26

At the moment any chat user can ignore a chat moderator and not see their messages anymore.

Should this be the case? After all:

  • a moderator needs to be able to communicate with all the users of their community. Chat is an important medium and in many cases a fundamental tool for moderation

  • ignoring a moderator does not mean that the user is not subject to moderation, a user needs to be able to see moderator messages

  • there's nothing preventing a user from ignoring the whole moderation team

  • when there are cases of moderator abuse, ignoring a moderator is not a good way of dealing with them

  • a moderator that needs to chat with a user ignoring them is not notified that they are not being read

  • a moderator who is ignored will need to escalate to a mod message in order to communicate with a user

I don't really see a valid case for keeping the status quo, and I see many drawbacks both for regular users and moderators.

I think we should make mod chat messages always visible. What say you?


Chat moderators are users shown in blue color in chat. They are generally mods or employees, but there are a few strange exceptions. For example a mod on any network site except SO or meta.SE will be blue in all the network chats, but not on the SO chat or meta.SE chat.

  • 8
    Huh? I thought I heard something. Oh well. Must have been the wind. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Sep 16 '16 at 10:20
  • 8
    @BoltClock'saUnicorn I'd answer your comment but I can't read it... – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 10:23
  • I'm pretty sure an ignored user who @'s you still triggers a notification. Makes this less of an issue. – Keen Sep 16 '16 at 12:47
  • "I don't really see a valid case for keeping the status quo" - Why? I see your arguments, but they seem theoretical. Is there a situation where this has occurred and wasn't able to be resolved without bringing in the community management team? Details aren't required, but the way the question is asked makes this seem more like a thought experiment. – Andy Sep 16 '16 at 13:33
  • 1
    Do you have access to the stats? Is the problem common enough to warrant the development effort? – Oddthinking Sep 16 '16 at 13:35
  • @Andy - not theoretical – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 13:35
  • 2
    @Oddthinking the basic solution is 1 line of sql. – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 13:35
  • @Andy - If you want a specific example, this user ignored all SE employees in chat here: chat.meta.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/2182588#2182588 , then kept berating them since he knew he wouldn't see their replies. He saw no warnings directed his way, so when he was suspended from chat it came as a surprise to him. Things spiraled downward from there. – Brad Larson Sep 16 '16 at 14:54
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    @BradLarson sounds like a self-inflicted wound to me. I lack sympathy for a user who deliberately plugs his ears. – Monica Cellio Sep 16 '16 at 17:15
24

I'm in two minds about this. Mods, contrary to popular belief, are humans too. As such, we can be as annoying as the next person. We do, and certainly should, try to be well behaved, exemplary users, but that doesn't mean we can't have friction with another user based on the respective personalities involved (so not only because we did our job as mods and the user got pissed off).

So, I feel that a user should have the right to ignore me in chat if I happen to rub them the wrong way. Especially in chat rooms belonging to sites where I'm not a mod.

On the other hand, I agree that mods sometimes need to communicate important messages and should be be able to do so even to users who don't like them. I think it might be better to implement something like the super ping but for PSA announcements. I'm thinking of something like:

  1. A special PSA thang which is shown to everyone in the room, even if they're ignoring the mod.
  2. Make super ping unignorable. If I need to talk to a user who's ignoring me, I can super ping them and they'll see what I have to say.

I see no benefit in forcing a particular mod down a user's throat. If they're pissed off at me, justly or not, they should be able to ignore me if they choose to do so. At least until they cool down and seeing my name stops raising their hackles. Because let's face it, if you're angry with someone, pretty much anything they do is likely to make you more angry. Including saying hello. In such cases, ignoring the user (mod) can let everyone cool down and get back to normal.

Most of the stuff mods say in chat is just normal chatter and no more important than what any other user has to say. Users should be able to ignore that at will, just give us a way to get through to them in emergencies.

