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Starting this out as and not as I am a bit surprised a search didn't find any previous posts about it.

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.

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Fun fact: this is an everyday non-issue on Stack Overflow. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Nov 9 '12 at 16:45
Propose for me please an algorithm for handling these mutexes over stateless nasty HTTP which doesn't suck :-) (I've been bitten by this a few times on Server Fault but I would not wish designing those interlocks on developers I like^W find generally tolerable. – voretaq7 Nov 9 '12 at 17:04
To be honest, I haven't give the mechanics much thought beyond the dev in me saying, "It's not totally crack-headed." Time-based throttling exists on the site already (eg, throttling on upvoting comments) as well as realtime notification for other user's actions (eg, edits to questions and X answers have been added while reading). It also doesn't have to be perfect, just improve the situation. – MPD Nov 9 '12 at 17:29
Are you talking about locking other mods out of the entire flag dashboard, or just the flag you're looking at? – Bill the Lizard Nov 9 '12 at 17:35
@BilltheLizard, just the particular flag that another mod has locked. – MPD Nov 9 '12 at 17:38
What you've failed to address is when the lock period begins and when it ends (what if someone walks away from their computer?). And Stack Overflow has to be exempt from any of this, frankly. For the other sites I can see some value, but on SO this would only get in our way. – casperOne Nov 9 '12 at 18:31

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