Discussions moderation tools are essential for building healthy communities, and this blog is all about the improvements we're going to be making to those tools. You asked, and we're going to deliver, so keep on reading for more information!
Discussions has been a feature on most Fandom communities for almost seven years now. In that time it’s gone through a number of iterations and improvements, with one of the most recent ones being Theme Designer support extending to Discussions so it matches the look and feel of your wiki. One of the things that allowed us to do was make our first foray into theming on mobile web—something we’re taking even further with the Mobile Theme Designer we announced at Community Connect.
One of the biggest pain points we’ve heard about over the years, though, has been around moderation tools and functionality. Throughout the last year, our Community Safety team has spent a lot of time looking into how we can make improvements to the moderation experience to help you better manage your communities. In partnership with our Product and Engineering teams, we’re going to be able to make that a reality this year.
So today, to recap what we talked about at Community Connect, let’s take a look into the Discussions moderation tool improvements we’re going to be making this year, including improvements to current functionality and the launch of a Discussions AbuseFilter.
Discussions has had a number of functionality gaps in moderation tools, making it harder for admins and moderators to do what they need to do in order to keep their Discussions community running smoothly. This has been something we’ve heard throughout the years, but in particular over the last year or so. We’ve run several community surveys to hear feedback on what improvements you all want to see made to the site, and our Community Experience team held a series of Community Roundtables where Discussions moderation invariably came up as something people want to see us improve upon. So adding more moderation capabilities is the direct result of community feedback.
We’re still working on the exact details of what we’ll be adding, but some key areas include:
- Making it easier for admins and moderators to access tools essential for community moderation and take quick actions like blocking problem users
- Adding ways to quickly remove problematic images in posts without having to edit posts manually
- Creating an overall smoother moderation experience for category and tag changes
- And last but certainly not least, adding support for post/reply edit history
These will apply not only to Discussions, but also to Message Walls and Comments given that they use the same underlying “Community Feeds” technology.
One of the most powerful moderation tools we’re going to be able to deliver is a Discussions AbuseFilter. As many of you may or may not know, AbuseFilter is a MediaWiki extension that we use across the site to automatically prevent certain bad actions: such as vandalism or spam that has certain patterns that can be detected, analyzed, and prevented from happening. It’s an incredibly important tool in our arsenal to keep Fandom safe, but one of its limitations for our purposes has been that it doesn’t apply to Feeds-based tech. So it doesn’t work on Discussions, Message Wall, or Comments—an important gap since those are such key areas of user-to-user interaction where issues can occur.
So we thought, surely there must be a way to build that? Fortunately we knew just the person who could! A while back, SOAP member Noreplyz built a proof of concept for a Discussions AbuseFilter that could be used on Community Central to help cut down on spam and other bad behaviors. We took note of that, saw the results, and realized hey, we can actually do this. A Discussions AbuseFilter is entirely possible.
So we’re thrilled to say that Noreplyz, who by trade is a professional engineer, has joined our team part time, along with his friend Alex, to work with our Creators Admins Tools and Staff (CATS) team to develop Discussions AbuseFilter into a full-fledged feature. He’s partnering with Máté, who some of you may know as TK-999, who is one of the developers on our CATS team and who himself has been a user on Fandom for 12 years now.
We’ll have more details to share on the scope and functionality of Discussions AbuseFilter soon. We’re aiming to release it this summer, though that could change if we need to do more work. So stay tuned for updates!
One big question we got at Community Connect was whether Discussions will ever become available on Gamepedia, so we thought we’d talk a bit about that in this blog. From a technical standpoint, Discussions is available for use on Gamepedia. There are no more technical blockers to making that happen—this is something we also learned was never communicated to you, so that was a miss on our end.
The reason why we haven’t enabled it anywhere is because of the lack of moderation tools. We felt strongly that if there were problems in the Discussions experience that made what admins and moderators do more difficult, why make that an issue for our Gamepedia community members?
So the answer to “Will there be Discussions on Gamepedia?” is both yes and no. Once these improvements are made, we are certainly happy to enable it if that’s something that any Gamepedia community wants. We have no intention of making it mandatory, though, so you don’t have to worry about a large-scale rollout of Discussions to Gamepedia beyond any opt-ins that individual communities want to make.
Now that we’re committed to improving moderation and launching a Discussions AbuseFilter, community input is going to be vital. Fortunately, we already have a lot of it—these plans are based on all of the helpful feedback from over the years, so thank you for that! We also had a Discussions-focused breakout session at Community Connect to hear what improvements would be most valuable, and we’ll work with the Community Council to hear additional feedback once the plan here becomes more baked.
In addition to that, if your wiki has a Wiki Representative, please let them know your thoughts! If you don’t have a Wiki Rep, you can contact the Customer Support team and reach out to us on Discord.
Not to mention, you can post your thoughts in the comments below. We’re thrilled to bring these improvements to the community and improve your experience, so we’re looking forward to the conversation!