  • 4
    I think this is not the way to go, for the same reason that mods only have heavy close votes. Mods should be authoritative and not be able to hide behind a "if you don't like me, ignore me" shield :-) – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 10:45
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    @Sklivvz yes, they shouldn't hide behind that. On the other hand, most of what mods say in a chat room is idle chatter. If someone dislikes me, why force that down their throats? Close votes are different, that's us doing our job as mods. Idly chatting, however, is not a mod's "duty". If my tone bugs someone, they should be able to ignore me. I know I ignore one particular user whose opinions on most issues are offensive to me. Since we're both regulars of a room where said opinions are likely to be discussed, I think he should have the right to ignore me just as I'm ignoring him. – terdon Sep 16 '16 at 10:48
  • 2
    Do pinned messages get ignored? If not, they're probably more than sufficient as the PSA thang you're suggesting here (especially when combined with a temporary room freeze) – goldPseudo Sep 16 '16 at 11:03
  • 1
    @goldPseudo yeah, the mod pin might indeed work for that. It's just easy to miss if you don't see it also appear in the room. – terdon Sep 16 '16 at 11:04
  • Perhaps something in the middle might work - any user that's @'d by a mod always receives that message. That'd allow messages that are not directly for them to be ignored in general conversation as normal kind of thing... – Jon Clements Sep 16 '16 at 11:37
  • 1
    @JonClements that presumes that you know the user is ignoring you and the conversation is fundamentally 1:1. However moderation is also, often, one to many. Sometimes it's better to say something to the room than to specific people. Sometimes it's useful to say something to someone in front of everyone, etc. These dynamics need to be preserved. – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 11:46
  • Also: stopping the ignore feature from working on mods might just encourage someone to make a client-side (e.g., user script) ignore feature. Then there would be no way to override it for the small % of mod chat messages that are actually part of moderating the site. – derobert Sep 22 '16 at 18:16
22

I'd say let people ignore chat moderators at their own risk.

"You" in this answer is "you" generic, rather than the OP or any particular person.

Even if you're not a troublemaker, it's still entirely possible that I annoy you, and you'd rather not have to engage with me. I don't have a problem with that - the opposite, in fact, given that you ignoring me will make chat a nicer place for everyone. You're not a troublemaker, so I'm not going to need to moderate you. Everyone goes home happy.

If you are a troublemaker, ignore me at your own risk. It's still entirely possible that I annoy you and you'd rather not have to engage with me - but if, while you've got me on ignore, you create some situation, I still have to moderate that. In the normal course of moderation, I won't even see that you've got me ignored - so, I issue you with a verbal warning: "Hey, @UserX, stop doing that." Because you've got me ignored, you don't see it, carry on making trouble, and I suspend you for it.

Then, you come to meta and complain that I suspended you without warning. It is at this point that it's entirely on your head - you intentionally ignored me and I didn't know that. I followed the normal standards and gave you a warning - the fact that you didn't see it is your own fault.

If I need to get in contact with you for any other reason (for example, I need to chat to you briefly about a mildly bad thing that happened yesterday), it's not so urgent that it can't wait for one of my fellow mods to come and have the chat with you instead.


So I say, let people ignore chat mods. If someone ends up complaining about suspension, as described above, their complaint doesn't hold much water.

