When we flag questions and answers as spam, abuse or requiring attention, how exactly do the moderators use the information?

I'm guessing there's a shared queue somewhere that moderators can all see. Is there some method of knowing whether something that has been flagged has been addressed yet? How do you make sure that two moderators swooping down to fix an edit war don't get into an edit war with each other? How do you see and use the details we enter when we flag a post as requiring moderator attention? Do you see the name of the user who submitted the report, or just the report? Can we see a screenshot of the flag queue?

I guess the whole flagging mechanism seems pretty opaque. I'm hoping a moderator can outline the details of what they do with the reports. I know we have the details of how to use flagging, but I'd find it easier to use if I knew what is done with it.


There is a shared queue of items that are flagged as either spam/offensive or moderator. Users with 10K rep can see spam/offensive, while only moderators can see moderator-flagged.

Moderators can clear the flags on a item to reset it. It's been my practice to review an item with flags, and if it's a clear-cut case, I'll act or not act on it, and then clear it. If it's a judgement call, I'll leave the flags, and see if it accumulates more or another moderator sees it as actionable. (This is pretty unorganized/variable in my opinion, but I work with what I'm given/told, and it hasn't seemed to be a problem here)

Also, the number of items flagged for a mod appear in a red box with a # in the header, so we see those immediately. So items flagged for a mod are instantly visible to us - so if there's anything crazy-bad, like a porn in an answer, flag it, rather than marking it offensive. Finally, we see the user who submitted the flag, and the message.

  • Psssh. Mine was much better (and likely more truthful) than yours. For shame man. For shame. – GEOCHET Jul 6 '09 at 16:14
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    This is pretty much what I expected, and it's also a lot more helpful that Jeff's answer. What a rep whore... :) – Welbog Jul 6 '09 at 18:35
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    Your policy is pretty much identical to mine, then ;-p – Marc Gravell Jul 6 '09 at 19:13
  • I do wish there was a channel for moderator communication. It would also be nice to mark a flag as 'read' so that it doesn't disappear, but also doesn't scream at you from the header either. – Kyle Cronin Jul 6 '09 at 19:17

well, it works a little bit like this:

You see, the blue ball represents YOUR REQUEST FOR MODERATION.

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    BTW Try to find the ball that disappears in the middle of the machine – Ólafur Waage Jul 6 '09 at 16:02
  • do you mean the ones that are being removed by the lasers? – Kyle Cronin Jul 6 '09 at 16:03
  • There is one that is created in the agar, then destroyed by the laser, thus we have conservation of balls. =) – gnostradamus Jul 6 '09 at 16:05
  • Lasers? Be careful, there are men with afros around here! – GEOCHET Jul 6 '09 at 16:06
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    This is why I hate flow charts. I don't even see a database in that drawing. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Jul 6 '09 at 16:08
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    somehow I just managed to lose 29 minutes of my life. – TheTXI Jul 6 '09 at 16:45
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    Was this generated from the data-dump? :) – Sampson Jul 6 '09 at 19:02
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    Are you sure you didn't lose 24h+29m of your live? – Brad Gilbert Jul 7 '09 at 5:55
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    Hey. That architectural diagram is confidential intellectual property for my company's accounting system! – JohnFx Aug 24 '09 at 15:28
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    Has it improved by now? ;) – Shadow9 Apr 3 '12 at 12:09
  • You either see this, laugh and vote up, or see it, get distracted and... No wonder it gets only upvotes without being meaningful. – Volker Siegel Apr 30 '15 at 16:58

What you don't realize is that the flagging a question doesn't actually notify the moderators. Instead, it computes a hash based on your username and selects an image with the same hash value. This image is displayed on a monitor placed in front of a cage of adolescent male chimpanzees. The cage itself is hooked up to a series of sensors such that if the chimps get riled up and shake the cage, an electrical impulse is sent to the hard drive controller for the database, which may result in the question being deleted, a random rep change for some user, or nothing at all.

The process is similar for flagged answers and comments, except they use drunken camels and obese gorillas, respectively.

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    This was the most likely explanation for the moderation of the site before. I have to say though with Marc and Bill, I have been feeling like the sensors on the chimpanzees at least are a little more reliable. – GEOCHET Jul 6 '09 at 16:08

I imagine a long stainless steel table in a large, dark room. A bunch of figures are positioned around this table. Their faces are shielded from each other by cloaks and by the poor lighting. Every once in a while, you can catch a glimpse of the hideous deformities that their faces have become.

There is a naked, broken figure strapped to the table.

The occasional maniacal cackle breaks out, followed by the sound of the ban hammer smashing down upon the pour soul and turning them into goo. The table then rotates around where a new soul is exposed. The figures commence with their various forms of torture until the inevitable sound of the ban hammer on human flesh is heard again.

Every 43 minutes, a poor broken soul of a man that just wants to be a part of things pulls a cart into the room and feeds the ghouls their portion of pony meat. He scurries away quickly after that, the only sound he makes is the scuffing of his foot that he drags behind him because of his hunchback. That, and the soft muttering under his breath. "Why can't SO be a place for discussion?" "People should be able to post anything." "Why does nobody like me?"

There are horrible screams in the distance.

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    I think you're thinking of RichBOverflow.. here, we have ponies! and rainbows! and unicorns! – Jeff Atwood Jul 6 '09 at 16:03
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    @Jeff thats a no no word when you have TheTXI around. – Ólafur Waage Jul 6 '09 at 16:04
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    Yeah, saying the word "ponies" around TheTXI is like saying "outside" within earshot of my dogs. – gnostradamus Jul 6 '09 at 16:08
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    PONIES!? WHERE!? – TheTXI Jul 6 '09 at 16:46
  • @theTXI: In the mod's bellies. – GEOCHET Jul 6 '09 at 16:47

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