WSP Forums - Administrator

Welcome to the Washington Scholars Program (WSP) Forums!

This course is designed for Forum Administrators, the highest level of the Forum Moderation Team.  In this eLearning, you will learn about the Admin CP as well as advanced moderation abilities you may possess.

Let's get started!

Forums Overview (Admin)

Introduction

The Washington Scholars Program is thrilled to announce the introduction of a new online community dedicated exclusively to the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment and the Washington Journalism and Media Conference.

The WSP Forums will be the primary location for delegates, correspondents, parents, and staff to find and share information, ask questions, provide relevant answers, and make meaningful connections before, during, and after the conferences.  Designed as a message board with social networking features including a Friends List and Kudos system, the Forums will provide a central website for anyone associated with the Program to register and join the conversation regarding our life-changing conferences.

In this eLearning module, details surrounding the layout, functions, user roles, policies, and launch dates will be explained.  There are a few key terms that are used throughout the Guide with which you should be familiar:

  • Program: The Washington Scholars Program, referring to both WJMC and WYSE
  • Forums: The WSP Forums Website
  • Community: The members of the WSP Forums
  • Post: A user-submitted article containing information or questions
  • Thread: A collection of posts, sorted from newest to oldest, surrounding a specific topic
  • Board: A category for threads

Should you have any questions after completing this eLearning module in its entirety, please contact Sam Wolfe ([email protected]) or Elena Johnson ([email protected]).

Welcome to the Forums!

Forums Breakdown

The Forums will be divided into several boards (sections) with varying access levels.

Forum & Subforums:

Purpose:

Accessible By:

Community Information

Welcome & News

Welcome new users to the Forums and provide them with useful information on getting started with the Community

All Users

Meet the Moderators

Introduce the Forum Moderators and explain their roles in the Community

All Users

Program Information & Policies

Explain the Program, its history, and its policies as outlined in the student welcome packet

All Users

The Washington Youth Summit on the Environment (WYSE)

Student Delegates

A dedicated board for the students to ask questions about the program, answer other user questions, and connect with/meet peers

Registered Users

WYSE Parents

A dedicated board for parents of the students to ask questions regarding tuition, lesson plans, safety, and other common topics

Registered Users

WYSE Staff

A private forum accessible only by Program and Forum staff to give timely updates regarding the Program and the Forums

Program Staff, Interns,

Lead Moderators,

Moderators, Administrators

The Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC)

Student Correspondents

A dedicated board for the students to ask questions about the program, answer other user questions, and connect with/meet peers

Registered Users

WJMC Parents

A dedicated board for parents of the students to ask questions regarding tuition, lesson plans, safety, and other common topics

Registered Users

WJMC Staff

A private forum accessible only by Program and Forum staff to give timely updates regarding the Program and the Forums

Program Staff, Interns,

Lead Moderators,

Moderators, Administrators

Uses and expectations

The beauty of online messaging boards (forums) is the flexibility and open nature they provide to their users.  They also allow users to engage with others who share common interest, and to create an environment of active discussion.  With this, however, comes responsibility on both the users and the administrators.  While users are expected to abide by the Community Guidelines at all times, it is the responsibility of the Forum Moderators and Administrators to ensure the conduct of all Forum users complies with the Community Guidelines.

Users of the Forums are expected to be associated with George Mason University and/or Washington Scholars Program.  For the safety of our users and the integrity of the Program, outside users will not be permitted to contribute to the Forums.  Through active monitoring and filtering of new users, the Forums will provide a safe and open space for students and parents alike to engage with one another in a respectful manner.

Common uses of the Forums include the following:

  • Asking questions about the schedule and dress code for the Program
  • Asking questions about the tuition and scholarships for the Program
  • Asking questions about the requirements (financial and academic) for the Program
  • Connecting with fellow delegates/correspondents via private message
  • Providing answers to commonly asked questions
  • Posting relevant, updated information related to the Program or University
  • Sharing photos or videos related to the Program or University

The following uses of the Forums are not encouraged and/or prohibited:

  • Harassing, degrading, or insulting other users for any reason (e.g., personal views, personal appearance, characteristics)
  • Discouraging users from attending the Program and/or partaking in specific Program-sponsored activities
  • Excessively negative content, regardless of the topic
  • Sharing of personal information (see Community Guidelines – DOs & DON’Ts)
  • Posting, distributing, or downloading of illegal or copyrighted material
  • Buying or selling of products or services, other than Program fees and tuition

User roles and responsibilities

Various Admissions and WSP Staff have been selected to serve pre-determined roles on the Forums.  These users will be specifically invited by Forum Administrators, and will have the privileges and responsibilities below.  Since a variety of staff will be regularly present on the Forums, it is beneficial to everyone to know their own and others’ roles and responsibilities when interacting with users.

