Topics closed via flagging keep getting opened and closed over and over?


I’m weirded out by the behavior of this thread

It has been closed virtually the whole time over the last couple of days, I happened to read it a few minutes ago when it was minutes away from opening. I managed to post a comment on this but right after posting it the thread was closed for the 11th time. What the hell?

General Moderation Topic

Certain users are getting flagged again and again, which makes the system automatically lock a topic over and over. For some reason it happens a lot in hero-worship/fanboi topics like that one.

@codinghorror , one of the Discourse devs, can explain the details of the functionality better than I can.


That many times? And within 5 minutes of the last closure ending? This smells fishy to me.


I don’t think it’s deliberate. At least I hope not.


It is an indeterminate situation. What do you do when the close timer expires and the underlying flags in the topic have not been dealt with?

Not sure what the correct behavior should be… suggestions welcome.


I wouldn’t call me a hero.

More like an icon.


Any way of just leaving a locked topic in that state, even beyond 4 hours, until the mods/admins (or perhaps the new TL4 people) can clean things up? Not an ideal answer, but as you imply I don’t think there’s one that’s going to solve it.


Perhaps the topic could be locked indefinitely, or until moderator action, after a certain number of closures? Allowing this endless cycle seems pointless.


Agreed, I guess all that can be done is to suppress the visible logging of re-open attempts.


As @codinghorror notes, it’s tricky. A 4-hour lock should give plenty of time for the mods to clean up and lay down the law, but other posts might be flagged in that period. Maybe also disable flagging functionality once a topic is auto-locked? Not sure how complex or trivial that is.


I’ve had disagreements with @orenwolf but always found him fair. In fact, one of the reasons I like it here as opposed to say, Reddit is there does seem to be a focus on consesus/community rather than “well fork the subreddit if you don’t like it”. (But conversely if someone is arguing in bad faith or a troll, their rules lawyering ass gets booted… that’s a tough needle to thread.)

I feel confident if @orenwold went rogue, you or I could rope in other mods. But honestly I can’t picture needing to, but there’s no single point of failure here.

Edit: Hit enter early.


Is it possible to require replies have mod eyes before posting if it’s particularly contentious? Like a moderated newsgroup?


I don’t know how discourse works beyond what we can see. But I do know that what you suggest will mean a lot of work for some poor moderator. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.


Only count new flags, since the most recent unlock, when deciding whether to lock again?


Not a bad idea but it wouldn’t solve the problem, as the original flags still aren’t resolved? So reopening would be premature.

The more I think about this, the more I realize there’s no good solution to this problem. The topic has to stay closed until the flags are resolved somehow, thus the only action that makes sense is for the system user to only post when the topic can be properly opened (because the flags were resolved), and announce the reopen. We will improve the copy to indicate this is the case:

This topic is temporarily closed for at least 4 hours due to a large number of community flags.

Discourse auto-ignores all flags older than 90 days as a sanity check, because if flags haven’t been resolved in that long, they’re never gonna be. But that’s irrelevant on a site like BBS where all topics close in 5 days anyways.


yeah when i said “is it possible” i didn’t just mean from a technical perspective :confused:


You could give a comment that has already caused an automatic lock less weight when flagged again. Diminishing returns, so that repeated flagging (perhaps with nefarious intentions) won’t lock the thread ad infinitum. This could but a bit of a brake on a vicious locking cycle like we saw, but not prevent normal use of flagging.


That is not what is happening. It’s the same flags as before, no new ones were cast.


Ah. Well, then it’s fairly straightforward I think. Automatic lock lasts for 4 hours minimum, no maximum time if not dealt with by a moderator. But you already said that earlier I see. It still depends on an active moderator, but won’t cause a pileup of messages and confusion.


This is now fixed as you can see

It’ll try to reopen as indicated, but if it cannot (too many outstanding flags) it’ll keep trying at 4 hour intervals, until either

  • the topic permanently closes (after 5 days, per BB standards)


  • a staff member clears the outstanding flags

… and no further notices will be generated in the topic, keeping things tidy.