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It used to be that only moderators acted on flags. But now many flags are handled by the community in review queues, and moderators never even see those flags.

The feedback users get from flags can be confusing to outright misleading at times. How are users supposed know what the difference between a declined and a disputed flag is? I'm rather more involved in SE meta issues than the average user, and even I regularly get confused about the path flags actually take and who or what decides their fate. Flags can be handled by mods, by other users or automatically, the current feedback doesn't distinguish any of these cases.

The current way of displaying feedback is not effective, as it isn't really telling users what actually happened. We shouldn't assume users are familiar with the intricacies of flag handling, but we should explicitly spell out who decided on the flag and why.

The flag feedback should indicate whether a moderator, the community or an automatic process (e.g. edited VLQ flags) decided the status of a flag.

There should also be some indication on the difference between declined and disputed, or a change of terms there entirely. The difference is far from obvious, and it should be spelled out explicitly as we can't assume users to know it.

There is a big difference between a moderator declining a flag, and getting a flag declined by a review queue. And users should be told what happened.

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    Hmmm... yes; I think a little bit of extra clarity here could help. – Andrew Barber Jan 4 '15 at 1:31
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    @AndrewBarber: A little bit? More like a big bit. – juergen d Jan 4 '15 at 8:31
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    @juergen How about we go with "a decent-sized bit"? ;) – Andrew Barber Jan 4 '15 at 8:32
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    @AndrewBarber I would tend to favor a Death-Star sized bit. – psubsee2003 Jan 4 '15 at 16:05
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    @psubsee2003 Somewhat sizeable bit? – Andrew Barber Jan 4 '15 at 16:29
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    This should really be changed even for "helpful" flags -- sometimes a flag is accepted because of another user's coincidental action and a mod never even sees it. Also, since VLQ/NAA flags send posts to review, a link to the review item seems an obvious improvement to make. – Josh Caswell Jan 4 '15 at 18:30
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    @JoshCaswell I agree with the part about helpful flags, but I'm not sure if linking to the actual review would be a good idea. This would let users know which other users did the review that lead to a declined flag, which could be a source of unnecessary drama. – Mad Scientist Jan 4 '15 at 18:35
  • @MadScientist On the other hand, for suggested edits exactly this is done: each suggestion, including rejected ones, links to the review page with the names of reviewers. I don't know if people care more about their edits or about their flags. – user259867 Jan 5 '15 at 1:06
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    Could we expand off of this other request? Basically, any time a flag gets handled via review, link to the review task that handled it. Users could then assume that anything not linked to review got handled by an actual moderator. Exceptions: spam/offensive flags nuked by Community and comment flags nuked by banned words (but does anyone care about comment flags anyways?). – animuson Jan 5 '15 at 18:47
  • @animuson I care about comment flags, and I'm sure others will ask about it if the feature is inexplicably left out of the feature that covers all other flags. Might as well add it while adding the others, to avoid a future request, if for no other reason. – TylerH May 26 '15 at 13:30
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Absolutely agree that there should be a distinction made visible. Nothing complicated is needed in terms of UI, simply:

no longer needed – T.J. Crowder Jul 9 at 13:35   helpful – moderator

— A moderator handled the flag.

rude or abusive – T.J. Crowder Jul 9 at 13:35   helpful – sufficient flags

— Enough other flags were raised that the flag was handled automatically.

no longer needed – T.J. Crowder Jul 9 at 13:35   helpful – deleted by owner

— The owner of the comment deleted it. (If there are post flags cleared automatically when the OP deletes the post, use this for that as well.)

not an answer – T.J. Crowder Jul 9 at 13:35   helpful – review queue

— The answer was removed via the review queue.


I had a recent situation where it would have been very useful indeed to know whether the flag was handled automatically or by a moderator.


I'm entirely happy if this new level of detail is only available on flags handled once the feature is in place (so if a new column is needed, for instance, NULLs can just mean no detail is provided).

  • What would be the use case for "automatic"? I'd think moderator, self-deleted, and sufficient flags would be good options for comment flags (which is what NLN is, since there's no review queue for comments). – Catija Jul 22 '18 at 13:02
  • @Catija - As you say, self-removed is already a status distinct from helpful, though I'm not 100% sure how it works with flags that aren't cleared by self-deletion (like spam or rude flags). Are you saying we need to break down "automatic" a bit more, or that it could be replaced by "sufficient flags"? (Is there no other way a flag can be automatically handled than self-removal or sufficient flags? What about removal of the post the comment is on?) Note that in the above I don't mean to be speaking only of comment flags, so "review queue" makes sense (on a post flag). Thanks! – T.J. Crowder Jul 22 '18 at 13:29
  • I don't mean that the flagger retracted the flag (you can't retract comment flags). I mean that the OP deleted the comment themselves, so perhaps the wording for that could be poked at. As to "automatic", I'm just not sure what that means to you. I think your answer can be improved by using examples that make sense (don't combine a comment flag reason with a post only explanation) and a brief explanation for when each would appear. – Catija Jul 22 '18 at 13:39
  • @Catija - Sorry, I misunderstood the self-removed status. I was referring to the same case you were, the OP deleted the comment/post themselves. – T.J. Crowder Jul 22 '18 at 13:47
  • Ah, as far as I'm aware, there's no indication of that on the flag history at this point. If you can see deleted posts, you can go to the post and see that it was self deleted but there's no similar indication for comments unless you have a diamond on the site. – Catija Jul 22 '18 at 13:50
  • @Catija - Yeah, and that's a distinction I'd find useful. I've updated the answer. You almost certainly have a better knowledge of flagging than I do, any tweaks you want to make above are more than welcome, I get the clear sense you understand the intent of the answer and am sure you wouldn't change that intent (on purpose or by accident). :-) – T.J. Crowder Jul 22 '18 at 13:56

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