Role

Responsibilities

Administrator

(Social Media Supervisor)

  • Perform regular maintenance and system updates on the Forums to ensure minimum downtime.
  • Assign User Roles and oversee the moderation of the Forums
  • Moderates all Forum threads and provides official answers on behalf of the Program
  • Addresses escalated issues via private message
  • Reports to the Directors

Lead Moderator

(Senior Social Media Specialist)

  • Moderates all Forum threads and provides official answers on behalf of the Program by editing inappropriate content, moving irrelevant posts to appropriate threads, and engaging with users via private message when needed
  • Reports to the Administrators

Moderator

(Social Media Specialist)

  • Moderates a specific Forum thread(s) and provides official answers of behalf of the Program by editing inappropriate content, and engaging with users via private message when needed
  • Reports to the Lead Moderators

Intern

(Intern)

  • Answers questions posted on a specific Forum thread(s) by providing personal insight and opinions that do not necessarily reflect those of the Program
  • Reports to the Moderators

Faculty/Staff

(Program Staff)

  • Answers questions posted on a specific Forum thread(s) by providing personal insight and opinions that do not necessarily reflect those of the Program
  • Reports to the Moderators

Verified Users

(Verified Users)

  • Answers questions regarding a specific speaker or venue on their behalf, providing insight and opinions that do not reflect those of the Program
  • Reports to the Administrators

Special User Rankings

Official WSP Community Representatives

Select Admissions and WSP Staff have been determined to serve as Forum Moderators.  The main responsibilities of Moderators is to ensure all Forum users abide by the Community Guidelines, engage with users to provide accurate and official answers to questions posed on the forums, and to maintain up-to-date information across the Forums.  Only Official WSP Community Representatives are specifically tasked with responding to and intervening in customer service inquiries.

These users can be identified in the following ways:

  • The WSP Icon appears before their username.
  • ADMIN or MOD icon appears after their username.
  • Username ends in –WSP
  • Rank is listed as Social Media Specialist, Senior Social Media Specialist, Social Media Supervisor, or Program Director

Other Program Staff & Employees

Some Program staff or employees have been identified as frequently providing beneficial support within the Community and have been branded to help identify helpful content.  These staff can be identified by the WSP Icon after their name and the rank listed as Intern, Faculty, or Program Staff.

Super Users

Community members with substantial tenure and high post count are marked as Super Users at our discretion.  Super Users do not necessarily work for the Program, although some do.  Super Users post in the Community on their own time.  Super Users can be identified by the SUPER icon after their name (Super Users also branded as Program staff have the Super icon before their username to allow the George Mason Icon to appear after their username; this helps differentiate them from Official WSP Community Representatives). Many Super Users have a high level of experience in certain categories and can provide superb advice and support.

Faculty & Speakers

Users officially representing a speaker, venue, or other group affiliated with the Programs are marked as Verified.  These users represent the organization listed in their username, and do not in any way represent the opinion or views of George Mason University or the Washington Scholars Program and do not offer support for WSP issues in the Community.  Support and other inquiries should be directed to Official WSP Community Representatives by posting within the appropriate forum.  If assistance can be offered by a Verified User without collecting personally identifiable information, they will post in the related thread.  If personally identifiable information is needed for a Verified User to assist you, Official WSP Community Representative will contact you on their behalf.  Speakers and Verified Users can be identified by the Check Mark icon after their username to confirm their official capacity has been verified by us, and the rank listed as Program Speaker or Venue Representative.

What's my role?

Administrator

The main role of the Administrator is to perform regular maintenance and system updates on the Forums to ensure minimum downtime.  From inside the Admin CP, you will Assign User Roles and oversee the moderation of the Forums.  When available, Administrators will assist in moderating all Forum threads and provide official answers on behalf of the Program via the Mod CP.

