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The attitude between what Meta says and what the flag hovertext says is conflicting. The flag hovertext says "flag for serious problems" and Meta's attitude is "flag if you need a moderator to take a look at your question or profile"

"Serious problems" has a very negative connotation(which of course tells people not to use it for anything but spam or offensive). Why don't we do away with that or possibly add a new button called "call moderator" or something like that and remove the option to select from "spam" flags and "offensive" flags?

Now I am not saying to get rid of the ability to flag as spam or offensive but rather eliminate the difference between spam and offensive and then break out the "requires moderator attention" into it's own button.

Before I joined Meta and started learning about actual uses of the Moderator Attention flag(noise answers, answers should be comments, a quick way to close your own posts etc) I had never used it because I figured I should only use it for spam or offensive and the Moderator Attention bit is just some way to further describe such a problem.

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2  
Will a moderator come to my house if I press it? –  jmfsg May 21 '10 at 20:36
3  
@Downvoter only if you pay Jeff to get enough Exp to use it </evan carroll mode> –  Earlz May 21 '10 at 20:42
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I'm seriously considering slapping you right now, but +1 for that comment. –  squillman May 21 '10 at 20:59
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Currently the comment votes go 1, 2, 3 :) –  Earlz May 21 '10 at 22:40
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Think we can make it 1, 2, 3, 4(, 5), @Earlz? –  Pops May 23 '10 at 3:35

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

As Jeff said in the comments of a blog post,

Spam is, well, spam and should be categorized as such. We might use it to train an anti-spam engine at some point, or blacklist the URLs it contains, etc.

So combining the two into one likely won't fly.


Flagging as spam/offensive covers the vast majority of problems with a post.

Flagging for moderator attention is a last resort for people to get attention, and the only way to get attention for problems that require human intervention (such as an edit war, or for moderator-level tasks such as retagging a locked question).

Even if we on Meta are a bit looser in recommending flagging, users still need to be aware that flags should be used with care: you only get 1 flag (of any kind) per post, and the mod attention flag attributes your message to your user account (spam/offensive flags do not). Not only that, there are a huge number of users on the site and relatively few moderators -- if everyone started flagging for mod attention at the slightest breeze, the mods would be completely overrun with work, which distracts them from the real work they are supposed to do: taking care of the "serious problems."

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I don't think Earlz wants to get rid of either option, but only suggests to change the tooltip, or to give each two options their own link? –  Arjan May 22 '10 at 19:26
    
@Arjan: Unless I'm misinterpreting, the 3rd paragraph in the question suggests (a) combining the spam/offensive flags into one option, and (b) moving the "flag for mod attention" option to another part of the system. –  Jon Seigel May 22 '10 at 19:34
    
Errrr, you're totally right, I wonder how I could have missed that! –  Arjan May 22 '10 at 20:46
    
yes that is correct. I don't understand the point of categorizing as spam or offensive. In both cases the post should be removed so whats the need for categorizing? –  Earlz May 23 '10 at 2:27
    
@Earlz: I updated my answer to put Jeff's comment right in there -- it answers your question. –  Jon Seigel May 23 '10 at 2:31

The "spam" and "offensive" flags are pretty key for letting the site self-manage itself. The worst posts (watches, etc) get very quickly deleted this way, without requiring a ♦ moderator to be passing.

I suppose the hover-caption could be clearer, though...

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Marc I'm not saying to get rid of spam and offensive flags. I'm saying eliminate the difference so we just have one "flag as spam OR offensive" button –  Earlz May 21 '10 at 20:40

Wouldn't it be easier to just use a different text for the tooltip? Like:

Flag this post for serious problems or spam, or ask for moderator attention.

(If only to indicate that clicking that link will show some more option, rather than flagging a post right away. Though I doubt anyone would expect flagging to occur without any confirmation.)

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Flagging as spam/offensive is completely different from flagging for moderator attention. The former is essentially a type of community vote, with auto-lock/delete. I definitely wouldn't want to remove that option.

I think you're confusing the two. Meta users don't use a different definition of flagging. We just encourage the use of the moderator flag for issues that don't fit into the spam/offensive category, like noise answers ("Thanks, it worked for me!").

Adding another button would just add clutter and confusion IMO. Maybe a line in the FAQ explaining the "Flag for moderator attention" option would help.

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+1 @Aarobot - "flag for moderator attention" does need some added explanation. I don't think that the community, in general, really knows how to use it until they come to M.SO. –  IAbstract May 21 '10 at 21:28

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