Trust levels and how they work

I figured a quick overview of trust levels is in order. Trust levels are an automatic system which is used to grant abilities to users as they spend time in our community. Thus, those who spend their time helping out users, contributing to discussions etc, will have more rights. This is separate to moderators & admins (which must be manually created).

Most of this is copied from this Discourse docs thread, but I’m making our own thread so we can document any changes we make to the defaults. I can already see a few things we’ll probably want to do.

New User (level 0)

The aim with New User is that it’s a short-lived level that’s easy to advance from, but helps to get the user oriented by hiding much of the UI, and restricting many advanced features. It’s also the level that spam bots are created at, so the restrictions help protect us. In other words “new users’ abilities are restricted for safety – both theirs and yours”.

Users at trust level 0 cannot

  • Send private messages to other users
  • “Reply as new topic” via Link button (UI removed)
  • Flag posts
  • Post more than 1 image
  • Post any attachments
  • Post more than 2 hyperlinks in a post
  • Have actual links in the ‘about me’ field of their profile (will be silently and temporarily converted to plain text)
  • Mention more than 2 users in a post
  • Send in new topics by email (UI only)

Admins can change these limitations in…

  • newuser_max_mentions_per_post
  • newuser_max_links
  • newuser_max_images
  • newuser_max_attachment

Basic User (level 1)

If a user sticks around long enough to read a bit, Discourse now trusts them as a basic user. This is also the default level for all the users created by mailing list import, and anyone explicitly invited to join the forum.

Users can get to trust level 1 by…

  • entering at least 5 topics
  • reading at least 30 posts
  • spend a total of 10 minutes reading posts

Admins can change these thresholds in…

  • basic_requires_topic_entered
  • basic_requires_read_posts
  • basic_requires_time_spent_mins

Users at trust level 1 can…

  • use all core Discourse functions
    • Upload images and attachments if enabled
    • Edit wiki posts
    • Flag posts
    • have all new user restrictions removed (see above)

Member (level 2)

Members keep coming back to the site, and have participated long enough to earn complete citizenship.

They can get to trust level 2 by…

  • visiting at least 15 days, not sequentially
  • casting at least 1 like
  • receiving at least 1 like
  • replying to at least 3 different topics
  • entering at least 20 topics
  • reading at least 100 posts
  • spend a total of 60 minutes reading posts

Admins can change these thresholds in…

  • regular_requires_topics_entered
  • regular_requires_read_posts
  • regular_requires_time_spent_mins
  • regular_requires_days_visited
  • regular_requires_likes_received
  • regular_requires_likes_given
  • regular_requires_topic_reply_count

Users at trust level 2 can…

  • Use the “Invite others to this topic” button for one-click onboarding of new users to participate in topics
  • Invite outside users to PMs making a group PM
  • Daily like limit increased by 1.5 ×

Regular (level 3)

Regulars are the most active readers and reliable contributors over long periods of time.

They can get to trust level 3 by…

This is time and activity based, unlike the previous levels. In the last 100 days…

  • must have visited at least 50% of days
  • must have replied to at least 10 different topics
  • of topics created in the last 100 days, must have viewed 25% (capped at 500)
  • of posts created in the last 100 days, must have read 25% (capped at 20k)
  • must have received 20 likes, and given 30 likes.*
  • must not have received more than 5 spam or offensive flags (with unique posts and unique users for each, confirmed by a moderator)
  • must not have been suspended

*These likes must be across a minimum number of different users (1/5 the number), across a minimum number of different days (1/4 the number). Likes cannot be from PMs.

All of these must be true.

Unlike other trust levels, you can lose trust level 3 status. If you dip below these requirements, whether from flagging or the passage of time, you will be demoted to Member. However, in order to avoid constant promotion/demotion situations, there is a 2-week grace period immediately after gaining Trust Level 3 during which you will not be demoted.

Admins can change these thresholds in…

  • leader_requires_days_visited
  • leader_requires_topics_replied_to
  • leader_requires_topics_viewed
  • leader_requires_posts_read
  • leader_requires_max_flagged
  • leader_promotion_min_duration (grace period)

Users at trust level 3 can…

  • recategorize and rename topics
  • access a private “frequent flier’s lounge” category only visible to users at trust level 3 and higher
  • have all their links followed (we remove automatic nofollow)
  • spam flags cast on TL0 user posts immediately hide the post
  • flags cast on TL0 user posts in sufficient diversity will auto-block the user and hide all their posts
  • make their own posts wiki (that is, editable by any TL1+ users)
  • Daily like limit increased by 2 ×

Leader (level 4)

Leaders are regulars who have been around forever and seen everything. They set a positive example for the community through their actions and their posts. If you need advice, these are the folks you turn to first.

They can get to trust level 4 by… manual promotion only at the moment!

OK, that’s the levels and the current defaults. Some thoughts:

  • The promotion system sounds complex, but in reality, getting level 1 is just “read the site for 10-15 mins” and level 2 is “read the site, reply to a few people, like something”. By the time you’re looking at level 3, you’re already a comfortable Discourse user.
  • Level 1 is where everyone on the mailing-list at import-time will start. That’s good, they can email in, but we’ll need to make sure we guide them since they’ve not had the “level 0 tutorial mode”.
  • Before we open this up to the wider user base, I think I should mass promote the current users from dev-list to at least level 2 (3 can be lost, but maybe to start with it’s OK?). I’d like people to be able to recognise some “staffers” right away.
  • Does “visiting” for earning level 2+ include email interaction? Needs testing somehow…
  • Level 2 requires a single UI-specific thing done by the user (1 “like” given). Do we zero that so mailing-list users can reach level 2? (assuming days-visited works by email…)
  • Level 3 status can be lost - that’s going to be a bummer for anyone using mailing-list mode. That said, all the powers it grants are UI-based, so is it a big deal?
  • Do mailing-list users even care about the levels?
  • Level 4 is manual only. Do we need a process for assigning this? What about moderators (also manual)?

My gut feeling is that those planning to stick to email probably don’t care about any of this, so long as they can post (level 1). But if we can accommodate them, why not? Thoughts welcome!