Today while I was in one of the chatrooms, I noticed a lot of posts being flagged in some other chatroom(I have the necessary 10K rep to vote on flagged posts) but the flagged post just shows the particular post that is flagged and no information or way to seek the information in the context in which the post was made.
For eg: With this particular chat message flagged(image attached), Without knowing the chat room in which it was posted or the context in which it was posted I cannot find a way to decide whether it is rightly flagged or not.

Flagged post

We need some more information in the flagged posts in chat to be able to judiciously decide if the flagging is correct or not.

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    Usually you'd still have to click through and look at the conversation. It's rare that a message is clearly offensive or something that it can be acted on without context.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Aug 16, 2011 at 18:00
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    I just noticed. There are no freehand circles there. Sep 6, 2011 at 17:26

2 Answers 2


The room a flagged message appeared in is urgently needed for deciding whether a flag is valid or not. Java bashing would be offensive in the Java room, but might be fine in the C# room, so when I see a message bashing Java, knowing the room is absolutely necessary to know whether this message is offensive.

However, as Anna pointed out in her comment to the question, the room alone is not enough, usually you also need the textual context to decide and often you'd need to know room memes and policies, too.
But when I am in the chat, I am there for recreation. (It is called Lounge<C++> for a reason, when I want to discuss facts I can go to SO proper.) I am not eager at all to follow half a dozen links into rooms I don't know, trying to understand discussions about topics I don't know about led by users I never ran into in my little ecosystem on SO.
So in 90% of all cases, I click "I dunno", just to get that annoying reminder off the lower left corner, and the whole flaggingsystem just doesn't work for me. From what I know from other users of the C++ room that they feel the same. The notifications are just annoying users.

So here's what I propose, in the order in which I think it should be implemented:

  1. Add the name of the room where the message was banned.
    That's fairly easy to implement and would somewhat help immediately.

  2. Let messages "expire", so that they cannot be flagged after a while anymore. That would prevent stupid cases where some kid goes on a rampage and flags old messages. If that leads to a really offensive message to slip through the net, one can always flag for a moderator.
    I suppose this is easy to implement, too. ICBWT.

  3. Allow those asked to verify a flag to see the flagged message's context. Ideally, I could chose between seeing the five messages before plus the five after the one flagged, or seeing the one it replies to (if applicable) and the ones replying to it.
    That's probably harder to do.

  4. Allow/require users to give a reason for flagging. Is this message offensive because it bashes Java in the Java room or because it's a picture that's offensive to others? Is it spam? Is it someone drive-by linking their question (dropping a link without participating in the discussions)?
    I have no idea how hard that would be to implement.

  • Thanks, My rough idea behind the Q was this sort of detail, but I was not clear enough & you put it in words nicely.
    – Alok Save
    Aug 17, 2011 at 9:20
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    Hm, why do you think that the offensiveness of a message hinges on where it was posted? I typically find people are either being maliciously antagonistic, or they're just saying things people shouldn't be abusing the system to convey their personal reactions to.
    – Tim Stone
    Sep 6, 2011 at 14:56
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    @Tim: Please read my answer. I explain this with an example in the second sentence.
    – sbi
    Sep 6, 2011 at 14:59
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    Right, and I'm challenging your example. I don't think that if the bashing is so bad as to actually be offensive that it suddenly stops being offensive just because it wasn't posted in the topic-specific room.
    – Tim Stone
    Sep 6, 2011 at 15:08
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    @Tim: I would agree with the Java community that coming into their chat room and saying "Java is a bad programming language" would be offensive. I agree with the C++ community that saying the same in the C++ room is not offensive. If you disagree with that, then that's fine with me. Just don't try to rationalize that, because it's irrational.
    – sbi
    Sep 6, 2011 at 15:20
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    Someone actively trolling the Java room is an issue worthy of moderator attention, which is why there's a completely separate flag for that. I can see considering the text "Java is a bad programming language" distasteful if it was posted in the Java room, but actually flagging it as offensive is the kind of mindset that continues to get people banned from chat over what are typically considered acceptable messages.
    – Tim Stone
    Sep 6, 2011 at 15:50
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    @Tim: I dunno. For once, such messages are being flagged, rather than moderators called. Also, if someone enters the Java room solely to piss off the users present, maybe blocking such a user from the whole of the chat for a while isn't such a bad idea?
    – sbi
    Sep 6, 2011 at 16:05
  • I'd consider it perfectly acceptable that they were blocked from chat for a while, yeah. Moderators have the ability to do that manually, but there's no doubt that flagging as offensive would generally be the much more efficient method. I'm just concerned that a majority of flags seem to be against users who aren't causing trouble, and that people are far too willing to consider things offensive even with context.
    – Tim Stone
    Sep 6, 2011 at 16:26
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    With your concern that flagging might be abused I agree, obviously. In fact, I believe it is abused.
    – sbi
    Sep 6, 2011 at 21:31
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    Flagging is abused massively more than it's used. By a very long way.
    – DeadMG
    Sep 8, 2011 at 16:31

