How Discourse Trust Levels Work

I’ve mentioned in Establishing Culture—Part II that I expect to run this forum on a trust-based rather than rules-based way.

Part of this idea is that there won’t be a traditional moderator bureucracy. If there are ever additional moderators, it will be mostly to cover me when the timezone differences require I sleep while other users are awake.

The alternative to a moderator cabal is to use sort of a hierarchy of trust. The majority of a moderator’s job is to keep the forum neat and tidy, like a zen garden, to keep it serviceable. To help with this, Discourse (the software Wynwerod is built on) uses a concept called Trust Levels, which I already mentioned here. Other forum admins don’t lean that heavily into this, while I do. You can find an explanation here.

To me, a Trust Level is a measure of the investment of that user in the forum, and as well as how much that user is aligned with my methodology in running it.

The most important thing to notice is that TLs are de-emphasized in the profile page, to prevent them from turning it into a status marker. I haven’t had to do this in La Locanda yet, but if people start being obnoxious about their TLs, I’ll be downgrading them.

TL0 to TL3 are gained automatically through continued usage, although I can appoint them manually. TL0 and TL1 are reduced permission roles meant to reduce spam. TL2 is a regular user of the forum and should be gained automatically through normal active usage. TL3 adds a few extra perks, in particular the ability to create new tags and re-categorize stray threads.

The most important job is splitting, closing, and merging threads, and following them enough that one knows when it’s a good time to do that. TL4s are Leaders, sort of a sub-moderator role that has those permissions while not being able to issue suspensions or silences.

The system also takes flags from TL3 and TL4 users more seriously by default, although I can always override the automatic response.

La Locanda has two TL4s at the moment. If I ever need more help here, the most probable course of action is that I’ll appoint some TL4s from the pool of TL3s.

I hope this post is informative and feel free to ask any questions if you’d like.


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