Any community administrator knows how important moderation features are to a successful community, and the IPS Community Suite offers some great features in this area. The Spam Monitoring Service, for example, a unique feature that is completely unmatched anywhere else, keeps your community safe from spam content. Also in IP.Board 3.2, we introduced the Moderator Control Panel feature, giving your moderators a central location to manage all of their moderation tasks.
In IP.Board 3.3 we wanted to spend some time researching what could be done in this area to even further help your moderators to keep your community running smoothly.
One moderation feature which has remained largely unchanged throughout IP.Board's life is the warning system. It's a fairly simple system - if a user behaves in a way that is inappropriate for your community you can issue them a warning and along with that warning give a punishment, such as requiring moderator approval of their content or even banning them from your community for a certain amount of time.
So how can we make it better?
We set ourselves a few goals for how we could improve the warning system for all of your users:
- Control. Many administrators prefer to have more control over the way moderation happens on their communities. You may want the first time a user is warned to always be a verbal warning only; you may then want to the second warning to always be a 1 day suspension, etc.; you may want different punishments for different infractions. Or perhaps you want to allow your moderators to choose punishments themselves as they do currently. We wanted the warning system to be able to handle both of these setups so you can be as fixed or as flexible as you like.
- Communication. At the moment, if a moderator gives a member a warning, no other moderators know about it unless they happen to be looking at a member's warn logs. We wanted communication between the system and the moderators to be better. Moderators should be able to know when a member is warned. They should be able to see who warned them, why, and what post caused the warning. They should know looking at a member's profile if they're currently serving out a punishment for a warning, and if so, which warning.
Clarity. If a member is warned, they need to know why and what the punishment is. They shouldn't be put on mod queue and not know about it and then wonder why their posts aren't showing up.
Points, Reasons and Actions
The new system works on a points based idea. When a user commits an offence (for lack of a better term) they will receive a number of points appropriate for the severity of the infraction. As an administrator, you will set up these different "Reasons" in the Admin CP.
For each reason, you can determine if moderators are fixed to a certain number of points, or if they can change the number of points to give a member. You can also choose whether or not to allow moderators use of a generic "Other" reason, for which they can set any number of points.
For each reason, you can also set how long the points last for - whether they stay on the user's account forever, or if they are removed after a certain period of time, and if that is set in stone or something moderators can change when issuing a warning.
You can then also set up Actions. Actions are the punishment that a user receives when they reach a certain number of points. There are 3 different punishments you can give:
- Moderation queue - all posts the user submits must be approved by a moderator before they are shown.
- Restricted from posting - the user cannot post at all.
- Suspension - the user cannot access any area of the community at all.
And each can be for a specified period of time or indefinitely.
Again, you can specify if this rule is set in stone or if moderators can have free control over the punishment.
If a moderator issues a warning and it gives the user a number of points that does not have a corresponding action - you can choose if that means moderators can set whichever punishment they like, or if that constitutes a "verbal warning only".
Through this advanced level of control - you can allow the system to be as rigid (in that moderators have to give a certain number of points for each type of infraction, and punishments for each number of points is defined) or as flexible (in that moderators can give whatever number of points and whatever punishment they choose) as you like.
Since points can also automatically be removed after a period of time you can also be as forgiving or not as you like.
So this is what the warning screen looks like (you can get to it from a link in the member's profile or next to any of their posts):
After selecting a reason, the punishment will be filled out and you may or not be able to change it as per the Admin CP settings:
If a moderator has control over the number of points, they can also click the "?" icon which will explain all of the points levels and warning actions.
As you will have noticed in the above screenshot - when warning a member, you can specify both a note for the member (in which you will presumably explain why you are issuing the warning) and a note which can only be viewed by other moderators. Neither are required, but will show up in the warning log.
After issuing a warning, the member will be sent a notification which will take them to their warnings log page from which they can see the warning and what punishment they were given:
Users and moderators can access the warning log from the profile or from any post. When a moderator views the log, they will see the note for moderators in addition to the note for the member.
In addition to members receiving notifications when they are warned, all moderators who have the ability to view warnings can set their notification options to notify them when any other moderator issues a warning.
Warning and Punishment Information
Note that the details popup includes a link to the actual post which caused the moderator to issue the warning. When a moderator clicks on to the warning page, it remembers where they came from - this allows both them to be taken back there once the warning has been issued, and it allows other moderators to see the exact post the warning was issued for.
When another moderator is viewing that post, it will also be indicated there with a red icon:
This allows moderators to see that a warning was issued for the post and that they do not also need to issue a warning.
Clicking the icon brings up the details popup:
In addition, when viewing a user's profile, moderators will be able to see if they are currently serving out any punishments:
And again, clicking on that badge will show the details:
Another additional feature is the option to require that all members "acknowledge" their warnings. If enabled, after a user is issued a warning, they will not be able to post again until they acknowledge it. When they click the reply button, they will be shown a screen like this:
After acknowledging the warning, the user will be taken straight back to the post screen.
If you have not enabled acknowledgements, or even just to remind the user even if you have - when a user is on moderation queue, a message above the post editor will remind them of this, so that they don't wonder why their post isn't showing up after they post:
Although we have talked about this feature from within the forums app - the integration you see will be included in all applications, and developers can add easily add support for their own. The integration will allow the following features in every app:
- The link backs to the content from the warning log, wherever that is.
- The red icon within the content if a warning has been issued for it.
- Honouring of the punishments given - moderation queue and restricted from posting.
- The message showing above the editor if on moderation queue.
- Prompting the user to acknowledge warnings before posting.
We hope that the new warning system helps you to manage moderation on your community more easily. This is just the start of our plans for IP.Board 3.3 so watch this blog for more updates coming soon.
Feel free to comment on this blog entry below or, if you have feedback unrelated to this blog entry, start a new topic in our feedback forum.