Administrators additionally have special access to addresses escalated issues via private message, and have the ability to send private messages to users even if they have opted to not receive messages on the Forums.

Lead Moderators report directly to you, the Administrator.

Administrators report directly to the Program Director.

Index Page (Home)

(1) User Menu – Users can login, register, or logout here.  When logged in, private messages will also appear here.

(2) Main Navigation Menu – Links to the main pages of the Forums

(3) Main Content Window – The main content (posts, images, etc.) will be in this area.

(4) Sidebar – This only appears on the home page, but provides an introduction to the Forums, shows which users are online, and the latest Tweets from the WSP accounts

(5) Breadcrumbs – This yellow bar shows your location on the Forums, and provides you with a way to “backtrack” and navigate the Forums easier (e.g.; Home / Thread Name / Post Name)

Once logged in, the Index Page layout remains the same, except for the following two new links:

(6) Private Messages – Allows registered users to send private messages to each other.

(7) Control Panels [CP] – Users, Moderators, and Administrators can access their account settings and control panels from here.

User CP

(1) Messenger (Private Messages) – Access your sent, received, and draft messages here. Clicking on “Tracking” allows you to see if your message has been read or remains unopened.  Users can categorize PM’s by clicking on Edit Folders.

(2) Your Profile – Perhaps the most utilized section on the User CP, Your Profile allows the user to customize their avatar, change their password, add a signature to their posts, complete their About page.  Privacy and social media options can be adjusted here as well.

It is worth noting that standard users cannot change their usernames after registration.  Only an Administrator can make this change.

(3) Miscellaneous – Access your Friends List, view your own profile, and manage uploaded attachments.

(4) Account Summary – Shows your avatar, username and role, and additional metadata.

(5) Your Latest Threads – Quickly access your most recent five posts on the Forums.

(6) Personal Notepad – Enter notes or to-do list items here.  This is a private field and is only viewable by the user themselves.

Moderator CP

(1) Forums & Posts
       a. Announcements: Post a site-wide announcement to users
       b. Moderation Queue: Lists of posts that need to be moderated
       c. Report Center: Posts that users report as abusive or inappropriate will appear here for moderation
       d. Moderator Logs: Shows a history of all Moderators’ actions
(2) Users
       a. Profile Editor: Edit a user’s profile
       b. Banning: Ban a user from the Forums
       c. Warning Logs: Not used.
       d. IP Search: Not used.
(3) Awaiting Moderation – At this time, this feature is disabled.  Moderators are expected to browse the Forums regularly for new content and Moderate “inline” (in the actual thread”).
(4) Five Latest Moderator Activities – A brief history of all Moderators’ actions.
(5) Moderator Notes – Notes to be displayed for all Moderators to see.  This could include questions about a post, or a warning note to be on the lookout for a specific user.

Admin CP

(1) Top Menu Navigation 
       a. Home: Provides a quick overview of the number of threads, posts, and users
       b. Configuration: Adjust Forum settings and preferences
       c. Forums & Posts: Add, modify, or remove Categories or Forums
       d. Users & Groups: Add, modify, or remove users and user groups.  This section also allows you to set user privileges both individually and as a group.
       e. Templates & Style: Select the theme and modify CSS coding for the Forums.
       f. Tools & Maintenance: View reports for user and moderator activity, and any system error logs 

 

Registration

To self-register, a user can choose between an internal process (register directly with the Forums), or an external process (register with Facebook). 

Internal
To self-register, a user will click the orange Register button at the top of the Index page.  They must agree to the Registration Agreement, which explains the Community Guidelines and Conditions of Use, before any information is collected.

After the user agrees to the Terms, they are taken to the Account Details page, where they can determine their username*, set their password, email, and personal settings, and select which program they are attending or associated with.

After registering, the user will receive a confirmation email with a link to verify their account.  Account verification must be complete before the user can reply to posts or interact on the Forums.

*Note: Standard users cannot change their username after registration.  Only Administrators can make this change upon request.

External
Some users may elect to register with Facebook.  To do this, the user will click the navy Login with Facebook button at the top, and follow the prompts to register.  The user must already be logged into Facebook in the same browser for the registration to automatically propagate.  

