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IP.Board 3.3 Dev Update: Warning System

Posted by Mark , in 3.3.x 23 November 2011 · 14,415 views

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.

Attached Image


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.

Attached Image

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):
Attached Image
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:
Attached Image
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.



Notifications

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:
Attached Image

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:
Attached Image
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:
Attached Image

In addition, when viewing a user's profile, moderators will be able to see if they are currently serving out any punishments:
Attached Image
And again, clicking on that badge will show the details:
Attached Image



Acknowledgements

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:
Attached Image
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:
Attached Image





Integration

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.

  • AndyF, Nick², Lewis P and 20 others like this



Awesome work guys! You said that moderators were able to see the post that a user was warned for, I think an option to allow normal users to see this too would be valuable. It would show them that there are repercussions for inappropriate behavior.
    • Ikadon likes this
These are some nice improvements, thanks for covering them in such detail. :)

..Al
    • Matt likes this
At last, thank god!

Now if you could do/add the "Note for Member" also a pull-down-menu for Quick Reaons, that would be great. I a so lazy writing "This is a spam post" so I want to automate it :P
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• Jay •
Nov 23 2011 11:16 AM
Outstanding, thanks for the informative article. :)
    • Matt likes this
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Real Hal9000
Nov 23 2011 11:20 AM
This feature is just a reminder to me why you're the best and how wise I was to move from vbulletin. I've created a similar plugin for my board but your solution is more elegant and powerful.

Just a suggestion in order to make this even better coming from our plugin.

In the Add Reason menu, you can add another option where we could add some text which the user will see upon receiving his warning. For example when we create the Spam reason, we could submit "Spam is not allowed in this board".

Then at the Warn Mark page, when the moderator selects the reason, the Note to User box will be filled out automatically with the text we wrote for the specific reason saving us the trouble to write it every time we want to give a warning to a user.

This saved us a lot of time and it will make a great addition to the new warning system.

Keep rocking
    • Charles, Matt, Edward Shephard and 1 other like this
Awesome work IPS!
Sounds much better than the current system.

At last, thank god!Now if you could do/add the "Note for Member" also a pull-down-menu for Quick Reaons, that would be great. I a so lazy writing "This is a spam post" so I want to automate it :P


You don't have to fill in a note, so if the "Reason" is a good enough explanation, you'd probably just leave the note blank :)
Awesome Addition :)
This sounds great!
I especially like the acknowledgements. Finally people won't be able to able to claim they haven't read the message telling them why their permissions have been restricted.
Mark, how will upgrades be handled? Will existing reasons become "Notes" on the warnings?
Sounds really good :)
in addition to a warning and acknowledgment - also put them in a time out box and force them to re read the site's terms of use and they must 'agree" to the terms again before they can continue.
    • The Saint likes this
I second Stephen D's idea.
It's a great improvement!
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Francismori7_2
Nov 23 2011 03:19 PM
Golden! Thanks!
Top notch stuff, really glad to see these improvements. I have some suggestions though, I don't think they'd be too hard to implement, but then again I'm no programmer.

Off to my suggestions:
Upon moderator/admin action, the member should get an auto alert via PM. I.e. "Thread moved", "Warning for - *reason*" etc.

Automatic moderator action placed in the board of choice. (I.e., if a mod issues a warning, I'd like it to show up in the moderator section of the forum.)

I'd also like it to be mandatory for mods to have to leave a message when giving a warning or other action.
    • RObiN-HoOD likes this
Acknowledgements is genius. :o

But what happens to old warn logs? Do they become mod only or member only? >_>
This is excellent, and a much needed change!

I have one suggestion. I understand moderators can choose to be notified when another moderator adds a warning for a member, how about going one step further?

How about in the ModCP have another tab "Recent Warnings", and essentially have a public side for the AdminCP warn logs (or move them there). This would allow moderators to view the warn logs without AdminCP access, and would be more readily available for Administrators.

For communities that issue a lot of warnings, if moderators want to be notified the popups could get rather annoying after awhile, this would allow them to review recent warnings at their leisure.

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