Although I love BBS, and I think the BBS community is a great success, there is one thing I’ve been disappointed with since the start:
There’s not enough flagging here.
Discourse is designed around the principle that you empower the community to govern itself (with discussions like this, on meta) and push out the bad actors. And the primary tool of that community immune system is flagging.
(Not talking about spam. Spam gets crushed in minutes, and we added an Akismet layer a few months ago that makes those even less likely to need human intervention. Special thanks to @SmashMartian who is a spam flagging machine. Just look at these read stats.)
I have some theories about why there is a dearth of flagging, namely that Happy Mutants don’t want to feel like “the man”. I don’t know if you noticed, but the community here isn’t exactly a fan of the police, uh, to put it mildly. I get the feeling that any perception that they might be acting as police, even by pressing a flag button on someone else’s post, is enough to dissuade a lot of Happy Mutants from doing it.
(Note that flags are only available to trust level 1 users, so you can’t sign up a bunch of new accounts and flag a post to make stuff happen.)
We’ve made changes since launch to make flagging easier and hopefully more common:
- Added “flag whole topic” button at the bottom
- Friendlier copy on the flag dialog
- Clarification on flag dialog that flags are private, in case people are worried that others will see them flagging something
But that stuff hasn’t helped much. Maybe a little.
So I had an idea. Maybe you have ideas, too.
I have access to flags here for diagnostic purposes, so I see all the flags that are cast. But as a matter of policy, I do not act on flags, ever, except for spam and other obvious stuff.
While I do not act on flags, I do have the right to cast my flag as I see fit, just like any other user. (and have it handled, ignored, what have you, that’s up to the BB folks, not me.)
I’ve noticed that it is much easier for me to pile on the flags and push out obvious bullshit when other people are flagging, and I see those flags.
So I had an idea:
What if we made flags visible on posts to everyone here, at say, trust level 2 or greater? (But never visible to the author of the post in any case)
That is, you would have some of the same information I do. Namely, that a post was flagged as problematic. We would probably show this information anonymously, so you would see that stuff was flagged, but not by who and not why.
This way more people could vet those flagged posts, and hopefully put a stop to awful posts before more people see them, respond to them, are aghast by their horribleness, etc.
Your thoughts on this? Other ideas about flagging?