You may have noticed that we have a bit of a backlog for bugs and feature requests related to moderator tools.

Our moderators do a lot of work to keep our sites running smoothly, and we recognize that sometimes the tools get in the way - through inefficiencies or bugs we aren't aware of or haven't had time to fix. That's not ideal.

We've made some room in our schedule for one developer to spend a couple of weeks improving tools available to mods. We're sorry that it can't be more; there are definitely aspects of the mod tools that we won't be able to fix in that time period, but we'd like to do what we can.

Here's where you all come in. We need current (and former) moderators – the people who are using these tools on a daily basis – to help us figure out what to fix. What's broken? What tools do you wish you had available in the mod interface? What are you currently finding workarounds for that we can incorporate directly into our system?

If you have ideas for how we can improve mod tools:

  • Post one bug/request per answer. (Please read through and see if someone else has already posted your suggestion; if yes, upvote the existing post rather than reiterating the same idea in a new answer.)
  • Vote for other people's suggestions that you support to help us determine which things we should prioritize.
  • Remember, please do not post screenshots or otherwise expose information that's available only to moderators.

Because we have a few hundred moderators, try to limit your suggestions to the one or two biggest wishes or annoyances you have.

Keep in mind that because we don't have a lot of resources to throw at this, we won't be able to implement all of your suggested changes, but we hope to make these tools a little more efficient and effective.

  • You mean 10k tools or tools specific to diamond mods? – Doorknob Jul 19 '13 at 13:38
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    @Doorknob - From context, I would say diamond mod tools, though, arguably, improvements to the 10k tools would help diamond mods too. – Oded Jul 19 '13 at 13:40
  • Do we have to link to the existing open questions as well or are those already under consideration? – ChrisF Mod Jul 19 '13 at 13:46
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    @Doorknob The goal is to focus primarily on removing obstacles for diamond moderators, but there's definitely overlap in what's useful for diamond mods and what's useful for 10k users. We're always open to suggestions, so go ahead and post both. – Laura Jul 19 '13 at 13:46
  • @Laura Alright, I'm not a mod so I can't suggest anything about that but I did post a suggestion for the 10k tools :) – Doorknob Jul 19 '13 at 13:47
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    @ChrisF we'll be looking at the existing questions, but if there's something you care really strongly about, it won't hurt to post a link and a one-sentence summary here. – Laura Jul 19 '13 at 13:47
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    @Laura - well there's anything I've reported for a start :) – ChrisF Mod Jul 19 '13 at 13:50
  • @Laura: Do you also consider existing heavily upvoted bug-reports/feature-requests or just the proposals here? – juergen d Jul 19 '13 at 15:16
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    @juergend both! – Laura Jul 19 '13 at 15:22
  • Is there a way this could be shared to all Mods network wide? Not everybody visits MSO. I say this as the more opinions from people who actually use these tools, the more the chances of implementing relevant changes. – asheeshr Jul 19 '13 at 15:34
  • @AsheeshR it's been posted twice (and pinned in the starred message list) in the chat room that all moderators have access to; that's the best way for us to reach all the mods for something we want their input on in a relatively quick manner. – Laura Jul 19 '13 at 15:38
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    Alright, I somehow missed that. There should be something like a network wide ping or notification feature available to SE employees. – asheeshr Jul 19 '13 at 15:43
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    I thought the minimum time interval for any development effort was six to eight weeks. – user102937 Jul 19 '13 at 19:55
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    Who would down-vote this? Someone who doesn't want moderators' jobs to be made easier? – Aaron Bertrand Jul 21 '13 at 15:21
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    Where should we submit improvements to the secret parts of the moderator tools? – Mad Scientist Jul 26 '13 at 9:50

37 Answers 37


Comment lock - Locks that lock only comments for questions and answers.

Edit Lock- Locks that lock edits (and maybe comments) on a question but still allow answers.

Locks that generally aren't a nuclear option. Lockbox.

If implemented, it should be clear at a glance which features are locked; or optionally give checkboxes to select which features are locked (comments, edits, everything).

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    That. Please PLEASE that. – Madara's Ghost Jul 19 '13 at 14:21
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    +1 for "Lockbox" alone, but also good requests – wax eagle Jul 19 '13 at 14:30
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    THIS. My third +1 on the List o' Features so far. This would be great. There are times when comment discussions get completely out of hand no matter how many times you warn people and delete them. But the question is still fine, and should still be answerable. People just need to stop commenting. [Would you mind clarifying on the first point that the lock could lock ALL comments for the post, or only comments on the question, or only comments on answer(s)? Usually I just want to stop comments being posted on the question; if people have things to say on the answers that's fine by me.) – WendiKidd Jul 20 '13 at 2:40
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    I've an old feature request on that. I find the current lock implementation far too strict to actually use, as it almost always punished and inconveniences more users than actually intended. – Mad Scientist Jul 20 '13 at 8:30
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    Comment locks make sense for short periods of time. Anything more severe should require the entire post to be locked. In particular locking edits while still allowing voting and commenting falls somewhere between idealistic and sadistic. – Shog9 Jul 23 '13 at 18:11
  • Can you edit to clarify "Lockbox"? (The dictionary isn't helping me here.) Anyway, +1 for "Locks that lock edits... on a question but still allow answers". – msh210 Jul 24 '13 at 17:43
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    @Shog: Locking only edits is a good way to prevent rollback wars between a few users, whilst still allowing the question to continue as normal, no? – Matt Jul 25 '13 at 9:56
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    @Matt: except normal questions can be edited. It's a rather important part of how the system works - if folks can still vote, still leave critiques and requests for clarification in comments, still vote to close... But no one can fix the problems, add the clarifications... Then things are broken. Don't want a post locked down? Don't get into a rollback war. – Shog9 Jul 25 '13 at 16:18
  • @Matt Wouldn't we be better off dealing with the users involved in the edit war directly rather than stopping anyone from editing? – JonK Jul 29 '14 at 17:59
  • @jonk I think that the edit policy says always respect the original author. If he doesn't have his question edited he's just going to get the downvotes for low quality post. He'll see himself. – Tomáš Zato - Reinstate Monica Dec 5 '14 at 2:50
  • I guess it only took 7 or so years for the comment lock to be implemented... – V2Blast Apr 25 '20 at 9:11

