There seems to be a lack of policies from what I can tell regarding how moderators moderate the chat system.

I was recently flagged (and subsequently suspended) for certain language, which another chat moderator reversed. The meta regarding this is here: AutoSuspension from Chat for "Inappropriate Content"

From what I can tell, some moderators check for the context of a post before acting. In this case, there's no evidence of this. I would tend to agree with the post of Fabian regarding Gaming.se's moderation policies.

Is there any Stack Exchange-wide policies regarding moderation and the flags of a post? If not, I'd recommend having a globally-applying set of moderation procedures, including but not limited to dictating that the context of a post in chat that has been flagged be determined prior to acting upon said flag.

  • 6
    Not for nothing, but it is just Chat, and people are expected to be civil in there. Do you really require such language to communicate? Sounds like your particular situation worked out OK, without the need for an additional layer of burdensome rules.
    – user102937
    Nov 17, 2011 at 23:36
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    I'll add that the flagged post in question was "Holy hell" in context of expressing surprise at the existence of a 100h Nyan cat youtube video. I considered that harmless enough that I unsuspended. Nov 17, 2011 at 23:44
  • 7
    Hell is an offensive word? Well, damn now what am I supposed to use?!
    – user7116
    Nov 18, 2011 at 4:40
  • 1
    @six, I'm a fan of oy. Nov 18, 2011 at 5:31
  • 14
    We should really just reconsider the whole auto-ban thing in the first place; it seems like it catches a lot of false positives and never catches people actually spamming, which I think is the whole reason it exists Nov 18, 2011 at 5:47

2 Answers 2


I think this can be an issue. When I've been in chat, I've had flags from rooms I never go in, and the flag (obviously) refers to one line of chat which has been flagged. I find it difficult to check the context of that flag with the current tools.

Now while some things can clearly be held as offensive without any further thought (e.g. bigoted behaviour and slurs, direct personal attacks on people), it does raise some issues:

  1. It can be difficult to know how to deal with some flagged items without knowing the context of that line within the current chat in that room (e.g. is the line "out of place" with the conversation around it or does it fit the topic and tone of conversation in that room at that time). I defy anyone to visit the Server Fault chat as a non regular and work out whether or not the chat is "normal" for the room...
  2. It can be difficult to know how to deal with some flagged items without knowing the culture of that particular room (I'm a regular in SF chat and while I would say it was perfectly "civil", it can be robust).
  3. Without context its difficult to know if there are a group of people in a chat being "uncivil" and flagging others who reply to them in kind.
  4. I respect the idea that some people might find "Holy Hell" to be rude and flag it. But this is the problem with consistency because plenty of other people, myself included, would see little wrong with that generally (context again rears its head, because it IS offensive to use language like that to taunt someone you know would find it offensive).

Just to be clear about this, while I have own my opinion about how things should operate, the main point for me is that whatever is done, should be done consistently.

Proposed change:

I accept that this suggestion isn't perfect and carries a risk of its own (abuse not being stopped as quickly as possible) but I suggest that you do not get flags for a chat unless you are a regular in that room / that "set" of rooms (e.g. where the room is part of a set of rooms associated with a site).

I hope that this will mean that you will always have some context for the general culture of the room / associated site at the very least if you get a flag for a chatroom.

The next question is how would you decide that someone is a "regular" in a chatroom. Perhaps you would need to have received the "Outspoken" badge on your account for the associated site?

  • 4
    When I get a flag thrown at me I usually follow the link provided to get context. By the time I've done that, someone else has usually actioned it.
    – user147520
    Nov 18, 2011 at 8:54
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    We don't allow cross site moderation, why would we allow cross chat moderation? Especially if they're never in said chat room. Nov 18, 2011 at 8:57
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    Because the mods of that room aren't always around to clean up the mess and its a lousy excuse for being allowing to be rude @Holocryptic
    – Ivo Flipse
    Nov 18, 2011 at 11:26
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    @IvoFlipse Then don't frequent the room. Or better yet, get more room owners, and give them the ability to ban from that specific room if they don't already (I don't own a room so I don't know). But to have random people pass judgement on me (for which there is little recourse barring Meta), based on out of context comments in a room they don't use seems a little ridiculous. Nov 18, 2011 at 12:32
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    @IvoFlipse - we don't want people being offensive to others unchecked, I totally agree. But we need to make a decision: Is it better to let ten guilty people go free (of immediate sanction, anyway) than punish one innocent, or is it better to punish a few innocents just to make sure we've got all the guilty ones? I personally think the latter option sucks, but either way we need to find a way to make whatever choice people want be applied consistently so people know where they stand.
    – Rob Moir
    Nov 18, 2011 at 13:54
  • @Holocryptic On the main network, once you have 200 reputation on any one site, the +100 rep bonus allows you to flag offensive or spam on any other of the 70 network sites. Enough of these bring a post down and 100 reputation loss. Since it's flag handling we're talking about here, I really don't see your point.
    – badp
    Dec 15, 2011 at 15:00
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    @badp You fail to see my or Rob's point because you're conflating flagging on the main site with flagging in chat. They are two separate entities and handled entirely differently. Dec 16, 2011 at 17:02
  • @Holocryptic No, it's you who are conflating yesterday's accident with whatever happened on November 17th. Also, you can't "ban people from specific rooms."
    – badp
    Dec 16, 2011 at 22:21
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    @badp I don't care what happened on Nov 17th. This Meta post is in reference to how the current system of moderation for chat is completely broken. You're taking how rep and penalties for flags work on the main site and saying that its the same for chat. Its not Dec 16, 2011 at 22:42
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    @badp I realize you can't ban or suspend from specific rooms. My comment was made as a suggestion for improvement to the system. Dec 16, 2011 at 22:43
  • @Holocryptic then it goes in its own page :)
    – badp
    Dec 16, 2011 at 22:55

