Recently while in a chat room, a chat message from another room popped up as having been flagged, however the entire text was in Russian, which necessitated needing to open up google translate to get a sense of what the message was, and why it might be flagged.

This isn't a huge deal, but when moderators receive chat flags it would be nice to have an autotranslation along with the original message to see if the flag is warranted, and possibly more intervention needed besides just deleting/validating.


4 Answers 4


Autotranslation is better than no translation, but it’s not enough. In many situations you also need to know the context of chat discussion, i.e. translation for a bunch of messages before flagged one. Also automatic translation may translate rude word in language A as not rude in language B, and vice versa, i.e. you need to know cultural identity of the source language to correctly process the flag. In the result you must be familiar with original message language to be sure about validity of flag. If you don’t speak chat language the only one good solution is to choose “not sure” button, otherwise you may suspend an innocent user.

I say this as the owner of the main ruSO chat room, recently banned by flags for half an hour.

  • 2
    you deserved it :-D
    – Grundy
    Nov 22, 2017 at 6:36
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    Fair point. However, there are some phrases/words/sentences that are an obvious attack in any language, and having a translation would allow those messages to be handled immediately. Unsure/ambiguous, ignore and move on. Direct attack on someone etc., can be handled.
    – JohnP
    Nov 22, 2017 at 14:21

Another solution would be not showing flags from Ru.SO chats at all.

The flag system is just broken. We have room owners, Ru.SO moderators in a room, and yet flags go somewhere else - we can only see that messages are getting deleted. Please fix this.

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    Well, not ROs - the flags should be seen by 10kers, presumably on Ru.SO. What makes this a little messier is you guys have a good reason to be talking in a non english language, and the moderation system vaguely assumes everyone should be speaking in english. Nov 22, 2017 at 7:59
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    You are the owner of the room, who recently posted (flagged, deleted) inappropriate, racist content. You think, it will be better to build another wall, and allow you make same dirty things? No way. Nov 22, 2017 at 11:49
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    @VladimirGamalyan so you find a message inappropriate, and then you flag the message knowing that people will approve the flag even if they can't understand the message. OK, at least now we know who is the culprit.
    – Abyx
    Nov 22, 2017 at 11:57
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    Inappropriate content is inappropriate in any language and should be deleted. The question here is the culture of the reader. I want to emphasise: it depends on a personal point of view. If one lives in a slice of a culture where people haven't faced public criticism for vulgar language yet it does not make the language less vulgar. Nov 22, 2017 at 11:59
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    @NicolasChabanovsky , why don't we let other people delete your messages whenever they find them inappropriate? Inappropriateness is subjective, that's why we have the approval system. Which doesn't work for messages on Russian.
    – Abyx
    Nov 22, 2017 at 12:22
  • We allow you to delete anybody's messages if they are inappropriate. Just flag it if you think so! Yes, we do have the approval system and I do not understand why it works of other languages but not for Russian. What's special about it? Nov 22, 2017 at 12:27
  • @NicolasChabanovsky so be it. Flag all the messages you don't like.
    – Abyx
    Nov 22, 2017 at 12:39
  • @NicolasChabanovsky - I think the main difference is that messages in languages other than English don't get flagged that often, with the exception of Russian. Really, all flags in languages other than English pose a problem, but Russian happens to be where we see it the most.
    – Mithical
    Nov 22, 2017 at 12:40
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    inappropriate != one does not like. If somebody does not use the flag system in the right way, probably, one day they will lose this feature of the site. Nov 22, 2017 at 12:51
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    What's the right way? Your way? I have no idea what do you mean. What's appropriate and what's not? Makes us formal rules, and we would follow them. Don't ask us to guess your mind or mood.
    – Abyx
    Nov 22, 2017 at 12:58
  • @Abyx There are dozen discussions on this topic here on MSE. One of them. Rules are the same for everybody. Nov 22, 2017 at 13:09
  • @NicolasChabanovsky thanks, but it says "Only flag [...] [p]ersonal attacks [and] [a]nything that shocks the conscience". That "shocks the conscience" thing is an US legal term and I have no bloody idea what's that. My conscience is very vulnerable.
    – Abyx
    Nov 22, 2017 at 13:23
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    The problem here is really not russian vs english- there's no good way for non english flags to get handled. Russian's kinda special since its in a non latin script, and has a pretty big community. We've had identical situations with Portuguese flags. Nov 24, 2017 at 15:11

I'm against autotranslation

  1. It doesn't show original intention of the author.

  2. In most cases you need context to decide. Single post out of context is not enough.

  3. Autotranslation can be broken, for example:

    Facebook has apologized after a Palestinian man was arrested by Israeli police for a post saying “good morning” that its automatic-translation service erroneously translated as “attack them” in Hebrew and “hurt them” in English

If you don't know the language, just skip the post.
And vote for separating flags for different languages.


This is one of those things I feel hasn't scaled very well, but there's no really good way to deal with it. Its worth remembering we'd have similar issues with flags on pt, ja and ru (or potentially language sites).

Autotranslate... dosen't necessarily work that well, it adds an additional layer of complexity to the chat system (the translate easter egg for mods for example. kinda breaks a lot and you add an external API as a dependency). We also assume there's some sort of standard way of writing - while these cases are in properish russian script, transliteration's pretty common, especially in indic languages, and there's often no standardisation or support in translation APIs. You'd need to identify, transliterate, make a best guess and then translate.

We might also miss some cultural nuance in seeing whether something that seems inoffensive is offensive.

Kinda tempted to go "Maybe give the Russians, pt.so and ja.so, and other similar language sites their own chat server" but that probably adds to complexity - you have a few sites with no oversight. And one or more chat server with its own set of mods for no real reason. Letting rooms handle their own things also works some times but not others depending on the people there. A independent chat server just for non english sites (or separating out moderation for such chats)... could end up messy (or work out gloriously - but if it would go well, we wouldn't need to stick em in their own server).

There's no really good answer IMO - I tend to ignore these (figuring someone who reads Russian will handle it), I've occasionally heard suggestions that "if it isn't in English, just mark it valid" or ping the appropriate mod (which doesn't scale).

  • Pressing the "not sure" button scales well enough. :) Nov 23, 2017 at 3:47
  • That's kinda the simplest option, yeah. But that means stuff that needs quick handling might not. Also, too damned tempting to feel you gotta DO something Nov 23, 2017 at 3:49

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