Update on moderation

We’ve had multiple fake accounts attempting to derail discussion around the council election, and posting abusive and threatening messages at moderators and nominees. We welcome good-faith discussions from the whole Python community, but fake accounts and abuse are unacceptable. Ideally we would have an established set of moderation guidelines and CoC committee to handle this, but that can’t happen until after the new steering council is seated. Therefore, as a temporary measure, we are imposing the following rules:

  • Good faith discussions about nominees and the composition of the steering council are fine, and encouraged.
  • Good faith discussions about the appropriate moderation policy for this forum are fine, but only if posted in the “Discourse Feedback” category, and only from established community members, or from users who demonstrate previous experience/expertise with community moderation.
  • Previous sock puppet posts, and the resulting discussion, have been moved into a hidden topic visible only to Python core team members.
  • Any new bad faith attempts to derail discussions will be deleted and the poster’s account will be suspended.
  • Any new complaints about moderation that are posted outside of “Discourse Feedback”, or by new accounts we don’t recognize, will be deleted and the poster’s account will be suspended.
  • New accounts will require manual approval for their first few posts.

We’ll use our best judgement to apply these rules, but accept that we may make mistakes, and that this is the price for keeping this forum on-topic and abuse-free. We’ll take context into account – for example, established community members will get more benefit-of-the-doubt than brand-new accounts hiding behind Tor. We may update these rules as things develop.

Once we’re past this immediate situation and the new council is elected, we’ll ask them to consider better long-term solutions here.

Thanks to everyone for your understanding and help as we work through this.


Would it be possible to have written moderation rules? Especially for messages violating the CoC. For example have temporary ban rules?


Note that there was also this post out of the blue on Brett’s nomination:

For the future it might be worth it to lock the topics to just core devs, some trusted members of the community and the external nominees being nominated as suggested by @ncoghlan

I think that would be great! Coming up with those is going to take time and effort; this is intended as a stop-gap measure to get through the election. And right now, I am very tired, so I don’t have anything useful to say about what happens after that. But, yes, you’re right, we should.

Oh, yeah, that post was pretty unpleasant. I’m reluctant to start revising past decisions, and it looks like Brett already handled that well, plus Brett is a moderator himself so I guess if he wanted to handle it a different way he could have :-). But folks should not take that as an example of something we as a community are encouraging or that will necessarily be allowed to stand.

I’m hoping that the new rules here will be enough to get us through the election. And beyond that, I’m guessing we’ll have to figure out how to cope with this kind of stuff in general, because there’s no reason to think the next round will be election-related. (The last time we went through this, it was related to a random PR.) But I agree that next time we hold a election, we should think about if we want to do things differently.

“bad faith attempts to derail discussions” sounds worryingly vague and generic. I hope we can find something more specific (*) once the election is finished.

(*) such as: repeated personal attacks, etc.


To some extent moderation is always going to involve human judgement and subjectivity, but that bit is trying to describe a pretty specific behavior… examples would be things like “using a fake name to post on a woman’s nomination thread to ask why unrelated men weren’t nominated instead”, or that Retire or reword the "Beautiful is better than ugly" post on python-ideas back in September. Obviously we can’t actually read the minds of those posters (whoever they were), but in both cases, looking at the balance of evidence, I think we can be pretty comfortable concluding that they were intentionally (= “bad faith”) trying to stir up trouble rather than contribute to a healthy discussion (= “derail”).

Repeated personal attacks also bad of course, but are a completely different type of bad behavior…

It’s very easy to lose track of the original motivation of a rule, though, and my worry is that “bad faith attempts to derail discussions” may then be used to deter regular contributors from voicing their opinion (including on potentially contentious topics).


Discourse has nuanced controls for moderation and also for accumulating reputation.
For example, it would be easy to have posting privileges that reflect a person’s seniority in core dev.

Is there a category (or mailing list) for discourse administrators here?
… or would it be more realistic for me to mock up a demo instance on a dev server so that people can see examples of different ways of curating content and promoting reputation?

This post is more than two years old. Does it still need to be pinned?

1 Like

There has only been one follow-up post, so perhaps the bump will jump-start the long-term resolution discussion and it can be unpinned once a threshold of replies is met.