Had a bit of a situation this morning between two users in chat...

Won't go into detail, but we'll be strongly encouraging one of the users to never return to chat (or Stack Overflow) as a result.

But I'm left feeling uneasy about it, because I can't be certain this is the first time it's happened. There's no way to get a full history of messages posted or flagged for a chat user, and there are no quick ways to check for sockpuppets.

Even a subset of the tools available on the main site would be invaluable to moderators when dealing with abusive chat users: a history of flags, associated posts, and users with shared IPs.

I realize this might be somewhat problematic on Chat.SE due to the large number of parent sites and associated moderators. But perhaps we could start by providing such tools to moderators on Chat.SO, and work out the kinks there? Pun intended.

  • 6
    Well, Marc said that the full history was no problem, so you should probably start cracking the whip.
    – Tim Stone
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 16:24
  • 2
    Whole history of flagged posts (even if the flags were dismissed, but noting which were valid) would be great
    – Zelda
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 16:26
  • 8
    "Kinks here?" Too soon.
    – user1228
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 16:26
  • 22
    I think SE have this new dude now who decides this stuff, along with the rest of the team. You'll have to talk to him.
    – Pekka
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 16:27
  • 3
    (FWIW it's very hard to make a reliable judgement call on chat flags as a 10k user too)
    – Flexo
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 16:35
  • 5
    lulz, @Pekka. I think I need less encouragement to be doing stuff in SEEEKRIT.
    – Shog9
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 16:35
  • @awoodland: you might be interested in this: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/112756/…
    – Shog9
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 16:37
  • (Tim) Manishearth is boggled by the notion of users who go to the effort of making sockpuppets just so they can troll chat Commented May 10, 2012 at 16:48
  • 10
    If this is not implemented, my next feature request is "allow 18k bounties on meta", I'm the mod that dealt with it.
    – user50049
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 16:53
  • 5
    I'm all in favor of this, but no discussion of the chat's flagging system would be fully exhaustive without noting that the 10k users need more tools to deal with tags, too.
    – sbi
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 17:49
  • Very happy to help with this, but need input on what tools people what specifically. Commented May 10, 2012 at 22:19
  • 1
    Would this feature-request mean any additional tools for "Repped" (10k-network wide) chat mods?
    – tombull89
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 11:02
  • 1
    +1 for suggesting it here first.
    – Benjol
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 11:08
  • 2
    "Won't go into detail" - aww, but we love drama!
    – AakashM
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 11:21
  • 1
    @AakashM I promise you, in this case you wouldn't. @tombull89 hopefully. I added a bounty to this meta.stackexchange.com/questions/112756 too - it's not a problem on chat.so at the moment, but on chat.se flags go out to every (200+) moderator which has some interesting effects...`
    – user142852
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 11:30

3 Answers 3


This is what would have helped me in this particular incident:

  • Let me see deleted messages in chat just like I'd see deleted questions or answers. Show them with a reddish background and let me toggle all, or some of them to go away. I had to load the transcript more than a few times, and I use TCP over carrier pigeon (@Waffles will attest to that)

  • Give me access to all moderator tools by clicking a user's gravatar. To avoid fat fingers, perhaps open those tools in a suitably sized modal dialog (similar to the moderation tools on the parent sites) from the menu a gravatar click produces. IOW, let me deal with disruptive people without taking my eyes off the room. I realize some tools do require another page load, but let me do as much as possible in a modal.

  • Give me a flag summary (as @Shog9 suggested)

  • Organize chat flags with some kind of sorting and pagination. It's extremely typical for there to be enough flags that the dialog to deal with them becomes obnoxious.

Addendum regarding sock puppets:

Content in chat is, by way of comparison with the parent site ephermal. While it would be nice to have tools to figure out if someone was circumventing a suspension more quickly, I wonder if keeping them out in the first place could not be a little more automatic. If detected that the probability of an account being a sock reaches a certain threshold, don't let them in. Let a moderator review it. They're attempting to type in a chat room, not contribute to the parent site.

Now, for some chat 'policy' that we might want to consider:

  • If your chat room is not in English, you have no hope for moderation. If your room generates too much non actionable noise, a moderator will likely shut it down. A substantial amount of flags that I see (and I'm one of the more active moderators in chat) are in a language that I can't understand, and poorly written enough to confuse tools like Google Translate. I don't want to force people that speak a common language not to use it, but we can't be expected to render assistance when we have no context. If your room does nothing but create work for people that are otherwise using the system as intended, your room needs to go away.

