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Old Jan 9, 2022, 02:54 PM
Secret Squirrel's Avatar
Secret Squirrel Secret Squirrel is offline
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Default Reimagining the Trusted Editor

You've probably noticed that we haven't been promoting very many new trusted editors. We used to do several per year, but I can only think of 4 that we've added since 2019. In contrast, over the last year, we've removed the trusted status from more than half of the editors and staff who had it. I would like to explain our new approach to user progression.

Since the start of the pandemic, we have been in a kind of second golden age of feature development, with many core systems being overhauled. The artist role system in particular is flexible and powerful. However, it turns out that creating a complete and accurate draft for a Japanese album is much more difficult task than we originally thought. I've lamented at times that I don't think most people have enough familiarity with the language to do it, but lately I've become more optimistic that this skill can be learned with enough training and practice. The training is intensive though, because it requires staff to check 10 -- 50 -- maybe 100 of an editor's drafts, instructing, giving detailed feedback. This feature broke the trusted editor system.

Our cardinal mistake was not initiating a more limited rollout of the role system, with one-on-one training of staff, then trusted editors, then regular submitters though the draft system. There's still plenty of cleanup to do from that mistake, but I think we are turning the corner on this.

To keep the site manageable, we need a more gradual progression between new users, who require intensive supervision, and trusted editors who can work independently. In recent months, Illidan has rewritten the code that gatekeeps all site functions. The monolithic "Trusted Editor" status has been replaced with a series of specific permissions that can be fine-tuned for any user. For example, we can now set "Trusted Tracklists" on a user, allowing them to submit tracklists that bypass the moderation queue. Likewise, we can fine tune the submission limits, and raise a user's maximum pending albums from 5 to 10. This week, we will start raising the privileges on certain users. I don't have a name for this process or status, but I'm thinking of something like "Provisional Trusted".

In summary, a user's progression no longer goes straight from regular user (requiring supervision) to trusted user (no supervision). There will be a series of gradual increases in "Trust". The end goal isn't for everyone to eventually be trusted; it's for everyone to rise to the level where they should be.

Now for some bad news. Back in August, we imposed some pretty severe limits on the number of pending submissions for regular users. With those in place, the queue has become manageable, probably for the first time ever. I have no plans to increase those globally right now, but some users will see their limits raised as they move into this "Provisional Trusted" zone.

The Trusted Editor will still exist, and we will still add new ones when they are ready. Some editors may even get there pretty quickly. But the bar is much higher than before. Here's a summary of what we look for in Trusted Editors, and it applies commensurately to the Provisional Trusted status.

1. An expert in some particular facet of VGMdb's coverage.
- Our coverage is pretty broad, so there are a lot of niches to fill.

2. Thorough understanding of and adherence to all of VGMdb's guidelines and policies, and working proficiency with the website tools.
- You may think that "Composed by" vs "Composer" is unnecessarily pedantic, and it is okay to think that, but you still need to follow our guidelines. If we have to go back and fix your stuff, then your edits need to be in the moderation queue with a hard numerical limit.
- We are beginning to develop a wiki-style document to serve as a single reference for all of our guidelines, and I think this will help a great deal.

3. Ability to submit work that rarely needs corrections, mostly without supervision while still knowing when to ask for help.
- The acid test is ability to submit complicated Japanese credits.
- Hanging out in Discord is strongly encouraged, as it is the most efficient communication with other editors and staff. It's practically a requirement for full "Trusted" to at least be in there.

4. Can work in a collaborative environment with other editors from a wide variety of different backgrounds.
- If you are overly sensitive and aggressive when someone asks a question, you are going to have problems here.
- Please answer your mentions in the edit threads.

The last year has been amazing for VGMdb, but it has also posed significant challenges. We didn't do right by our trusted editors, and I would like to offer these promises:

Promise #1: No new complicated features will be dumped on Trusted Editors or Provisional Trusted Editors without adequate individual training.
We don't have anything major currently in the works, but one future example might be Track Credits. If and when we implement that, it will be restricted to certain staff until staff is trained, and then it will be added to individual editors with the new permissions system. It will only become default once all current trusted editors are proficient in it.

Promise #2: We will always be respectful of your freedom to use your time here to work on the things you want to work on.
We've pushed the trusted editors on occasion to go back and fix their old albums, and there's been some pushback. It's taken me until now to realize: this is on us, not them. This is a failure to adequately train our editors to perform a task that we made more difficult. Granted a good editor should want to fix their submissions, but I want to be clear that I understand that everyone here is volunteering their time and skills. We are thankful, and the whole community is thankful for your contributions. The other side of this -- if your edits need scrutiny, and we can't resolve it with a discussion, then your provisional trusted settings will be adjusted to get them back into the moderation queue.

Finally, in the past, new staff members have generally been chosen from the Trusted Editor pool. A staff member is basically a trusted editor who also moderates submissions, mentors submitters, and helps design/prototype/test new features. I think this will still be true under the new progression philosophy.
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