Community Guidelines Clarifications and Updates

Hey everyone. We’ve done a lot of thinking about moderation and guidelines over the
past few weeks, and with the help of iNat staff and moderators, I drafted and now posted an update to the Community Guidelines.

The fundamentals haven’t really changed, which is why we kept Discourse’s original guidelines at the bottom. What we tried to do was define the forum’s goal as that of fostering constructive discussions within the fairly narrow subject focus here, and tie that directly to examples of content that is helpful and content that’s detrimental to that goal. Hopefully that makes things more clear to everyone (there will always be gray areas), but having that baseline to use when tough decisions come up should be helpful in both making and explaining moderation actions. And to be clear, the iNaturalist Community Guidelines also still apply here.

One thing we haven’t done much in the past is hide content. When a post is hidden (either immediately by moderators/staff or after 3 accounts have flagged it), the author gets a chace to edit and re-post it after a 10 minute period. If it’s flagged again, only moderators/staff can unhide it.

It’s still not something I personally like doing, but it may be something that happens more often, along with a message from moderators about what should be fixed in order for the post to meet the Community Guidelines. Hopefully this will reduce conflict and negative momentum, which can happen quickly online.

Speaking of which, there have been a few questions about hidden content lately. In the past, a hidden post was still viewable by other users if they clicked on a link to see it. It looks like at the end of April, Discourse changed the way hiding works so that by default, only mods/staff, Trust Level 4 users (there currently aren’t any) and the author of the hidden post can see the post’s content. While it’s possible for us to expand that to other groups of users (such as those with Trust Level 3) we’re going to keep it as is for now because the point of hiding is to remove posts from view due to the effect they may have on individuals (such as with insults) or on the conversation (people will bring up something inflammatory in a hidden post). Obviously this relies on trust, so we’ll make a good faith effort to explain why a post is hidden.

If you feel the moderators made a poor decision, please message @forum_moderators and explain why. We’re definitely not perfect and will make mistakes.

Thanks for making this a good place to hang out and talk iNat, bugs, and bad photos. Let me know if you have questions or concerns.


There is less trust now thanks to the episode you are referring to. But I do appreciate you telling us that it was Discourse, not iNaturalist staff, who made the change.


I much preferred the old format for hidden posts. I think it should be each user’s decision whether they want to see possibly inappropriate or inflammatory content. If you could make it impossible to reply to hidden posts, that seems reasonable, but I would appreciate the option for more people to view them.


If the post is hidden from us, it may be better to also hide from us - there is a hidden post here.
Keep all the ‘hidden’ stuff only visible to moderators in future.

Unless ‘hidden post’ leaves us the option to - warning - then click to see.

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I agree with you, only because I think that it makes a user look bad to have their comment hidden, since there is an implication that the (named) commenter violated the guidelines, when it could very well be that the (unnamed) flagger(s) violated the guidelines. However, it seems like only Discourse would be able to change that.


Or even that something was just misconstrued.

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