In the past week, there have been at least two instances on Drupal Answers where moderators have handled flags at exactly the same time.
In one instance, Mod B deleted a post while Mod A was in the process of editing it. In this case, it all worked out in the end.
In another instance, there was a flag about a duplicate comment on a post. Mod A handled it by deleting one of the comments. Mod B handled it by deleting the other comment. In this case, the comment is gone as we can't undelete one of them.
Is the case of moderators handling flags at the same time an issue, or are these just freak events? Would putting a timed lock on flag handling be beneficial (maybe a new button that adds a timex mutex), or would it be more hassle than it is worth?
Ok, thought through this a bit. Proper mutual exclusion is probably overkill, though I think that near mutual exclusion is possible. So, I am tossing this out for discussion...
Add two buttons for each flag on the main flag handling page.
- Grab Flag: Creates a 5 min blackout for a flag appearing for other users
- Drop Flag: Releases blackout for a flag for other users
Instead of proper mutual exclusion, when a user grabs a flag, it just doesn't appear on the main flag page for 5 minutes for other users. If a user grabs it, it is highly likely that they will action on it and dismiss it. Five minutes should be sufficient for a mod to do what they need. If they don't drop or dismiss the flag for some reason, it will appear a few minutes later for another mod. In this case, the flag count next to the mod link in the header doesn't need to be truly accurate, much like the way pending edit count works when a user's own edit is pending.
Is this perfect: no, but it doesn't need to be. Would grabbing a flag be mandatory: no, it would just be an option for a mod to spend a little time to do the right thing. Is it a good idea: beats, me, that's why I posted this.