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I participate on a site which discusses a lot of science. I got an answer of mine edited and I thought it was because I had compared a certain exoplanet to hell.

I just rolled back the edit, then a moderator undid my rollback. I also got a message from the mod team saying my answer had accumulated a number of rude/abusive flags. Then it came to me that I had also implied that people from a certain religion would go to that planet upon death - as a joke, because the planet has the same name as the religion involved.

Now in hindsight, I see how that may have come across as deeply offensive. The edit to my answer was the right thing to do.

If I could have seen from the beginning that my answer had a rude/abusive flag on it, I could have acted early - possibly earlier than waiting for someone else to fix my post. We would all also have avoided an edit battle and troubling the mods with this issue.

Because of this, I think it would be nice to be able to see if my questions and answers have rude/abusive flags upon them, maybe even how many. Maybe with a notification once some threshold is reached too. In this way, I could fix my offensive content before things get escalated.

I find my request largely different from the one in I'd like to be able to see "Unfriendly" flags lodged against me because that one is about comments, which are transient. This one here is about questions and answers, which carry far more weight than comments.

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    I can only see how this ends in comments: Who flagged my answer as offensive! That is abusive and this is the mild variant of comments. So no, let's not surface red flags to users and keep them secret. A red flag might in the end also be wrong and dismissed by a mod in which case you were bothered for nothing.
    – rene
    Aug 20, 2021 at 11:38
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    I also have concerns that some users would assume they know who flagged their post (based on comments, past history, etc.) and start attacking them directly. I mean that already happens with downvotes, so... Aug 20, 2021 at 11:43
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    @41686d6564 By that logic we should remove downvotes as well. Aug 20, 2021 at 13:13
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    @SeniorWrangler No? Downvotes are content rating. It's important for users to see the rating of a post because that's what SE is all about. Flags are not content rating. They aren't important to see for the vast majority of users. Moreover, flags will cause a lot more friction than downvotes. I really cannot see how you equate the two.
    – VLAZ
    Aug 20, 2021 at 14:49
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    @VLAZ flags carry far more weight than votes. Votes rank posts, and any single post can hold any amount of votes. But a single flag can lead a post to deletion. A handful can cause a user to be muted, temporarily or permanently. Aug 20, 2021 at 15:00
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    @SeniorWrangler yes, and a random person landing on a page from a Google search doesn't care about that.
    – VLAZ
    Aug 20, 2021 at 15:01
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    @VLAZ flags have weights - a flag raised by an anonymous user carries far less weight than a flag raised by someone with a history of helpful flags, for example. Depending on the case a single flag from an old user can have 750x the weight of a flag raised by a bad-flagger. Aug 20, 2021 at 15:06
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    @SeniorWrangler Again, irrelevant to somebody who lands on a page from a Google search. They just want to see what the score is. What do you think random people understand about flags? They come for the content. They come for the rated content.
    – VLAZ
    Aug 20, 2021 at 15:30
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    @SeniorWrangler actually: flags don’t have weight; and anonymous users can’t flag. Flags from logged-in users all have the exact same weight. And most flags are subject to moderator review to take action, manually. Like a manual rollback and letting you know your post had attracted rude flags. The moderators already decided to let you know about the flags, learn from that situation and move on. If your posts continue to attract rude flags the mod team will let you know, one way or another. Aug 21, 2021 at 0:05
  • You rolled back a moderator's edit, you received a warning to consider if that seems like a good idea; if you are correct it's OK, otherwise it isn't.
    – Rob
    Aug 21, 2021 at 1:37
  • @martijnpieters I remember having participated in discussions about flag weight in the past - I did not know that had been removed, apologies for that. But on learning from this, it's quite hard when I only learn about my flags after getting the warning, never before. Aug 21, 2021 at 3:35
  • @SeniorWrangler flag weight was removed nearly 10 years ago. Note that correct use of rude flags basically means your post would be deleted very quickly. The majority of rude flags that I handle as a mod are wrongly cast; if there is any rudeness in the post that can be handled by editing then red-flagging is the wrong action anyway. Such rude flags would only serve to confuse and upset people if you could see them. Aug 21, 2021 at 9:57
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    I understand that, but flags aren't for communicating with the user who posted the flagged post. They are for moderators, who eventually tell that user what that user should avoid. Knowing a flag has been raising for a post I wrote before the flag is handled doesn't tell me anything about what I need to change in my post; if the user who flagged my post is wrong, I don't need to change anything.
    – apaderno
    Aug 23, 2021 at 12:51
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    I have seen posts flagged as spam when they weren't spam, or as rude when they just explained with simple words the OP used the wrong function in the code they wrote. For that reason, I think that a flag on a post doesn't mean anything. Even if they were two flags, I would not give too much weight to it and think I need to fix anything in the post I wrote.
    – apaderno
    Aug 23, 2021 at 12:55
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    @apaderno there is no flag weight any more. I speak from my experience as a moderator on SO here; flags are ordered by number-of-flags on a post, then by date. A post with 3 flags is shown before posts with 2 flags, flags cast earlier before flags cast later. That’s it. I’m 99% sure flag weight was removed in 2013, when meta.stackexchange.com/a/175405/140890 was implemented. Aug 23, 2021 at 22:35

2 Answers 2

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Now in hindsight, I see how that may have come across as deeply offensive. The edit to my answer was the right thing to do.

If I could have seen from the beginning that my answer had a rude/abusive flag on it, I could have acted early - possibly earlier than waiting for someone else to fix my post.

I can't see the post in question or its edit history, but... If you really didn't know that the post was edited because parts of it might've been offensive to some, that could've just as much the fault of the person editing (they should have left an edit summary clearly explaining the reason for their actions) as it could've been yours for not reading that edit summary before rolling back. Both happen from time to time, but there's usually no need for flags until after the first rollback.