  • 4
    I like this. If a user wants to ignore a mod, let them dig their own grave... – Cerbrus Sep 16 '16 at 11:53
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    Given that the purpose of moderation is not to suspend people, or to aggravate meta, but to prevent having to do those things... I am not sure I agree with you. This makes the quality of moderation worse, it's a net loss. – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 11:54
  • @Sklivvz Okay, so as a thought exercise: what's the purpose of moderation? I know it's not all about suspending people, but that does have to be done a fair amount in chat. 'Sides, I don't expect this would generate many complaints on meta; we don't see many at the moment, even when warnings just plain aren't issued at all. – ArtOfCode Sep 16 '16 at 11:56
  • @ArtOfCode the purpose of moderation is making sure that a community is healthy and thriving. This means, mostly, dealing with exceptional behavior. The best possible effect of moderation, and its primary target, is to help users be effective on the site, be it through editing, closing, or simple chats where necessary. That means that bad behaviors need to be addressed and corrected. This can't be delegated to meta or mod messages only. – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 12:00
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    @Sklivvz I'm not suggesting we delegate addressing bad behaviours to meta/mod messages; I'm suggesting that you can still use chat for it, but let another moderator do it. Trying to address the behaviour of a user who is already annoyed by your name is going to end in tears, so I'd argue that you should be letting another moderator do it even if said user doesn't have you ignored. – ArtOfCode Sep 16 '16 at 12:02
  • @ArtOfCode what if a user ignores the whole mod team? What if other mods are not available? etc. I would never moderate a user I have a issue with, but I certainly moderate users that have issues with me all the time. Every half decent mod has to. – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 12:07
  • @Sklivvz Both of those situations are uncommon enough that if they happen, I'd be comfortable asking a staff member or a dev to remove the ignore temporarily so I could talk to them. – ArtOfCode Sep 16 '16 at 12:08
  • @ArtOfCode that is still a barrier for no good reason... – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 12:10
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    @Sklivvz If you make moderators unignorable, you're saying "you're not allowed to be annoyed by this person". That's a good way to lose valuable community members. Instead, I'd be more comfortable letting users ignore mods and either relying on a different mod for communicating with that user, or just giving moderators the ability to remove themselves from a user's ignore list (temporarily, perhaps). – ArtOfCode Sep 16 '16 at 12:11
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 12:13
8

I'd like to see some data on this. Not just "how many mods are ignored by regular users" but "how many mods are ignored and had to communicate with the user they were ignored by via chat for moderation reasons". (Yes, I realize that's hard to get.)


ignoring a moderator does not mean that the user is not subject to moderation, a user needs to be able to see moderator messages

Eh... If a user doesn't respond in chat due to ignoring a mod... an actual mod message sent as a follow-up could include something along the lines of "I tried contacting you in chat and you didn't respond".

when there are cases of moderator abuse, ignoring a moderator is not a good way of dealing with them

"This user cannot be ignored" isn't any better. If anything, it potentially reinforces the impression that moderators are untouchable.

a moderator that needs to chat with a user ignoring them is not notified that they are not being read

I don't think anyone would handle a "you're being ignored" notification well.

a moderator who is ignored will need to escalate to a mod message in order to communicate with a user

This is no different from the situation when a user isn't chat-ignoring a moderator, but still doesn't pay attention to chat or actually does avoid responding.


I'm sympathetic to the "a mod may have a legitimate reason to bypass the ignore" use case, but I can't help feeling that "mods cannot be ignored ever" is the wrong solution even though it is a really simple code change. It is not fair to the users (who may disagree with a moderator's opinions in general conversation, for example, as pointed out elsewhere in this question thread) nor the moderators (who may feel like they're always "on" and have to act as moderators in chat as a result).

IMO, if we were to address the problem (if it's a practical problem -- see above, re: data) properly, we should build a "no, really, this is a mod message" feature in chat that'd allow a moderator to explicitly ping a user to ensure their message is received, and log the uses of that feature to prevent abuse for frivolous messages.

A few ways to potentially go there - adapt the superping, exempt private room invites from the ignore feature, introduce a new "chat command", etc.