Is there any Stack Exchange-wide policies regarding moderation and the flags of a post?

Yes. Anything that six users or a moderator finds inappropriate for chat in their own view gets deleted and the account suspended for 30 minutes.

Getting suspended sucks, but let's put things in perspective: it's a 30 minutes ban from a chat on the internet you can easily appeal against on Meta.

That's, by the way, the very same "policy" that is in place on the main sites. Once you have 200 reputation on any site, the network 100 rep bonus allows you to flag as offensive or spam on any other of the 70-odd sites on the network. Anything that six such users or a moderator finds inappropriate gets deleted, locked and the account docked 100 reputation.

  • 3
    "That's, by the way, the very same "policy" that is in place on the main sites. Once you have 200 reputation on any site, the network 100 rep bonus allows you to flag as offensive or spam on any other of the 70-odd sites on the network." - The ability to flag is quite a bit different than the ability to act on a flag. These 200 rep users across all sites are not prompted with notifications saying that something has been flagged, pls review.
    – MDMarra
    Dec 16, 2011 at 17:47
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    @badp The Stack Exchange mantra for moderation is to do "as little as possible - freezing a room for a community that you've never participated in before goes well beyond simply agreeing with a flag, and is a great example of why global chat moderation isn't working. Dec 16, 2011 at 22:02
  • Especially freezing a room when nothing was going on at that particular moment... Dec 16, 2011 at 22:07
  • @Holocryptic I wouldn't say "nothing was going on" when I see flags multiplying on messages posted in the last 15 seconds, with words like "jew" and "nazi" being carelessly flung. (They don't guarantee trouble, but they were getting flagged!)
    – badp
    Dec 16, 2011 at 22:15
  • @ShaneMadden I haven't agreed on any flag; I haven't actually placed or handled any myself. Also, I don't see how that's relevant at all with this question at hand, that does not reference that accident (check the timestamps).
    – badp
    Dec 16, 2011 at 22:17
  • @MDMarra There's nothing to review. On the site, 10kers can review and act on some flags such as offensive and spam. On the chat, 10kers can review and act on some flags such as offensive and spam. If you take issue with chat.SE's definition of a 10ker, that's a completely different problem.
    – badp
    Dec 16, 2011 at 22:23
  • @ShaneMadden I really don't see the "great example" here, but I guess we'll have to agree to disagree here. Some flags were raised and moderators immediately acted on it. Even on the proposed flag escalation system, there were no SF mods around in chat.
    – badp
    Dec 16, 2011 at 22:26
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    I don't see those words getting carelessly flung in that transcript. What I do see is you laying down "the law" and then dipping out after declaring victory. It only made things worse. Dec 16, 2011 at 22:27
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    @badp I wasn't there at the time, I could only read through the transcript post-censoring, but surely we can agree that freezing a room instead of just purging specific offensive messages and telling people to tone it down (and I do agree with you that some of what was going on there was absolutely in need of moderation) is a little past the "do as little as possible" line? Knowing the proper amount of intervention to apply for a given community is key to moderation of that community, which is why I think it's a good example case for some of the flaws in the global chat moderation system. Dec 16, 2011 at 22:40
  • @ShaneMadden A timeout is the least amount of intervention you can possibly apply on chat. "Purging messages" comes with 30 minutes automated suspensions.
    – badp
    Dec 16, 2011 at 22:48
  • @badp Gotcha, I see where you're coming from; I interpreted your action as more heavy handed than it was intended to be. Apologies! Dec 16, 2011 at 22:58

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