We have incidents where we get 10+ flags from the same room in rapid succession. This happens on multiple occasions and we have reason to believe it's a single user doing this.

I don't think it's of value to allow a single user to flag more then n messages in a small time period.

If we could have some anti-flag spam measures put in place, then that would be great.

  • Another possible option would be to group more than "n" flags in a room from the same person into a single "flag set" which can be operated on as a whole (or individually if needed). That allows this kind of bogus flagging to be canceled out with one click (for high rep users who see the flags) as opposed to requiring 10 clicks over 10+ seconds... Just a thought – ircmaxell Sep 22 '11 at 17:28
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    @ircmaxell preferably also name & shame the person who owns the flag set. – Raynos Sep 22 '11 at 17:38
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    Additionally, just let moderators see the source of the (non moderator) flags :) – Tim Post Sep 22 '11 at 17:49
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    This morning I voted invalid on something like 15 flags for posts like "..." and "what's up?". These flag wars are silly. – Fosco Sep 22 '11 at 19:59
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    silly, and for those that have to deal with it, a waste of time. – tombull89 Sep 23 '11 at 9:11
  • Side note: I wonder if chat would benefit from ensuring participants have distinct user names after seeing that transcript. – Jeff Mercado Sep 23 '11 at 10:33
  • @JeffMercado very much so. Especially if the user stealing my name does it because it's my name ¬_¬ – Raynos Sep 23 '11 at 10:40

Interesting. The most obvious option would seem to be to (like we do on SO), track the success of people's flagging, and essentially mute them if they are consistently flagging inappropriately.

That is the simplest option I can think of - but I'm open to others?

As an update on this event - I can see the flags in question, 15 each by two users on the same IP. I'm sure it is an absolute coincidence that this was 15 flags in 25 seconds by the first account, then 3 minutes (shall we estimate: time enough to either log out and back in, or lean over to somebody in the next pod), and another 15 flags in 30 seconds.

Because of this - a more obvious and immediate strategy may be rate limiting. Flagging 2 things at around the same time makes sense, but this? This is clear abuse.

See More information is needed in chat Flagged Posts for the current set of changes.

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    I'm a bit surprised that wasn't implemented already. – Jeff Mercado Sep 23 '11 at 8:58
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    @Jeff simply - the chat mechanism came first; the later evolutions that we applied once it was on SO have not all made it back to chat. – Marc Gravell Sep 23 '11 at 9:00
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    Allowing us to see them lets us determine the source of noise, send the appropriate message and (ultimately) take the appropriate action. One good troll in chat could result in a spree of spot on flags, so the limit should consider that. It would be nice if we could use our cranial super computers, as well. This is a recurring problem as of late. As one chat user put it: "This is why we can't have nice things." It kinda stinks when I want to do something, but find my hands rather tied. – Tim Post Sep 23 '11 at 9:19
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    @Tim it is... interesting. On SO we try to keep those anonymous, but chat doesn't have to have the same rules... let me discuss it... – Marc Gravell Sep 23 '11 at 9:26
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    @MarcGravell Well, on SO, they really don't have the capacity to be a nuisance to normal users. In chat, they can become a real time disruption, and we really need to be able to determine the source of disruptions. In fact, if users know we can easily see the source, the problem may just go away. Thanks for raising it :) – Tim Post Sep 23 '11 at 9:41
  • I was implying rate limiting in my question. This will throttle the problem and easy to implement. The other alternative is removing flag privileges based on success/failure ratio. Also showing the flag users name to moderators would at least help mods deal with these problems. – Raynos Sep 23 '11 at 9:43
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    @Raynos - indeed; the latter point ("flag users name") is one of tradition/expectation - we just need to check that makes sense, etc. I'm not sure it can be negative, especially in chat. Looking... – Marc Gravell Sep 23 '11 at 9:51
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    Also have a look at this incident and this proposal. Please don't do anything that doesn't also address such issues. As it is, flagging is mostly a nuisance. As one of the old farts in the C++ room I cannot remember a when it was ever helpful (although I might have missed/forgotten one or two cases). OTOH, it's a constant source of annoyance. We discuss it about once a week, it's beaten to death, and everyone sighs when it comes up. Please, please, fix it! – sbi Sep 23 '11 at 11:23

The problem with flagging, as it is, is that it is constantly abused by the mullahs, who jump on every mentioning of the word "f**k" and whatever else they don't like.

