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Home » Community » Admin Dashboard Settings: Part 3 – Permissions (and first thoughts about community moderation in Q2A)

Admin Dashboard Settings: Part 3 – Permissions (and first thoughts about community moderation in Q2A)

In this post I’d like to explain the privilege system Q2A offers, and then motivate a discussion about what is the best way to set up moderation. At the beginning we will have to deal with the handicap that there is not yet a  large community (or  promotion of the site will have to work exceptionally well) and many or most of us will not yet have the rep corresponding to their knowledge and expertise, which makes community moderation based on rep dependent privileges a bit difficult.

The settings concerning the privilege system of Q2A can be accessed under the menu point Admins/Permissions .

There is the following hierarchy of roles, users of the site can take, I’ll list them starting with the ones which should be the least powerful:

  • Unregistered users ( := anybody)
  • Registered users
  • Registered users with enough points
  • Editors
  • Experts (technically created by Moderators and Admins)
  • Moderators (technically created by Admins)
  • Admins (technically created by the Super Administrator)
  • Super Administrator (created during the process of initializing the database as far as I understand it)

The permissions for the following moderation actions are fixed in Q2A and can not be changed (without the help of a good hacker 😉 …)

  • Blocking or unblocking user or IPs: Moderators and Admins
  • Approving registered users: Moderators and Admins
  • Creating experts: Moderators and Admins
  • Viewing user email addresses: Administrators
  • Deleting users: Administrators
  • Creating editors and moderators: Administrators
  • Creating administrators: Super Administrators

These are some kind of Super-Powers that should really be only accessible to people the community fully trusts, if that privileges should be used unilaterally at all (?) … And of course there is nothing that prevents us from deciding in a community driven procedure who should be the experts, moderators, admins, if and when users should be blocked, etc by discussing, polling, or other means in the appropriate Meta (sub) category.

For other privileges, the permissions can more or less flexibly be customized (the / means or):

  • Viewing question pages: Anybody / Registered users
  • Asking questions: Anybody / Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins
  • Answering questions: Anybody / Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins
  • Adding comments: Anybody / Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins
  • Voting on questions: Registered users / Registered users with enough points
  • Voting on answers: Registered users / Registered users with enough points
  • Voting posts down: Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins
  • Recategorizing any question: Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins / Editors, Moderators, Admins
  • Editing any question: Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins / Editors, Moderators, Admins
  • Editing any answer: Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins / Editors, Moderators, Admins
  • Editing any comment: Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins / Editors, Moderators, Admins /Moderators, Admins
  • Editing posts silently: Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins / Editors, Moderators, Admins /Moderators, Admins / Admins
  • Closing any question: Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins / Editors, Moderators, Admins /Moderators, Admins
  • Selecting answer for any question: Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins / Editors, Moderators, Admins /Moderators, Admins
  • Viewing IPs of anonymous posts: Anybody/Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins / Editors, Moderators, Admins /Moderators, Admins
  • Viewing who voted or flagged posts: Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins / Editors, Moderators, Admins /Moderators, Admins / Admins/ Super Admins /
  • Flagging posts: Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins / Editors, Moderators, Admins
  • Approving or rejecting posts: Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins / Editors, Moderators, Admins /Moderators, Admins
  • Hiding or showing any post: Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins / Editors, Moderators, Admins /Moderators, Admins
  • Deleting hidden posts: Editors, Moderators, Admins /Moderators, Admins / Admins
  • Posting on user walls: Registered users / Registered users with enough points
  • Vote on comments: Anybody / Registered users / Registered users with enough points / Experts, Editors, Moderators, Admins / Editors, Moderators, Admins /Moderators, Admins / Admins

As you can see, some privileges can be made rep dependent similar to how it works on Stack Exchange. We already said that accepting answers is probably not needed, and indeed it seems that in Q2A this feature would give people the power to accept answers to not only their own questions (will have to check this). The yellow features and privileges are not known in Stack Exchange.

A possible way to initialize a rep dependent privilege system is what SE does, to make only viewing questions, asking, and answering possible for free, whereas  allowing other things dependent on rep (or points). One has to be careful, because some privileges do not behave in the way known from Stack Exchange. For example as it stands, there seems to be no possibility to roll back edits, I am not sure if this is due to some still open issues with the edit history or if we will have to find another solution for this. Closing and reopening questions is unilateral, such that the action immediately kicks in if users, who have the power to, push the button. Approving or rejecting posts I do not yet fully understand …  Hiding and showing posts seems to be some kind of “soft deletion” which you can do on SE with your own answers for example. But again, in Q2A the people who are given the power to do it can not only “soft delete” their own posts, but any questions and answers. Hidden posts can obviously get “hard deleted” to getting rid of them. I am not sure about the technical difference between hard and soft deletion, what effects the two things have on the underlying database etc (maybe Polarkernel knows …  😉 ?)

