Please put something into the mod flag dialog that explains or leads to an explanation of what kind of messages need moderator attention.

I know there is a tooltip already but apparently a lot of people don't read it or understand what serious moderation issues are. My impression is that 8 out 10 chat messages flagged for moderator attention are requests to delete some message because it contains intellectual property of their employer (congratulations on posting that on a public chat room, genius) or contact data like emails or phone numbers. Or they just want it deleted for no reason at all. They just want it deleted. In addition, people rarely bother to put a real explanation but barf half sentences or single words at us:

wrong flags

I deleted one message containing code just today only to find the OP post an SO question containing that very code in the very same chat room he requested deletion of that code. And when I asked him why the hell he would flag it in the first place, he just replied he wanted to make a proper question and couldn't delete the message (OCD FTW!).

But my absolute favorite must be this one:

more wrong flags

And just for the record: that's not the only one of that kind.

People apparently either

  • don't understand at all what mod flags are for
  • or don't understand that they can delete their messages for a limited amount of time only
  • or don't understand that our chat rooms are public (surprise!)
  • or don't understand that @username messages are not private whispers
  • or don't think before they post something.

While it's easy enough to heed their requests (there is a delete button, so it just takes a click), it is also rather annoying to clean after people for the reasons named above (even though the mod flag count is still very low). Also, I am somewhat concerned that following these requests gives people the impression that it's okay to use mod flags for that when they should only use them for serious moderation issues, which - in my book - includes flagging spam and/or offensive posts or to make moderators aware of inappropriate user behavior that couldn't be handled by the room owners.

So if we could have something like this

mod flag dialog with help link

it might prevent some of these flags to happen. It could point either to MSO or to a section in the Chat FAQ or Chat Help. Also, it might help if we could expand on explaining to people how the chat works the first time they enter it.

P.S. I am not fixed on the link. Anything that could possibly prevent people from requesting wrong flags will work for me.

  • 5
    Why not put it right in the text box? You can't expect those people to click another link and read through the text that's behind, before finally flagging their super important message that needs attention right away.
    – slhck
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 14:15
  • @slhck yeah, anything that could possibly work.
    – Gordon
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 14:16
  • 6
    I'm also in the 'won't read' boat on this one. What could help is changing the wording of "Please indicate why this requires moderator attention" to imply a more urgent connotation, more like "why are you dialing 911" - thinking about this one a bit. I definitely see the need.
    – user50049
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 14:27
  • 1
    So, the most common reasons for rejected mod flags are ... deletion requests? Shouldn't we solve the root of the problem, then?
    – user98085
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 14:38
  • @FEichinger there is a feature-request for that here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/80082/… but it's unlikely to get implemented due to the effect deletion has on continuity in the transcript.
    – Gordon
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 14:45
  • @Gordon Well, I agree that flat-out allowing deletion is a bad idea. But allowing a peer flag (perhaps even just within the room) for that would be a better solution than trying to hammer the same words into people that don't care about them anyway.
    – user98085
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 14:50
  • If people mod-flag to get their messages deleted, and mods do it, then it seems a little late for the transcript continuity argument Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 14:54
  • @MichaelMrozek I am regularly torn between doing them the favor and refusing them on principle. I'd prefer to refuse them but I usually do them the favor because it's easy enough to do so and there is no benefit for anyone when they get into trouble because they made a flagging mistake.
    – Gordon
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 15:04
  • We hard-delete passwords and personal information on the main site when flagged. The stuff I encountered in chat flags was mostly similar and often privacy-related. I see no reason why it should be treated differently and I generally delete it. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 15:08
  • @TimPost: Or simply ask "Why are you dialing 911?" :) We do that in the mod messages dialog.
    – user102937
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 15:46
  • Gordon is doing amazing work in the chat handling with a lot of issues. I think that the flagging system in its current structure is pretty broken, non moderator flags are meaningless and the moderator flags are too easily triggered (maybe an extra dialog when the user flag for mod?). This particular requests seems very reasonable to me from a moderation standpoint. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 15:51
  • 7
    This sounds like a feature that might improve chat, so best close the question as off topic.
    – thecoshman
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 12:10
  • @thecoshman huh? Why should that be off topic?
    – Gordon
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 12:27
  • 1
    @Gordon don't worry, if you look up fast enough you might just see the joke going over your head.
    – thecoshman
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 12:41

1 Answer 1


I've made two changes:

One, the "flag for moderator" popup now contains this additional paragraph (emphasis in original):

Please do not use this feature for anything other than informing moderators of serious issues that require their attention.

Two, the moderator's flag list now has an additional check box for moderator flags labeled "this flag is noise". If this box is checked when the moderator dismisses the flag, the user who flagged will get a notification bar with the following content:

Your recent moderator chat flag was inappropriate and declined. Please use moderator flags in chat only in very serious situations.

(the user will only get this notification if they're still in chat at this point of time, but that should be the normal case).

This change is live, but requires new JavaScript (i.e. a page reload) for the flagger (to see the additional warning paragraph) and for the moderator (to be able to dismiss as noise). For the flagger to see the notification, no new JavaScript is required (we've always had per-user notification events, this is just the first time we actually use this functionality).

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