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There's been some consternation about the new flagging, but I wanted to focus on the syntax for a moment. I think the current shift doesn't really fix anything and it seems to fall into the same trap SO Triage did with its terminology.

[By] consensus here on Meta, it has been decided that "Requires Editing" actually should be applied only to posts that the community can edit into shape, not posts that require editing by the original author. Such posts, it is argued, should be marked instead as "Unsalvageable" since the community can do nothing on its own to salvage them.

I don't want to debate the policy or the interpretation. I want to draw attention to the fact that there is currently a massive disconnect between the official guidance in the UI and the policy as it is enforced by the moderation team.

I don't want to focus on just one reason, however. I think flagging in general suffers from a poorly worded set of options. I wanted to try and address this so I mocked up what I think it should look like

New flag window

Key changes

Red flags make deletion obvious

A common problem I run into flagging spam is that people don't always understand why we red flag. I had someone make this quote on Politics under a post that was spam

Mine was not a flag, but rather a vote to delete. Just being "nice"

A red flag is a vote to delete (not in the same way as a Trusted User, but the same net effect). I also slightly expanded the verbiage for spam to include promoting a website (a ton of spam is of the "visit my website" variety). I also expanded rude/abusive to include flagging unintelligible content (a reason few people know about).

Closed and Duplicate

Let's not mix terminology. The blue box says closed. The privilege says closed. "needs improvement" is highly confusing because it dumps you into the close dialogue box. Not every close reason is reopenable, either. Let's tell people we want it closed, and make it clear that closure is not necessarily a death sentence for a question or mean.

Mod flags

We need people to understand how and why you should use these flags. I've had several mods tell me that they prefer detailed mod flags when there's any question about a post.

NAA/LQP

NAA/LQP

This has been endlessly debated, but I think we can make some minor improvements. Most people do not know when to use Low Quality Post flags. Some verbiage cleanup would help and I try to denote that LQP flags are marked helpful if the post is edited (something that is not obvious).

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  • I think the wording should be slightly altered (I don't like "deleted" - makes parsing the result of the flag harder) but otherwise solid suggestion.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 19:19
  • As a separate thing, I'd really like the duplicate to not say "closed as duplicate". Yes, you basically get the same thing - blue box, can't be answered, the whole thing. However, I have a dream that one day curators and question askers would be able to join hands as sisters brothers and both agree that a duplicate is not a bad thing. To do that, we really need duplicates to be marked as other than "closure" because, honestly they sort of aren't. I consider duplicate marking an answer. Being in the same category as "cannot be answered" and "should not be answered" is very odd.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 19:21
  • 8
    Oh man. I love this. Please implement ASAP! It needs to say "deleted", @VLAZ, because that's what the flags request. Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 20:13
  • 2
    @CodyGray I know that's what it requests, but I dislike the wording. When I pick the flag "deleted for spam" it sounds like I'm flagging it because it is deleted. Yes, it makes sense if you read the text before but then you have to go back and read it in order to make sense of the flag text. Simply making it "delete as spam" makes it immediately clear what the flag would lead to.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 20:16
  • Perhaps "Request delete as spam" and "Request delete as rude or abusive"?
    – user692942
    Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 9:17

1 Answer 1

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Addressing an objection from the comments

Trying to factor out "should be" from the close reasons seems like a premature optimization. It makes the individual labels harder to understand, because someone might expect the labels to describe the current state of the post, rather than a proposed action. It also results in the awkward wording "closed as a duplicate question". That in itself is problematic because the "closed" option comes first, and might be selected by people who think the question is a duplicate.

The top line for each flag reason, IMO, should summarize a coherent problem with the post along with the corresponding course of action.

My own thoughts

I have a few ideas about the wording for most of these paragraphs. I'd also like to see the reasons for question closure split up more finely, even if they end up routing to the same place (at least for now). It's important to distinguish between:

  • problems that can be fixed by anyone (generally not flaggable, since they'll be fixed by an edit);
  • problems that can only be fixed by OP;
  • problems that can't be fixed at all (without fundamentally changing the question)

because that helps people think carefully about what's actually wrong with the post, while also encouraging them to flag where appropriate (by giving reassurance that the flag is indeed appropriate in that situation).

I would present the close reasons like so, instead:


Flags help us uphold quality standards. I think this question:

  • is spam, and should be deleted

    Spam promotes a product, service or website while failing to disclose the author's affiliation. Spam flags help us identify spammers and stop them from spamming again later.

  • is rude or abusive, and should be deleted

    This post violates the Code of Conduct; it attacks other people or groups, includes objectionable content, vandalizes the site, attempts to defraud or "phish" others, etc. Moderators have a special privilege to address users privately, where appropriate.

  • has already been properly asked and answered, so it should be closed as a duplicate

    Closing questions as duplicates helps everyone find the best-phrased version of the question and the highest-quality answers.

  • is inappropriate for the site, so it should be closed

    Questions that are off topic, or which otherwise don't contribute to a high-quality Q&A library as described in the tour, should not be answered. The community can vote to close such questions, and eventually remove questions that can't be fixed.

  • needs to be fixed by the author and should be closed until fixed

    Everyone can propose edits to fix minor problems. However, if the problem with the question is more significant, or if it can only be fixed by its author - for example, because of missing information that only the author has - the question should be temporarily closed to prevent misguided attempts to answer.

  • needs a moderator's attention for another reason

    Moderators have special tools to deal with a wide variety of problems. Use this option if the situation doesn't fit in the categories above, or if you need to provide additional details to explain the problem with the post. Please give a specific and detailed explanation in the response field that pops up.


Here, bold text stands in for red highlighting; while the red is a good UI cue for "red flags", there should probably be an additional styling hint to accommodate colour-blind users. On the other hand, I intend the italic emphasis verbatim; the point is to remind the flag user of site policy and to indicate what will happen next. (Perhaps the text distinction between "should be closed" and "should be deleted" is enough of a hint for colour-blind users?)

Ideally, of course, any of the "should be closed" options would not go directly to the standard closure dialog - for example, there's no reason it should present the "duplicate" close reason again. Ideally, they'd go to separate interfaces that select appropriate corresponding close reasons (this would require individual sites to categorize their custom reasons). But that's out of scope for now.

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  • Whilst not in scope here, it might make sense if a question closed as needs to be fixed by its author would not automatically enter the reopen queue if someone other than the author edits it, since said edit is unlikely to have made the post answerable. Commented Jan 28 at 0:55
  • @user1937198 There is already a system for this. If the question was already closed (such that the reopen queue is a consideration), then the person who made the edit was responsible for checking (or not) a box which says that the edit resolves the issue with the question and that it should be considered for reopening (when that box is checked, the question goes to the queue). Commented Jan 28 at 0:58

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