So, room owners can now moderate their rooms which is great! I think this is an awesome step towards a less abuse prone chat. Now that it's implemented I'd like to suggest a few new additions to harden the system.

  • Now that room owners can remove problematic users from their room - we should disable non-mod flags. As they create noise and are hard to interpret. Given the functionality added to the system recently - they sound kind of pointless.
  • Fixed - We've been exposed to 'avatar bombs' where a user creates several accounts with hateful avatars and joins the room - for this reason I believe the threshold for showing an avatar for a joined user should be 20 rep - the same amount required to speak. The avatars should also be hidden in the main site chat links.
  • Users who cannot participate in the room (it's gallery and they don't have access, they don't have 20 rep, they're kicked or suspended) should not be able to star messages in the room. We've had users problematic abuse the star system before.

I think that implementing these small adjustments should really help with chat abuse and potentially even kill it. Thanks again for taking all this seriously, we appreciate it.

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    to touch on that last note: they star from the transcript - once kicked they cannot see the rooms live view. – rlemon Sep 11 '14 at 16:56
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    I'm still not entirely a fan of #1 (10k flags removal)... – John Dvorak Sep 11 '14 at 16:56
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    also, +1 to all points. I really like these suggestions. – rlemon Sep 11 '14 at 16:57

The second two ideas are reasonable. This one...

Now that room owners can remove problematic users from their room - we should disable non-mod flags. As they create noise and are hard to interpret. Given the functionality added to the system recently - they sound kind of pointless.

...you're being a bit optimistic. Room owners aren't always around. Moderators aren't always around. The number of moderators + room owners is tiny compared to the number of users in chat; there needs to be a scalable system for moderation, even if only as a fall-back.

Now, there are some minor issues with "10K flags" (not a good name really, as they're hardly limited to 10K users - only 10K users are notified of them, but a sufficiently offensive message can be handled by low-rep user flags). I'm a fan of the proposal for keeping flags within a room for a short (very, very short) period of time before escalating them to the network, as I think this would help reduce noise without hurting their effectiveness. But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater here; in my experience, when folks are complaining about flags there's almost always an underlying problem... One that room owners are now somewhat more empowered to address, if they have the guts to face it.

  • This sounds reasonable. The biggest problem with chat-wide flags is the lack of context and how people deal with with flags from other rooms. If they remain room specific for a given duration of time that might mitigate the issue even if it won't solve it completely. – Benjamin Gruenbaum Sep 11 '14 at 17:33
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    My opinion is that if you need a ton of context to not be offended by a flagged message, that message was probably not a good idea to begin with. If you need a ton of context for your flag to be interpreted properly, you should probably be using mod-flags and typing in an explanation. But I am sympathetic to the "noise" objection. – Shog9 Sep 11 '14 at 17:35
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    In practice six people found a message asking for JavaScript help in the JavaScript room offensive and that was not the first time. Now you could argue this might be a cultural problem, but it certainly seemed to require 'context' although it was definitely an OK message to post to begin with. – Benjamin Gruenbaum Sep 11 '14 at 17:54
  • I'd argue they felt it inappropriate because it wasn't the first time they'd seen questions like that. This is exactly the sort of reaction-based-on-frustration that I'm hoping the kick-mute feature helps to reduce. – Shog9 Sep 11 '14 at 17:56
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    I'm not sure how kick-mute would help with that specific case at all. Mind elaborating? – Benjamin Gruenbaum Sep 11 '14 at 18:09
  • Think about it: why would you pile-on flag a post like that? Because you've been trained that that's the only way to deal with tone-deaf folks interrupting a chatroom with questions they should be fleshing out & asking on main... IOW, it's an abuse, but one (some) folks have learned to accept because they don't see that the system gives them any other options. So, we add a more appropriate option, and folks gradually stop seeing every minor problem as a nail to hammer on. – Shog9 Sep 11 '14 at 18:13
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    "why would you pile-on flag a post like that?" - I wouldn't. I think it's extremely rude to flag that message - politely saying they should post their question in another room is so much simpler and better. Flagging, assuming I understand it, is meant for abusive messages. Now let's say I'm an average Joe from the C++ room where these questions are inappropriate and a non-regular user in the JS room (possibly also from C++) flags this message. Without context I might assume that the user is abusive, why else would it be flagged?. It might be a culture thing though. – Benjamin Gruenbaum Sep 11 '14 at 18:20
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    as a frequent chat user (and a 10K+ user) I see flags. In my experience 3/5 are invalid. I can start keeping records of these flags (valid vs invalid imo) for record, but I feel like that shouldn't need to be validated. as it stands I see a lot of flags being raised that are out of spite, or just because the user asked a simple question. – rlemon Sep 11 '14 at 18:27
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    It is cultural, @Benjamin - but it really shouldn't be. So the trick is to change the culture. – Shog9 Sep 11 '14 at 18:29
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    There's a bit of a bias at work there, @rlemon - valid flags tend to be handled quickly, so you're more likely to see invalid ones simply because they tend to hang around longer. – Shog9 Sep 11 '14 at 18:30
  • @Shog9 fair enough, but the ones I have seen (live) are often that case, and the 'legit' ones (as community voted) are often also questionable. The biggest issue is that people are not forced to view the context of the message before voting (imo).. and therefore people are getting validated for seemingly bad messages when in the grand scope of things they were on topic and valid. (again, this is just what I see.. and I am on the chats WAY too much) – rlemon Sep 11 '14 at 18:33
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    Well, I think it's a bit more subtle than that, @rlemon - yes, more context would be nice... But if you have folks knee-jerk validating flags on completely inoffensive messages then that's a clear sign that the flagging system has been perverted in the minds of those using it, and context is thus less likely to make a difference. Fix the underlying problems first, then fix the rough edges. – Shog9 Sep 11 '14 at 20:52
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    Even if a 10k user sees the flag, if they are not a room owner, they are powerless to help aside from verifying the flag. Also, as with star spam from users not in the room, flags can also be exploited from the transcript. I think the trifecta suggested by Benjamin is a good approach to reducing exploitation. – Travis J Sep 12 '14 at 6:14

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