When a user chooses to register for the Forums with Facebook, their first and last name, birthday, and location (City, State) will be imported.  Their profile photo will become their Forum avatar, but can be changed after registration.  Their first and last name will be merged to form their Forum username (e.g., John Doe becomes JohnDoe).

Login / Logout

The method of registration (Internal vs. External) will determine how users will log into the Forums moving forward.  To log into the Forums, simply click the blue Login button or the navy Login with Facebook button (whichever applies), and enter your login credentials.

To logout, click “Welcome back, [Username]” in the top left-hand corner, and select Log Out from the dropdown menu.

Editing your profile

Various users will have varying levels of privileges on the Forums, including what parts of their Forum profiles can be changed and/or displayed.  See the chart below to see which users can make specific changes to their profiles.

To make these changes, click on User CP in the top right-hand corner, and then click Edit Profile or Edit Options on the left sidebar.

Setting:

Can be modified by:

Change username

Administrators, Lead Moderators, Moderators

Change password

All Users

Change email

All Users

Change avatar

All Users

Change signature

All Users

Program (WYSE/WJMC)

All Users

Date of birth

All Users

DOB Privacy

All Users

Website

All Users

Sex/Gender

All Users

Location

All Users

Location Privacy

Administrators, Lead Moderators, Moderators

Custom user title

Administrators

Receive private messages from other users

Administrators

 

Memory Check 1

Understanding which user is responsible for various tasks on the Forums is key to the success of our project.

Match the User Roles with their titles on the Forums.

  • Administrator
    Social Media Supervisor
  • Lead Moderator
    Senior Social Media Specialist
  • Moderator
    Social Media Specialist
  • Intern
    Program Intern
  • Verified User
    Speaker, Staff, or Program Faculty

Memory Check 2

  • Directly with WSPForums.com
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google +
How can users register for the Forums?

Memory Check 3

  • True
  • False
True/False: Only Official WSP Community Representatives are specifically tasked with responding to and intervening in customer service inquiries.

Memory Check 4

  • Asking questions about the schedule and dress code for the Program
  • Asking questions about the tuition and scholarships for the Program
  • Connecting with fellow delegates/correspondents via private message
  • Posting relevant, updated information related to the Program or University
  • Discouraging users from attending the Program and/or partaking in specific Program-sponsored activities
Common uses of the Forums include the following (Select all that apply):

Survey

  • Very effective
  • Somewhat effective
  • Neutral
  • Not effective

Thank you for completing the Forums Overview component to your eLearning requirements.  Please take a moment to answer a short one-question survey to help us improve our training materials.

How effective was this learning style (did you learn better from interacting with a webpage rather than reading a document)?

Posts, Threads, and Replies

Introduction

Posts, Threads, and Replies; Oh, my!

New technology and interfaces can be confusing, especially when features and terms seem similar to one another.  It is important to discern the different types of content on the Forums to best serve our users.

The Forums are composed of several Boards, or categories, for users to post in for both WJMC and WYSE.  They are: Students, Parents, and Staff*.  Within each Board are threads, which are written by a variety of users.  Each thread may contain one or more posts, to which any user may reply.

Simply put:

  • Post - One single collection of thoughts authored by one user
  • Thread - A group of posts authored by multiple users
  • Replies - A post that was uploaded in response to another post
  • Board - Categories for posts

Creating a thread

Once logged into the User CP, navigate to the board you want to post in.  Once inside the board, a list of open threads will display, showing the post title, author, replies, views, and the most recent reply.

To create a new thread, click the blue New Post button at the top right-hand corner of the page.  

Enter a title (subject) for the thread, and enter the content in the Message field.  You can select to include or hide your signature from this post, and if you want to receive PM/email notifications when a new reply is posted.  You may also attach a photo or document to the post at the bottom of the page.

Finally, you can select to Post the thread to the board, Preview the formatting of the post, or Save as Draft to post later.  It is worth noting that standard users cannot edit a thread after posting it.  This restriction is in place to prevent misleading content from being constantly updated or changed, and to keep the threads organized by original post time and in order for proper moderation.

Creating a post (Replying)

To reply to a thread (create a post), simply navigate to the thread you to which you want to post a response.  At the top of the page, click the New Reply button in the top right-hand corner.  

