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I'd like to suggest a change in how flags are presented to each moderator in order to reduce the likelihood of mods stepping on each other.

Currently (I believe) all moderators see the same paged list of flags in the same order. So, if I'm working on page 1 of the flags, so potentially could everyone else be working independently on that very same page of flags.

This can (and often does) result in different moderators trying to handle the same flag at the same time. Obviously, this isn't very efficient.

I'd like to suggest the sorting algorithm for flags be changed so that it meets the following criteria:

  1. Each moderator sees flags listed in a different order
  2. The list is not sorted randomly; the mod will see the same first page of flags if they leave and come back (the list sorting algorithm must be deterministic, you might say)

Suggestions for algorithms that can achieve this are welcome.

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What I would like to see instead are some alternate sorts for the flag list. We already have a sort by flag weight; give me one that sorts "Not an Answer" to the top. Give me one that sorts "Off Topic" to the top. Give me one that sorts spam or offensive flags to the top. That way I can prioritize my work, and I'm not constantly context-switching (i.e. I can focus on one type of flag at a time). Note that this is only a problem on SO (and maybe SU) due to the sheer number of flags. – Robert Harvey May 6 '11 at 15:54
@Robert, doesn't that defeat the primary purpose of the flag weight system? – Pops May 6 '11 at 15:59
@Popular: Flag weight can still be used to prioritize the flags within the alternate sorts. – Robert Harvey May 6 '11 at 16:00
yes, I agree with @RobertHarvey, as on SU, sometimes I'll just have a moment and so I'll scroll through the flag list, looking for flags that I can take care of in a moment. More detailed ones, such as finding a duplicate or etc., I leave for later or whatever. an example. – studiohack May 6 '11 at 16:03
@Robert, that's true, but I'd be surprised to see SEI scrap that system after putting what seemed like a lot of effort into it. Although I suppose they could keep it around because of its secondary purposes. – Pops May 6 '11 at 16:04
@RobertHarvey: Feature-request that, I'd like to upvote it. – Won't May 6 '11 at 16:07
@Will, great idea, but I see one problem: How does one ensure, for the flags that under the current system are page 1, that all them are shown to somebody? What I mean: It might happen that for a period of, say, half a day that you're the only moderator hanging around. Then it might be a problem if you always get to see only the same subset. – Hendrik Vogt May 7 '11 at 14:35
@Hendrik I can't tell the difference in the quality or importance between flags on page one and any of the other flags. – Won't May 7 '11 at 15:17
@Will: OK, that may well be a great counter-argument. – Hendrik Vogt May 7 '11 at 15:36

1 Answer 1

The problem is flags have a natural order -- they're sorted such that important flags appear at the top (I don't know the exact algorithm, but it at least factors in the user's flag weight), and a good amount of work has gone into setting things up such that important flags are recognized and listed first. You're eliminating that if you start shuffling the flags; mods aren't handling the most important flags first anymore. In theory the collision problem is supposed to be solved by indicating which mods have already looked at a flag; if you see other mod gravatars in the flag widget at the bottom of the post and it says they looked at the post 10 seconds ago, odds are they've got it covered and you can just move on to the next flag

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@GraceNote: I dunno, guys. I have to say that I never noticed the difference between flags on the first page and flags on the last aren't much different (other than the fact that the ones on the last page are more likely to be comment flags). – Won't May 6 '11 at 16:06
@Will I think that probably results a lot due to the volume of flags, just like Robert Harvey noted. – Grace Note May 6 '11 at 16:09

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