Allow moderators to reply to a flag

For that matter, a way to simply PM a user (without any reply option) would be good too. Mod messages are for Serious Business, this can be for a friendly "Hey, that's not how you flag stuff" or "Hey, here's a tip:" or something that will enhance their participation in community moderation.

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    … so basically, "Helpful" with a message? – slhck Jul 19 '13 at 20:46
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    @slhck Yep. And an optional ping (applies to "Declined" too). Sometimes, we want users to read the decline message – Manishearth Jul 19 '13 at 20:47
  • This please. (How does this not have more upvotes?? Maybe worth noting that the linked meta post a current score of 125.) This would be really, really helpful. (+1, would vote again!) – WendiKidd Jul 20 '13 at 2:17
  • @WendiKidd I posted it 6 hours late. FGITW FTW :P – Manishearth Jul 20 '13 at 3:56
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    A streamlined way to contact users through chat would be an alternate solution accomplishing roughly the same thing with possibly more versatile results. – Caleb Jul 20 '13 at 10:05
  • @caleb yep, I think I noted that in the feature request too. But it's still unweildy, should I really have to create a chatroom (where upthe user can reply) when I want to ping them about a declined/helpful flag. – Manishearth Jul 20 '13 at 13:33
  • @Manishearth Agreed. Upvotes all round :) – Caleb Jul 20 '13 at 13:33
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    Apologies for the delay, but we just pushed out the ability for mods to reply to "helpful" flags. – Laura Feb 28 '14 at 16:38

One of the top things I can think of would be one of our oldest and most venerated mod tool feature requests:

Streamline moderators contacting users through chat

Currently our options for contacting problem users are fairly limited, especially if the user is fairly low rep.

  • Comments are bulky and don't handle back and forth well
  • Mod messages are reserved for when children are in danger (or similarly dire circumstances)
  • The current steps to contact a user through chat are:

    • Get out the chicken bones and the cauldron.
    • Prepare the secret incantations.

    Ok, ok, that's a little exaggerated — the incantations are actually documented on MSO. Still, having done it, this is description by W5VO is pretty close to the mark.

It would help those of us who have time and energy to hold our user's hands a bit to be able to save some time working the system and get right to helping our users.

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    Being able to go into someone's profile and, with 1-3 clicks and without page loads, invite them to a private chat room where they have rights (and a chat account, if need be) would be great – Ben Brocka Jul 19 '13 at 14:17
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    I support this only if it takes the form of the "case of the mondays" support pop-up. However, a quicker way to get to a user's chat profile from their main-site profile would be extremely useful in general on SE 2.0 sites. – Shog9 Jul 23 '13 at 18:13
  • @Shog9 yes please. This might be a more important feature than the one I'm asking here. Any enhancement to the use of chat as moderator tool would be welcome (or enhancements to moderating chat for that matter) – wax eagle Jul 23 '13 at 20:36
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    Having forgotten at least three times how to get new users into chat I wholeheartedly support this feature and graciously offer $100 unicorn bucks towards its development! – The Unhandled Exception Aug 3 '13 at 21:16

Have a "Snooze" button for flags. This button would function as follows:

  1. Will remove the flag from display temporarily.
  2. Will give the OP a period of time to address a comment provided. That time is subject to discussion, but I would say between 12-24 hours.
  3. If they edit the question, or the timer elapse, the flag is shown again, so that it can be re-evaluated with the edit suggested.

The purpose of this tool is to allow for the OP to correct a poor, but salvageable question. Ideally, a comment should be required to use the snooze button.


Per suggestions in the comments, I would suggest putting a flag on Snooze indicates that the flag is valid, and it should be marked as valid.