The comments you've gotten already provide you with some reasons as for why not to do this: People may get defensive and perhaps even attack particular people they suspect of having flagged their posts. Flags can be noise too. But what I think is the most important reason to not do this: The flag alone doesn't let you know what someone found offensive or rude. Showing your post was flagged would end up being just as well-received as downvotes without comments.

In your example, you've now put two and two together, because you saw the edit that was made and later got a message saying that edit was done because parts of your answer may have been offensive: Great, you can now see how part of it may indeed have been offensive. But, if someone hadn't edited your post first, would you really have been able to see the potentially offensive part? It's often hard... As a moderator I handle rude/offensive flags and regularly end up asking 'I don't see it, do you?'. It's even harder when the post involved is your own post.

The 'rude/abusive' flag wouldn't have told you where to look, as it's just a bit of boilerplate text that's the same, regardless whether the flagged post is filled with profanity and slurs, or is nothing more than someone uploading a selfie.

So no, let's not show people that their posts were flagged. It's not likely to ever have the educational effect comments, edits and edit summaries can have, and it's much more likely to increase hostility between users.

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  • I have a reason to disagree. The site where this happened (WorldBuilding) is has a bias against humor, so I thought that was the reason for the first edit (by the way, both edits were made by mods who did not state the reason in the edits). If I had seen a rude/abusive flag there, I would at least re-read my post and ask myself: "ok, what person or group of people am I offending here?" In my case there was just one possibility, impossible to miss. I could have acted on that myself. Aug 20, 2021 at 13:09
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    "Both edits were made by mods who did not state the reason in the edits" > Then that's the problem. Like I said in my answer: You've now put two and two together. But given that you also state that 'the site where this happened has a bias against humor', there's a 50/50 chance you'd not have acted upon the flag either, but just put it aside as 'a bias against humor' as well. Also, I like the attitude of 'wanting to improve', but that begins at the time of posting and not really only when something is flagged.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Aug 20, 2021 at 13:53
  • "there's a 50/50 chance you'd not have acted upon the flag either" I don't think so. I don't offend people because I want to, and then retract on being called out. Whenever I offend someone, that was not my intention, but I will only learn that I've done that if people let me know that I did it. It would be nice to have this opportunity without having taken the nth warning from the moderation team, because as things are now, I am afraid of being banned on my next few posts. Aug 20, 2021 at 15:03
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    Sometimes, some mods should also presume good faith and explain to an OP, in a comment, why certain attempts of "satire" do not fly. Disclaimer: I do not know the history of the OP or their rapport with moderators. Aug 20, 2021 at 15:05
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    @Mari-LouA I agree with that, but I don't see a way to enforce it. As for rapport - there is no indication of that in a profile, so there is no way to tell. Might be another feature request, would be nice for a user to know how far away they are from a ban. Aug 20, 2021 at 15:11
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    @SeniorWrangler there's no set amount of flags that will result in a ban, so there would be nothing to report. If you're thinking it might get you banned, just don't try to be funny. These sites aren't here to be funny, after all. Moderators have now let you know what you did wrong, even though the way they did so might not have been optimal. So learn from it and avoid repeating your behavior in your next posts, instead of saying that you had no way to improve just because you couldn't see flags. You won't get 'banned' unless you're a structural problem.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Aug 20, 2021 at 15:16
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    @Tinkeringbell I apologize for the lengthy discussion, this really needs more context... I've got prior warnings because I had uploaded an image, and a mod said that images are discouraged unless absolutely necessary so as to be nice with those who have limited data plans. I've got warnings for other things not related to this or to humour too. I have spent quite a lot of time answering on the site (to the point of being among the users with the most reputation in it), but I still feel in the dark about where I am, which is why I made this question, so as to have clarity when I make a mistake. Aug 20, 2021 at 15:22
  • @SeniorWrangler are you sure those were warnings and not just comments under your posts or something similar that you call warnings? A mod issuing a warning for an uploaded image is a bit hard to believe (especially with the stated reason). Aug 20, 2021 at 16:17
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    @OlegValter Yes, I am quite sure. I wish I could find the previous ones but I don't see a way to find previous mod warnings (the image is for the one that led me to create this question). Aug 20, 2021 at 16:38
  • @SeniorWrangler oh, ok, thank you. For a user from SO mostly, this sounded implausible, but you never know, I suppose. Found your answer in question as well - if this is considered R/A nowadays... Aug 20, 2021 at 16:47
  • I think the real challenge, and ultimate responsibility, in matters is for every user posting an answer to be very careful with what they write, considering, specifically, "could this be legitimately be seen as offensive, even though I know I am joking". I agree with both answers here; and hope only that the asker focuses more on their own role in the appearance of a flag, rather than ask for special notifications, etc.
    – amWhy
    Aug 23, 2021 at 19:12
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While I’m sure your response to seeing a red flag on your post would have been just to edit your post (somehow figuring out what exactly needed to be changed), I’m afraid that an all-too-common reaction would be for the poster to lash out with more abuse towards anyone who looks to have been involved.

If a user isn’t worried about any backlash, then they can leave a comment to tell you exactly what the problem is. Those without comment privileges also may have an option to communicate with you as they can edit your post and leave an edit summary. If the moderator who edited your post didn’t leave an edit summary I can only assume that they thought the edit spoke for itself.

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    The edit also changed other unrelated parts. I only learned something offensive was there when I got the official warning later. This is the reason why I would like to learn about the flag earlier if possible. Aug 20, 2021 at 15:47

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