I was just trying to moderator flag a post to send the moderator an important message, but couldn't possibly fit it in the comment box. If you're not going to give space to send a full message, then stop playing around and delete the comment box.

You really messed up, Stack Exchange.

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    "You really messed up Stack Exchange." - Seriously? You think that really messed up stack exchange? – jjnguy Jan 7 '11 at 16:28
  • @JJnguy, NO, I'm saying SE really messed up. (edited comma in to clarify) – Lance Roberts Jan 7 '11 at 16:32
  • That would be "You really messed up, Stack Exchange". penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/11/03 – TCPMAN.EXE Jan 7 '11 at 16:36
  • I always had the understanding that that box should be for quick comments only, seeing as they're probably shown in some sort of condensed overview to the moderators. Maybe there should be an E-Mail address or something? – Pekka Jan 7 '11 at 16:36
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    To be fair, this was probably done to protect Welbog. – Shog9 Jan 7 '11 at 16:39
  • How many paragraphs were in this message of import? – random Jan 7 '11 at 16:39
  • @random, I was going for the longest run-on sentence in the history of mankind. – Lance Roberts Jan 7 '11 at 16:44
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    "Dearest Marc, It has recently come to my attention, on this the seventh day of the month of January, in the year of Our Lord two thousand and eleven, that a particular post (with the numeric identifier seven-four-two-five-two) is gripped by a problem which only your ability and skill can hope to correct. But I forget my manners! How are you? How's the wife? Job going ok? I hope so! You work hard, Marc, and the last thing I want to do is add to the pile... But this post, well... Perhaps it's best if I start from the beginning: many months ago, summer of aught nine I believe, Lance posted a q – Shog9 Jan 7 '11 at 16:48
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    @Shog9 - Starting NaNoWriMo a little early, are we? – Pollyanna Jan 7 '11 at 16:54
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    @Shog9 - Hrm, even converting to txt it's still too long: "dearst Marc, It hs lately cum 2 my attn, on dis d 7th dy of d mth of Jan, n d yr of r Lord 2k n eleven, dat a pRticulR post ( W d numeric identifier 7 4 2 5 2 ) S gripped by a prob wich 1ly yr ability n skill cn h2 crrct. bt I 4gt my maNers! hw r How's d yF? Job goin ok? I hope so! u wrk hrd..." – Pollyanna Jan 7 '11 at 17:04
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    +1 - What we moderators really want is more Epic poetry, no more of these haiku and limericks. – Bill the Lizard Jan 7 '11 at 17:05
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    @Bill - Sing, O moderator, the anger of Stackoverflow son of Jeffnjoel, that brought countless ills upon the users. Many a brave soul has this answer sent hurrying down to Hades! – Pollyanna Jan 7 '11 at 17:23
  • Come on! You have 500 characters. You could write a mini epic. – abel Jan 13 '11 at 8:26
  • @abel, I'm not sure if your joking or late to the party. But the limit before today was 150 chars. – Lance Roberts Jan 13 '11 at 16:22
  • @Lance I was late to the party I guess. 150 is way too short. A positive change. – abel Jan 13 '11 at 16:33

As a result of this question, I am seriously considering increasing the text input limit on the moderator flag box from 150 to 151 characters.

new mod flag dialog

Note new mod dialog and new length of other comment.

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    I'm very glad to hear that Jeff. You're going to solve all the worlds problems right there! Watch out hungry peasants, this character's for YOU! </serious> hahahahahaha. ~ Now the SMS's and twitters won't work. – jcolebrand Jan 8 '11 at 0:49
  • Actually, it is 150 characters. 10 required, plus 140 extra. – badp Jan 8 '11 at 0:49
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    HA! Screw you, mod-flag to twitter gateway! – Shog9 Jan 8 '11 at 0:50
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    You sure are a character, byting into this problem, kicking ascii and taking names. Unicode this up tonight, or tomorrow? I expect it'll only take a few bits of your time, after all. All I can say is good job, and letter rip! – Pollyanna Jan 8 '11 at 2:07
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    @Jeff I just tested this change and while I could write up to 500 characters in the field, the mod panel truncates it to 150 – Kyle Cronin Jan 13 '11 at 8:48
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    Much better. "Dear Mods, you'll never guess what happened to me today... – Shog9 Jan 13 '11 at 14:54
  • Thanks a bunch. I do wish you'd left the offensive option in, the "It is not welcome in our community" is pretty vague and will probably cause a lot more flagging for silly reasons. – Lance Roberts Jan 13 '11 at 16:22
  • @lance that is the offensive option, click on it to see the detail. We felt the text was scaring people away from mod flagging in general. – Jeff Atwood Jan 13 '11 at 20:43

Things that require moderator attention generally don't need whole paragraphs to explain. We only need a quick note of what probably needs to be looked at, and the small comment is pretty sufficient. If the textbox is too large, then it can easily be filled with a lot of noise that is unnecessary for getting the job done.