  • What would the mod do in case the edit resulted in the flag being no longer valid/actual? Reject the flag? If so, how would this potential flag rejection increase affect those who flagged? – Andriy M Jul 19 '13 at 14:05
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    @AndriyM This happens occasionally now when a post is flagged, then edited, then a moderator sees the flag. We normally catch this by looking at the timestamps and just mark the flag as helpful. It would be even more helpful if there was some kind of indicator that told us that the issue that led to the flag might have already been taken care of. – Bill the Lizard Jul 19 '13 at 14:22
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    I would imagine putting flags on snooze is the same as saying, at the very least, "these flags were helpful, now let's see if the OP can fix things". – Oli Jul 19 '13 at 14:30
  • @BilltheLizard: Ah, I see, I had no idea how flag marking worked. If marking a flag as helpful is a separate (even though related) process, independent from acting on the flag proper, then I can see no problem. Thanks for the clarification. – Andriy M Jul 19 '13 at 14:43
  • Pls see this question, seems we are on similar wavelength meta.stackexchange.com/questions/188839/… – user310756 Jul 19 '13 at 15:42
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    Rejected flags are effectively meaningless anyway now that Flag Weight isn't used for anything and the badges just count helpful flags. (And frankly if the flagged post is fixable a flag was the wrong tool -- the flagger should have left a comment...) – voretaq7 Jul 19 '13 at 16:06
  • That reminds me, I need to go through my favorites and figure out what I was going to check on... – Kevin Jul 19 '13 at 18:21
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    I'll admit to ignoring flags for up to 12/24 hours with the current system because I wanted to see if others would vote to close it, if it was going to be edited, how the community would accept it, etc. – Ben Brocka Jul 20 '13 at 16:07
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    I can see some utility in this for smaller sites where we really want the community to be working these things out before we start stepping in, but we don't know if this would really be practical on the larger sites. If someone snoozed their way through the queue, those flags come back, along with the 100 - 1000 + more that rolled in that day. It could really get difficult to handle. You can always leave the flags to soak a while, and even add your own flag indicating that you're doing so. I know that doesn't reduce the counter, but I'm kinda worried about flags coming back on a new pile up – Tim Post Jul 23 '13 at 18:17
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    @TimPost this could maybe be combined with the various requests for a watch list of sorts. If you snooze a flag, the flag is actually dismissed as helpful, but the post is automatically added to your watch list. That would make it clear that YOU are personally responsible for that flag, and intend to check up on it later. That keeps it from clogging up the queue later, and still gives you the ability to follow up on things. – nhinkle Jul 23 '13 at 18:51
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    @TimPost This is something that would work much better for smaller sites with low flag volume anyway. Right now on BH we use a system of stared chat messages in the mod room with datestamps saying when they should be re-evaluated. It's a hack because flags aren't practical because they don't get you to check the situation in 24 hours. On C.SE use a different system and tend to leave certain flags in the queue and just ignore them by mutual agreement until they are actionable. In both cases we're hacking together a system that could be ready made. So find a way to limit for larger sites? – Caleb Jul 24 '13 at 17:47
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    @Caleb: I'm thinking that flags and stars are poor tools for the job. For one thing, they are limited to ♦ moderators even though the tasks can often be performed by high reputation users. I'd rather see a more general tool to allow users to come back to a post at some point in the future. – Jon Ericson Sep 26 '13 at 0:29

Give moderators watch lists so they don't need to junk up their favories

As a diamond mod on a lower volume site, I will sometimes try to keep an eye on a post (both questions and answers) instead of taking outright/immediate action (which makes sense on the high volume sites).

Right now I either have to favorite it and/or look at my comment history. This works to an extent, but mods can't share this with each other.

I suggest adding two new types of favorites:

  1. Shared moderator watch list
  2. Private moderator watch list

This way mods can track posts that need TLC and take appropriate action after some time has passed.

  • 1
    We use a private chatroom to share such posts and/or problematic users/IPs between the Mod team. Its pretty effective. – asheeshr Jul 20 '13 at 1:33
  • @AsheeshR Yeah, we do that, too, for semi-immediate things, or asking for one another about a flag. I am talking about dealing with less than stellar posts. I may leave a comment to encourage a user to improve something (eg, summarize a link-only answer) to get the involved in the site. What I tend to forget to do is revisit these later on. – mpdonadio Jul 20 '13 at 1:44
  • Well, you could create a list as a chat message. Edit in/out posts as needed. – asheeshr Jul 20 '13 at 1:55
  • My current workaround for this is to keep a bajillion tabs open with questions I need to look back on ;) I'd love the private watch list. I don't personally think the shared one is necessary, because I think if it's worth sharing with your fellow mods it's worth putting in a chatroom with a note explaining your thoughts, but I'm not necessarily against it. +1, would love to have my own watch list so I don't have to use so many tabs anymore! – WendiKidd Jul 20 '13 at 2:20
  • We at Anime & Manga use trello.com for that. – Madara's Ghost Jul 21 '13 at 16:38
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    This would be better implemented as a general-purpose feature: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/83343/… – Shog9 Jul 23 '13 at 18:36

Allow us to see if a user is post banned.

By far the question I see asked most in Blue Moon (and the question I ask the most) is, "Is this user [question/answer] banned?"

We get seemingly a few questions on meta each week, and it makes it easier to troubleshoot their issue (and give them pointers) if we know whether or not they're banned. I'm not asking for us to know the algorithm, but to have some visual confirmation that a user is post banned (on their profile page).

  • 2
    I have to ask. Does this come up anywhere other than SO/MSO? – asheeshr Jul 19 '13 at 15:40
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    @AsheeshR No; the other sites don't have Q bans enabled. But that's not a reason not to implement it. – George Stocker Jul 19 '13 at 15:43
  • @GeorgeStocker: SF and (I think SU) have Qbanns – user147520 Jul 19 '13 at 16:12
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    Programmers, SF, SU and maybe Ask Ubuntu also have the post ban – random Jul 19 '13 at 16:14
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    Programmers will pick up SO users trying to circumvent their Q-ban on SO. But I think it may be problematic to show mod of Site A that a user has a Q-ban on Site B – user194162 Jul 19 '13 at 16:56
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    Answer bans are enabled everywhere. – Adam Lear ModStaff Jul 19 '13 at 16:56
  • @GlenH7 - if you try to migrate a question to a site where the OP is Q-Banned the migration is aborted and you get a message – ChrisF Mod Jul 19 '13 at 19:31
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    @ChrisF But you actually have to try and migrate first, and if they're banned on that site it's probably because their questions aren't very well written, so odds are you don't want to migrate the one from your site anyway. I find myself asking if users are banned on SO because they asked a programming question I just closed for being terrible, and I want to know if I should yell at them for posting on my site just because they're question-banned on SO – Michael Mrozek Jul 19 '13 at 23:14
  • @Undo: Moderator chat room. – Ry- Jul 20 '13 at 18:55
  • @minitechη Must be the special SO mod chatroom? – Undo Jul 20 '13 at 19:05
  • @Undo: Yes, that’s what someone named it here :) – Ry- Jul 20 '13 at 19:06
  • @Undo Ours is so boring; "ELL Mod Chatroom." I should probably think of something more creative and change it, huh? ;) – WendiKidd Jul 21 '13 at 22:30
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    This is something we're going to do, we just need to make the indicator a little less strange than what we have. – Tim Post Jul 23 '13 at 18:24
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    @TimPost in what way is it strange? Does it show a rating from :D to :'(? – nhinkle Jul 23 '13 at 18:52
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    I would recommend using incognito/pr0n mode for taking screenshots of anything on the site that a mod wishes to release to the public. – Jarrod Dixon ModStaff Aug 2 '13 at 18:19

