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When to flag/not flag?
October 23, 2009 6:07 AM   Subscribe

Would it be possible to get a better explanation of when to flag/not to flag a comment/post?

I sometimes flag things and then think I shouldn't, or don't flag things and then think I should. I'm unsure as to what qualifies as a "flaggable" comment or post. I realise that each case will be dealt with individually, but I'm never sure whether I'm doing the right thing in flagging something, or whether I'm wasting people's time.

I've looked in the FAQ, but I can't see much in there that explains it.
posted by Solomon to Etiquette/Policy at 6:07 AM (66 comments total)

In my understanding, the mods don't/can't possibly look at every single flag, so they check it out when there's quite a few on a single post/response. So don't worry about it. Flag away.
posted by ferociouskitty at 6:15 AM on October 23, 2009


Flagging is basically when you see something and say "Hmm a mod should probably look at this" This can be when one of a few things happens

- a comment is broken in some way [HTML is busted, broken link]
- a comment is fantastic and you think it should be on the sidebar
- a comment breaks one of the site rules [this is section specific a little bit] in a way that you think might require mod action [a note to the poster, deletion, time out for the poster if something crazy seems to be going on]

We're happy to go look at anything. On the more heavily moderated parts of the site, like AskMe, we'll check out every flag. On MeFi we'll check out flags when they start to cluster [i.e. when we see a post or comment that has a few flags, or more]. MeTa flags we don't check out unless there are a lot of them; this part of the site is the most lightly moderated.

Once we're looking at comments in a thread, we'll sort of look at all of them, so if there's a run of ten bad comments, you don't have to flag them all, you can flag two or three and we'll definitely see the other ones [some people flag 10-15 comments in a row and since we do check them out individually, this is sort of overkill].

Some users don't like to use the flag feature, others use it a lot. It's really a judgment call on your part. The only time I'd say you might be wasting someone's time is if you flag for personal reasons that don't gibe with site guidelines [i.e. you flag all swearing] or if you flag constantly. Most people who use the feature seem to flag a few things here and there, not go through the site with a "hmmm what can I flag now?" appraoch. If you don't think there's something a moderator could do about it, don't flag it. If you do, however, think "hmm if a bunch of peopel also think this comment os beyond the pale maybe it should be removed" then feel free to flag things and we'll look into them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:16 AM on October 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


Flags are not useful pieces of data individually. It is rare that an admin will act on a single flag (except when that single flag is from the author of the flagged item). Generally, they only take a closer look when something gets a significant number of flags. The definition of "significant number" is probably fuzzy and varies from situation to situation and mod to mod. But you shouldn't worry about not having firm guidance. Wisdom of crowds and whatnot.

But, yeah, maybe Matt should enumerate that policy a little better and put it in the FAQ.
posted by Plutor at 6:16 AM on October 23, 2009


I even previewed to make sure a mod hadn't beaten me. Damn you, human reflexes!
posted by Plutor at 6:16 AM on October 23, 2009


Thank you for the explanation. "If you don't think there's something a moderator could do about it, don't flag it." makes a lot of sense to me.
posted by Solomon at 6:32 AM on October 23, 2009


We're happy to go look at anything. On the more heavily moderated parts of the site, like AskMe, we'll check out every flag. On MeFi we'll check out flags when they start to cluster [i.e. when we see a post or comment that has a few flags, or more]. MeTa flags we don't check out unless there are a lot of them; this part of the site is the most lightly moderated.

Though to be clear, that's more of a "when we're under any time pressure" thing. If it's a slow day, we'll likely drill down to the lower-priority stuff (e.g. single flags on metatalk comments) if there's nothing else to check out, but it's not near the top of the list for how we deal with stuff.

In general, certainly don't be afraid of flagging too often—an extra flag here or there causes us no trouble. The only sort of overflagging we object to is when someone starts flagging more than three or four comments in any given thread, because at that point it's just generating a lot of extra flags for us to check and clear when you could instead switch tracks and write us a quick note via the contact form saying "hey, there's a problem in thread x where there's a lot of y going on, take a look?".
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:11 AM on October 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've wondered about this: Is a self-flag differentiated in any way as it comes in? And if so, is it given faster or more serious attention?

