Updating the graphical style of mod notes April 14, 2021 12:05 PM   Subscribe

We're introducing a new visual styling for moderator comments today! Instead of the older [small text and brackets style], mod comments will now feature a contrasting border, full-sized text, and for text browsers and screenreaders an explicit "Mod note:" text prefix to compensate for the lack of graphical cues.

This is active as of this morning, and should affect mod comments retroactively, so you'll see this same styling in older threads as well. This style will only affect comments where mods intentionally use mod formatting; commenting-as-a-user comments from mods will continue to look like standard comments as they have previously.

Ours goals for this change:
- reducing our dependency on smaller text for the body of comments, to aid with readability
- making moderator comments easier to scan for in threads, so that a mod note or reminder or request is less likely to be missed
- improving mod notes from an accessibility standpoint for text browsers and screen readers by supplementing them with text markers

Note that it is not live everywhere on the site yet. You should see the new formatting on MetaFilter, Ask and Fanfare, but we'll roll it out on MetaTalk, Music, Projects, and IRL after we kick the tires.

It is also not yet live on Recent Activity, which is somewhat more complicated to update. The primary goal is providing context for folks significantly catching up on a thread or reading through the first time, so this feels like an okay secondary step, but we'll get it added on RA when we're able.

We've tested this on all themes (Modern, dark and light; Classic and Plain; mobile views) and it's looking good enough to make live, but please let us know in here or via the contact form if you run into any bugs and issues.
posted by cortex (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 12:05 PM (48 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

Example, in case anyone else wanted one.
posted by Klipspringer at 12:12 PM on April 14 [23 favorites]


Thank you.
posted by AugustWest at 12:38 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Good work, team!
posted by Jahaza at 1:03 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


What a relief.
posted by Jesse the K at 2:06 PM on April 14


Very nice.
posted by General Malaise at 2:18 PM on April 14


(Could we also get a visible "Mod note:" on there for people who don't use screenreaders? There's nothing about the visual distinction that would plainly say "I'm writing this with my mod hat on" to people who aren't already familiar with the site, and making the annotation screenreader-only seems like missing an opportunity to fix that.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:20 PM on April 14 [12 favorites]


(I mean, I agree it's crucial for screenreader users and just a nice-to-have for the rest of us, but it would still be nice to have.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:24 PM on April 14


Maybe we could get a li'l icon in the upper right corner that says “mod note!” Or something else. Either way, this is a cool improvement.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:35 PM on April 14


It’s a possibility, yeah; I’d be curious how people feel about it. Part of the rationale is that the staff tag is shown in the byline on mod comments already, but it may feel on more consideration like just being consistent everywhere there would be better.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:35 PM on April 14


Good idea.
posted by praemunire at 5:01 PM on April 14


Sure, but the staff tag is also shown on non-mod-hat comments. Seeing an extra border around a comment, I wouldn't know for sure if it meant "this staff comment is official" or "this comment (which happens to be by a staff member) is special in some other way."
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:37 PM on April 14 [4 favorites]


I was thinking that having a "Mod note:" prefix would help me search for said notes, but I just thought to try searching for "staff" and that finds the tag! I always thought that was an image or something. I think I'd like the border to be another pixel or two larger, or contrast more; the linked example on Ask feels like it blends in when there are Best Answers nearby (some kind of visual overwriting?).
posted by curious nu at 5:40 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


This isn't really related, except that the changes are part of the same work, but I just wanted to say thanks for the AskMe "Best answers," and "Response from poster," screen reader notifications. It's great to be able to distinguish those audibly now.
posted by Alensin at 6:05 PM on April 14 [13 favorites]


Sure, but the staff tag is also shown on non-mod-hat comments.

Only in MetaTalk (where we're much more likely to be commenting in a mod-ish capacity even when it's not formatted as a mod comment per se). Elsewhere on the site, the staff tag is only shown when we use mod comment formatting. Compare this mod comment, where "staff" is visible in the byline, to this random boat enthusiasm that lacks it.

Which isn't to say there's no reason to include the "Mod note:" prefix; it's something we went back and forth on a little already and will definitely consider more as we evaluate this initial rollout. Just want to be clear on the current functionality and the reasoning behind it.

This isn't really related, except that the changes are part of the same work, but I just wanted to say thanks for the AskMe "Best answers," and "Response from poster," screen reader notifications. It's great to be able to distinguish those audibly now.

Yes! That's something frimble was able to roll in while they were making these changes, which is great. There are other little bits of accessibility-minded markup/formatting that could use a nudge too, which I'm hoping we can continue to make progress on this year.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:37 PM on April 14 [6 favorites]


Got it — thanks!
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:46 PM on April 14


I definitely don't really see staff/not staff - maybe I don't pay attention?

I get into white text flow and "mod note:" would be more stand-out-ish to me than not.

I really like the styling though- not too weird, fits in well in Ask which already has comment styling. It's not too jarring but attention grabbing enough.
posted by freethefeet at 10:43 PM on April 14


cortex, I keep sortof hoping you'll change your ID here to rod, and then you and the gang could get all King James bibical on us with some "Thy rod and thy staff" jive anytime someone gets out of line and needs bonked on the head with a cudgel or what-have-you.

Just a thought.....
posted by dancestoblue at 11:12 PM on April 14


Oh my god, a thing I wished for has actually been done! Okay okay next up I want “favorites” to be replaced with “beans”. Surely this is an argument we are all braced for.