  • I fully support an additional barrier to create rooms, as suggested by @Ninefingers

I really like our chat system, in fact I wish I could use it at work because it would solve so many problems. But it does seem like moderation was welded on as a bit of an afterthought ... probably because it was built by people that naturally behave constructively.

If we could make the tools resemble the tools on the parent site a little more, moderators would be more effective at repelling those who want to make sure that we can't have nice things :)

  • 11
    I would love to be able to see deleted messages inline
    – juan
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 16:04

Not surprisingly, I support this and will bounty it at the first opportunity, assuming Tim Post doesn't get there first.

In addition to providing better moderator tools, I'd also just like to add that the current level of rep required to create a room is 100. That's quite low, given the rep cap is 200 reputation per day. In short, anyone can register on SO, answer enough questions to get 100 rep then create a chat room - in a day.

I am all for low barriers of entry and 20 rep is fine for joining existing rooms, but do new users who have been here a day need the ability to create new rooms? I don't think so.

There's a good reason I'm suggesting this - a separate room requires users be in it to moderate. That's all very well if somebody decides to flag offending posts - but what if they don't?

To contribute to the actual request -

  • I'm going to kick off with I'm not really a fan of the flags dialog. It would be nicer to have a page like the 10k tools, or review, with the appropriate visibility of deleted stuff to moderators and crucially, the ability to see the context of the flagged post, not just the post itself.

    Y'know what might work well - the overlay for the flag queue, but in chat, jumping to the relevant parts of the transcript and asking for agree/disagree/not sure.

  • It would also be nice to see a list of users who have managed to clock up say 5 or so ignores. In English - in chat, you can ignore any user if they're being a problem. Clearly, users who have been ignored by many other users must pretty much by definition be causing a problem for everyone in chat. We should also consider auto flagging them, or some form of auto action, if they reach enough ignores.


Tweaks the first:

  • the history (paged) of all flagged posts by a user (even once deleted, or the flags cleared) is now a single click away
  • moderators now have access to similar IP xref tools that are available on the parent site

these are both available under the super special secret "moderation tools" menu

  • 1
    I probably put them in the "super admin" access group, rather than the "moderator" group - will fix when I get back from collecting small people Commented May 11, 2012 at 13:46
  • 10
    @MarcGravell You know, some people collect stamps.
    – user50049
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 13:50
  • Yep, works now. Also, I'm a sockuppet of Feeds
    – Zelda
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 14:25
  • @MarcGravell Indeed. And we're all sock puppets of StackExchange, apparently.
    – casperOne
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 14:32
  • @casperOne I'll take a look, but that possibly relates to some of the data imports we did between various systems, or the "migrate to chat" feature Commented May 11, 2012 at 14:42
  • 5
    @MarcGravell It thinks Joel Spolsky is my sock puppet. I can neither confirm nor deny that, but might be worth a look :)
    – user50049
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 14:43
  • 3
    @Tim I can't recall seeing you both at the same time - GUILTY!!!!! Commented May 11, 2012 at 14:50
  • @TimPost, so you're the one responsible for this? I'm flagging you.
    – Pops
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 14:59
  • It looks like everyone on chat is in Vale of Glamorgan, UK. What are the odds of that?
    – mmyers
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 15:13
  • @mmyers I'll check teh codez later... Maybe it is obsessed with me. Commented May 11, 2012 at 15:24
  • On further inspection, I think your first guess was right. The last time I was seen from your IP was right around the time the TL switched from chat.meta to chat.SE. By the way, what is the sort order? I assumed it would be by frequency, but it isn't.
    – mmyers
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 15:29
  • Indeed - Yes, this is all from when we merged etc - it recorded as my IP, me as the handle cranker. So: I'll put a date limit on the ip xref, I exclude everythig pre-merge Commented May 11, 2012 at 15:41
  • @mmyers any better now? also: sort order is by count of the other IP frequency, descending Commented May 11, 2012 at 15:59
  • It's a lot easier to read with that IP gone, but I still don't see the descending order here: chat.stackexchange.com/admin/xref-user-ips/222
    – mmyers
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 16:00
  • @MarcGravell Would it perhaps make sense to just filter SE out of the other user list entirely? That information is completely uninteresting in every context I can think of.
    – user50049
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 16:31

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