Yes, as discussed here: Defend against flag spam in chat

Addressing both the question and sbi's answer - there are some good ideas here, which we are actively considering:

  • showing the room is very sensible, and should be trivial to do [done]
  • we're considering showing to moderators only the user flagging, to see if it is a storm [done]
  • rate limiting the number of unresolved flags would limit the scale of damage
  • re context; I wonder if simply re-labelling "permalink" to "show in context" would help here... [kinda ties into room name]
  • potentially using "broken whistles" if people do nothing but flag inappropriately
  • a moratorium on messages over, say, 10 days old; if it wasn't flagged as part of the live active discussion, then flagging it after the fact is probably so rare that disallowing that (leaving only mod-flags, which are more obvious when abused) seems reasonable [done - 15 days currently, but open to review]
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    I'd go with a shorter time limit than 10 days - but perhaps it depends on the volume of traffic in the room. If you've had to click the "load older messages" a couple of times or are viewing the transcript then I think it's probably too late to flag it.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Sep 23, 2011 at 12:13
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    Marc, that is great news indeed. However, I have no idea what "rate limiting the number of unresolved flags would limit the scale of damage" means, and fail to decrypt the "broken whistles" bullet, too. :(
    – sbi
    Sep 27, 2011 at 8:50
  • I would prefer an ability to show the context right there, when I click on the number in the blue circle. I know I can go to the room and research there, but I don't want to.
    – sbi
    Sep 27, 2011 at 8:51
  • @sbi "broken whistles" is a metaphorical way of saying "take their flag ability away". They are given broken whistles, so they can't use them to "call for help". Sep 27, 2011 at 8:57
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    @sbi by "unresolved flags" - I mean: if you have [n] flags that haven't been processed or rejected, then that's probably enough even if you are eligible to cast a few more in that day. So, for example, 30 flags a day but at most 5 at once (ignore the numbers here; example only) Sep 27, 2011 at 9:06
  • I agree with @ChrisF that 15 days is way too long. Why would anyone need to flag some message they hadn't seen when posted a fortnight ago because they weren't there? I can see that disallowing flagging yesterday's posting makes no sense for rooms with low traffic, but in the C++ room anything older than 3 days definitely is ancient history, an nobody but our robot archivist even remembers it.
    – sbi
    Sep 27, 2011 at 9:09
  • @MartinhoFernandes: Ah, Ok, thanks. Now it makes sense. Basically, that's flag weight (although expressed with a one-digit binary number), no?
    – sbi
    Sep 27, 2011 at 9:11
  • @MarcGravell: Thanks, now that bullet makes sense even to me. :-x Indeed, it seems a good idea. I'm all for it. (But thats ignoring the numbers, which I haven't thought about, and thus didn't agree to. :))
    – sbi
    Sep 27, 2011 at 9:13
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    "showing to moderators only the user flagging, to see if it is a storm [done]" <- really? I see mods complaining all the time that they don't see who flagged. Dec 3, 2013 at 21:35

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