There has been a lot of talk lately about flagging and the forums and how things work. We’ve been working on a few things to try and help with this, and one of them is trying to make it clearer for people on HOW the flagging system works. Most of this is available from the Discourse FAQs (https://meta.discourse.org/t/so-what-exactly-happens-when-you-flag/275/3) (https://meta.discourse.org/t/what-are-flags-and-how-do-they-work/32783) however some of it is out of date (eg the trust system was never fully implemented by Discourse), and in other cases we’ve tweaked the numbers a bit. Also quick terminology clarification, I’ll be using moderators a lot in this post, and this refers to anyone who is a moderator or above, so this will include admins and devs.
To start with, what happens when you flag a post?
Visibly nothing will happen if you are the first person to flag the post. However the flag gets added to the moderation list.
If x or more people flag a post then the post it automatically hidden and the message “This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.” is displayed. Other users are able to view it by clicking “View hidden content”, while moderators will see the whole post, albeit dimmed to signify it’s hidden.
If your post gets hidden by the community you should be sent an automated message informing you. At this point you have an opportunity to edit your post to correct it, at which point it will be unhidden. If it get’s flagged again, then a moderator will have to manually handle the flag.
Now for the moderator side of things. Flags get added to the flag queue and are sorted in a FILO (First In Last Out) or a push stack order, so more recent flags are at the top. A moderator has to look at each flag and decide to agree or disagree with it. If they agree, then the flag “sticks” and is counted against the user (this can affect things such as obtaining and maintaining Regular status). If the moderator disagrees with the flag however, the flag is discarded, and not counted against the poster in any way. If the post was hidden due to flags, it is then unhidden when the moderator disagrees with the flag.
Send the user a message: This lets you privately message the user about the post, and should generally be your first choice when dealing with a post.
It’s Off-Topic: This is for posts that are not relevant to the original post and should probably be discussed elsewhere.
It’s Inappropriate: It’s offensive, abusive, or otherwise against community guidelines.
It’s Spam: It’s either an advertisement, vandalism, or a spambot.
Something Else: This requires attention for a reason not covered by the above flags. Allows you to specify the reason. Please don’t use this for topics that fall under the above flags.
Also please do not flag a post just because you disagree with what was said in it. Just because the posters view doesn’t align with your’s doesn’t make the post Spam, Inappropriate or Off-Topic.
There is an inbuilt Discourse feature where threads will auto lock themselves if there are a large number of unhanded community flags. After a set period of time (4 hours in our case) threads will unlock themselves again. However if no moderator has had a chance to look at the thread in those four hours the thread will relock itself as the initial condition of too many unhandled flags is still true. There has been a misconception on the forums that once a thread opens after an unlock that it needs more flags to relock itself, this is not necessarily the case. We have increased the threshold for the number of unhandled flags before a thread autolocks, so we shouldn’t see it happen as often.
And to clear up some common questions: Yes moderators can see who flags a post and for what reason. And yes we can still see posts hidden by the community (as well as any edits made to a post).
Salty will also be updating the Community Guidelines later today.