I spend a great deal of time surfing SE sites from my phone during commutes and other down times. The global inbox is quite effective at reaching me even for chat pings. Quite frankly the mobile site is very well done!

However as a community moderator, there is a whole class of information not getting through. There are no notifications for moderator flags! I can switch to the full site and see these but that is inconvenient for browsing, so I only end up checking for flags periodically.

Ideally the moderator tools should all be available in mobile templates, but as a stand-by it's reasonable to switch to the full view to handle flags, but flags would get addressed in a much more timely manner if I knew about them. As it stands I often come and go from the site without even knowing there are outstanding flags.

A simple flag counter added to the header next to the notification counter and linked to the tools page (which automatically opens the full version anyway right now) would fix this.


The mobile template already includes a spot in the header for a counter with a red-circle background if there are outstanding inbox notifications. Even if the link were to go to a the full non-mobile page, please provide a second counter next to that one with its corresponding yellow circle background for outstanding flags.

The main problem here is not so much the lack of access to the tools (since most phones and tablets can handle the full site these days) but the lack of notification that such tasks are outstanding because the mobile template (convenient to use for normal site use) doesn't provide the needed heads up.


After giving this some thought, I began to consider the options. Each has its own set of pros and cons:

  • Email - the advantages of email should be pretty obvious: (nearly) instant delivery of the message and (for the most part) complete security. It is fairly safe to assume that a moderator is the only one with access to his email account - this ensures that flags are kept confidential. Unfortunately, a site with a lot of flags can quickly overwhelm even the most well-organized inbox. Also, if another moderator handles the flag, there is no way to "un-send" an email (another email could be sent when the flag is handled - but that makes the inbox problem worse).

  • RSS Feed - this might seem like a pretty sensible option at first - the site itself retains control over what items show up in the site so once a flag is handled, it disappears from the feed. However, authentication could be a problem. The feed would need to be accessible only to moderators. I'm not sure how difficult that would be to implement.

  • The API - this isn't an option because the API does not provide access to moderator data. However, it may become an option in the future and the future might be accelerated a bit if enough people show interest in this :)

Feel free to edit this answer if you think of other possible solutions.

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    I came across this question when writing External notifications for moderator flags via email and/or SMS, and I understood it to be about the mobile version of the site in-browser, not the notifications problem. It would be hard to moderate actively via email, RSS feeds are only as secure as the link by which they're shared (and someone would eventually paste that link somewhere...), and the API would require a whole new app rather than using the mobile version of the site. – Kevin Vermeer Mar 27 '12 at 2:40
  • @KevinVermeer: Well, if the API supported access to moderator data - someone somewhere would write a mobile app for it. – uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Mar 27 '12 at 3:09
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    Kevin is right, this post was just about the mobile website. None of these considerations are even issues there, it is just a matter of getting the moderator flags to show in the mobile web template. The authentication is already done! – Caleb Mar 27 '12 at 7:15
  • This answer is on a completely different tangent than my post, but since nobody else has a post here I can throw the bounty on there is no sense in it going to waste. – Caleb Oct 6 '12 at 11:11
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    @Caleb: The API has just introduced limited write support so there is still hope for option #3. – uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Oct 8 '12 at 5:46
  • @GeorgeEdison: WHAT!?! WHERE?!? – Caleb Oct 8 '12 at 6:00

A simple flag counter added to the header next to the notification counter and linked to the tools page (which automatically opens the full version anyway right now) would fix this.

The 'old' mobile version of Stack Exchange is deprecated and highly unlikely to receive a new feature like this. Fortunately, if you're using the responsive design, the moderator flag counter is shown, even at smaller screen widths:

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