As already mentioned, setting up a good fair community moderation  might be a bit a challenge at the beginning, when the community is still small and there are not yet enough highly reputed users who can efficiently make use of a rep dependent privilege system. A possible (potentially stupid 😉 …) workaround that comes to my mind is to make heavy use of the possibility to poll in meta “list questions” ;-P  about higher order moderator actions such as closing / reopening /deleting / etc. In fact, Dimension10 was faster than me LOL 😀 and has just written an article about community moderation by meta posts  here
To this I basically like to add that we can steal the Requests for Reopen Votes thread from MathOverflow (and Maths SE) and make a similar one for Requests for Close Votes, too. The idea is that if you think a question should be reopened you can say so in an answer and shortly explain why. Other people can then vote on this answers and discuss the issue in the comments below. If the score of the answer passes a critical positive number X we agree on, say for example +5, somebody who has the power to reopen can do it and edit the notation [reopened] into the first line of the answer to say that it is done. A request for close votes thread could work in the same way, such that a question mentioned in an answer gets closed, as soon as the score of the answer passes for example +5, too.  The other things suggested in Dimension10’s post ( tag synonyms, “burnination” what silly word is this, it is NOT in the dictionary …? Should int not rather be burnication …? of tags,  FAQ questions, suggesting categories, etc) could work in a similar way. Not sure, if we would need some kind of “Request for Delete Vote” meta thread too …? Obviously bad things such as spam, offensive and insulting stuff, crack, etc should probably be deleted faster (?) by handling the flags, otherwise for non-bad things I think we do not want to get infected by the Stack Exchange deletism 😉 and rather preserve things including comments and “robust” discussions which are allowed (!), as they do on MathOverflow .

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16 Comments

  1. I will post a longer comment later (say, 10 hours later) but let me just note that “hiding” *is* available on PhysSEs, and it’s called “deleting”. Deleting on Q2A means to remove it from the database, to erase all trace of it.

    • Dilaton says:

      Yes, I think too that the Q2A hiding is the same as deleting on SE. On SE, by deliting stuff it gets only hidden for users with rep < 10 000 and on Q2A too, you have a button to view the hidden stuff. When you push that butten, you can look at stuff and either reshow or (definitively) erase it. I guess this corresonds to the "soft" and "hard" deletion I have sometimes seen people talk about on MSO …

  2. * Viewing questoin pages:
    Anybody, since most people only create an account after viewing existing content.
    * Asking and Answering questions
    Anybody, as on SE.
    * Selecting answer for any question:
    I think this means to questions other than your own. Make it 10000000000000, or a similarly large number, because we want to totally avoid the idea of accepting.
    * Adding comments on posts
    enough points, as on SE, since a comment doesn’t activate a post.
    * Voting
    enough points

  3. * Recategorising:
    Enough points, for the sake community moderation.
    * Editing
    Enough points, but suggesting edits should be allowed, like here: http://psiepsilon.wikia.com/wiki/PhysicsOverflow.net/review

  4. * Editing sliently
    No, we should make this reg. users with enough points, with the enough points made impractically high, because every edit should be worth assessing by the community. Let’s say a really high-rep user’s account gets hacked, or the high-rep user wants to leave, and wants to remove his content before he does so,…
    * Viewing IPs
    I’d recommend anyone, because that works on wikis, including Wikipedia. But maybe that may be a concern for privacy, so let’s make it something else, which I have no idea about.
    * Who voted or flagged
    This *is* available on SE, but to mods only,. I think that can stay.
    * Flagging
    Enough points, as on SE. This prevents spam flags.

  5. Soft Deletion only hides it from most users, but the post will still be there in the database. If it’s Hard Deleted, it will be erased from the database, and not even admins can see it, without having done a database backup before, of course.

  6. * Approving and rejecting posts
    I suppose this is something like “First Posts” and “Late Answers” on PhysSEs, but I’m not sure. We should probably want to know what this is first… I think you should run some tests on your test site to see whether rejecting the post totally hides it, or maybe even deletes it (now, that would’ be very scary.).

  7. * Deleting hidden posts
    This is a technicall feature, so ti should be visible only to admins.
    * Hiding and unhiding posts
    Enough points. On SE, it’s 3 10000+ users, but on a smaller community, I suppose 1 2000+ user will be fine.

  8. * Posting on Walls
    Enough Points. buh.
    * Voting on Comments.
    Enough points, buh.

  9. […] by using such meta threads, this would also have some implications on the settings of the permissions, which have already been discussed […]

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