[Mailman-Developers] RFQ: Member moderation feature.

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Wed Jan 8 16:04:39 EST 2003

In discussion with one of my list members an idea arose to help reduce
moderator load and (better) allow posters to guide/control the threads
they create:

Assuming a fully moderated list:

  1) A poster may indicate on their posting that they wish to moderate
  the subsequent thread.  This could be done by custom header or special
  first line in a special format on the message.

  2) All posts on that thread are then held for their approval, and they
  can view that moderation queue as if they were a first class list
  moderator, with the only difference being that they can only see and
  process the posts held for them, and won't see the posts held for
  other members or the list in general.

  3) The real moderator(s) view of the moderation queue will show all

  4) A member moderator can defer, accept, reject, or discard the
  messages in his queue, just as per a normal moderator EXCEPT that in
  all cases the commands have no effect other than annotating the
  message for the real moderator.  (ie the member moderator supplies
  hints to the real moderator).

  5) The real moderator in reviewing his moderation queue will see
  normal messages, messages in member moderator queues, and annotated
  messages from member moderated queues.  Messages being held on member
  moderation queues will be annotated to that effect.  Any commands that
  a real moderator applies to any messages (no matter its status) in his
  moderation queue take place instantly (ie he's God and can do anything
  with final decisions resting with the real moderator).

  6) A messages arrive on a member moderated thread the member moderator
  is emailed a standard "held message" email just like a real moderator.
  In fact the same message could be sent to both moderators, with the
  body of the message stating that the message is member moderated and
  who by.

This could be extended for partially moderated or unmoderated lists by
replacing #4 above with:

  4a) A member moderator can defer, accept, reject, or discard the
  messages in his queue with the following results:

    Defer -- message remains held in his queue.

    Accept -- Message is broadcast or held as per any moderation flag
    applied to the poster.

    Reject -- Message is annotated with the member's proposed rejection
    message and left in the real moderator's moderation queue.

    Discard -- Message is annotated with the member's proposed discard
    reason and left in the real moderator's moderation queue.

All the above assumes that member moderation is via the web only.  I
consider this acceptable.  Yeah, moderation via email is great, but it
doesn't have to be in version 1.0 of the feature.

Implementation notes:

  Tracing threads is unreliable.  Not all MUAs properly support or
  generate References: or In-Reply-To: headers.  For those that do,
  tracing and tracking Message-IDs is the (only) reliable route.

  I propose that when a thread/message becomes member moderated that
  Mailman log the Subject: header and Message-ID.  Any subsequent
  message which has that Message-ID in an In-Reply-To: or References:
  header and has a Subject: which is (at least) a prefix substring
  (accounting for "Re:" etc) of the saved Subject: will be held for
  member moderation.

  Attempts by a member to moderate a thread already member moderated
  will be refused/rejected/denied/whatever.

  A member may however fork a thread and moderate the new fork _IF_ he
  changes the Subject: header as that breaks the check above.

  If desired we can support the ability for a member moderator to resign
  from moderating a thread (web interface again).


  Currently Mailman has poor supports in general for multiple
  moderators.  The above annotation features go a long way to better
  supporting multiple moderators.  Adding a general moderation queue
  annotation feature would be a very useful as a way for moderators to
  pass each other notes as to held messages, as well as for single
  moderators to keep notes for themselves.


As a final tweak, and I find this one particularly delightful, I'd like
to see a text field with a controlling checkbox in the displayed headers
for a message held for moderation.  If the checkbox is checked by a real
or member moderator and text entered in the field, the held message will
have its Subject: header edited/replaced ala:

  Subject: Newly entered text here (Was: Old subject goes here)

Note that this would effectively allow a member moderator to fork a
thread out of his control.  More specifically this would be the only
extent to which member moderators could edit held messages.  Real
moderators would retain normal abilities to edit message text.


Background reasoning:

  Moderated lists have a core scaling problem WRT moderator overload.
  This feature allows moderation to be (partially) distributed without
  bypassing moderator control.

  A frequent complaint on higher volume focused lists is thread
  creep/fan-out.  The original poster wanted to investigate a specific
  area (ie define and maintain focus) but the thread forked and charged
  off in another direction.  This feature would allow such a member
  moderator to help guide the thread in the direction he wants without
  bypassing or removing the real moderator's function.

J C Lawrence
---------(*)                Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas.
claw at kanga.nu               He lived as a devil, eh?
http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/  Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.

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