The anecdotal evidence isn't clear. But sometimes it seems that way.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:42 AM on October 23, 2009


The only way to be sure is to add a new category: "Not Sure"
posted by Jofus at 8:01 AM on October 23, 2009


I've wondered about this: Is a self-flag differentiated in any way as it comes in? And if so, is it given faster or more serious attention?

Nope. By default we have no idea who flagged what unless we go specifically looking.

The anecdotal evidence isn't clear. But sometimes it seems that way.

It's possible that in those situations where someone has flagged themselves, the transgressive nature (or borkedness) of the comment being sufficiently clear as to motivate the poster to flag themself correlates to a lot of folks who are not the poster also flagging the comment.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:04 AM on October 23, 2009


Also, you get ten bonus points any time you flag a moderator comment that talks about flagging. It brightens their day!
posted by klangklangston at 8:13 AM on October 23, 2009


hamburgler
posted by klangklangston at 8:14 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, you get ten bonus points any time you flag a moderator comment that talks about flagging. It brightens their day!

Flagging moderator comments in MeTa is considered passive-aggressive. I added a link to my previous comment to the faq.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:33 AM on October 23, 2009


Flagged as "wishy-washy".
posted by Burhanistan at 8:47 AM on October 23, 2009


Flagging moderator comments in MeTa is considered passive-aggressive.

If however, you flagged a mod as "fantastic", that would be brown nosing, rather than passive aggressive
posted by jpdoane at 9:04 AM on October 23, 2009


I don't flag very much -- I might have flagged a couple of comments that seemed extremely offensive to me, but it probably wasn't more than a handful.

The things that I want to flag most are FPP's that I don't think constitute 'the best of the web', but because there's no 'not the best of the web' category, I tend not to flag them even though I don't think they're deserving of a FPP.

But perhaps that's a decision for the mods anyway? After all, this isn't Kuroshin, where people get to vote on whether something is good enough to be a FPP.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:45 AM on October 23, 2009


Flagging moderator comments in MeTa is considered passive-aggressive.

I prefer to think of it as passion-agressive, but that may just be because of my deep personal feelings toward cortex.
posted by dersins at 9:48 AM on October 23, 2009


Should a post or comment be flagged? Flag it. Should it not? Don't flag it. Either way, you'll definitely want to move on.
posted by owtytrof at 10:10 AM on October 23, 2009


you flag things when you're a little bothered by something.

you make a metatalk callout when YOU'RE JUST SO FUCKING PISSED OFF YOU CAN'T TAKE IT!
posted by shmegegge at 10:19 AM on October 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


you make a metatalk callout when YOU'RE JUST SO FUCKING PISSED OFF YOU CAN'T TAKE IT!

True, but a better guideline would be "You make a MetaTalk call-out after you've turned off the computer, walked around the block, sat down, and you are STILL SO FUCKING PISSED OFF YOU CAN'T TAKE IT."

I think if those first two steps were mandatory, we'd have either fewer call-outs, call-outs with better wording (because honestly, the worst part of a call-out is listening to the MeFi Pedants Marching Band point out how it could have been worded better, complete with flags and semaphores), or possibly both.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:31 AM on October 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Hamburglars?
posted by jtron at 10:34 AM on October 23, 2009


when should i move on/not move on?


oh, who am i kidding; i am going to camp out here all day. i have nothing else better to do.
posted by the aloha at 10:41 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you're bored, I'll give you a nickel each for grading exams and papers, the aloha.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:47 AM on October 23, 2009


I'm going to shill out my flag ideas again:So much more compact.

jessamyn: "Flagging moderator comments in MeTa is considered passive-aggressive."
So if I flag your comment as fantastic, am I passive-aggressive fabulous?
posted by boo_radley at 11:21 AM on October 23, 2009


Also, you get ten bonus points any time you flag a moderator comment that talks about flagging. It brightens their day!

I've occasionally been tempted to flag a comment for humorous effect. Then I remember that most MeFites won't be able to see the "joke", and that flags turn into actual work for the moderators. If I was in their shoes, it would probably just annoy me.

I've gone through this thought process enough times that flagging to be funny is now on my permanent list of Things to Not Do.
posted by FishBike at 11:23 AM on October 23, 2009


I prefer to think of it as passion-agressive, but that may just be because of my deep personal feelings toward cortex.

