Plan to introduce global moderators

Some actions which are sometimes necessary for moderation (such as suspending users and deleting certain content, see the documentation for a list) are not available to category moderators. Therefore, they are currently performed by members of @forums-governance upon request of category moderators.

As part of our goal to hand over moderator duties to volunteers selected by the community, we would like to introduce global moderators (called simply a “moderator” in Discourse). This is a user tier between category moderator and admin.


Their primary responsibility would be to implement sanctions that require higher account privileges, which they would do upon request by category moderators.

Global moderators should not interfere with the work of category moderators, so they would generally not act on their own initiative. However, we envision that they could act as a backup if a local team is falling behind on handling flags.

Selection criteria

We imagine that the established selection criteria would apply as for category moderators, except:

  • to be eligible, a user should already moderator in at least one category
  • they can volunteer for the role at any time and would be confirmed individually by achieving 80% approval in a poll

Request for feedback

Please provide your feedback to the idea on this thread. We’ll wait with further steps at least until our next internal meeting in 12 days to give you time to share your thoughts.


In principle, I support this project. In the past, it had already become apparent that it may be necessary to intervene more quickly with stronger moderator rights. Unfortunately.

Question: do the members of the forums-governance-team all have administrator rights?

It should be considered that global moderators should not intervene in the sub-forum with global moderator rights in which they are also category moderators. “Should not” means: in urgent exceptional cases it is nevertheless possible and permissible to intervene. In that case, however, a second global moderator (as soon as available) should check the measure. The possibility of an alleged or actual conflict of interest or even “abuse of power” by moderators should be excluded as much as possible through transparency.

Currently, all members of forums-governance are also admins. (The reverse isn’t true, some admins only concern themselves with matters of technical operations.)

I agree, this would be a good principle to follow.

I’m not sure how well the moderation guidelines are defined, but global moderators shall always either act by a request from a cat moderator or if wanted to act on their own behalf they ought to seek out cat moderators either before the action or right after it (and since there are no categories without moderators there are always cat moderators to ask). Generally they should be the slaves of the cat moderators and not vice versa.

Also I am not even sure to mention that no moderator shall do any moderation actions in any debate they are participant of (unless every moderator was in, which rarely happens, but not impossible).

Is there any news here?
I am a little surprised that this is not attracting more interest and discussion.

I would have predicted more discussion as well, but since the little feedback we received so far was cautiously favorable, we plan to present something more concrete (a wording for a possible update to the moderator selection criteria) as a next step and then ask for feedback again.

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5 posts were split to a new topic: Request: Section prohibiting moderator action in case of CoI or involvement in a debate

We now have a draft of a possible update to the Moderator selection criteria to prepare them for the introduction of global moderators (now called site moderators to prevent confusion with moderators of international categories).

What follows are the relevant sections from the draft. We welcome your feedback!

On-boarding and responsibilities

By putting themselves forward for a category moderator position, candidates commit to:
[… unchanged sections regarding category moderators]

The primary responsibility of site moderators is to implement sanctions that require higher account privileges, which they would do upon request by category moderators. Site moderators should generally not exercise their elevated privileges on their own initiative or within a category they moderate as category moderators. However, site moderators can act as a backup if a category moderator team is falling behind on handling flags.

New moderators process for new categories

[… process not changed]

The proposed moderator team as a whole will be confirmed by a discussion and poll as described below.

Applications for site moderator status

Any user who is already moderator in at least one category is eligible to (additionally) become a site moderator. They can volunteer for the role at any time and are confirmed individually through a discussion and poll as described below.


Polls are used during category creation, during applications for site moderator status, and sometimes during health checks.

They are preceded by a community discussion which is open for at least 5 days (always including weekend days), allowing anyone in the community to share their thoughts and additional suggestions.

After these 5 days, a public forum poll will be called to (Approve, Reject) the candidate or list of candidates.

The poll will be open for another 5 days (always including weekend days), and it will be approved with least 80% of “Yes” votes.

Voters are encouraged to comment on the topic explaining the reasons for their votes.

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I’m actually surprised that no such role exists here yet, but that’s probably explained by the governance team de facto acting as global moderators when needed and/or a relatively low need for them (yet)? :slight_smile:

This doesn’t actually have to be true. There’s plenty of scenario’s where a global moderator should be able to perform independently. Clear examples being spam or vandalism across categories. No idea if that’s already a problem here, but it’s most likely “when” and not “if”.