Allow removal of questions from the queue for the official Twitter feed before it gets tweeted.

Many times, weird and/or crappy questions get tweeted. These do not reflect well for the site, especially sites that are still expanding. Twitter has the ability to attract experts through retweets by users, and such content makes it less likely for them to become interested and join the community.

If Facebook and Google+ pages are created then this will be even more important.

My suggestion is that to show about 3-4 posts for review by moderators before being tweeted. These would be posts that are selected by the Twitter bot (since we dont want to circumvent it and make it angry).

Each post could show up as an independent flag or the whole bunch could show up as a notification.

  • So like a flag - 'valid' -> post gets tweeted, 'declined' -> no tweet? – Tim Post Jul 19 '13 at 16:03
  • @TimPost Yeah, that would work for something like "Tweet Flags" : "This post has been flagged for the Twitter Feed." -> So, Valid will logically imply being tweeted. – asheeshr Jul 20 '13 at 1:23
  • If the flag helpful/declined method goes ahead, we'd want to make sure that flag under no circumstances gets auto-approved. – nhinkle Jul 23 '13 at 0:34
  • @nhinkle If no moderator handles those flags within a 24 hour period, then the feeds will go dry. Time bound auto approvals will actually be good in this case. – asheeshr Jul 23 '13 at 2:15
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    This is something we're thinking about, but we're not absolutely positive we can do. I don't know if we could implement a queue for this, which means you'd be catching these more opportunistically than anything else. – Tim Post Jul 23 '13 at 18:31
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    @TimPost what about even opening this up to 10k or 20k users? Don't let them vote for a post, but let them vote against a post. It could go in a review queue. If more than, say, 3 people vote against a post that's in the Twitter feed, it won't get posted. If nobody votes against it within n hours (maybe 24?) then it goes through. Mod votes would be binding. This gives mods control, while letting the community participate in the site promotion process and solving the problem of needing to have someone on the site to catch it. – nhinkle Jul 23 '13 at 18:54
  • @TimPost Since you are thinking about making a queue, I am guessing the flagging idea has been dropped? Whats wrong with Community or Tbot flagging posts with a custom flag? An entire review queue would be overkill IMO. – asheeshr Jul 24 '13 at 0:17
  • Flags go into a queue too, @Asheesh - and therein lies the problem: if the queue isn't flushed quickly, stuff gets tweeted without oversight anyway... So no real gain. – Shog9 Jul 24 '13 at 8:30
  • @Shog9 What about reducing the number of reviews required per post? If this queue is handled by 10k users and mods, then it is reasonable to expect someone will be available in every 12 hour interval(since min of 2 tweets/day). Instead of waiting for multiple reviews, let a post be tweeted if it gets even one positive review, while allowing for more reviews to occur in case any more users show up in the interval before it gets tweeted. – asheeshr Jul 24 '13 at 9:30

Separate the Spam/Offensive flags from the others so that they don't get marked as helpful/declined together.


Make all the moderator functionality available in the mobile template!

Situation: you're far-afk and checking the site on your phone. Sir Spamsalot appears and starts filling your site up with junk. You can delete the posts but in order to destroy the user, you have to get out of the mobile site and go through the whole procedure again.

Note: I'm not asking that all the admin functions get shiny mobile templates. I don't care if they carry on looking like the old ones... I just want feature parity between the mobile and standard templates for sites so that even when I'm lazing around, I can still be useful. This just translates to making the links show up in roughly the right places.

  • Yeah, don't want to know how often I've already gone full-page to destroy spammers. It could also be that I'm obsessed with the site in general, but still… – slhck Jul 19 '13 at 15:31
  • See also: show the mod flag count indicator on mobile. – Caleb Jul 19 '13 at 19:40
  • I bet that this would be a significant increase in load -- I sometimes access SE from a slow (and not so cheap) mobile connection, I don't want to have extra load just because I'm a mod :S – Manishearth Jul 19 '13 at 20:40
  • @Manishearth I don't think adding a couple of links and an extra number in the toolbar is going to do too much damage. – Oli Jul 20 '13 at 7:03
  • @oli code for popups, etc etc. There's a lot of mod specific JS that would have to load. – Manishearth Jul 20 '13 at 7:09
  • @Manishearth The code for popping in screens is already there for closing. – Oli Jul 20 '13 at 7:12
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    It would be nice to have feature parity on mobile for review and most of the moderation tools, however it's not something we're going to be able to start in the near or possibly distant future as a general project. However, if you want specific functionality to be present (or fixed), you could submit a bug or feature quest to scope just that part, and we may be able to take care of it somewhat quickly. – Tim Post Jul 23 '13 at 18:35

Instead of this:

Screenshot 1

This, please:

Screenshot 2

Note the number of other answers and comments, the green showing an accepted answer, and the blue showing that there was actually a sneaky inline link to something. (Helps with spam especially.) That would be nice.