Hey, bucko, take it to PillowTalk.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:25 AM on October 23, 2009


i'll keep going until i run out of flags.
posted by lester at 11:35 AM on October 23, 2009


You know what some say about miniature American flags?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:51 AM on October 23, 2009


Flagging moderator comments in MeTa is considered passive-aggressive.

Fantastic comment.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:05 PM on October 23, 2009


FelliniBlank, please do so. it might work best if you tape the nickel to each report.
posted by the aloha at 12:26 PM on October 23, 2009


take it to PillowTalk.

Is this something I'd have to be a Cool Kid to know about?
posted by velvet winter at 12:50 PM on October 23, 2009


Oh, someone doesn't have access to MetaFilter Black.
posted by boo_radley at 12:58 PM on October 23, 2009


Another thing to consider is the idea of "flagging and moving on." If you flag rather than replying to an offensive comment (even if you're the only one who perceives it as such), you're possibly preventing a bigger flamewar nuisance for the mods than the very small one you create with a flag.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:38 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is rare that an admin will act on a single flag

I always figured the broken html flag is an exception to this. If a link is borked it's borked, it's not really a judgement call, so I assume that if the mods see it they'll fix it even if only one person flagged it. I also assume it's not as high priority as other stuff, so broken html may just have to stay broken if there's a flame war to subdue.
posted by shelleycat at 5:07 PM on October 23, 2009


Oh yeah, and I once did the flag the mod as an in joke thing. Then I kept reading down the thread and cortex had posted a comment saying how many people had flagged it, what a pain it was to deal with, and please knock it off. This made me realise how stupid and unoriginal I was, I felt kind of bad and I've never done it again. I don't think it's passive aggressive, at least not for me (I wasn't going for any kind of reaction) but it is fucking lame. Sorry.
posted by shelleycat at 5:15 PM on October 23, 2009


It's always easy to flag, and sometimes so hard to move on.
posted by Liver at 5:23 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


someone doesn't have access to MetaFilter Black.

Why, you...you tease, you!

Sounds sexy. Where do I sign up?
posted by velvet winter at 5:28 PM on October 23, 2009


You should flag comments you disagree with, comments from people you don't like, and anything mentioning Highlander sequels.
posted by qvantamon at 6:43 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


or taters.
posted by special-k at 8:16 PM on October 23, 2009


It's thinner than rice paper. Find something with real texture that you can delve into.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:28 PM on October 23, 2009


I wish there was a way to unflag because I keep fat fingering my flags.
posted by crataegus at 8:50 PM on October 23, 2009


Oh, someone doesn't have access to MetaFilter Black. (boo_radley)

Why, you...you tease, you!

Sounds sexy. Where do I sign up?
(velvet winter)

Why am I always the last to know about these things?
posted by ocherdraco at 9:53 PM on October 23, 2009


Oh yeah, and I once did the flag the mod as an in joke thing. Then I kept reading down the thread and cortex had posted a comment saying how many people had flagged it, what a pain it was to deal with, and please knock it off. This made me realise how stupid and unoriginal I was, I felt kind of bad and I've never done it again. I don't think it's passive aggressive, at least not for me (I wasn't going for any kind of reaction) but it is fucking lame. Sorry.

Flagged for me being equally as lame as you were when you did that.
posted by davejay at 10:48 PM on October 23, 2009


Is there where I can agitate for the 'Noise' flag for FPPs to be reinstated?

how about the 'img' tag?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 11:36 PM on October 23, 2009


Didn't someone write a script once that flagged everything (or everything by an enemy user) or was that done with favorites? Did I imagine this?

That reminds me of a pony I've had for a while: can we get banhammer stats in the infodump?
posted by double block and bleed at 4:17 AM on October 24, 2009


If you don't think there's something a moderator could do about it, ...
Wait, what? Moderators aren't omniscient? Surely it can't be true?
posted by dg at 4:26 AM on October 24, 2009


Depending on my mood, I go out cruising with either a blue handkerchief hanging from my left back pocket, or a grey handkerchief from my right back pocket.

I never flag with the brown handkerchief though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:40 AM on October 24, 2009


I'll only flag when I get my pony flag:

a "MINE MINE MINE!" flag!

