track the day-to-day changes from users, but when a moderator is forced to make a change to a user profile, it is useful to know what actions were taken. These entries can be found in the user’s history, and link to the associated revision history.

    From a user’s profile page → ‘mod’ » ‘info’ » ‘history’

Deletion and Destruction Reasons

Deletion and destruction now have reasons stored for record-keeping. When deleting a user, a moderator is required to select a pre-established reason (such as the deletion being requested by the user), as well as fill in details regarding specifics that led to a case. Destruction similarly requires the moderator to select a reason, though the free-form field is optional in this case.

In hand with this, moderators are now capable of viewing deleted user entries when viewing the profile of a deleted user. These logs will include background on the deletion event as well as all of the details provided by the deleting moderator as described in the earlier paragraph. Delete logs are only available for users deleted starting a few months ago – earlier entries will appropriately note the lack of a log entry.

June/July 2013 Newsletter

by Grace Note. 0 comments

Deleted Comment Improvements: Undelete and In-line View

Deleted comments may now be undeleted by moderators. This can be useful if a comment was accidentally deleted during a clean-up, or if there is valuable guidance that was otherwise removed without cause. In addition, deleted comments can now be loaded directly onto the page, allowing you to view them alongside the post and in order with the rest of the comments.

Check left side of post → ‘# deleted comments’

Learn more → ‘start’ » Moderators should be able to undelete comments

Review History For Close Votes

Moderators can now review items in the close vote queue which they had previously skipped. As a moderator, sometimes you’ll come across an item in the review queue that you think the rest of the community should look at first – but you had no way to follow up on it prior. With this new functionality, you can re-evaluate items in the event that no community action was taken. This does not apply to items which you did not explicitly skip or otherwise act on.

Check lower right corner of close review queue → checkbox marked “Show only my own reviews (including skipped)

Learn more → Let moderators navigate the review queues at will

Moderator Badges

We’re happy to announce that we’re adding two new mod-only gold badges to our roster to honor those who have dedicated so much of their time to helping run the sites on our network. The Constable badge will be awarded to users who have serve as a pro tem moderator on a beta site either for at least one year, or until the site reaches graduation. The Sheriff badge will be awarded to users who have served as an elected moderator on a site for at least one year.

We’d like to take this time to thank the entirety of our moderator base for the work they put in every day to keep the network operational and our Q&A solid. We love you all.

Close Flags and Low Quality Flags Now Place Posts In Review Queue

Flags for closure (“does not belong on this site”) are no longer considered to require urgent moderator attention, and no longer go into the moderator flag queue. Instead, they put the question into the “Close Votes” queue for users to review. The flags on them will be processed based how the item gets processed in the queue – flags will be approved for questions that get close votes, and declined for those that do not. This should allow moderators to focus on the more immediate needs on their site, but you can always dive into the review queue yourself (found under /review/close) if you want to check on closing jobs.

Similarly, low quality flags (“very low quality” under “it needs ♦ moderator attention”) will also send posts into the “Low Quality Posts” queue. The number of flags on such a post will affect how many “Looks Good” pardons a post needs to get out of the queue without editing. Additionally, once a post has been dismissed from the queue (for better or for worse), further flags won’t place it back into the queue. Unlike close flags, these remain items considered for moderator attention, and will remain in the moderator flag queue.

Read more on close flags → Replace close flags with close suggestions

Read more on low quality flags → Can flags send a post into the low quality review queue?

Handling Custom Close Reasons

With the new close system introduced in our last issue, we have introduced the ability for moderators to supply custom off-topic close reasons for their sites. Each site can have up to 3 off-topic reasons specified, which will be shown as part of the blurb that appears underneath a closed question. If you have not yet done so, you should work with your community on your Meta site to determine what these reasons should be for your site. For some advice on things to think about while working on this, I recommend reading the accepted answer for What do site moderators need to do to support the new custom question close reasons?

Sharing Private Information

Contacting users should be reserved for serious moderation issues only. When you find yourself in the position of needing to contact a user privately, make sure that you don’t inadvertently reveal any personally identifiable information about another user in the message.

Examples of how this can happen accidentally are:

  • Giving the user names of other accounts that have been seen at the same IP address of the person you’re contacting. You’ve just revealed the IP address of other users to someone else if they aren’t the same person.
  • Giving the user names of other accounts that voted for or against the user you’re contacting. While this doesn’t explicitly violate our privacy policy – voting is something that should be completely anonymous.

As a general rule, you should avoid talking to users about other users in private communication. If you must mention a specific user to another user, make sure you do so only by mentioning the user by their display name, and do not reveal any additional information about them.

Relating to this, PII on user profiles is now hidden by default on all use profile pages. This is done to stress the fact that this information should not be shared or related and to make it more obvious to normal users that their information is only visible to them (and moderators). Please continue to exercise caution whenever you handle PII.

If you feel unsure, please contact the community team before initiating contact with the user.

Live Updates For Future Moderator Newsletters

Starting with our August 2013 issue, we’ll be providing articles regarding mod-specific functionality changes immediately here on In essence, rather than building up several articles over the course of a month, we will be providing news as things are added to the system. At the end of each month, all the compiled articles up until then will be grouped together and sent via email, just like we do today. This is the one of a few things we’re doing to make our communication to moderators more timely.

The content of the updates here will continue to focus on items that are specifically relevant to moderation. For general system changes or fixes, our Recent Feature Changes thread on Meta Stack Overflow generally has a more comprehensive list.