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Background, elaborating on my answer here:

There are 3 queues of flags:

  • Comment Flags
  • Moderator Flags (where you type in the little message)
  • Spam/Offensive (That 10K Users can see)

Moderator Flags These flags have your name attached to them, let you write a message, and are the only ones to set off the mod-signal (the red box in the toolbar)

Comment Flags These flags do not show who flags an item. It shows the # of flags a comment has, its up-vote score, the question thread, comment, author, and built-in links to clear flags and delete comment. (Personally, I never delete a comment without visiting the thread to review all comments)

Spam/Offensive I won't bother describing this in detail since most of you have 10K rep on some site, but the only difference for a mod is we can clear the flags on an item.

Now, on Meta, we get a lot of flags on comments that make absolutely no sense to me. It's obvious there's nothing offensive about the comment. Usually the comment is disagreeing with someone. My assumption (which I never act on because it's unverified) is that whoever is being disagreed with is flagging the comment.

Frankly, I consider this to be abusing the system and even-moreso bloody annoying. Having to sort through a bunch of comment threads to see if something is worse than it appears in the actual comment takes time. If someone continually flagged items with write-ins on obviously-fine items, I would tell them to stop.

My question is - should Moderators be able to see who flags comments?

I can understand you may be concerned that, by knowing who is flagging the item, we would take sides with or against that person. I don't have a magic potion that would prevent that, just my track record and honesty. As Bill said:

I think we're all mature enough to not try and get retribution against someone for flagging it. We were all chosen as moderators (many of us by community vote) at least in part for this reason.

I think with the ability, we'd be able to sort out troublemakers quickly/more efficiently, and (hopefully) show users that we expect them to be more mature and not go flagging everyone who disagrees with them. I expect it would also reduce the time it takes to wade through comment threads by seeing if it's just A & B butting heads again.

Related Thread - Will a moderator know if I flag them?

This is just my take on it, from Meta. I'm curious to see what the SO mods think.


A recent reason for showing mods who flagged a comment:

enter image description here

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I would hope that the recent flag weight implementation devalues individuals who flag comments inappropriately enough that the actionable flag quantity has gone down... –  Adam Davis Jun 25 '11 at 19:21
    
@Manishearth Obsolete how? I still can't see who cast a comment flag, at least on the site I moderate. –  bfavaretto Jun 28 at 0:15
    
Ironically enough, @Manishearth comment is now obsolete. And this is totally on topic. –  Shadow Wizard Jul 10 at 22:02

5 Answers 5

What if you just ignore them? I mean, one flag doesn't really do much on its own, right?

I can understand you may be concerned that, by knowing who is flagging the item, we would take sides with or against that person.

No, I'm concerned that you'd discourage them from flagging and they'd instead step up their arguing:

If someone continually flagged items with write-ins on obviously-fine items, I would tell them to stop.

Especially here on Meta, flagging comments has traditionally been encouraged: both for offensive language or inappropriate remarks, as well as for pointless or unnecessary comments, including things like "+1 I agree right on", "should be CW" and "google it". This is all very subjective of course - most people probably aren't bothered by it at all, but a handful of annoyed users can raise a big stink if they decide to confront those posting comments they don't like. Flagging can be cathartic for them, while keeping the noise down for the rest of us.

I'm sorry flags annoy you, but honestly I'd rather you're annoyed by invisible flags than everyone is annoyed by visible comments.

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I don't know if moderators just seeing the name would discourage people from flagging. Only if we saw a pattern of the same person repeatedly flagging posts that don't need to be flagged would we do anything with that information, and in that case we would only discourage that one person. –  Bill the Lizard Jan 28 '10 at 21:06
    
@Bill: But according to the emails I am getting, those people are being encouraged to needlessly flag comments. They do so in hopes of getting particular people banned from the site by creating enough noise around those people. Apparently it is a successful method as well, since Jeff is the one encouraging it. –  GEOCHET Jan 28 '10 at 21:13
    
@Geoffrey: Flagging can be a double-edged sword. I can't speculate about Jeff's motives, but if someone were complaining to me about you, I would want them to flag the behavior they're talking about too. That way I could see for myself if you were really causing a problem or if they were being overly sensitive. –  Bill the Lizard Jan 28 '10 at 21:20
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@Bill: The purpose of the flags and close votes and other things were to allow the community to moderate itself. If something was that offensive, it would be removed by the community. There is no reason for a mod to be inspecting the comment flags unless there is an associated further complaint. Right now, entire comment threads are being removed (all the comments in this very question/answers for example) because someone apparently flagged some comments. It is ridiculous. –  GEOCHET Jan 28 '10 at 21:23
    
