Just like the actual Q&A sites (maybe even more so), chat needs a way to govern itself, i.e. put much of the moderating duties in the hand of the community, and not only a tiny group of moderators. That's why chat, just like the main sites, has a flagging system that enables (almost) anybody to flag a message as spam or offensive.
So if someone feels the need to advertise fake Dolce & Gabana handbags in chat or to keep delighting everyone with inappropriate insults because you don't use git, we want to be sure that this gets dealt with quickly. The "quickly" part is essential, because the messages scroll by pretty fast in chat, and thus may be out of sight after a short time.
In chat, like on the main sites, users with at least 10k reputation can see a list of flagged messages – enabling them to see possible problems and add their own flag, so the issue is dealt with quickly.
There is, however, one difference. On the main site, a 10k user has to actively go to the tools page to check for flags. In chat, on the other hand, the current flag count is always there, literally right
in on your face:
This is very much intentional for the above mentioned reason: In chat, issues have to be dealt with faster. The goal, of course, is that the number isn't there at all, most of the time, because there are no flags.
Let's be clear: The flag count is there to stay; it needs to be immediately visible.
Now, so far (knock on wood), people in chat have been quite well-behaved, and we haven't seen lots of issues. The flag number rarely lights up, and when it does, it's often for (sorry) really idiotic reasons.
Of course, saying "good morning" is a very offensive thing to do, and heaven forbid that anyone talks about anything in the PHP room that could possibly be considered not-PHP-related.
So there you, 10k user, see the "(1)" on your avatar lighting up and don't know what to do. Someone flagged a post for a spelling mistake. You don't want to reflag it, because this post didn't deserve to be flagged in the first place. You don't want to flag it for moderator attention, saying "please clear this flag", because if the moderator sees your flag, they have also seen the "regular" flag, so flagging for attention would be extra work without any added benefit.
So the number is staying there until a moderator notices and clears it, and you can't do anything about it. But you want to get rid of it, and you can't, and sooner or later (when the real problems come), you have learned to ignore that number.
TL;DR? Start reading here.
So we want to implement something like this request – not on the main site, but in chat: Have a way for high-rep users to disagree with flags, vote to unflag, flag the flag, whatever you want to call it.
Before we do that, we'd like to have some feedback from you, to make sure it gets done right. The following questions come to mind:
- What (i.e. how many counter-flags) does it take to clear a flag?
- Who should be allowed to counter-flag?
- Should the fact that one particular user's flag are often disagreed with be grounds for some sort of, well, action?
- What problems can you see being caused by giving the power to counter-flag?
- Or do you even think that this is a bad idea, and why?
Still TL;DR? Start reading here.
Voting to unflag. Discuss.