  • I really like this answer. It has the aspects I tried to put down y'day but failed the find the right wording. One thing I was wondering about: What if users are being able to ignore moderators when they are a regular user in a room (tbd what a regular user is). Take for example Martijn and Jon. They can be ignored in the Python room because you hate their take on that scripting language. But when Martijn drops in SOCVR his message will probably matter, so anyone who has him on the ignored list, has bad luck and sees his message. I don't think this is easy but finds a middle ground? – rene Sep 18 '16 at 8:53
  • At the moment there's no way to tell you are not being read. I think that's a bit of needed information when moderating - there is a difference between not reading my messages and reading, but ignoring them - the difference being knowing whether a warning has been given and received or not. – Sklivvz Sep 18 '16 at 10:12
  • @Sklivvz well I guess if you suspect you're being ignored you can always check... but there's not an obvious way... – Jon Clements Sep 18 '16 at 12:12
  • Yes - considering we are discussing moderator tools here, I don't see how the current set up helps moderators in any way – Sklivvz Sep 18 '16 at 12:40
  • @Sklivvz I agree there's a difference there. I can't support always showing "this user is ignoring you" to mods on every message (when the majority, for a mod active in chat, are likely not moderation-related), though. That is just inviting tension and confrontation where there doesn't need to be any. Which is why I propose an explicit way to mod-message a user in chat instead. – Adam Lear Sep 18 '16 at 16:23
  • @AdamLear I think Sklivvz's point is that currently you wouldn't know (without thinking to check) whether that was the case to use that explicit method. The easiest way I'd imagine (as I've said in comments on other posts) is to make a superping non-ignorable if it isn't already (I though it injected a message into their global inbox even for people that didn't have chat accounts anyway - so it'd be a bit weird ignores would work on it...). – Jon Clements Sep 18 '16 at 16:44
  • @JonClements I'm picturing something like "if you are talking to this user about a moderation issue, use the explicit method regardless of whether or not they're chat-ignoring you.". Exempting the superping from ignore would be fine, I think... though perhaps cumbersome if the conversation continues. As I think more on it, I'd exempt super pings and private room invites/conversations. – Adam Lear Sep 18 '16 at 16:46
  • @AdamLear Sounds reasonable - although it'd be really odd to disagree with myself :p I use chat.SO quite a lot and I've never experienced any problem I recall that this feature request would have helped with (of course that doesn't mean there isn't). I suppose at the end of the day there wouldn't be any harm for a way to bypass ignores if needed but remain ignorable for the rest of the time... – Jon Clements Sep 18 '16 at 16:56
  • Also - I believe @Sklivvz had concerns about mods potentially being ignored when trying to defuse situations in a room (ie not direct 1:1 user moderation). Maybe in that case it could be an option that mod chat posts are always shown to everyone in a room that's timed out/frozen or in a private state... – Jon Clements Sep 18 '16 at 17:02
5

Mods, like others, should be able to be ignored.

A user may choose to ignore a mod for many reasons. Perhaps they don't agree with their opinions. Perhaps they don't like names that end with a diamond. Perhaps they are angry about a policy on the site. Maybe they just don't want to talk to you.

Communication is important between mods and the community, but if someone is actively ignoring the moderation team, communication has already broken down. Forcing someone to listen to you is not going to help. I imagine it's actually going to make it worse.

The idea of gently helping a member improve is noble. That can be undertaken prior to being ignored, or in a more generic meta post (targeting the entire community instead of a specific user). If you are forcing yourself onto a user, you aren't gently steering them though. You are getting in their face and telling them they have to listen to you.

Mods have other options to communicate with users. If you are being ignored and have tried to gently help a user then it's time to escalate. Mod messages are for this purpose. You have attempting to use the existing process of talking it out in chat, but were ignored. You'd have to follow this step even if you were not explicitly ignored, but the user didn't respond to you anyway. I don't think forcing someone to see your messages, when they can choose not to respond to you anyway, helps.