  • Uhh... Are those flagger usernames? – Undo Jul 19 '13 at 20:12
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    @Undo - we can see who flagged what. However, I strongly suspect that those aren't real user names, in the same way that the "answer" isn't a real answer. – ChrisF Mod Jul 19 '13 at 20:18
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    @Manishearth: No worries, none of ’em are real. :) – Ry- Jul 19 '13 at 21:20
  • Yeah, I got that, but too late :P – Manishearth Jul 19 '13 at 21:21
  • This is fair, We want to be sure that moderators break out and look at the question in its entirety when needed, but perhaps that's just an implementation problem. The general idea behind it seems good. – Tim Post Jul 23 '13 at 18:48
  • I'd like like this expanded to a summary on the user as well as the post to hint when we should be looking closely at them too. – Flexo Jul 27 '13 at 8:48

Allow us to choose whether to accept or decline flags on an individual basis. Sometimes a single post will get multiple flags where some of the flags are valid and some are not. Then you're stuck with deciding whether to let the bad flagger get away with it and continue thinking that type of flagging is OK, or you have to send the good flagger a declined flag when they haven't done anything wrong. Both situations are bad.

: see March 2014 mod newsletter


When community flags a question as low quality answer score, there is no "Convert to comment" option. Sometimes it's just a crappy answer that shouldn't be there, but sometimes it is just a short answer that should be a comment. The current workflow is cumbersome without that option, so I'd like to ask for it to be added (essentially, I'd like to be able to convert any answer to a comment from within the flag handling UI, regardless of why the answer is there).

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    IMO, "convert to comment" should almost never be used. I usually just delete comment-answers -- if you don't have the rep to comment, I'm not going to help you circumvent it. – juan Jul 19 '13 at 15:18
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    @jmfsg I see a lot of link-only answers, for example, that I'd feel bad deleting, since the links often do contain useful info for the OP. And I very rarely find that those people posting those links as answers are doing so because they can't comment - they just don't know any better. You should trust that moderators can make non-dumb decisions about whether to keep content or not on their own site. – Aaron Bertrand Jul 19 '13 at 15:21
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    @jmfsg and if they add the button, you don't have to use it. – Aaron Bertrand Jul 19 '13 at 15:24
  • @Aaron, some of us have to use every button we see. Perhaps that's one of the multitudinal reasons I wouldn't be a good mod... – jball Jul 22 '13 at 19:55
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    Knee-jerk usage of convert-to-comment for link-heavy answers is a very bad idea, but I agree this function should be more readily available when handling flags. – Shog9 Jul 23 '13 at 18:38
  • @Shog9 to be fair, I didn't ask for this because I wanted to knee-jerk every answer into a comment. Maybe it's different on SO, but I would find this quite useful on our site. – Aaron Bertrand Jul 23 '13 at 19:13

Better support for post notices.

I know this is a feature that is used on a small subset of sites, but it's the kind of thing that could be used more if there were better features to track which posts have a notice attached, and draw the attention of community to the posts.

Mad Scientist proposed a review queue option and I think that's the right call:

Add a review queue for posts with a "citation needed" notice

This would make the feature more useful on several sites, especially if it included the "insufficient explanation" post notice for extremely short/unexplained posts.

I'd also add that if we did this we should add a way for the community to attach post notices.

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    The important part in my opinion is not tracking (which already exists, though somewhat hidden), but enabling the community to add and remove those without moderator intervention. – Mad Scientist Jul 19 '13 at 13:54
  • Mind if I add some stuff about the Insufficient Explanation notice to this request in addition to citation needed? That would make my post notices post redundant – Ben Brocka Jul 19 '13 at 14:43
  • @BenBrocka fine by me – wax eagle Jul 19 '13 at 14:50
  • We use the Citation needed banner quite extensively on skeptics, I worry that I slap the notice on but forget to go back and review for possible banner removal or post deleteion. +1 – Jamiec Jul 19 '13 at 15:33
  • @Jamiec my concerns are both this and the fact that the current system really doesn't scale. – wax eagle Jul 19 '13 at 15:35
  • @Jamiec I actually use it and insufficient explanation a lot on UX, so it's not just Skeptics either. On UX there are many posts that present an idea without the "why" which justifies it. There's lots of possible answers to any UX question but without research or explanation it's hard to consider an answer useful or not so those answers aren't good, but they're not quite insta-delete worthy either. – Ben Brocka Jul 19 '13 at 15:59
  • I think the most logical userflow here is to do things the way we are with 'on hold' questions now; you add the post notice, and if the post gets edited it gets put into this queue to see if the banner should be removed or should remain. The linked feature requests mentions doing so after 14 days, but I don't think that makes sense; if no change has been made to the post, it doesn't need to be reviewed again. What do you all think? – WendiKidd Jul 20 '13 at 2:36
  • This should also link into the - Move position of post notices on answers request as that is a bugbear of mine. – JonW Jul 22 '13 at 9:19
  • I like this, provided that the notices eventually expire and go away regardless if they're actually reviewed or action taken. Backlogs being one thing, and a series of skips being another - but I think that could be solved in implementation. – Tim Post Jul 23 '13 at 18:44

"Can we have an option to ban someone from using the offensive and/or spam flags for a few hours?"

I'll re-post my answer from that question:

What if we had a setting as moderators to present a custom-worded warning dialog to a user the next time they flagged, no matter the flag type? This may or may not have a temporary ban from flagging attached to it.

It's well known that most people don't read custom decline reasons we provide to them, or even know where they can find these. By putting such a warning right in front of them the next time they tried to flag, hopefully they wouldn't miss it this time.