If something is so large that you can't condense it to 150 characters, and important enough that you must alert the moderators, send an email using the "contact us" link in the footer. Moderator flags aren't really for things that require huge amounts of explanation. The comment is just to give enough context for action.

  • The "contact us" link is for the Team, which is a different beast than the moderators. – Lance Roberts Jan 7 '11 at 16:43
  • There's always the chat @lan – random Jan 7 '11 at 16:44
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    @Lance If you have enough that you can't condense the flag to a short context quip, then it probably is serious enough to relay it to the Team. Yes, it ends up going to them directly and bypassing the site mods - but that's what will get serious items resolved. If you don't think it's serious enough to warrant contacting the Team, then it probably isn't serious enough to warrant so much anger at the inability to post it in a 150 character comment box. Consider posting a Meta discussion, or bringing it up in chat like random suggests. – Grace Note Jan 7 '11 at 16:49
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    @random timestamp says I said it first :p ;) – jcolebrand Jan 7 '11 at 16:51
  • I often need to include or or two URLs with my flag message, which necessitates abbreviating to "message #XXXXX" rather than simply providing a link -- which wastes my time and that of the moderator who has to respond. – Ether Jan 7 '11 at 19:08
  • @Ether If you aren't already, consider cutting the slug - http://stackoverflow.com/questions/#######/ is 43 characters and is just a quick mouse drag. You can even supply an answer post ID and it'll link proper for us, although this does use more of your time. But it leaves 107 characters to illustrate Dupe of or Please merge this into or even An evil multi-migration, by Jon Skeet no less! with plenty to spare for even a second URL. Alternatively, if a big problem spans multiple posts consider flagging them all (or in bunches) with the fancy new raised amount of mod flags. – Grace Note Jan 7 '11 at 19:50
  • @lance this dialog was scheduled to be reworked anyway on a couple different levels. Not done yet, but the current form is close to final. – Jeff Atwood Jan 13 '11 at 8:24

Changes to the mod flag box are actually ...

we're also adding common reasons to the mod flag dialog, which is being redesigned to be less.. scary -- Jeff Atwood

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    bah, I like scary – jcolebrand Jan 7 '11 at 16:41
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    It'll still have a ridiculously short text limit, but now it'll also have bunnies! – Shog9 Jan 7 '11 at 16:49
  • @shog9 changes almost complete, see my screenshot. Less scary, more "flag more stuff please" – Jeff Atwood Jan 13 '11 at 8:26

The moderators are supposed to use their own judgement when acting on an issue. The box is intentionally small so that the user can point to the issue and say, "please consider this for moderator action" - it is NOT meant to write an essay telling the moderator why it's wrong, or trying to convince them of the wrongness of the situation.

If there is an issue which requires a great deal of explanation, then you should either email the team@stackoverflow (yes, it does eventually get to the moderators) OR post something on Meta asking for moderator action (prior to the moderator alert these were the only two options available). Meta is also a good place to try to weigh in on why the situation should be moderated when you expect the moderator to waver on whether to act or not. I'd go so far as to say that you should only email the team in those cases where a long message is required and a certain amount of privacy seems necessary.

Please give us an example of a question which requires more than 150 characters to point out the problem. If this limit is a problem going forward, then it needs to be evaluated and corrected, and the best way to get to that point is by supplying examples.

  • also consdr usng txt shrtcts to limt ur msg & drop punct b4 givng up – Pollyanna Jan 7 '11 at 16:59

If you have something that important to say to the mods, then make it either an answer or a comment on the question, then flag them with a note to say "See [comment|answer|edit] labeled @MODS for detail". You could even stick it in a revision history and use that to "erase the evidence" if you felt the need.

I don't see the problem. Yes the box is short. Work around it.

  • Why don't we fix the site, instead of working around it? Do you think we should work around code problems instead of just fixing the code? – Lance Roberts Jan 7 '11 at 16:32
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    somedays, yes that is all I want to do, as I want it to work right now but no, you're right, in the long run, I don't want to always "work around code problems". In this case tho, I've never (personally) run into the situation you describe. Anything that takes that much effort I take to chat.MSO and go find someone to listen to me rant. (granted I'm fortunate enough to live in a timezone where there's pretty much always a mod online) ~ So no, I don't see it's a problem. I'm just one man tho. I am ALWAYS liable to be wrong. – jcolebrand Jan 7 '11 at 16:38

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