Unless site moderators’ sole task (which is something else then a primary task to my mind) is to use the ban-hammer, and not to perform actual topic moderation, in which case they probably shouldn’t be called moderators but something else (e.g. “user administrator”, “intervention admin”, you name it), to prevent confusion/manage expectations.

I’m not sure any hierarchy should be implied (whether called “slaves” or otherwise :wink:). Given the earlier (consent on the) suggestion that:

This implies a four eyes principle is in place (or at least considered), in which case the global moderator and cat moderator should be considered equals and either can call on the action of the other, when the consider an intervention necessary, but also call it off when the other proposes it. If the consent of both is actually required to move forward.

Given the discussion / items I’ve responded to above, I think this part can do with some clarification / additional detailing. E.g.:

  • If a site moderator wishes to act within a category they are not category moderator in, should they actively acquire consent of the cat moderator (beforehand)? What are considered notable/acceptable exceptions to that? Is it a hard “four eye principle” control or more like a casual peer review/second opinion?

That would serve to make the situation between a site moderator and a cat moderator more equal (requiring consent of both parties for the action, making it a shared decision). Because all other things being equal, they actually aren’t equal. The site moderator is the one with the button, so the hierarchy is implied by the system.

Related, about their neutrality in relation to their home category:

  • If a site moderator wishes to act within a category they are category moderator in, should they acquire consent of another site moderator (reach out as if they are just a cat moderator)? Or aren’t they allowed to be involved in general (because a site moderator is a peer of other site moderators, in the same way the are a peer of their fellow cat moderator, making their neutrality debatable).
  • Similarly, is another cat moderator from the same category as the site moderator allowed to ask them to perform actions in their “home category” - or should they be refused/addressed to another site moderator else to begin with? In other words: is involvement (even if not involved in the discussion, though that’s perhaps unlikely) outright prohibited no matter what?

Edit: clarifications.

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Well, I have my Wikipedia experience behind me so I can clearly differentiate:

  • Cases which are “semi-automatic”, usually global abuse management, or global problem mitigation, which do not usually require cooperation from/with can mods
  • Anything content related, discussions, behviour, especially when limited to one or few categories with moderators. I would say global mods shall be forbidden to act before cat mods ask them to, since they are usually not in the position to be able to make educated judgement of local content and behaviour.

(There are cases in-between, like a user who gets banned in several categories, or doing clear harm, like criminal activities, but I guess these are more rare than usual, and in the former case the catmods can ask for help and the latter is almost same as global abuse management.)

So I prefer global abuse managers to global “moderators”, since moderation (in theory at least) usually involves content moderation and judgement, which I would exclusively put in the hands of the category moderators, who shall know their categories best (or they shall be demoted if not, but that’s for the category members, not global policepersons).

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That’s exactly what I meant, thank you for elaborating. :blush:

I think @grin’s response addresses the first part of the post well, but I’d like to clarify my understanding of the rule that site mods shouldn’t act in their home category:

My thinking here is that they should not use their site moderator-specific buttons in their own category at all. They should act as if they were just a cat moderator: Coordinate with the other cat moderators as necessary and then reach out to to the site moderators group with a request to take action.

I think it’s best if they, again, do not use their site moderator-specific buttons in their own category, even upon someone else’s request.

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You make a reasonable point, but as this role is called “moderators” throughout the Discourse software and documentation, I suspect that a name without “moderators” in it would likely cause confusion.


Does the user interface make clear which buttons are site moderator-specific and which are category specific? I’m guessing it may not. I’ve had a hard enough time understanding which buttons have been granted to me based on my trust level and which based on my status as a category moderator. If the distinction is not clear, this may be hard for moderators to remember.


I do not believe the user interface makes this distinction easy to discover, unfortunately. So I agree this could become an issue.

Being able to suspend or silence users is probably the most prominent power which only site moderators would have at their disposal, and I hope that at least this one stands out enough as a far-reaching decision that people wouldn’t mistake it for routine category moderation.

The @forums-governance team has decided to adopt an updated version of the moderator selection criteria which introduces site moderators as discussed in this thread.

This means that existing category moderators can now apply to become site moderators at any time. We’ll likely post an explicit call for site moderators as extra encouragement, though.