Considering the information moderators see when other flags are used, why aren't they able to see who flagged a post as spam?

It would be helpful when there are many flags that need to be handled, and moderators want to first handle the most critical ones. If I see a post flagged by a user who keeps spam-flagging posts simply because they contain a link, or who keeps flagging posts without a good reason, I would handle the flags from that user as last step.

Probably, this is relevant on sites smaller than Stack Overflow. I saw what I considered spam posts only in few cases, on Stack Overflow, and I guess that most of the spam is not handled by moderators.

I recently saw a spam flag raised for a question that is not spam (the link is for 10k users on Drupal Answers).


If the flag was raised from a high reputation user, I could think the post was initially spam, but it has been edited not to contain spam links (or links that could be considered spam) during the grace period; in this case, I would keep an eye on the user who posted the answer/question. If the flag was raised from a low reputation user, I could think the flag was used by mistake (which could happen to a high reputation user, though), and I would not keep an eye on the user who wrote the post. Knowing who flagged the post doesn't change how I handle it, but help understanding if there is a possible problem.

If a user keeps flagging as spam something that is not spam, and the system doesn't stop her/him from flagging as spam any further post (in the same way a user who suggests consecutive edits that are rejected is not allowed to suggest edits for seven days), moderators should know who is that user, to take any necessary action.

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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about an obsolete feature. – Manishearth Jun 25 '13 at 22:24

After repeated instances of abuse, this visibility was added during a major reworking of the flag system that discarded a lot of the historical differences between spam/offensive and other moderator flags. For the original rationale behind hiding these flags, see the revision history on this anwer.

  • The flag weight works when there are more flags that are not handled. If there is just a flag, the flag weight is not used to sort the flag queue; if there are three flags, I find the one with lower weight in third position. Still, I don't know if the third flag has been raised from a user that, for example, has the habit to spam-flag without any evident reason to do so. – kiamlaluno Apr 3 '12 at 19:52
  • Again, don't worry about it. Mark helpful flags helpful, and decline unhelpful ones. A user who never flags anything helpfully will eventually have his flags removed from the queue entirely... – Shog9 Apr 3 '12 at 20:05
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    @Shog9 But supposing a scenario where non-answers are consistently flagged as spam even though they're not, what to do then? You can't chide the user for abusing red flags because you don't know who it is, and you can't decline the flag without declining all the other valid NAA flags on it as well. – a cat Apr 4 '12 at 0:12
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    @lunboks is this something that has actually happened somewhere? – Shog9 Apr 4 '12 at 3:59
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    @Shog9 I have no idea, what with me not being a moderator anywhere and 10k users not being able to see those flags. But I don't think it's that far-fetched, since you can have 2 active flags on a post, and you can effectively double-dip on helpful flags that way. – a cat Apr 4 '12 at 10:04
  • I guess it's possible, @lunboks. If this becomes a problem, the best solution is probably to just block this behavior directly in some fashion. – Shog9 Apr 5 '12 at 18:40
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    While it's disheartening that it takes repeated instances of abuse to change red flags this way when other flags, for which we can see who raised them, have been abused in much the same way too for pretty much ever, this is a welcome change regardless. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jul 12 '13 at 11:14

I disagree with Shog9's answer.

I believe that moderators should not contact users outside of the mechanisms provided by the site.

However, on any of the sites, we have very passionate users who contribute to the flagging, exhausting all their flags in a day.

I've come across the situation a number of times where the person wasn't necessarily flagging incorrectly, but they were flagging inefficiently.

While we were processing the flags correctly, giving them a nudge in a certain direction to flag in a different way would make everyone's life easier.

For those users, a custom decline message on one of the flags sometimes worked, but the thing I found most effective was to leave a comment on one of their posts/answers about how they were approaching flagging and how they could improve upon it to help the moderators process the flags.

I've found that ability to be very useful. If I didn't have the ability to see who flagged the post, then I'd not be able to leave a comment for them (which I'd delete when I know the message had been received.

In the case of spam, generally you don't need to contact users via comment (nor do we want to), but we do see cases where people will issue many spam flags against another user for nefarious means. Considering the weight that processing a spam flag carries on the user it is cast against, these are not to be taken likely.

