Most of the time, messages that we have to send privately to users are quite cut and dry. We're either explaining an action that we took, or describing an action that we'll need to take. Many of the issues that we address have been addressed hundreds, if not thousands of times before.

Once in a while, however, you run into something that should be addressed, but isn't something that many users have done before. Sometimes, it's helpful to bring in your fellow moderators or even a member of the community team to help craft a message.

I propose that we do the following:

  • Utilize our existing draft feature while creating moderator messages, but have the draft tied to the user for which the message is being created, visible only to moderators. Thus, moderator A could begin a message to a user, leaving the draft for moderator B to review and possibly send off, or edit and pass to the community team.

  • Implement a save-on-demand feature for drafts, so that one can be certain that they've left their draft in a state that is suitable for review by others. Additionally, it should be very clear that a message to a user is pending so drafts aren't accidentally discarded or not noticed by others unaware of the collaboration.

If a moderator goes to send a message to a user where there is a pending draft, they should be taken immediately to the draft at which point they can send it, or discard it. If they elect to discard it, take them back to the screen where they can click to select another message. Drafts should live however long they do for normal posts so that expectations can remain consistent.

A tiny caveat is a moderator creating a draft, letting it 'chill' for a day, then coming back to it to send it off. If the draft has been changed since the moderator saved it, a "Last modified by (person) at (time)" should appear above the editor, and the moderator should be prompted to confirm they know that the message has changed since they wrote it prior to sending. This avoids a moderator sending a message that has been revised without their knowledge.

Yes, we do have other ways to collaborate such as posting chunks of text in moderator only chat rooms; however this is extremely clunky, lacks formatting and isn't very practical. There's also Google documents which allow for more real time collaboration - which moderators should use if they need something more elaborate than utilizing simple drafts. At least for now.

This does a lot to help new moderators come on board, and lets the community team and more seasoned moderators better collaborate in some unusual, but not really infrequent odd moderation circumstances. Since we have most of what's needed, I'm hoping this will cost much less than what it yields.

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    For comments there is pro forma comments, perhaps this might be adaptable to private messages by changing the auto insert action if this somehow doesn't get implemented. Other than that, I support your suggestion... Jun 27, 2011 at 20:12
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    @TomWijsman - The functionality of pro forma comments is not the goal of this feature request. We already have a set of templates (which is what pro forma comments is); what we don't have is a way to share the edited template with other mods. Nov 23, 2011 at 20:24
  • @KevinVermeer: You could copy the Pro Forma Comments from the above in a Google Docs. It even makes it easy to comment about the comments, such that you can resolve issues about those comments easily. Why reinvent the wheel? :) Apr 21, 2012 at 9:38
  • @TomWijsman Pro Forma uses local storage, it would not be practical for something like this. You could see your own draft, but could not share it with other mods without help from the server. I don't think Google Docs is the best place to hash out confidential messages.
    – user50049
    Apr 21, 2012 at 13:25
  • @TimPost: Oh, private messages, I see... Apr 21, 2012 at 13:28
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    @TomWijsman Yes, pretty much the only 'private' part of the system as far as content goes. These are messages where we have to contact users about certain kinds of behavior. They are only visible to those that have a diamond on the site and the user that received it. The whole benefit of this feature would be allowing us to let other mods proof and critique these messages before sending. It would really help new moderators.
    – user50049
    Apr 21, 2012 at 13:32
  • @TomWijsman - Google Docs works for this (and I've used it for this) but it means that you have to have all the collaborators' email addresses, it's out-of-band, Markdown doesn't work there...it works, but it's less than optimal. I see you've got an account on Electrical Engineering, would you like to see the sort of stuff that gets sent? May 17, 2012 at 17:13
  • @KevinVermeer: Not necessary, was just suggesting what I thought could be useful. But not having seen the whole situation, it seemed like a silly idea... :( May 17, 2012 at 17:16
  • Dear Sir/Madam user123456789: As a moderator I am very sorry to inform you that your account is temporarily suspended because of low-quality contributions. Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience you may have experienced with respect to this. Looking forward to hearing from you. Sincerely yours, [moderator name]
    – gnat
    May 17, 2012 at 17:37
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    Having used a moderator-only chatroom to try to assemble one of these (ugh), I'd like to see this too. And it would be much, much better if the drafting/editing happened on the site somewhere, rather than off in Google Docs or email or something, not least so that future mods can benefit from it. Feb 5, 2013 at 16:19
  • re-booting this a bit to use some functionality we actually have now, stay tuned.
    – user50049
    May 9, 2013 at 18:26
  • Hi @TimPost, it sounds like you may have some insider information on this feature? If so, are you able to share?
    – jmort253
    May 14, 2013 at 5:48
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    @jmort253 Some stuff has gone in (mostly related to how drafts work in general) since I originally wrote this feature request, so I'm re-writing it to narrow the scope a bit and use what we have. Will have it done today - stay tuned.
    – user50049
    May 14, 2013 at 8:00
  • @jmort253 Have another read :) This might actually stand a chance of getting implemented.
    – user50049
    May 14, 2013 at 10:03
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    Note - this is now in-progressy, you may go to message a user and see a draft if someone beat you to it. I'll answer this once it's debugged and ironed out, but it's in the process of going in
    – user50049
    May 30, 2013 at 11:55

1 Answer 1


This was for a short time, but a few tricky bugs surfaced causing a bit of confusion in moderator messages. It's a little harder to (ab)use drafts than originally thought and we had to turn the feature off.

However, since this is implemented and just turned off, we're going to try and fix it for inclusion in our latest round of moderator tool enhancements and fixes which should wrap up within the next two weeks. keep this in mind as a major feature if / when we're able to give the messaging system an overhaul. As it's currently put together, we simply can't wire it up as easily as we hoped.

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