So that I can claim whoever and whatever I like as my own, a la the empires of old.
posted by po at 6:22 AM on October 24, 2009


Watching yourself flag is one of the joys of the site. You can learn a lot about yourself by looking at what gets you to finally click that little icon. A link on the front page to the end credits for a Japanese TV show that uses animated flying panties, for instance.
posted by mediareport at 6:28 AM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flag them all and let the mods sort them out.
posted by RussHy at 9:00 AM on October 24, 2009


Flagging moderator comments in MeTa is considered passive-aggressive.

You know, for some reason it never even occurred to me that I could flag moderator comments.

This is like when my department emailed everyone saying not to take paper from the photocopier.
posted by zennie at 10:02 AM on October 24, 2009


time out for the poster if something crazy seems to be going on

Some day you will be understood, Meatbomb.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:57 PM on October 24, 2009


Guidlines I can understand! At least until the next time I'm just annoyed at a comment but realize that deletion is too harsh, oh, what to do...the gray area!
posted by Hobgoblin at 6:50 AM on October 25, 2009


Since we're talking about flagging--is there such a thing as a double post in AskMe?
posted by box at 8:29 AM on October 25, 2009


Of course, people's relationship problems, and their specific laptop and mp3-player needs, are like a snowflake's fingerprints or whatever, but what about, say, 'What's the watch pocket on jeans for?' Is that a double? Do doubles ever get deleted in AskMe?
posted by box at 8:31 AM on October 25, 2009


is there such a thing as a double post in AskMe?

We're looser on that but we will rarely delete a post for basically being a carbon copy of the original and/or a question that could have been answered with a cursory search of the relevant tags. Of course there's the old "can't step into the same river twice" deal, and sometimes we'll see people who ask the same exact question that they've asked before only, you know, it's a few years later so while their question is the same, the lay of the land in which they ask it is not.

So, sometimes, yeah but if people don't know they don't know.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:40 AM on October 25, 2009


Yeah, that's a double, and I've just deleted it.

It comes up now and then—there are a few questions sufficiently specific and sufficiently static that when they get asked again there's not really anything to do but point to the last time it got asked.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:41 AM on October 25, 2009


is there such a thing as a double post in AskMe?

Never happens. While I have your attention, though, does anyone remember the name of this story I read or maybe saw a movie of in junior high? It was about a planet where it rains all the time and you see the sun just one time a year. One kid gets locked in a closet and misses the sun. It was really sad and haunts me to this day.
posted by donnagirl at 5:20 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is it Ghostbusters 2?
posted by qvantamon at 4:09 AM on October 26, 2009


donnagirl: "While I have your attention, though, does anyone remember the name of this story I read or maybe saw a movie of in junior high? It was about a planet where it rains all the time and you see the sun just one time a year. One kid gets locked in a closet and misses the sun. It was really sad and haunts me to this day."

That's Ray Bradbury's classic short story All Summer in a Day. The planet is Venus.
posted by Plutor at 7:21 AM on October 27, 2009


Or did you do that on purpose because it's a hell of frequently duped question?
posted by Plutor at 7:26 AM on October 27, 2009


yes, donnagirl is very very funny.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:41 AM on October 27, 2009


I would almost like to see meta snark as a reason listed for flagging a comment on a FPP. I'm guilty of this on occasion, but for some reason I'm getting pretty tired of seeing a lot of comments right at the top that basically lay out how and why the commenter thinks this is a crappy post.
posted by jefeweiss at 1:56 PM on October 27, 2009


double block and bleed writes "That reminds me of a pony I've had for a while: can we get banhammer stats in the infodump?"

I think it would go against Matt's desire to not promote "King of the Shitpile" metrics.
posted by Mitheral at 11:48 PM on October 28, 2009


Matt claims to have talked about it before but this is the earliest mention I can find to this little bit of history.

Also reading my first link reminded me that Micheal Jackson was the subject of two multiple front page deletion sprees.
posted by Mitheral at 1:26 AM on October 29, 2009


I found a cite from a few months earlier, using the milder "trashcan" instead of the now-classic "shitpile". And the "we want categories" comment he references there seems to be this one, in which he invokes the image of peeing in the pool.

And here's a much earlier and more neutral statement along the same lines—you have to read the shitpile subtext into it, it's arguable whether that was specifically intended.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:20 AM on October 29, 2009


can we get banhammer stats in the infodump

No, no you can not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:24 AM on October 29, 2009


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