Memory Check 1

Match the terms with their correct definition.
  • Post
    One single collection of thoughts authored by one user
  • Thread
    A group of posts authored by multiple users
  • Reply
    A post that was uploaded in response to another post
  • Board
    Categories for posts

Community Guidelines

Overview

The Forums are provided to all persons associated with the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment (WYSE) or the Washington Journalism & Media Conference (WJMC) as a way for users to discuss their experience and exchange ideas, tips, and information, or to ask questions related to the Program. To participate in the Forums, users will be required to register.

Users are expected to follow the Community Guidelines and rules regarding conduct in the Forums at all times.  WSP reserves the right to modify these guidelines and rules at anytime without notice by posting revised guidelines and rules on the Forums.

​What is an online forum and how do they work?

Online forums are essentially a collection of virtual bulletin boards that are intended to provide a place for discussion, learning, and sharing experiences.  Users can post questions and answers to problems they have been encountering, search for troubleshooting advice, and even talk about their favorite subject with others that share the same interests. 

Because they are built using the questions, answers and feedback provided by their own users, online forums are unique knowledge bases that have the potential to reach hundreds and thousands people at any given time. 

While anyone can browse and search forums for information, only registered users (also called members) can post new questions, answers or comments.  Additionally, members can track discussions and even receive notifications whenever new posts are made. 

What is my role in the online community?

Everyone is essential in an online community.  By visiting often (and participating) you not only add to the user-created knowledgebase, but also encourage others to do the same.  If you come with your toughest issues, you’ll probably be able to find someone else that has the same problem or can point you in the right direction.  Then if you’re able to find a solution that works for you, you can add your own insights and experience.  Chances are that you may have an answer that someone else has been seeking! 

Remember that online communities should be fun, friendly, informative and appropriate for everyone.  Most forums will have their own set of conduct guidelines so that you not only know what is expected of you, but of other members as well.  

How safe are online communities?

Whenever participating in any online community, always remember that what you post is viewable by the general public.  Avoid providing any personal or private information that you would not be willing to share with a total stranger.  Information that you should never provide includes the following: 

  • Your Telephone Number
  • Your Physical/Mailing Address
  • Your Credit Card Account Number(s)
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your G Number(s)
  • Tuition or Payment Information
  • Other Personal Information 

You can still post general information such as your hometown, color group, first and last name.

Remember that online communities can only be as safe and secure as the practices followed by their members - if you avoid placing your own personal information at risk, your privacy within an online community can almost be guaranteed. 

Online Community Do’s & Do Not’s

DO

DO NOT

Use a descriptive title for your posts.

Use vague subject titles like “HELP!”

Read other responses before posting.

Repeat information already provided.

Ask for clarification when necessary.

Make assumptions.

Contribute to the discussion.

Excessively quote previous messages.

Focus on your areas of expertise.

Offer advice on unfamiliar topics.

Be as concise as possible.

Overwhelm readers with information.

Try to use correct spelling and grammar.

Worry if your spelling isn’t perfect.

Stay on topic.

Get off topic.

Remain positive.

Disparage (insult) products or people.

Try to understand opposing viewpoints.

Argue with other posters.

Make comparisons using relative terms.

Refer to specific prices.

Act as you would in a retail store.

Use foul language, off-color humor or slang.

 

Intentionally misrepresent yourself in the Forum.

Evaluation

Due to the sensitive nature of the project, all Forum Staff must be well-versed with the Community Guidelines that govern the Forums.  To enforce this, you must pass a mandatory evaluation of your knowledge regarding these policies.

Memory Check 1

  • True
  • False
The Forums are only to be used by people who attend or are associated with WYSE, WJMC, or George Mason University.

Memory Check 2

  • True
  • False
Anyone can browse the Forums for information, post questions or answers, and reply to threads even if they are not registered.

Memory Check 3

  • Your first and last name
  • Your phone number
  • Your physical/mailing address
  • Your credit card/account number(s)
  • Your G Number(s)
  • Your hometown
What information should NEVER be posted on the Forums?

Memory Check 4

  • True
  • False
Online communities can only be as safe and secure as the practices followed by their members.

