New functionality for FixMyStreet for Councils

We’re pleased to announce new moderation features for clients of FixMyStreet for Councils.

This new functionality enables nominated members of staff to edit user reports from within the FixMyStreet front end.

It’s quick and easy, and allows you to react immediately to unwanted content on your site. Read on to find out more.

Screenshot of a problematic report in FMS

Screenshot of a problematic report in FMS

What’s wrong with this report?

So what is wrong with the report in the screenshot above?

If you run a site on the FixMyStreet platform, you’ll be familiar with this kind of report, and the chances are that you’ll already be twitching to edit it.

User-generated content is wonderful in many ways – but it can also present problems on a public-facing site. Let’s look at a few of the potential issues in the report above:

  • The user has included his phone number in the report description, and now it’s available for anyone to see.
  • The user’s name is also public. While this is the default option on FixMyStreet, users often get in touch to say that they meant to make their report anonymously (an option on FixMyStreet, but one which the user can only access at the point of submission).
  • There’s an inappropriate photo. This one is a statue of Carl Jung, which obviously has nothing to do with the report. But even relevant photos can be problematic: imagine if it was a graphic depiction of a dead animal, or some rude graffiti.
  • Profanity: in the example above, we’ll imagine that “pesky” is a mild profanity, but experience tells us that users don’t always hold back on their language.

There are other common problems too, not represented in this report. Users sometimes post potentially libellous information: naming someone they suspect of flytipping, for example, or giving an address where they believe planning permission has been flouted.

In the run-up to local election, councils have to be particularly sensitive to any content that might be construed as political – commonly they wish to remove any mention of any candidate.

Moderation in all things

New FMS Moderation panel
Up until now, we’ve edited reports for our council clients, on request. However, this is clearly a long-winded way of getting sensitive material off the site, especially when time is of the essence.

So we’ll shortly be introducing the ability for client moderation of sites. Councils or other bodies who run FixMyStreet will be able to nominate trusted users and give them the ability to edit problematic reports from within the report page.

When logged in, these users will see a “moderate” button on every report – this feature will not be available to any user unless explicitly authorised.

As you can see, this panel provides the ability to:

  • Hide the report completely
  • Hide the name of the poster
  • Hide or show a photo (if one was originally provided)
  • Edit the title and body of the report.

For some reports, it might be necessary to make a number of edits, and finally submit the changes:


FMS Moderation in Progress

FMS Moderation in Progress

The moderator can also add a reason for the changes, so it’s recorded if a colleague needs to know the history of the report in the future.

This functionality gives a lot of power to admins to remove inappropriate information – but the user took the time to submit their report, and it’s only fair to let them know it’s been changed. So the system sends them an automatic email, as below:

FMS Moderation Email

FMS Moderation Email


Finally, the system automatically updates the report to show that it has been moderated. As well as a timestamp, it signals where any information has been removed in the title or body of the report.

FMS Moderation Displayed on Report

FMS Moderation Displayed on Report


Updates can be just as problematic as reports, so the same functionality will apply to them.

We’d welcome feedback on this mechanism, so please let us know if you think we’ve missed any features.

Note: These screenshots are from our work in progress and do not yet display the slick design that we habitually apply right at the end of the build process. Please regard them as preview shots only!

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