When a person abuses the spam flag, this is a case when the moderator absolutely should reach out to a user through a mod message and possibly a suspension. However, when we see this abuse, we can't follow up on it as moderators because we can't see who is casting the flag (directly).

However, if we have an idea of who is casting it, and we are right, we can see it through their profile.

So basically, not giving us this info makes us play guessing games, and we will, considering we can get a payout (find the information we want) if we're diligent enough.


Moderators should absolutely be able to see who cast the spam flag and while it has the potential for abuse, all the other information that we already have access to carries the same potential, and we don't have a rampant issue with moderators abusing that (which is why we still have that access).

  • Case in point: somebody totally just tried to dump a bunch of red flags against me. In fact, that's precisely what prompted this answer. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Oct 18 '12 at 15:47
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    I don't think it's appropriate to leave a comment for a user who flagged something (if you name names) because that would cause private information (the act of flagging) to become public. I may have misunderstood what you said. – George Stocker Oct 18 '12 at 15:52
  • @GeorgeStocker You did. Take for example someone who is consistently flagging link only answers as "low quality", it's better if they flag them as "Not An Answer", as we have more options available to us in the queue. Asking them to make that slight change doesn't name names, it simply asks them "could you take this approach when flagging these types of things"; I've never referenced a question directly, always spoke in generalities in terms of "types of things". – casperOne Oct 18 '12 at 15:54
  • Everything a moderator does could be abused. I don't think that knowing who has flagged a post as spam would be different from knowing who flagged a post for any other reason, nor would that be more subject of abuses than other flags. – kiamlaluno Oct 18 '12 at 17:20
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    @kiamlaluno That's the point, we already know who's behind the actions of most every other moderator summoning done on the site, what's different about this? We can't abuse this knowledge any more than any other knowledge we have. – casperOne Oct 18 '12 at 17:31
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    I agree, this is in fact trivial compared with other information we can see. The only argument against it would be 'users will be less likely to use the flag', and I don't know if that's a bad thing given the volume at which it's misused. NB: We even flew a community bulletin on how to use the flag because it was being misused so frequently. – Tim Post Oct 19 '12 at 2:11
  • @TimPost I don't see why they should stop using it; they still use the other flags, even if they know moderators can see who flagged a post. – kiamlaluno Oct 19 '12 at 16:16

I'd like to see a middle ground implemented. Presumably, moderators would want to see who casts a series of inaccurate SPAM or offensive flags for the purposes of slowing them down and stopping the noise.

Take this scenario:

  • User has a bad day
  • Moderator takes action that adversely affects user
  • User goes on a rampage flagging all of moderators 100+ vote rated posts as SPAM

Sorry, but simply declining here is not good enough. I want two things to happen:

  1. I want the noise to stop
  2. I don't want the user to dig themselves an even deeper hole

That actually happened.

I don't need to know who cast those flags provided that I have a button to prevent them from using that particular flag for the next 24 hours. This has two benefits:

  • The noise stops
  • The user gets the desired signal that a mod message would deliver. Upon clicking on the SPAM flag again they see:

    Due to a high volume of inaccuracy, we are not accepting this type of flag from your account for the next 24 hours. Please read (link)how the flag works(/link).

At no point does the mod know who cast those flags, because they really don't need to know. Additionally, the user has no idea what mod slowed them down, because they really don't need to know.

Have this action detract from the user's weight accordingly, where multiple uses of this feature would basically bury the flags in the future.

This saves us the pain and irritation of having to deal with temper tantrums on a flag by flag basis.

Of course, the button would only be visible if the user had more than two unresolved SPAM/Offensive flags in the queue. It would also be helpful if we could see SPAM flags grouped by user, even if the user isn't shown.

  • Unlikely to be implemented, as just declining them works .. but a guy can wish, no? :) – Tim Post Oct 19 '12 at 2:10
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    It could be implemented in the same way it is implemented with suggested edits: Once the user gets too much consecutive rejected edits, s/he cannot suggest further edits. In that way, moderators don't need to know who flagged a post as spam. I still think that knowing who flagged the post helps: If I know who flagged a post, and the user is known to wrongly flag, I read the post very carefully, or I leave the flag for the community to see what they think, before taking any action. – kiamlaluno Oct 19 '12 at 8:45

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