Memory Check 5

  • Yes, phone numbers are considered personally identifying information and should not be publicly posted.
  • No, it is up to the user to decide what information they want to share.

Suppose a user posts the following on the Forums:

"Hi, my name is Barack Obama, and I'm so excited to go to WJMC this summer!  If anyone wants to text me, here's my number! 703-555-0123."

Does this violate the Community Guidelines?

Moderation

Policies Overview

Understanding the types and steps of moderating a post and thread is the baseline for moderation.  Next comes understanding moderation policies.  It is important to know what posts are acceptable as-is, and determining which posts need to be moderated versus removed completely.

It is important to keep in mind when reading the following sections how to replace content that violates the Community Guidelines.  When removing specific words or phrases that violate our Terms, ensure the content deleted is replaced with “Removed per forum guidelines” contained with curly brackets and italicized.

       Example:

       Original Post: My name is John Doe, and my G# is 00123456.

       Moderated Post: My name is John Doe, and my G# is {removed per forum guidelines}.

By replacing content with the phrase above, the original meaning and context of the message is preserved, removing only the prohibited words or phrases.

Moderating a post


The options to the left will appear at the bottom of every thread to Moderators, Lead Moderators, and Administrators.

Inline Post Moderation:

  • Soft Delete Posts: Removes a post from public view, but still remains viewable by Moderators
  • Restore Posts: Makes a post visible to the public again after being previously Soft Deleted
  • Delete Posts Permanently: Removes a post from public and Moderator view. This cannot be undone.
  • Merge Posts: Combines two posts from the same user into one reply.
  • Split Posts: Splits one post from one user into two or more replies.
  • Move Posts: Move an irrelevant post to the correct forum thread.
  • Approve Posts
  • Unapprove Posts

Moderating a thread


The options to the left will appear at the bottom of every thread to Moderators, Lead Moderators, and Administrators.

Moderation Options:

  • Edit/View Thread Notes: Enter notes regarding a specific thread for other Moderators to view at a later time.
  • Open/Close Thread: Enable/disable the ability for users to reply to a thread.
  • Soft Delete Thread: Removes a thread from public view, but still remains viewable by Moderators.
  • Delete Thread Permanently: Removes a thread from public and Moderator view. This cannot be undone.
  • Stick/Unstick Thread: Marks the thread as Important and “sticks” the thread to the top of the forum.  This should only be used with threads authored by a Moderator.
  • Move/Copy Thread: Moves an entire thread that is irrelevant to the correct forum.
  • Split Thread: Splits a thread into two or more separate threads.
  • Merge Threads: Combines two or more separate threads into one, useful when identical issues from the same user are being discussed.
  • Remove Redirects:
  • Remove All Subscriptions:
  • Unapprove Thread:

Forum Jump: Select a forum to quickly navigate (“jump”) to that thread

Moderating a user's profile

It is likely that the most amount of a Moderator’s time will be spent browsing the Forum threads themselves; however, some user’s profiles may feature inappropriate content, or something that violates the Community Guidelines.  Likely violations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Inappropriate username
  • Misleading username (user creates an account to mimic that of a Forum Moderator, ending in –WSP)
  • Inappropriate avatar
  • Misleading signature (user creates a signature to mimic that of a Forum Moderator, featuring a picture or Private Message button)
  • Does not meet the minimum age requirement (13 years)

Profanity

Using vulgar language in any context on the Forums is strictly prohibited.  The Forums have an automatic profanity filter in place that will automatically replace any commonly-used swear words with asterisks (***), and will trigger an “Abusive Post” notification for any online Moderator.  In the event the system does not remove profanity, follow the procedure outlined above for removing inappropriate content.

Personal information

Online forums are a great way to connect users with common interests, and WSP encourages students to connect with one another in, what we aim to offer, a safe and open environment.  However, certain personal information should never be shared online including, but not limited to;

  • Telephone Number
  • Mailing and Email Addresses
  • Credit Card Account Number(s)
  • Tuition or Payment Information, including scholarships
  • Social Security Number
  • G Number(s)
  • Other Personal Confidential Information 

Moderators are expected to determine what information is acceptable and what could be potentially be used against the student and/or the Program.