For example, I had to decline 9 flags yesterday that read "plz help answer this question thx" or some variant. Three of those people had flagged multiple times for this. The only way to get them to stop is to send a direct moderator message, which takes time, leaves a permanent mark on their record, and is CC'd to every moderator on the site. If we had a lightweight way to halt their flags for a bit and to give them a direct message as to what they're doing wrong, that would be a much better way to handle this.

Misuse of spam and offensive flags is obviously worse, given the automatic downvotes and potential reputation penalties those carry, but I see no reason why a system like this should be limited to those flags. There are many other abuses of the flag system this could work to prevent.

The flag weight system has been tweaked lately to try to deemphasize streaks of poor flags from certain users, but I think we need something a little stronger to cut down on this and educate problematic flaggers. A direct warning that doesn't carry the stigma of a moderator message would seem to do this, particularly if coupled with temporary flag bans in the worst cases.

We need a better way of making decline reasons for flags visible to users, because most people don't even know they're there. Lately, I've been feeling like I'm wasting my time writing custom decline reasons because few people ever read them. The ability to tell a particularly bad flagger "Stop! Read this before you flag again." would be huge help.

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  • This is a real problem, but we need to try and solve this in an automatic fashion - manually flag-banning people doesn't exactly save you any time when a ton of new users are misusing flags. My preferred strategy is reflected in my amended suggestion here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/173878/… – Shog9 Jul 23 '13 at 18:53
  • @Shog9 - The warning for rejected flags from low-volume flaggers (almost all of the repeated "plz help me" flags are from them) makes sense, but do you think the warning will be visible enough? I worry that they will ignore the new wording at the bottom of the flag dialog box and go ahead anyway. If there was something that clearly stated why their flags were being declined, which they had to acknowledge to keep flagging, that might be more effective at getting the point across. Mod messages to this effect seem to have a high success rate. – Brad Larson Jul 23 '13 at 19:40
  • Mod-messages are extremely "heavy" for something like this. Any suggestions for making the message more visible? – Shog9 Jul 23 '13 at 19:41

Network-wide bans and destroys for really bad users

We've had a couple of bad users (and a lot of spammers) who have accounts on numerous SE sites. Even when we've banned them on our site, they can continue to hurt other SE sites.

I would suggest that once two or three sites take action against an account, the entire network either bans or destroy the linked accounts.

The immediate benefit from this is big spammers are going to get caught and dealt with really fast.

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    A check? I'm talking about two moderators on two different sites coming to the same conclusion and then just mirroring that over the other sites. All the lookup stuff is already done (see network profile) and the actions could be carried out by the Community user on the other sites. – Oli Jul 20 '13 at 9:24
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    I wonder, though, how many of these spammers have gone to the trouble of linking their accounts. If they have any brains at all (aside from the few brain cells that make them think spamming will make them successful), they'll know enough not to do that. – Aaron Bertrand Jul 21 '13 at 15:20
  • @AaronBertrand - given that SE automatically links accounts if you use the same credentials on different sites it's hard not to link your accounts. – ChrisF Mod Jul 22 '13 at 8:26
  • Indeed, most spammers I've seen have had linked accounts with live spam posts on those sites. This is what this suggestion would fix. – Oli Jul 22 '13 at 9:45
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    This is part of a much larger problem (network-wide handling of spam and abuse) that we're (slowly) working on solving. – Shog9 Jul 23 '13 at 19:07

In the 10k tools, highlight or fade questions I've flagged already. Nothing's more frustrating1 than trying to flag something in the big list only to have the system say "Nope! You've flagged that already!" Well why didn't you tell me before?!

1: Well, almost nothing.

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    I thought we already did that - I was under the impression that posts that you have flagged wouldn't show up in the list. – Oded Jul 19 '13 at 14:37
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    @Oded Well, they do :( – Doorknob Jul 19 '13 at 14:38
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    Are you talking about going up and down the flag page without reloading? I've never seen an item I acted upon reappear after reloading. – Daniel Fischer Jul 19 '13 at 17:18
  • @Daniel No, I meant without reloading. Although iirc it happens sometimes with reloading too, but I may be remembering incorrectly. – Doorknob Jul 19 '13 at 20:46

Soft delete for accounts we wish to keep info on

Currently, we are recommended to use deletions for users we don't want coming back and for socks. We've always destroyed spammers.

Unfortunately, this makes us lose some valuable information (IPs, etc) that could be useful later to suss out sockpuppets. It would be nice if we could soft delete a user, which keeps all the post association and IP/email data from the mod POV, but looks the same from the user POV.

  • Wouldn't it be better to just suspend spammer accounts for an eon? – ale Jul 20 '13 at 0:21
  • @AlEverett We can't, not anymore. Also, suspensions send emails to the team and do all sorts of other things, not the best option. – Manishearth Jul 20 '13 at 3:56
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    It would be nice if this could be expanded to mark a user as "spam", and have it appear to everybody that the account is deleted, but in fact the data is retained. Like an inverse hellban? – nhinkle Jul 23 '13 at 18:56
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    Soft deletion isn't going to be possible for quite a while, and we're not sure we want to go there because of certain privacy implications, and other issues. However, we do have plans and work underway to seriously curtail this type of user without interfering with people that give us stuff that we actually want. And we do have plans to make some UI to see this working available to moderators. – Tim Post Jul 23 '13 at 18:57

Can we get an option to view moderator flags on questions in a Review Queue, in addition to the Big List that we get now?

