Our welcome/FAQ document

@n.taylor-buck below is cut/pasted and slightly modified version of the Julia guidelines. Note in the locked Staff category there is also an FAQ/Guidelines thread including Discourse’s rubric for how to maintain a healthy platform. We could include that here. The TryDiscourse site is also a useful place for guidelines e.g someone asked ‘How do you make a post a Wiki’ which reminded me that this is only something Staff can do (staff=admins and moderators, with the latter being people reaching TL4; the elective mechanism below is interesting for that, but we need to go through Julia’s TL criteria and make sure they’re right for our forum, and that they match the descriptors below!)

There might need to be a separate Welcome/FAQ for different user groups: for example, potential admins could be directed to TryDiscourse resources that guide them through some of the more advanced capabilities, while regular users would, I guess, use DiscoBot for this purpose? Need to make sure new users are told to play with DiscoBot! there’s an interesting thread from a few years back including Discourse founders where they discuss the very design of a bot: interesting insight into collaborative design

Qs from Good Food meeting: how to protect against bots?
How to use tags?
How to get people to know best ways to judge/rate quality of posts?
Responding to concerns for peoples professional identity/limited time getting awash with uninformed views or same-old debates?

Useful guide for moderators [Still to confirm: how to users get to Trust Level 4? If they reach this and become a moderator- and thus a staff member- does that affect our limit of 5 staff members, or can these be additional to the 5 ‘admins’?) https://meta.discourse.org/t/discourse-moderation-guide/63116

And a guide that Nick included on welcome page of Sheffield forum: https://meta.discourse.org/t/discourse-new-user-guide/96331

The below is from the FAQ category of a different Discourse platform (called Julia, for a community of people using a particular coding language…I think!)


The following is the description of the various roles in the GMFF discussion platform.

Staff members

Our current hosting in Discourse limits us to only 5, so we need to distribute the moderation of the platform to other roles, while staff members will mostly resolve problematic use cases.


description: A small group of people who are in charge of making sure that this platform runs well .

capabilities: Can do anything and configure any platform settings.

[Current list of admins. ] - can link here to the page which lists all mods in the form of a Group


description: A small group of people which consists out of respected members of the community, who are willing to spend time and energy to make sure that this platform remains civil .

capabilities: Can edit all posts and users, but cannot configure any platform settings.

[Current list of moderators. ] - can link here to the page which lists all mods in the form of a Group

Trust Levels (TL)

They are a core feature in Discourse (recommended read about them here: https://meta.discourse.org/t/what-do-user-trust-levels-do/4924 ).
TL4 (Leader) and TL3 (Regular) have a limited set of moderation capabilities.
TL2 (Member), TL1 (Basic) and TL0 (New) have no moderation capabilities.

Leaders (TL4)

description: Very experienced users and prolific contributors to the overall GMFF community (not just this platform), to perform most of the moderation , with some help from Regulars .

capabilities beyond TL3:

  • edit all posts
  • pin/unpin topic
  • close topic
  • archive topic
  • make topic unlisted
  • Split and merge topics

Steps for transparent election and promotion from TL3 to TL4:

  1. Nomination by user, explaining why they think the nominee is a good choice.
  2. Soliciting comments and feedback from the broader community.
  3. Create Poll and check results after period (1 week).

Regulars (TL3)

description: An automated promotion for users who are very active on this platform, to help the Leaders .

capabilities beyond TL2:

  • recategorize and rename topics
  • spam flags cast on TL0 user posts immediately hide those posts
  • flags cast on TL0 user posts in sufficient diversity will auto-block the user and hide all their posts


  • Self nomination vs. nomination by other users
  • Criteria for success

Note: This is a wiki post and feedback is welcome.

DiscoBot tutorial takes you through

  1. bookmarking/retrieving
  2. Embedding links and automatically importing summary eg Wikipedia entry, YT video
  3. :japanese_goblin: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :nauseated_face: :custard: :gun:
  4. Using @ to notify specific people
  5. Basic markdown- using * and _ to make words bold and italic
  6. Optional BBCode and HTML tutorial link, and how to quote from others’ posts
  7. ‘Liking’ posts and including pictures in your posts
  8. Flagging posts as inappropriate (for moderators to review)
  9. Searching threads (is also an advanced search function) and link to keyboard shortcuts

Hi Charlie,

That looks like a really good start, and I agree about also copying across the Staff FAQ/Guidelines as it is helpful in setting the tone.

Also think it’s a good idea to have separate welcome packs / FAQs for different users, as long as we can do it in a way that isn’t confusing. Also note just found that we can customise discobot to Foodiebot etc:

"If you’d like to customize @discobot for your site, please do! You can edit the bot’s username, full name, avatar, about me and other fields in the same manner you’d edit it for any user. Just visit discobot’s user page, select the preferences tab and begin editing!”

Re the questions:

Found this on bots:

Akismet is what you need, so install the plugin ASAP. https://github.com/discourse/discourse-akismet

Did you change any Discourse security setting defaults? We’ve seen sites get in massive trouble when they do highly inadvisable things like setting new user default trust level to 1, etcetera.

p.s. These are 100% humans spamming you, not bots. Trust me, we know.

First, definitely install the Akismet plugin. You are getting human spammers for sure. Look in /admin/logs/screened_ip_addresses and you’ll see all the auto-banned IPs are from a huge variety of IP addresses, too.

I took a look at your overridden settings and most of them look fine, I only saw one that was problematic:

• rate limit new user create post = 5 seconds

That’s … way low, you want to make new users wait a LOT longer than 5 seconds before posting again! I reset that to the default of 30 seconds. But I didn’t see any issues with your settings with regards to spammers, other than that minor one.

And to reiterate: you want Akismet real, real bad for what you’re seeing. It’s the only effective way to stop human spammers.

Re Tags, we can set them up. I’ve switched them on here:

And then you can edit how they behave here:

Re quality of posts - this is where the ‘Like’ and ‘Flag’ functions come in - Discourse don’t like the idea of down voting because they think it harms discussion (although there apparently are plugins out there that would let us do that). But essentially if a post receives lots of likes that is a good sign, and lots of flags means the poster may need attention…

Re concerns around getting awash with uninformed views or same-old debates, I suppose moderators can put useful posts in appropriate categories so they get seen first? Not sure though as yet…



Hi! To find out what I can do, say @discobot display help.

Testing replying by email as don’t think I’ve done that yet.

Really useful stuff there! I don’t have much time to work on this today but am drafting email out to everyone. Customizing Discobot to Foodbot would be great- could have a banana man avatar or something- but I can’t see Discobot’s user page on our list of users- do you know how to navigate to it? If we manage that I’ll then send the email out

Replying by email is super easy! :slight_smile:

Ps Can you see ‘Driver Group member’ by my name or is that only visible to me? I was experimenting with creating groups but I think a bit weird to have that as a marker when others might not recognise it

Love bananabot! I’ll look into it

I know - it means that once signed up people can contribute without going via discourse app or desktop

Bananabot: what about this? Not sure about copyright? https://botlist.co/bots/bananabot

Or this guy from https://goo.gl/images/xv5ZKd

Think this one is probably copyrighted, but definitely cute

Like him too

What about this one though - I could rig up something like this with my son’s lego!: