When you first join the site, you begin as an New User with a limited ability to contribute to the site. As you read more of the content over time and participate in the discussions, you can earn the Contributor status. The site needs good Contributors to start conversations on Topics (a.k.a. Posts) and participate (Reply) in those conversations with other people. The goal is to get 50 people involved with some of those progressing on to be Advocates, Shepherds, and then Leaders.
Contributors can do the following.
- Use all core functions; all new user restrictions are removed
- Send Private Messages
- Upload images and attachments
- Edit wiki posts
- Flag posts
- Mute other users
Contributors become Advocates under the following conditions.
- 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
In addition to the Contributor capabilities, a Advocate can do the following:
- Use the “Invite others to this topic” button for one-click on-boarding of new users to participate in topics
- Invite outside users to a group Private Messages
- Daily like, edit, and flag limits increased by 1.5×
- Ignore other users
- Edit their own posts for up to 30 days after posting
Shepherds are the backbone of your community, the most active readers and reliable contributors over a period of months, even years. Because they’re always around, they can be further trusted to help tidy up and organize the community.
To be a Shepherd, the following must be true in the last 100 days. Note, you can drop back down to an Advocate level if you do not maintain these conditions.
- Must have visited at least 50% of days
- Must have replied to at least 10 different non-PM 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 across a minimum number of different users (1/5 the number), across a minimum number of different days (1/4 the number).
- 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 or silenced in the last 6 months
In addition to the Advocate capabilities, a Shepherd can do the following.
- Re-categorize and rename topics
- Access a secure category only visible to Shepherds and Leaders
- Have all their links followed by search engines
- Immediately hide New User (Trust Level 0) posts by flagging as spam
- Silence New User (Trust Level 0) user and hide all their posts automatically when sufficient number of Shepherds flag the New User’s posts.
- Turn their own posts into a wiki
- Daily like, edit, and flag limits increased by 2×
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, and they’ve earned the highest level of community trust, such that they are almost moderators within the community already.
Leaders are manually promoted by staff and, in addition to the Shepherd capabilities, can do the following.
- Pin/unpin topic
- Close topics
- Archive topics
- Make topics unlisted
- Split and merge topics
- Reset topic bump date
- Daily like, edit, and flag limits increased by 3×
- Any flag cast on any post immediately takes effect and hides the target post
- Can send personal messages to an email address
Many of these behaviors and the corresponding conditions can be adjusted by staff. If you have an idea for a change take a look at the topics in the Site Feedback, add a reply to an existing idea or create a post for your idea.