Flagging behavior is not particularly well-documented in the FAQs. It's unclear whether or not flagging a question or a comment is an irrevocable action, or whether it will pop up a dialog for selecting a reason, or just seemingly do nothing. I would like to be able to test this behavior, both to learn more about how it operates and to validate that it's working properly on my browser; however, I don't particularly want to end up flagging a random post, particularly if it's an irrevocable act; I'd rather not add more trouble for the moderators to have to deal with.

My question is, could we possibly get a question that we could use to test flagging behavior that the moderators would know to safely ignore? That way, we can test the behavior without causing excessive work for the moderators. It could even be this question, if that's determined to be appropriate.

Note: this comes up largely because it appears that using the "comment flag" is irrevocable (at least, it appears to be on my browser); as it turns out, I didn't know that the "flag a question" link brought up a cancellable dialog box, because I didn't want to try flagging any questions (none seemed offensive enough). Really, this is a question about being able to test the functionality of the flag system without causing side effects; since we have no real manual for this product other than the product itself, it would be useful to have a playground to test the UI on.

And yes, I'm aware of this question, but I'm thinking of something a little simpler, just a single question with a few test answers to try this out on.

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    I nominate that we all flag this question and see what happens. – TheTXI Jul 7 '09 at 23:17
  • I'm completely okay with this question being the one used for flagging, so long as it's not actually offensive to anybody. The idea does sort of suggest itself. – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 23:18
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    McWafflestix: I hope you know that if all works as planned, six flags (not the amusement park) will delete the question and knock off 100 rep. – TheTXI Jul 7 '09 at 23:20
  • Well, you've got 2 out of 6 ;-p – Marc Gravell Jul 7 '09 at 23:23
  • @TheTXI: well, better done on meta than on SO. However, that deletion will force the need for another question like this one... :-) – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 23:27
  • @Waffle: Why on earth would we need another one? This better put your mind to rest the first time... – GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 23:29
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    @RichB: so new users to the site can test the functionality. And what's with the "this better" in your comment? Are you implying some sort of retribution? – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 23:33
  • Not every single user needs to test the flagging feature... – TheTXI Jul 7 '09 at 23:35
  • @Waffle: Why would new users need to test it? We all trust it works, because there is a definitive feedback. Just try flagging it twice. – GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 23:35
  • @TheTXI: true, but having a feature that is undocumented and untestable until the need arises is a bit primitive, no? – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 23:40
  • @Waffle: How is it 'undocumented'? – GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 23:41
  • Plenty of documentation to me (as if it wasn't completely self explanatory!): blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/04/raising-a-red-flag – GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 23:42
  • @Waffle: you make my soul cry – TheTXI Jul 7 '09 at 23:43
  • @Waffle: You monster. His soul is a pony. How dare you? – GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 23:43
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    OK, enough people. The flags work. It is neither undocumented nor untestable. So... should I start testing account delete? I'm going to lock this because the flags are an unnecessary distraction. – Marc Gravell Jul 8 '09 at 10:56

If you flag something as offensive or spam it goes into a separate queue that we have to remember to check manually. If you flag something for moderator attention we see the "Mod-Signal" link at the top of every page and we know that the Joker has escaped from Arkham again and it requires immediate attention.

This question has been flagged for moderator attention once and offensive three times, so we know that much works.

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    Thanks for the "eyes on the inside," Bill. – Sampson Jul 8 '09 at 0:18
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    Indeed, thank you for the "view from the top". – Paul Sonier Jul 8 '09 at 0:19

The flagging functions work fine. Informing a moderator works the best.

  • I have noticed that the badge doesn't get rewarded properly, though. I'm flagged a number of questions on meta so far and no notification of a badge yet. – TheTXI Jul 7 '09 at 23:18
  • @TheTXI: Fair enough. Post it as a new issue. I can assure you the mods have been responding to flags though. We have had about 2 dozen questions they had to intervene with from my fanclub today, so I know they are working. – GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 23:19
  • It's good to know that they work fine, but can you assure that they will always work properly on every release of every browser? – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 23:19
  • @Waffle: No one can ever assure that. But you can try flagging it twice to see if the system remembers you flagging it. – GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 23:21
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    @RichB: right, but I don't want to hassle a moderator with my flagging of a question / answer / comment just to test the functionality; I'd like moderators to respond to flagged [objects] rapidly, and overwhelming them with "just testing" flaggings would possibly decrease their ability to do so; having a "playground" within which to test the behavior would assure that a user's testing actions aren't "harassing" a moderator. – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 23:26
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    @Waffle: Just flag it so we can stop this nonsense. Good lord. – GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 23:27
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    @RichB: why is this nonsense? It's a valid question about how users learn to use the site, with a valid suggestion about how to implement something that won't bother the existing moderators. If you don't want to contribute, you don't need to; why would you call this nonsense or be so dismissive? – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 23:30
  • @RichB: okay, taking your advice to flag your answer. – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 23:31
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    @Waffle: Whatever puts your mind at rest sweetheart. – GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 23:31
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    @Waffle: This is nonsense. We don't need a place to test functionality that we all know already works. – GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 23:32
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    @RichB: seriously? we "all know" that the functionality already works? Isn't the existence of the question proof positive of the opposite? – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 23:35
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    @McWaffle - trust me it works....I've been flagging all of Rich's stuff all week with my puppet accounts :P – Kev Jul 7 '09 at 23:38
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    @RichB: no, I was seriously confused about the difference between clicking 'flag' on a comment and having it do apparently nothing reversible (except presumably invisibly notifying a moderator) and clicking 'flag' on a question / answer and having a menu pop up. Mixed modalities; it's a classic UI no-no because it causes user confusion. – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 23:59
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    @RichB: RTFM is the bad UI designer's response to anything. Or his apologist, in this case. – Paul Sonier Jul 8 '09 at 0:21
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    @RichB: actually, mixed modality considerations in UI design is exactly about not changing the user's expectations of the UI across functional boundaries. BTW, have you considered that you have a pathological inability to not have the last word? – Paul Sonier Jul 8 '09 at 2:38

Another month at your current rate should put you over 10K on SO. Then you'll be able to see posts flagged as spam or offensive, and those deleted for this reason, as well as those removed by moderators.

I doubt you'll have to wait long after that for an opportunity to test them yourself...

  • Heh. Good point, although really this is intended more as a learning tool for new users. – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 23:26
  • Oh... Hmm. Like, a flagging tutorial? – Shog9 Jul 7 '09 at 23:31
  • @Shog9: actually, yeah, kinda. more of a sandbox where you can act without side effects, but sure. – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 23:37
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    Hmm... That'd be kinda fun - a dummy SO, where everyone has every possible permission so you can see it all from both sides. Well... maybe if they do open up the source... ;-) – Shog9 Jul 7 '09 at 23:45
  • @Shog9: yeah, I actually think something like that would enhance confidence in using SO... – Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 23:51
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    This game isn't that hard... – TheTXI Jul 7 '09 at 23:54
  • :::Randomly upvotes Shog9/McWafflestix comments to test if flagging a post has the 5 second delay. Fortunately, it does, since I've sometimes clicked the flag button by accident when trying to upvote two comments in quick succession::: – Brian Sep 2 '10 at 13:43

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