@Bill: I had expanded on this a bit in comments here, but they were deleted. I've edited my answer. –  Shog9 Jan 28 '10 at 21:25
    
@Shog9: Thanks for adding that to your post. I got here kind of late, looks like. –  Bill the Lizard Jan 28 '10 at 21:37
    
@Geoffrey: I agree with what you're saying about the community policing itself, but we do have to step in some times. On point: currently, if one user flags everything you say, all the moderators can see is your name coming up repeatedly. That really makes you look like a problem. We can't tell if it's coming from different users or not because there's no name attached to the flag. Is that the way it should stay? –  Bill the Lizard Jan 28 '10 at 21:44
    
@Bill: It should not matter. Let the community police itself. If what was being flagged was so horrible, it would be taking care of itself. That is the idea of moderation after all. –  GEOCHET Jan 28 '10 at 21:52
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In essence you are allowing hypersensitive people to become mods just by flagging everything someone writes and then stepping in. –  GEOCHET Jan 28 '10 at 21:52
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@Bill: My take would be, if one user is getting flagged repeatedly but only one or two flags per comment then just ignore it - flags are free; if the comments were really all that offensive then there would be more of them. Obviously if one user is collecting enough flags to actually delete many/most of his comments, then that'd be different... –  Shog9 Jan 28 '10 at 21:54
    
@Geoffrey: If we could see that all of the flags were from one hypersensitive person, we would know to ignore it. –  Bill the Lizard Jan 28 '10 at 21:55
    
@Shog9: That's typically what we do. The extra bit of information could be useful, though. If I'm wasting my time clearing useless flags from one user, I could ask them to stop. –  Bill the Lizard Jan 28 '10 at 21:57
    
@Bill: But you don't get it. You shouldn't be paying much attention at all to those flags. I don't know how to make it any clearer for you. Our current moderation is far too hyper-attentive. –  GEOCHET Jan 28 '10 at 22:00
    
@Bill: You don't need to clear them. Just leave them alone. –  GEOCHET Jan 28 '10 at 22:00
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Hmm... Maybe you just need an "ignore" option in the flag report? Something that wouldn't clear the flag but would remove the comment from the report unless / until it was flagged again... Pretty sure someone requested that once for normal flags too. –  Shog9 Jan 28 '10 at 22:02

I am a bit new to the moderator status, but here is my take:

I am fine with the way it is currently. I don't mind looking through flags and seeing what people are having problems with. Moderators are there for the edge cases and usage issues. I will go in and read the comment trails and find out what the issues are. I think overall though, I believe people like that they can flag anything they want and remain anonymous. It is a little bit like voting in the sense of no one knows who did it, not even moderators. Flags bring light to potential problem questions/posts/comments.

I would be OK, though, if this feature did not get accepted. I would rather have too many flags, than too few and flags can always be ignored if needed. Flags are what moderators spend most of their time dealing with though as I like to leave as much question closing as possible to 3k users.

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Frankly, I consider this to be abusing the system and even-moreso bloody annoying. Having to sort through a bunch of comment threads to see if something is worse than it appears in the actual comment takes time. If someone continually flagged items with write-ins on obviously-fine items, I would tell them to stop.

Why not judge the comment on itself? If that comment is innocuous, then may be the discussion is heading the wrong direction: read 2 comments back, 2 comments forward. If doing that you don't find anything troubling, leave it at that.

Flagging comments is too easy, and there is no downvotes for comments, which makes it likely to be abused. That being said, don't make it harder to flag. Maybe the amount of mod work needed could be diminished by providing some context when showing up on the queue(nearby comments).

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Sounds like people don't want to be known by their flags, but the moderators have too many comment flags to deal with.

Given this, it sounds like there's no reason for the moderators to even see comment flags.

But if that's not going to change, and we're not going to 'vote' them the power to see them, then I suggest that moderators only look at comments with multiple flags (2+) rather than comments with only a single flag. Note that comments with too many flags will get automatically deleted anyway, so the system takes care of itself. There may not be need for moderator intervention in the majority of flags, especially if only one person found a problem with a comment.

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The moderators have a tough enough job as it is. If they are overburdened because some people are using the flagging system inappropriately, then we should let them see who it is, and reprimand them for abusing the limited time moderators have to help keep this place reasonable.

Yes, let moderators see who is flagging comments.

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