  • So users can just enter any chat room they want to and start to flag messages which none of the rest of the crowd objects to. This gets regulars banned from their rooms for things they posted half a year ago and to which nobody in the room back then objected.
  • New users are not even aware of the fact that all flags are shown to all 10k+ users in the whole of the chat, or that enough users agreeing with the censoring means the poster will be banned for a while, and the system fails to make them aware of it. So often enough flagging is seen as a joke, and done for fun, annoying all the high-rep users across the whole site.
  • Those who have to decide about the validity of a flag do not have enough information to do so. Given a single message without any context and without knowing the culture of the room it was posted in (hell, without even knowing the room!), they are prone to decide wrong.
  • The flagging system has absolutely no consequences for the one doing the flagging, only for the flagged (and the moderators, who need to cleanup the mess). In fact, currently not even a moderator sees who flagged something. That is an open an invitation to abuse and troll.
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    The thing is, I would validate a flag that contained an F-Bomb, with the possible exception of it being used as the last part of an esoteric programming language. The rules regarding profanity on the site also apply to chat, there are no exceptions. I agree with your points, however. – Tim Post Sep 23 '11 at 12:09
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    I enforce the rules, as they are, without exception and I'm pretty good at doing that consistently. I object to profanity for purely technical reasons, because I've been behind over zealous net nannies at work and got extremely frustrated when they tripped on SO. Additionally, by nature, the word is offensive (at least to some). I did not edit your post (yet), but this is MSO where discussions take place. I will however edit later if you haven't. – Tim Post Sep 23 '11 at 12:23
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    Additionally, what precisely do you mean by Mullah? This? – Tim Post Sep 23 '11 at 12:25
  • @TimPost: I learned to use the term here. And please remember to also delete my comment, where I also used the word to, well, speak about the word. Of course, this would render this comment conversation pretty incomprehensible, but never let that stop you from adhering to the letter of the "law". – sbi Sep 23 '11 at 12:46
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    @TimPost Permission to call you a mindless drone. Your entitled to use context when judging how to apply rules. – Raynos Sep 23 '11 at 12:49
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    @Raynos I'm not mindless, nor am I a drone. Profanity is simply not allowed on the network. If someone flags an F-Bomb as offensive, I can clearly see why they may be offended, and I will validate the flag. A general audience in chat does not mean a room full of people that share the same opinion regarding everything. BTW, you have my permission and blessing to call me whatever you'd like, in the absence of profanity. – Tim Post Sep 23 '11 at 13:16
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    @Raynos What would happen if I invalidated a flag alerting us to a F-Bomb in a question? I'm telling the person who flagged that "no, this can't possibly be construed as offensive!", context or not. – Tim Post Sep 23 '11 at 13:18
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    If you really feel like profanity should be allowed in chat, propose it, support it and also justify making sure validated flags don't ban someone if the flag is obviously regarding the use of profanity. Do you see what I'm getting at? – Tim Post Sep 23 '11 at 13:20
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    @TimPost I was more implying that censoring the word f*ck when we are clearly having a meta discussion about that very word is mindless. I have no objection to flagging it as offensive when used in an offensive context. A meta discussion about the word is not offensive. – Raynos Sep 23 '11 at 13:39
  • @TimPost: Yes, I see where you are getting at, and I don't like it at all. If, in some chat room, the assembled audience is totally fine with whatever expression is used by someone that would be understood as profanity in some backwards corner of the world, but one jerk has one look at the room and flags this, then the half a dozen 10k+ members from the chat can step in and "protect" the users of the room from what they didn't mind about. That is simply bullsh^W bovine excrements. – sbi Sep 23 '11 at 17:20
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    Or, you could find a way to express yourself without using profanity? We'll agree to disagree here. – Tim Post Sep 23 '11 at 17:24
  • @TimPost: If "is not allowed" refers to this question, then it reeks badly. The "No" answer currently has +69/-29 votes, the "Yes, but keep it to a minimum" has +49/-12. So the scores are 40/37 (with "Nay" having 2.5 times as many downvotes as "Yay"). This is not a clear-cut decision at all. As hard as it might be for some of you to accept, but there is no majority on SO in favor of pretending words that are used in everyday speech are not used in everyday speech. (That's due to the success of SO. It's not as US-dominated anymore.) – sbi Sep 23 '11 at 17:34
  • @TimPost /me comes back months later and flags sbi's first comment... – Nick T Mar 17 '12 at 20:52
  • @NickT: Yeah, excellent argument pro my POV. – sbi Mar 17 '12 at 21:59

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