I like the workflow for the review queues much better for working with questions. One-hundred percent of the time, I will right-click the link to open the question in a new window to moderate it, so you might as well throw the whole thing up on the screen anyway.

The current workflow requires me to maintain multiple browser windows, and creates cognitive dissonance by requiring me to think about where I should dismiss the flags without losing my place.

  • I could get behind this but not without a way to navigate the list – badp Jul 28 '13 at 12:03
  • @badp'skitten: I clarified my request. – user102937 Jul 28 '13 at 23:17

This may not affect a lot of people, but it makes a mod function completely unavailable to me and, from what I understand, the simple (non-redesign) fix is a two-character change:

Can we make the post-issue indicator more tolerant of window size?

Not being able to see, unless I take the positive action of going to a post's "mod" menu, that (a) there are deleted comments and (b) there's flag history means that anybody with window width < 1070px -- like most tablet users, and users of some other modern hardware -- is completely unaware of important history.

Some kind mods tried to help me out with a userscript to fix this locally, but they couldn't do it because of something about how the code for the indicator is written (waves hands here; I'm not clear on the details).

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    Tim Post and I both went "oh, this is easy", then realized there's no named identifier for a media query to change the value of it. If you could make the minimum for the indicator 948px, the people who browse on 1920x1080 monitors with two windows side-by-side would adore you (as would the tablet users). – Amelia Jul 19 '13 at 14:44
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    Confirming what @Hiroto said - we both looked into working around this with a userscript and it was just even more awful. – Tim Post Jul 19 '13 at 16:12
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    No promises here; while I sympathize (I moderate on mobile devices fairly often) this tool was explicitly designed for the sorts of high-volume work done by us internally and to some extent by mods on sites like SO - it's nice to have, but the same functionality should always be available in the mod menu as well for those using smaller screens (if something is missing, report that as a bug). – Shog9 Jul 23 '13 at 19:00
  • @Shog9 the thing that's missing at the smaller window size is the notification, the hint that there's something to look at. Ain't nobody got time to check the mod menu for every single post to see if there's anything to see here. – Monica Cellio Jun 16 '14 at 1:03
  • Yeah, we're working on something more flexible there. – Shog9 Jun 16 '14 at 3:35

Make each post look more appealing (like the review queues).

Honestly, that drag to view the question thing is abysmal. I hated it in the old review queues and I hate it in the moderator tools.

I'd also enjoy seeing that extra statistic on the right side for how many other answers there are in addition to this one. As well, move that tiny number next to the title that represents the number of answers on a question to the right. The other statistics based on question/answer would also be helpful.

I can't think of a good way to make the flags panel work well with all this information without converting it to a full out review queue, and I don't think the flag panel would benefit from that. It is very convenient to be able to browse over the custom reasons.

Hopefully something nice can be thought up.

  • "Drag to view the question?" – user102937 Jul 19 '13 at 17:06
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    @RobertHarvey: When an answer is expanded, you get that little bar that you click and drag down in order to see the question above it. – animuson ModStaff Jul 19 '13 at 17:31
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    Oh, that thing. I seldom use it, so I forgot it was there. Maybe just another expand control that will pop the whole thing open? I agree that dragging is a drag. – user102937 Jul 19 '13 at 17:35
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    Also, impossible to use on an iPad IIRC. – Daniel Beck Jul 20 '13 at 16:07

Give me the ability to see dismissed flags and declined posts easily / undo recently taken actions.

In the Mod queue, I sometimes goof and decline/dismiss something I shouldn't. It'd be nice to have the mod queue actually wait a few seconds before processing an action to give me time to 'undo' it, much like Gmail's "Undo Sending" functionality. The change to the existing workflow would be to collapse the flag as before, but have a little 'undo' button next to it that I can click for 5 seconds after that cancels the action.

A corollary to this is the ability to see declined / dismissed flags easily.

  • This would need a grace period, sort of like editing a comment but perhaps a bit longer, but this seems entirely sensible and we're considering it. We're looking at the implementation now. – Tim Post Jul 23 '13 at 19:09
  • @TimPost Did something happen with declined flags? they no longer show up in my moderator history: meta.stackoverflow.com/users/16587/george-stocker – George Stocker Jul 23 '13 at 19:47

Officially sanctioned Autoreview Comments.

The current userscript works great, but:

  1. Is currently broken due to a site change recently
  2. Is not present on new browsers unless you install it (and a userscript manager like Greasemonkey if required)
  3. Not synchronised between browsers
  4. Inconsistent (if users add/change the existing comments)

I would like to see this functionality included for mods on SE proper.

I love my autoreview comments; as do most mods I think. It means you can provide consistant, relevant, brief comments without having to think about it, with built-in links to content to point the users in the right direction; and all mods over all sites can leave consistent comments where required.

It's frustrating when it's not there, such as right now as it's borked, or when you're at a new computer, or on a mobile device. Making it officially incorporated means it will have unit tests against it, and will be included in regression testing, so that they don't break, and doesn't rely on the installation of 3rd party functions.


In the 10K tools, under delete, don't show me stuff I have already voted to delete.

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    I still want to see the stuff I've voted on (so I can track its progress, so I know if I need to rally the troops on something particularly deserving), but I'd like to be able to see that I've already voted so I don't waste time going there again. – Monica Cellio Jul 19 '13 at 16:17
  • @MonicaCellio: That would work for me too - I just get fed up trying to find stuff I can vote to delete so I give up and the dung pile grows ever larger. – user147520 Jul 19 '13 at 16:20

Add number of registered users who logged in versus day, to analytics.

Having an idea of the number of regular users would allow for getting a better idea of engagement. It would make it easier to see how much moderation and site activities are being performed by how few or how many users (other option is to go the specific stats pages for reviews, suggested edits, votes and compare it to number of visits which is roundabout).

