For the last year or so, posts that appear to have been "deleted" have not, in fact, been deleted: they are simply hidden. The posts actually still exist in their original form, in their original topics, and deleted topics in their original forums. We have now enabled an opt-in mechanism for eG Forums members that will allow you to see hidden posts if you so choose. This will include posts hidden for being advertising, off-topic, abusive, etc. It will not include posts that are deleted for being in violation of a law or invasive of privacy. To see hidden posts, go to your "Secondary Groups" preferences page and check the box next to "Show Hidden Posts." You may opt in or out at any time. Although you can see hidden posts, any responses to hidden posts will themselves be hidden.
Going forward, posts that are hidden will be marked with a reason that is visible to anyone who chooses to see these posts, rather than a PM being sent (in the past we haven't really used this field, so older hidden posts won't have a useful comment here: in the past authors were personally messaged with the reason for the deletion). In cases where posts are hidden rather than being deleted, we will use this field to explain why the post was hidden. For posts that are deleted, members will still receive a PM explaining the rationale.
Next, we have created a new members-only forum specifically for discussion of moderation decisions, both specific individual instances as well as broader policy discussion. Rather than PM a staff member to request that a hidden post be unhidden, this forum will allow greater transparency in the moderation decision-making process by making these discussions more public. Rules and explanation regarding use of the forum can be found at the top of every page in that forum, as well as this pinned topic. We have created a number of "pinned" discussions there related to specific aspects of the member agreement.
As an extension of that new forum, we have created a new sub-forum called "Topic Watch" where hosts and managers will post about topics that we are currently evaluating for a possible split, merge, or deletion of an off-topic digression. This will allow members to see when and how those decisions are made.
We are keeping our current Member Agreement in place regarding off-topic posts, and will continue to employ the moderation strategy we've been using for the past several months, allowing a few off-topic posts to stand to encourage free-flowing discussion, but hiding them if they seem to be taking over the topic (or splitting them off if they are on-topic for the forums and are a discussion in their own right). The Topic Watch forum will be used to flag those discussions that are attracting off-topic posts in danger of being hidden.
Next, there a minor change that we are making that you might notice going forward---when a topic gets moved to a new forum we will be leaving a link in its place in the original forum for 30 days, to make sure it's easy to find.
Finally, these changes required some modifications to our back-end server technology, as well as some changes to the way the hosts work: if you notice any errors, human or technological, please let me know.