  • At the moment a mod doesn't even know they are being ignored, which I guess makes the problem worse... – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 13:54
  • Does it matter though? If a user doesn't want to engage with you, they don't need the system to automatically ignore a user. As a personal example, I don't have anyone on ignore but I deliberately choose to not engage with some users in chat. That is no different. From the mod's point of view, they are still being ignored. – Andy Sep 16 '16 at 13:56
  • It's a notification. Users can ignore it, but mods have to make sure it arrived to destination. The current system fails silently. – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 14:21
  • It sounds like a mod message, in that case, is more appropriate. A chat message doesn't always generate a notification. – Andy Sep 16 '16 at 14:24
  • 1
    I sometimes use chat when something isn't imho quite mod message material and I feel that a less formal approach (with ability to "to and fro'" a bit in real time) is going to have a positive outcome. Maybe if super pings (to inform a user you'd like them to join you in chat) were always guaranteed to arrive (they could still be ignored - but at least a mod would known they're guaranteed to at least be seen) and any room set to private ignores the ignore preferences of attendees - that could be an option. – Jon Clements Sep 16 '16 at 14:46
  • I didn't think about superpings, but I like that idea. If their arrival is guaranteed, that preserves the less formal nature of chat while still ensuring the user gets notified. – Andy Sep 16 '16 at 14:51
  • @JonClements That's a good use case (moderating site users); the other is moderating chat, which ignores currently make impossible. – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 15:41
  • @Sklivvz indeed - however - moderating chat doesn't always actually require a diamond moderator. RO's have kick and time out abilities and there's always chat flags. One other thing to potentially keep in mind is that there's only 19 (elected) mods on chat.so - so it's potentially feasible to ignore every single mod there, but on chat.se it'd be much harder because there's hundreds... – Jon Clements Sep 16 '16 at 15:49
2

I think a solution would be

  1. A way to flag a message as "doing a moderator's job and not just chatting"

  2. Those messages not ignorable.

  3. Some sort of penalty if a mod uses it merely to get around an ignore.

2

I think there are a few associated issues.

It's hard to see who is ignoring you. As a moderator I love to know someone is ignoring me sometimes - having the user's nickname in another colour would be nice.

If someone is acting up though, and you've taken reasonable efforts to let the user know there's only so far we can go though.

Maybe making superpings immune to ignores might be a middle ground. There's few cases where we need to use a superping, it's identical to a normal ping, and (hopefully) it would be a good way to be absolutely certain someone's gotten a message.

  • 1
    "this is a feature I don't mind normal users having either tbh": I think that's a bad idea. What possible positive result could come from knowing you're being ignored? In my experience, that only results in frustration / drama... – Cerbrus Sep 16 '16 at 13:26
  • as opposed to idle speculation, and people asking other people to ask people things and... – Journeyman Geek Sep 16 '16 at 13:32
  • @JourneymanGeek: If people are silly enough to tell anyone who they're ignoring, they deserve the drama they get; this is just normal interpersonal interaction, not much different from the dynamics that have held sway for thousands of years. That's a whole different thing from the software telling people directly. – Nathan Tuggy Sep 18 '16 at 4:29
  • Eh, I've had folks tell other folks to ask... yeah. But that's not the main point I was trying to make tho. As a mod, knowing would help me do my job better. That's the main point I was trying to make - the "letting normal users know" was an aside that seems to get more attention than the main point I was trying to make. Editing it out seems to be a good idea, simply cause its clearly getting more attention than what I was trying to mainly say. – Journeyman Geek Sep 18 '16 at 5:12
-3

I think you're overstating the importance of "communication" here: Communication is a two-way street, and the mod is only one side of that.

Let's say you do make mod chat messages always visible. A troublemaker sees them, decides to just not care, and continues making trouble. Whether or not he has a fancy "ignore" button to press, he's still ignoring you.

Even if a user isn't a troublemaker and just needs a helping hand to learn the ropes, well, being able to offer guidance is good but it's still the responsibility of the user to be open to it. Without that guidance, they may have a harder time learning to walk but so long as they're not actively causing trouble it's not really anybody's problem but their own. Again, ignore button or no, the onus is on them to heed your advice, not on you to make them listen.

And if a troublemaker (out of malice or out of ignorance) ignores moderators while they're trying to moderate, and as a result continue to make trouble, they (should) get suspended. Them being unwilling or unable to be talked out of their behaviour in spite of your best efforts is, again, entirely their own fault.

It's a self-correcting problem.

  • 5
    Users are not divided in "troublemakers" and not. There are a lot of good users that simply need guidance. It's a mod's job to offer that guidance before resorting to punitive measures. – Sklivvz Sep 16 '16 at 10:38
  • @Sklivvz Offer, yes. But it's the user's responsibility to be open to that guidance. You can bring a horse to water etc etc etc. – goldPseudo Sep 16 '16 at 10:39

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