Spam & Profanity
FastComments provides a powerful suite of features for discussion moderation for all available product plans.
This guide will start with an introduction to the various tools, and then go into detail for common use cases and gotchas.
The place where most moderation takes place is the Comment Moderation page. For example, here's a screenshot of our current demo account:
We've set the count per page to three to make this screenshot a reasonable size. In practice, you would be working with 50 comments per page by default.
Let's go into the features shown here.
Moderators are special users that only have access to the Moderate Comments page of your FastComments account.
They cannot add or remove other moderators or edit moderation settings. They do however have full control over the comment data shown in the Moderate Comments page and can take all actions that an admin can on an individual comment basis. They can also execute bulk actions.
They do not have access to the data management tools (importing/exporting/migrating comments).
For administrators, at the top of the Comment Moderation page is an Add Moderators button.
If you already have moderators, this button will say "Edit Moderators".
Let's take a look at the "Add a Moderator" page.
To add a moderator all that is needed is a name and an email.
If the email is associated with an existing FastComments account, they will be invited via email to join your account as a moderator.
If the given email is not associated with an existing FastComments account, a new one will be created for them.
An invite link will be sent to the moderator, which can automatically log them in. In the future if they wish to login, they can simply visit the login page and enter the name/email that you provided earlier. This will send them a link to login.
Unless they log out, they will be logged in for thirty days.
The work that moderators do is tracked and can be viewed by coming back to the "Edit Moderators" page.
This page will track various statistics:
- Comments Approved
- Comments Marked Reviewed
- Comments Deleted
- Comments Edited
- Comments Marked Spam
- Users Banned
- Their Invite Status (Accepted or Pending)
To remove a moderator, in the Edit Moderators page, simply click "delete".
They will immediately no longer have access to moderating your comments, and will receive an email notifying them that they have been removed.
Note that if you simply want to update their email, you can do that by clicking "edit". This is preferred as their statistics won't be erased.
FastComments supports a Daily, Weekly, or Monthly email digest for Moderators and Administrators.
The frequency of which can be configured here.
While including overall statistics around your comments, it will also list the three most recent comments needing review.
For each of said comments, direct magic links are provided to:
- Approve the comment.
- Mark the comment reviewed and go to the respond page.
- Mark the comment as spam.
These links for each comment will automatically authenticate you and take the action from your email.
Additionally, a Moderate Comments button is located in the Digest which will perform the same authentication and take you to the Moderate Comments page.
Please note that these magic links do expire after some time.
By default, the moderation page shows all comments, but we can filter comments in many ways:
- By Comments Needing Review
- By Comments Needing Approval
- By Comments Flagged as Spam
- By Comments Already Reviewed
- By Comments Approved
Reviewed vs Approved
With FastComments, only approved comments will ever be able to show. This does not mean that you need to manually approve every comment. By default, comments are automatically approved. This can be configured here.
So, Approved means the comment can be viewed by other users on your site.
Reviewed is simply a tool for administrators and moderators, and has no impact on the visibility of a comment.
The Reviewed flag makes it easier to find comments that you have reviewed.
With FastComments, it's possible for moderators to share links to the moderator dashboard that go directly to a certain page with some filters.
For example, the following use case:
- Moderator A goes to the Comment Moderation dashboard
- Moderator A filters by Comments Needing Review
- Moderator A searches for a comment with the text "My Company Name"
- Moderator A finds something interesting on the second page of the resulting searched comments.
- Moderator A can share the link of this page directly with Moderator B.
- Moderator B can see what Moderator A did.
When moderating and viewing comment threads it is desirable to be able to jump directly to a thread to get context during moderating.
This means that the user's flow starts in the Comment Moderation page, and would then have to go from an individual comment to the page containing that comment, wait for that page to load, wait for the comments to load, and then scroll to that comment.
However, FastComments provides a faster way. In the Moderate Comments page, next to each comment, there is a "View Comment" button in the bottom right.
If this comment has replies, the button text will instead say the number of replies, but clicking it takes the same action.
This button will take you to the Comment Thread Viewer.
The Comment Thread Viewer is a small, fast loading application hosted by FastComments that renders the comment thread for the page that the comment is on, and scrolls to that comment.
This allows moderators to gather the context they need to, quickly, without having to wait for another page to load.
With FastComments, there are a number of actions that Admins and Moderators can take on each comment, namely:
- Deleting that comment
- Delete that comment + Ban the user (Permanent or Shadow, more details later)
- Edit that comment
- Mark that comment Reviewed or Not Reviewed
- Mark that comment Approved or Not Approved
- Mark that comment as Spam or Not Spam
For example, to keep a comment around but hide it, we can simply mark it as Not Approved.
Additionally, Admins and Moderators can pin comments, but this can only be done from the comment thread itself.
All actions taken on the moderation page are live.
If someone is viewing the comment thread, and you approve a previously unapproved comment, it will automatically appear for them.
The same goes for editing, deleting, and marking as spam.
There are two ways to ban users from commenting on your site with FastComments.
The first is if you already know their email, you can enter it on the banned users page.
This page can be accessed via Moderate Comments -> Banned Users
When we go to ban a user, we can pick a type, either Permanent or Permanent Shadow Ban:
The second way to ban a user is by clicking the ban button that is placed on each comment on the Comment Moderation page.
When we click the ban button, we are presented with the same options (Confirm Ban, or Confirm Shadow Ban):
A shadow ban is a type of ban that makes it appear that the user's comment or vote was saved successfully, when in fact it was not. This may be desirable in certain situations.
It is possible to ban users using certain email providers using wildcards.
For example, if you find that all comments from @bademail.com are spam, you can simply ban that whole email provider by entering "*@bademail.com" in the email input field when adding a banned user.
Note the "*" before the @ in the email.
When moderating, sometimes there is a series of actions that we want to take all at once. For example maybe you find a series of comments you want to delete, mark as spam, un-approve, or simply mark as reviewed. Instead of clicking "delete" and "confirm" on each comment, there's a better way.
Next to each comment is a checkbox, which we can click to start a bulk action:
Then we can pick a bulk action and confirm it:
We will see the progress as our bulk actions are taken:
While FastComments supports profanity and spam detection, it can be customized. Profanity or Spam Detection can be turned off individually via the Comment Moderation Settings page.
This is also the page where you will find the configuration for comment auto approval, or configuring the expiration of unverified comments.
Additionally, the word blacklist can be customized from a button on this page.
By default, FastComments comes with trainable spam detection.
As you moderate comments, and mark them as Spam, or mark comments automatically found as Spam as Not Spam, the spam detection system will learn from these actions to more accurately determine what you want to be spam.
Comments marked as Spam will not be automatically approved, so they will not show until explicitly marked as Not Spam.
Spam Detection can be disabled via the Comment Moderation Settings page.
By default, FastComments comes with a word blacklist of ~450 phrases and words.
If text in the word blacklist is found in a new comment that text will be replaced with asterisks (***).
The page to customize the blacklist can be found via Moderate Comments -> Edit Moderation Settings -> Edit Word Blacklist, or by going directly here.
Additionally, you can disable Profanity Detection on the Edit Moderation Settings page.
You've reached the end of our Moderation documentation. Let us know what further comments or questions you have below - you may also reach out to us via the Support Page.