I'm a moderator on an SE 2.0 site. We've got 3 moderators and a fairly low volume of flags. Since January, we've averaged about 5 flags per day.

At any given moment, there are probably zero flags in the queue.* I currently have to check the flag count by refreshing the page.

The site benefits from quick responses to flags.

Therefore, moderators should be able to check flags more easily than by refreshing the page. I suggest email or SMS notifications as a medium with a quicker response time. This would make moderation less tedious and more effective. It would be especially helpful in the very early stages of site creation when flags are even more infrequent.

Of course, the system should be opt-in; I understand that not everyone wants this. For very early sites (or very information-hungry mods and users), posts in /review could also be in the notification system.

* Think about that for a moment. If you're a Trilogy moderator, forget about your flag queue of hundreds of flags per day. On my site, at any given moment, there are probably (probability ~= 80% chance, and it increases dramatically after I see that it's nonzero) zero flags in the queue. This is probably true for most of the Stack Exchange 2.0 sites.

Yes, the flag count is currently available only by way of a number in a little yellow circle in the header. It doesn't auto-update, so I can't leave /admin/dashboard open and get the flag count from the tab title. It's not publicly available, I have to be signed into the web page via OpenID to look at it. This makes it difficult to use public notification services to check the count. To be explicitly clear: Right now, to check the flag count, I need to refresh the page. That should not be necessary.

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    +1, I want this. Badly. Heck, just do the websockets that they use for the front page on this.
    – jrg
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 1:51
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    Allowing access through the API seems much saner that e-mail/SMS, but they said at some point that they don't plan to expose moderator-only information through the API Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 1:51
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    Obviously this would have to be an opt-in feature, but it sounds like a great idea. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 2:01
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    @MichaelMrozek - Notifications through the API embedded in the right application would be fine, but it would need an app to be written. To be very clear: I don't want another app or webpage that I'd have to check. On my site, most of the workload is in the checking. You're right, email and SMS would need to be deleted after a while, but that's easy enough to do. A system tray icon / Growl notification bubble would be just as good, but another website would not be. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 2:57

2 Answers 2


I have plans to make a Unicorn script which will notify you via your SE global inbox and chat when flags are posted. I have the plan hashed out in my head and briefly mentioned it in the Teacher's Lounge, however, have not started on the code yet.

However, this would only benefit you if you were in a place where you could check the Supercollider. It would not notify you via email/SMS.

Anyone know of a way a Userscript could send an email / SMS message? If so then I could build this.

And does anyone else want this?

EDIT: I am sad to say that this is looking impossible, or at least the plan I had for it won't work. I have the script 85% complete, but it relies on opening the flag queue in an iframe and the frame busting code is preventing this :-(

EDIT #2: There is a high probability that I am an idiot and got things totally backwards and the cards are actually in my favor. THE GAME IS ON AGAIN!



It's ugly. It's hackish. It has bugs. But it works! I'll clean it up and post on StackApps later, but for anyone who wants to see how it works, here is the code.

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    Yes, what you described in the beginning is something that should be built into the site already. Since it's not, I'd be interested. Moderators receive a notification of every post on Meta, but not every flag that is raised. If anything, that's backwards: flags should ideally be processed more rapidly than Meta inquiries. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 3:14
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    I agree 100% -- Why are Meta posts given more visibility than flags? I'll see what I can do to get started on this code... (answer: probably not much until my company has gotten past the software release we're trying to finish) Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 3:15
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    Because meta posts are more important than flags. In general; obviously flagging spam is probably more useful than "check out my unicorn pics".
    – Shog9
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 3:25
  • Eh, it still seems useful to those of us who like to live in thirdspace that showing flags for our related sites would be really handy. And since there's only a few mods that have multi-sites, for the most of us it would be unobtrusive. I'm sure the devs would HATE it.
    – jcolebrand
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 2:47
  • @jcole it's way more... this is just a start. Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 3:49
  • @TheUnhandledException SO currently has hundreds of flags, I can;t imagine getting several hundred inbox notifications, which would make it impossible to follow my responses.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 18:26
  • @BenBrocka - My guess is that this would be more useful for smaller sites, like CogSci where the flag volume is likely much lower.
    – cdeszaq
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 18:37
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    @cdeszaq as an opt-in it would be okay, but certainly not automatic, in the inbox like Meta posts are.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 18:42
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    To be clear: I have never said nor will I ever say that this should be automatic!!!!! This is totally an opt-in, per-site thing Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 18:47

I'm not really against this idea, but...

There's more to moderating than just handling flags. If you're not visiting the site, you're missing all that.

Worst-case, you only check in once a day and it takes up to a day for flags to get handled. That is, if none of the other moderators check in at all, or you all check in at the same time.

That's normally not a big deal. Even in the case of spam - which ordinary users can collaborate to dispatch via flags without moderator intervention - it's only when I see it sitting around for days that I get worried.

Also... Are you sure you even want this? Sounds way too much like being the on-call support guy for my taste.

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    I agree that there's more to being a moderator than just handling flags, but handling flags is indisputably a part of the task. I'll still check in once a day or so and actually read through the new questions, but flag handling is very much like being the on-call support guy and it's currently more tedious than it needs to be. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 14:09
  • I agree with Kevin 100%. For me, for example, I'm sitting at my desk all day working. If a flag comes in, it would be nice to have a pop up indicator letting me know so I can hop over, address it, and jump back to work. I only read through questions on the site when I have an extended period of downtime where I can devote a larger chunk of time. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 14:18
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    How about using that last chat gravatar corner for flags from our site? Or do admins/devs get something there?
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 23:22

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