Also, when organizing community events, especially those related to community moderation, seeing how many users actually come to the site regularly would be helpful.


Streamline handling of custom flags that have certain keywords in them.

If a custom flag has the keyword 'duplicate' plus a link, it should allow us to handle it in a more streamlined fashion. One of the buttons should be "close as duplicate", and list that linked question as a pre-selected option.

This won't get 100% of the cases, but anything we can do to pare down the time it takes to work on 'other' flags would be helpful.

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    And if it contains the word "duplicate" without a link, don't allow the flag to be submitted. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jul 19 '13 at 14:19
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    This is the one I'd most like to see. I don't know what the situation is like in the moderator queue on other sites, but this would be a great help on SO. – Bill the Lizard Jul 19 '13 at 15:23
  • So you're proposing basically converting the flag based on a regex match. Something with 'duplicate' and a link would be transformed from 'other' to 'suggest closure'. Interesting. – Tim Post Jul 19 '13 at 16:07
  • @TimPost Either converting those to a different flag type or grouping them within "Other" so we can handle them together would be an improvement. – Bill the Lizard Jul 19 '13 at 16:14
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    @Boltclock: I've been flagging a fair number of duplicate comments lately. This would interfere, I think. – ale Jul 19 '13 at 17:10
  • @AlEverett We also occasionally see late answers to old posts flagged as duplicates to existing answers, so this should probably only apply to flags on questions. – Bill the Lizard Jul 19 '13 at 20:11
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    I think this would create too many false positives. – ale Jul 20 '13 at 0:23
  • This is a brilliant idea, but it needs a lot more thought as to the specifics of how it would be implemented. – Shog9 Jul 23 '13 at 19:13
  • @Shog9 I'll be happy to do that. At the time I wanted to just give a 30,000 foot overview to see if it had any merit before fleshing out the specific case in each situation. – George Stocker Jul 23 '13 at 19:45
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn, "I'm pretty sure this is a duplicate but I don't have time to locate it at the moment" is something I can see myself flagging for the other mods' (or my later) attention on the site where I'm a mod. – msh210 Jul 24 '13 at 18:16

An abridged history of past crimes on the Contact User Privately screen

You should probably know why you're contacting a user before you click the link but some users have a colourful administrative history that gets forgotten the nineteenth time they've been contacted.

It would be handy to get a breakdown of flags and annotations and past discussions levied against a user, a little list in the sidebar with links to everything.

This is all stuff that can be dug up through /users/history/\d+/ but it's a PITA to dig through that just to make sure you're on the right page when dealing with a user.

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    Doesn't the "user annotations" list already do this? – user102937 Jul 19 '13 at 16:56
  • @RobertHarvey Only suspensions, not mod messages. – Manishearth Jul 19 '13 at 20:51
  • Though you can filter the history to show all mod messages – Manishearth Jul 19 '13 at 20:53
  • @RobertHarvey I just think something more comprehensive (like history but with the flags and without the logins/recalcs/etc) should be available on the same screen as the one where you're writing to them about their behaviour. It would make it easier to cite issues and notice patterns. – Oli Jul 20 '13 at 7:18
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    The thing to do here is just vastly improve filtering, which takes care of this and fixes quite a few more issues with digging through all of the user's history entries. – Tim Post Jul 23 '13 at 19:04
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    @TimPost A very easy and quick improvement would be to hide all the "moderator recalcs rep" entries. That alone would make the history much more readable. – Mad Scientist Jul 24 '13 at 14:39

The moderator tools are, unfortunately, not available in the mobile site template. As much of my site usage as a normal user is done through that interface, this creates a huge divorce between visiting my site(s) to do moderation tasks and to participate. There is one stop gap feature that would help ease the transition:

Moderator flag notifications should reach mobile

Right now the only way to figure out if there are outstanding moderator flags is to switch to the full template then reload at least once to see the flag indicator, then switch back to mobile to keep using the site.


Expose flag information in the API. You wouldn't believe the hoops I currently jump through to get flag info without going to the site manually. On some thread I can no longer find a dev mentioned that it was extremely unlikely we'd ever get flags into the API, but now that it has authentication I'm not sure what the problem would be with adding it

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    What kind of hoops? – Undo Jul 19 '13 at 23:55
  • I'm also interested in the hoops you go through to get that information. – Andy Jun 5 '14 at 2:39

This is more of a goal than a specific improvement: Dealing with spammers should not require more than flagging one of their posts as spam.

When I flag a post by a 1 rep user as spam, this is an account that has no value at all. Further actions I might manually take are destruction of the user and all their posts, looking if they have accounts on other SE sites, flag their posts there or in larger cases ping a community team member in TL about this.

I'm moderating sites with low traffic and this is not a big problem for me, but some sites receive a lot more spam and cross-network spammers are getting more common in my observation.

So some things that could be done would be:

  • auto-destroy 1 rep accounts when their only spam post is nuked
  • if they have more than 1 post, display a dialog with the excerpt of all of them with a "destroy" button when a mod spam flags one post for convenient destruction
  • Some kind of automatic consequences to other linked accounts would be nice, but probably complicated.
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    Another good thing would be to log their IPs and/or links, and cross-network Community flag all posts that share the IP/link. Maybe require mod approval on this first (otherwise someone linking to jsfiddle may generate a few million flags) – Manishearth Jul 24 '13 at 8:02

I've just added a new feature request:

Can the links in the "possible vandalism: edits" flag point to the revision rather than the post

I'd like this to be considered as part of the moderator tools clean up.

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