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There are currently two different places in the UI that lead to a flagging dialog, one is the small flag icon at the far right of every message, next to the star and reply icons. And the other one is at the far left of a chat message in the small menu where also edit, delete and permalink options are. This inconsistent UI has been discussed already on Meta.SO, with an answer from Marc Gravell indicating that chat flags might need an overhaul.

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The main problem I see with the current UI is that the spam/offensive flag, which is a pretty blunt instrument that deletes the message and suspends the user for 30 minutes, is by far the more prominent of the two different flag types that exist in chat. The moderator flags are pretty hidden, and I've observed that quite a few users don't even know that there's a second kind of flag.

Another problem with the current flagging system is that the spam/offensive flags cause exactly one kind of action: deletion of the post and suspension of the user for 30 minutes. Deletion is what we want to happen for spam or offensive posts, and for direct insults and other disruptive behaviour, a short suspension is certainly appropriate, but not necessarily sufficient.

But this one-size-fits-all approach to flagging fails when inappropriate or controversial content is flagged. Often what I want to do with flagged messages is just delete them without suspending the user.

What I propose is:

  • Unify the moderator and offensive flags and their UI. If I click on the flag button, I should get a choice on which kind of flag want, like I get on the main site
  • Add some pre-defined flag reasons with different consequences, e.g differentiate between something like the offensive flag on the main site, meant for abusive behaviour and just inappropriate language. Only the former would have a suspension attached.
  • Spell out the consequences of the flag, I suspect that many users don't know about the suspension (even mods) and act on flags without knowing the consequences
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