But anyway thanks, I like this.
posted by Mizu at 11:45 PM on April 14 [4 favorites]


Surely you mean MeowMeowBeenz ?
posted by Pendragon at 12:48 AM on April 15 [6 favorites]


Can the border be color coded to indicate mod severity?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:59 AM on April 15 [4 favorites]


So much for "no one puts cortex in box"!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:27 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


This is terrific — many thanks!
posted by mochapickle at 7:27 AM on April 15


So much for "no one puts cortex in box"!

I'm not stuck in here, you're stuck out there.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:51 AM on April 15 [9 favorites]


I think the FAQ about mod notes hasn't been updated yet, it still describes them as in the old style.
posted by Zumbador at 8:51 AM on April 15


I think starting them all with "mod note" would be nice. It provides more context for the box.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:35 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Maybe add "mod note" in-line with the text box, legend-style? Like the "Employee basic information" part in this image.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:10 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


I like the formatting. Different enough to stand out without getting in the way or being overly distracting.

Purely from the standpoint that accessible design is good design I think the "Mod Note:" prefix is a good idea and consistency across platforms is probably more plus than minus. Also I feel like the prefix would make the new formatting "learn-able" in the sense that I suspect a bunch of people will see the new formatting and think, "what the heck is this? What's going on?" And while I can't imagine anyone will have too much trouble figuring it out, the prefix would make it immediately obvious, even to new users, exactly what it means.
posted by Mister_Sleight_of_Hand at 11:18 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Last night around 1:00 AM PDT, I was composing a memail praising someone for a great comment, and I copied the short comment and put it into a Mac clipboard app called Flycut.

When I pasted it into the memail, it came out "Mod note: I teach, ..."

But there was no "Mod note:" anywhere near that comment, and when I tried the whole process all over again, "Mod note:" did not appear, but there it is this morning sitting in the Flycut stack, so it must have been there when I copied the comment.

I just tried it again, copying exactly what I'd copied last night, because I'd also copied the "p" of "posted by" first time around, but not the second, and still no "Mod note:"

"Mod note:" was floating around in the ether right at that moment, I guess.
posted by jamjam at 11:40 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Instead of “mod note,” how about “mod nod?” Then the border and its contents can be the mod nod pod.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:03 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


Oh my god, a thing I wished for has actually been done

I like that we're getting this pony and also that the pony comes with a cute little fence around it
posted by oulipian at 12:04 PM on April 15 [13 favorites]


But there was no "Mod note:" anywhere near that comment

There's definitely couple bugs we've seen that seem related to that text-browser/screenreader situation, yeah. I think frimble has identified the problem, not sure that it's entirely resolved yet but if not it's in progress.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:34 PM on April 15


I like this new style of mod note! Much clearer, and I’m glad it works with screen readers.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:47 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


I think the FAQ about mod notes hasn't been updated yet, it still describes them as in the old style.

Yep, we're going to make sure that it's all working the way it's supposed to before we codify it in the FAQ.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:00 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Since I'm not sure anyone else has, I'll chime in to suggest it might be better as-is without an additional "mod note" label appended every time (outside of what gets piped to screen readers).

(Would "mod" even necessarily be an intelligible term to the new readers who won't have previously sussed out what these are?)
posted by nobody at 3:37 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Would "mod" even necessarily be an intelligible term to the new readers who won't have previously sussed out what these are?

I've been spending more time on Reddit and Twitch lately and "mods" as short for moderators is a very common convention. Facebook groups also have moderators, often called mods for short. Clubhouse and Discord communities use moderators, often shortened to mods. If someone is joining MetaFilter having never been on the wider Internet before, they might take a hot second to figure it out, but they're likely going to have more cultural problems here than understanding what "mod" means.
posted by kimberussell at 8:52 AM on April 17 [6 favorites]


Worst case, they're going to assume that our moderators all dress really sharp and zoom around on Vespa and Lambretta motorscooters.
I don't really think that is a problem.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:04 AM on April 17 [6 favorites]


I don't really think that is a problem.

Wait until we get an influx of rockers.
posted by zamboni at 1:49 PM on April 17 [10 favorites]


I noticed this change tonight. Well done! Simple and clear
posted by JoeXIII007 at 10:43 PM on April 17


“Moderator” is only one more character than “Mod note”, counting the space, and seems clearer. The note is right there.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:46 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


I think it would clarify things if moderators could select anagrams to convey subtly different messages:
DO ME NOT when prohibiting things, DOM TONE when telling someone off, NET DOOM when giving a user a time out, and END MOOT when closing a FPP. This would be easy to implement because it would use exactly the same letters.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:06 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]


There's this relatable experience all website moderators have sooner or later, when you see someone bloviate on and on for what feels like literal years, in turgid, incomprehensible, ultrahyperpolysyllabic language. You start to feel like you're talking to an inanimate object — perhaps a tree. You know what I mean? Big ENT MOOD.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:22 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


If they start doing book reviews, TOME NOD.
posted by zamboni at 9:02 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


And all mod-deleted posts get vanquished to the MOOT DEN.
posted by mochapickle at 10:25 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


When the mod note feature has been finalized: NOT DEMO.
posted by zamboni at 12:03 PM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Admonishing someone for making fun of My Chemical Romance: EMO DON'T.
posted by zamboni at 12:10 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Q - Why do Mods all ride two-stroke motorscooters?
A - No Rockers in those engines.
posted by Stoneshop at 1:02 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


👍
posted by TedW at 6:48 PM on April 20


Nice! Accessibility FTW every time!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 7:22 PM on April 21


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