Moving a post

The WSP Forums are broken down into several main areas that are specifically designed to give users a clear sense of direction for where to post their questions.  Occasionally, a user may post a thread in an area that it does not belong in.  Using the Move/Copy Thread function as outlined in the Moderating a Thread section, Moderators are expected to reclassify threads if/when they are misplaced.

Editing vs. removing a post

The purpose of Moderators is to provide users with an exceptional online experience and maintain an overall favorable view of the Program by ensuring users abide by the Community Guidelines.  To do this, editing or removing posts must be done only when absolutely necessary or when a post violates the guidelines.  Editing (removing select words or phrases) should always be the first point of action.  Posts should only be permanently deleted in the most extreme circumstances or if the integrity of the Program is at stake.  When an entire post is removed, the Moderator should send the user a Private Message informing them of why their post was taken down.

If users exhibit continually inappropriate behavior, Moderators are encouraged to send an additional Private Message to the user and explain why their posts have been edited or removed and warn them of potential consequences if their behavior continues.  By engaging directly with the user, the reasoning for moderation can be explained and will hopefully deter such behavior from occurring again in the future.

Although unexpected, some users may feel disgruntled or frustrated by a post or with the Program itself.  While users are encouraged to share their honest thoughts and provide feedback, slander and malice will not be tolerated on the Forums.  Users who are found to be continually negative, abusive, or condescending will be banned from using the Forums.  Bans may only be issued by a Administrator.

Chain of Command

As mentioned in the Forums Execution Guide, various Forum staff will have different permissions, abilities and responsibilities, and it is important for everyone to understand their unique roles on the Forums.  See “What’s My Role?” for more details.

 Because of the high volume of posts expected on the Forums, it is likely that Moderators will be constantly reviewing and responding to user posts on a regular basis.  For this reason, a chain of command for moderating has been established in an effort to alleviate pressure on Moderators in certain situations.  In most cases, follow this reports structure when you are unsure how to approach a user.

Memory Check 1

What menu would you select if you need to remove or hide a single post?

Memory Check 2

What menu would you select if you need to remove or hide an entire thread?

Memory Check 3

What menu would you select if you need to quickly navigate to a new board?

Scenarios Introduction

You will now be presented with a few scenarios of fictional Forum posts and threads, and you will need to select the best option for each answer.

Scenario 1

  • Yes, it does not violate the Community Guidelines.
  • No, users are not allowed to post their hometown.
  • No, users are not allowed to post their color group.

Suppose a user posts the following content in a thread:

Hi everyone!  My name is Tom Hanks, I'm from Fairfax, Virginia, and I'm so excited to attend WYSE this summer!  I'll be in the Gray Group.

Is this appropriate to share?

Scenario 2

  • Yes, it does not violate the Community Guidelines.
  • No, this may be interpreted as a negative review.

Suppose a user posts the following content in a thread:

received my letter in the mail for something called WYSE today.  What is this thing?

Is this appropriate to share?

Scenario 3

  • Remove the post and send the user a Private Message.
  • Refer to the Chain of Command and talk with a superior agent.

Suppose a user posts content with profanity.  This user has been warned twice already about posting negative content.  What is the appropriate action to take?

Scenario 4

  • Yes, it does not violate the Community Guidelines.
  • No, it contains personally identifying information.

Suppose a user posts the following content in a thread:

Hey guys, I just got a new phone.  Can someone add me to their group chat?  My number is 703-555-0123.

Is this appropriate to share?

Scenario 5

  • Remove the post entirely and Private Message the user.
  • Edit the phone number and replace it with "{removed per forum guidelines}"
  • Leave the post as is.

Based on the previous question, what is the appropriate way to respond to this post?

Hey guys, I just got a new phone.  Can someone add me to their group chat?  My number is 703-555-0123.

Scenario 6

  • Remove the post entirely and Private Message the user.
  • Edit the post and replace the entire text with "{removed per forum guidelines}"
  • Move the post to the appropriate thread.

Suppose a Student posts a question in the Parents board.  What is the appropriate action to take?

Conclusion

Moderating the Forums is a big undertaking.  We expect the majority of students who attend the Program to participate regularly online, and we need your help to keep the Community safe and thriving.

Please remember to use your best discretion when dealing with difficult users, as it has the potential to affect their experience with the Program and George Mason University as a whole.