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Moderation

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 Moderate Comments Page Internal Link

The place where most moderation takes place is the Comment Moderation page. For example, here's a screenshot of our current demo account:

Comment Moderation Page

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 Internal Link

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).

Adding Moderators Internal Link

For administrators, at the top of the Comment Moderation page is an Add Moderators button.

Comment Moderation Setting Buttons

If you already have moderators, this button will say "Edit Moderators".

Let's take a look at the "Add a Moderator" page.

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.

Moderator Stats Internal Link

The work that moderators do is tracked and can be viewed by coming back to the "Edit Moderators" page.

Moderator Stats

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)

Removing Moderators Internal Link

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.

Moderation Via Email Internal Link

FastComments supports a Daily, Weekly, or Monthly email digest for Moderators and Administrators.

The frequency of which can be configured here.

Configuring Digest Frequency

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.

Digest Email

Filters Internal Link

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.

The Comment Thread Viewer Internal Link

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.

A Comment

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.

Moderation Actions Internal Link

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
  • Adjust the votes of 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.

Deleting Comments Internal Link

There are a few things to consider when removing comments.

  1. What the user that originally wrote the comment sees.
  2. What happens to any replies of that comment.

When you delete a comment, that comment is also gone for the user that wrote it originally.

Additionally, that comment is removed from the screens of any users reading that comment.

If this comment has replies, and replies of those replies, they will be immediately deleted as well. Parent comments in the thread are retained.

Moderation Actions From Comment Widget Internal Link

A subset of moderation actions can be taken directly from the comment thread itself, without having to go to the Comment Moderation page.

When you are logged in, click the edit button in the top right of a comment. You should have the following options as a moderator:

  • Pin that comment
  • Delete that comment
  • Delete that comment + Ban the user (Permanent or Shadow, more details later)
  • Edit that comment
  • Mark that comment Approved (show it) or Not Approved (hide it)
  • Mark that comment as Spam or Not Spam

Updated Live

All of these actions will update the comment threads of other users right away without them having to reload the page. However, the moderator actions like hiding a comment or marking it as spam, do not remove the comment from the moderator's screen so that if needed they can quickly undo the action. To indicate that comment is hidden it will be highlighted in comparison to the other comments (the highlighting color depending on the reason for removal).

For example, given users A (commenter), B (Moderator 1), and C (Moderator 2).

...and the following scenario:

  1. User B (Moderator 1) hides a comment.
  2. For User A (commenter) that comment is immediately hidden.
  3. For User C (Moderator 2) that comment is immediately hidden.
  4. For the user that made the change, User B (Moderator 1), the comment remains on their screen, but is highlighted as removed. They have the option to undo their action, in which case the other users will see the update, live, again.

Live Moderating Internal Link

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.

Banning Users Internal Link

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.

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:

Banning a User

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 some options, where we can specify the ban type and duration:

Clicking Ban

Shadow Bans

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.

Banning Via IP Address

Unless a tenant wishes to opt out, FastComments supports banning via IP by storing a hashed version of the commenter's IP address.

Banning Users With Wildcards Internal Link

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.

Bulk Actions Internal Link

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:

Bulk Actions

Then we can pick a bulk action and confirm it:

Bulk Removal

We will see the progress as our bulk actions are taken:

Bulk Removal In Progress

Moderation Settings Internal Link

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.

Comment Moderation Settings

Additionally, the word blacklist can be customized from a button on this page.

Spam Detection Internal Link

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.

SSO

Comments posted by SSO users can be considered spam, and will be checked as such. The exception is if the SSO user has the same email as a tenant user who has one or more of the following permissions:

  • Account Owner
  • Super Admin
  • Comment Moderator Admin

SSO users with these permissions will not have their comments checked for spam.

Masking Profanity Internal Link

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.

Comment Word Blacklist

Additionally, you can disable Profanity Detection on the Edit Moderation Settings page.

In Conclusion

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.