After WordPress 4.9.8 went live, and included a callout to the Gutenberg plugin, many more users have encountered the WordPress.org forum moderators, often for the first time. Because of these encounters, a lot of misconceptions, and disinformation, about who we are and what we do has started popping up around the internet. I hope to address this a bit more clearly.
The gist of it all
I understand that blog posts are not always exciting, but if nothing else, please take away these X items from it:
The WordPress.org forums, and subsequently plugins and theme sections, are staffed by volunteers that give of their own time to provide a safe environment for all.
You are seeing more of us of late because there’s a lot of focus on the Gutenberg section, and with a lot of activity, there will be a lot of moderator presence.
They only want to help and do what’s best for everyone, so please, be kind to each other .
Who are the forum moderators
The forum is staffed by volunteers, they are giving of their time in one way or another. It’s true some may have time sponsored by an employer, but the users are still volunteers and not paid by WordPress to do the tasks they do.
Because of this, please think before you post a response to, or about, moderators. They’re human beings just trying to help, and using words to break them down is not only harmful to the individuals, but is a guaranteed way of ending up in our spotlights.
We take the well being of our community members very seriously, and as such strike down hard on any kind of abuse.
What does a moderator do?
As volunteer moderators, we’ve been tasked with making sure the forums are civil and friendly. And if we know ahead of time of things that may cause contention or a large influx of users, we’ll make sure to have someone keeping an eye on things.
Gutenberg is a huge leap for WordPress, and we figured very early on that it would also be controversial. This is why we’ve been preparing for the callout to be included in an update for a while, and why you see moderators more frequently. We know that tempers can run hot when you feel passionately about something, so we’re there to calm things down if need be, and uphold the Forum Guidelines.
It is important to note here, that this is not a Gutenberg thing, we do this for any plugin of size that lets us know ahead of time that they are pushing updates that may be controversial for example. (One great example here is the Yoast plugin, that informs us in the #forums channel on Slack whenever they push an update).
The tools at out disposal
So, what can we do as moderators, and exactly how does it affect you as a user? This is something that may not be very obvious in a lot of cases, we are working on making this clearer, but I’ll also cover it here.
Let’s start with reviews for plugins and themes, as they are often a point of confusion.
A review is, and should always be, a users description of their experience with the plugin or theme. This means they can some times contain just the words “No documentation” or “Does not work”. Some may find this unfair, but honestly, it’s a good indication that perhaps you need to look at your documentation as it is unclear, or your onboarding steps are confusing.
We get a fair few requests to remove reviews like that, and we deny all those requests.
Some scenarios which will get a review removed (although this is not an exclusive list) are:
- The review is not an experience, but rather a rant/blog entry about a topic.
- The review is spammy, and used to promote the writers own sites or services.
- The review contains personal attacks in any way shape or form.
- Multiple reviews (good or bade) made by a single user creating multiple accounts, often referred to as `sock puppets`.
But review checking isn’t all we do, if a user misbehaves or violates the forum guidelines, they’ll get warned, repeat offenders also get flagged. It should be noted that if there’s a high probability of a user misbehaving again in a short window of time, we may flag them immediately.
Flagging means that one of our volunteers will have to manually approve any post made by that user, it’s a time consuming task that is performed many times a day, but unfortunately one that is needed to maintain a friendly atmosphere on WordPress.org
And lastly, we have Akismet, which helps weed out spam on the forums, I don’t think that requires much explanation, but I felt it should be mentioned, as it may flag content so that it is not instantly displayed, but our moderators check for false positives multiple times a day, so even if your post isn’t instantly visible, if it was a legitimate post, rest assured that it’ll be visible soon.