The flag warning is shown to a user based on flag statistics within a window of 7 days. This means that flag warnings, and by extension flag bans, are optimized for users who flag a lot.

Besides the flag warning, the only other way for a user to access their flag history via the UI is through their profile page. Users who care about their flag stats enough to take full advantage of gamification will figure this out sooner or later, but these users probably won't:

  • Users who keep flagging their questions for deletion, over and over again, with seemingly no response from a moderator whatsoever despite the fact that we have responded by declining every one of their flags, with at least one custom message.

  • Users who don't seem to understand the concept of "moderation", what a moderator does, or when to use flags, and go on to flag things like

    urgent plz halp


    Please answer.


    I need to use the SQL aggregate function to get all the data from the database. Waiting for your valuable respond...


    java, jsf, spring


    it needs moderator ♦ attention


    Something not quite right? Let us know about it, and please provide relevant links if possible.


    Something not quite right? Let us know about it, and please provide me with the solution.

A large number of users with these flagging habits flag infrequently. And for as long as they continue to do so, they will never realize we've been responding to their flags. So it's not that they've chosen to persist in spite of our responses, it's that they haven't heard back at all and are poking us because they think they've been ignored. (Sure, you might think it's rude for someone to keep pestering you after you've ignored their first few attempts, but unless you even make your opinion known to them that's not going to make them stop.)

Does this constitute a "serious behavioral problem" to warrant a moderator message or a lengthy suspension (in lieu of a flag ban), along with a permanent mark on their profile? Otherwise, what is a moderator expected to do? Continue allowing these users' bad flags to get in the way of legitimate and potentially severe issues knowing they're just going to keep flagging? They're not a big deal, right, just decline and move on... even if I end up having to do this 10 times a day when I could be handling 20 legitimate flags instead, right?

If I were to propose a feature, I'd suggest having the warning appear to users with, say, a lifetime flag decline rate between 80% and 100%, without the 7-day window.

  • 13
    Something that might work (as a feature request) is if when you type a custom decline or useful message there's a checkbox to place the message in the user's inbox just like a comment reply.
    – PeterJ
    Jul 31, 2015 at 5:47
  • If the former is the case, I'd recommend that it require a minimum of, say... 5 or 10 flags, to be triggered. Otherwise someone with only one flag ever that was declined could get a bit confused on their second flag. As to the latter... I thought they actually made this change recently... if you have any flags, you can get to the helpful flag page... I've not checked it yet, though.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jul 31, 2015 at 5:48
  • 3
    @PeterJ: That's... actually pretty good. I hadn't thought of limiting it to just custom decline messages. Users are already notified of moderator messages this way - a custom decline would be kind of like a mini mod message in that sense. Jul 31, 2015 at 5:50
  • 1
    Just checked... I have "0 helpful flags" on Arqade Meta but I can click through from my profile to the flag history page... where I have no flags at all.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jul 31, 2015 at 5:50
  • @Catija: Oh, son of a... is this documented anywhere at all? Nobody, not even the staff, has told me about it. We normally get notified of changes to moderator tools big or small. Jul 31, 2015 at 5:52
  • @PeterJ I actually like that in general... I've had flags declined and it would have been nice to be notified so that I could see if it was something I still wanted to pursue/follow up with.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jul 31, 2015 at 5:52
  • 1
    I only know because I've got a duped Meta.SE question that got a status-completed tag. Oddly enough, the one that it was marked as a duplicate of did not get an answer.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jul 31, 2015 at 5:53
  • 3
    For what it's worth, I don't really consider the flag history link to be all that amazingly helpful for most users that are being considered here; they just aren't going to look at it and go "oh, surely this bit of text goes to something extremely important!" Jul 31, 2015 at 5:54
  • 1
    @Catija: I'm going to go and flip a table right now. With my horn. I'm not even going to bother to use magic to do it. Jul 31, 2015 at 5:56
  • @Nathan Tuggy: Yeah good point. Which makes another case for changing the JIT behavior instead (notifications or the flag dialog). Jul 31, 2015 at 5:59
  • 1
    If you notice that one particular user is sending the same kind of flags over and over again, then as a mod you could superping him/her to a private chatroom and tell him about it. It's less formal and it might actually help the user understand the problem. When I see a user in chat that I have recently answered a flag with a message, I usually tell him to go check the page. Of course, that means, that the user is a regular and also frequents the chat. Jul 31, 2015 at 10:42
  • 2
    This is not a problem with declined flags only, it's a problem with all flags. Even if their flags are marked helpful, they don't see the moderator's response because the link in the profile is hard to notice. I think users with N flags or less should be notified when the flag is resolved (even if it's resolved by the community), and the notification should link to the flag history. And an additional help message could be displayed in that page to let them know how to get there on their own.
    – bfavaretto
    Aug 7, 2015 at 0:35


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