Why don't you flag?

Continuing the discussion from Four years of BBS :calendar_spiral::

@codinghorror suggested I fork this off. Specifically, my suggestion for getting more feedback from the moderators about posts getting deleted and the results of flagging. However, I think that’s putting the cart before the horse. We already have 1, 2, 3, 4, [5] (No notifications on deleted posts?) #meta topics on “getting more feedback from the mods;” we don’t need a sixth, especially if that’s not the problem we’re trying to solve.

The line that started that whole discussion was:

I’ve explained my own reasons for not flagging in the parent topic:

So, in short, my reasons for not flagging are the trio of “lack of feedback,” “unpredictability” and “collateral damage.”

But those aren’t necessarily the problem. The problem is that there is a general lack of flagging, not that there is a lack of @nimelennar flagging.

So, the first thing we need to do is determine why there isn’t more flagging. Is it for the same reasons I gave, or is it for other reasons? If it’s the former, then we can start discussing ways of tweaking the Discourse moderation system in order to make it easier for the mods to give us feedback. If I’m the exception, not the rule, then, once we determine what the actual issue preventing flagging is, then we can start fixing it.

I’m going to make this post a wiki. Add your own reasons, and then I’ll make a poll out of it once we have a long-ish list.

#Reasons Boingers don’t flag:

  • lack of feedback (added by nimelennar)
  • unpredictability (added by nimelennar)
  • collateral damage (added by nimelennar)
  • already flagged into oblivion (added by JemmieDuffs, multiple concurrences)
  • new members get flagged/punished more than regulars for same bad behavior (added by JemmieDuffs, multiple concurrences)
  • benefit of the doubt (added by wisconsinplatt)
  • skimming through/avoiding hot topics (added by wisconsinplatt/Purplecat)
  • restricting flags to people who aren’t sticking around (added by Phrenological)
  • live and let live (added by stinkinbadgers)
  • don’t see anything that bad (added by stinkinbadgers, multiple concurrences)
  • staying out of direct arguments (added by lamaranagram)
  • doesn’t change the assholes (added by lamaranagram)
  • can’t remember post history to put comment in context (added by lamaranagram)
  • leaving the wrongness be as a memorial to wrongness (added by Snowlark)
  • lack of reading comprehension is not a flaggable offense (added by stinkinbadgers, who hopes everyone realizes was mocking himself)
  • difficulty in determining if something is genuinely flag-worthy vs. something I find personably objectionable. (added by @nothingfuture)
  • the vast majority of everything posted doesn’t bother me enough to flag, and I’d always rather err on the side of letting things devolve into flamewars (well, not quite) rather than sit at a dreary tea-party of rigid ideological conformity (added by, of all people, @Donald_Petersen who doesn’t really want to watch the world burn)
  • no action is ever taken (added by Israel_B)
  • disagreement with the actions taken as a result of previous flags (added by FerrisWheeler/fiddlingfrog)
  • snitches get stitches (added by SenorSchaffer)
  • I just figure arguing is how some people have to come to an understanding (added by critter)
  • don’t want to disrupt the wonderfully wandering nature of conversation here (added by critter)
  • even some odious posts are actually teachable moments (added by AP)
  • If I am not immediately compelled to flag it for gross abuses, I’ll usually just keep scrolling (added by AP)
  • It gets threads shut down and victims banned for fighting back. (added by OtherMichael)

A general lack of flagging among Discourse users in general or just the BB community? I ask because tolerance towards unsavory comments can vary between online discussion communities.


I read the FAQ before commenting on this topic. I have flagged exactly thrice, for obvious violation of the Terms of Use and for obviously decade-old zombie content. I don’t flag more often because:

  1. More timely users have already flagged an egregious violation into oblivion thanks to mass notification.

  2. “Flag the bad, and avoid contentless comments.” I read ‘bad’ as a violation of Rule 1 in the FAQ: Be cool. Don’t post insulting, bullying, victim-blaming, racist, sexist, or homophobic remarks, and 'But, remember to criticize ideas, not people. Please avoid:

    • Name-calling.
    • Ad hominem attacks.
    • Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content.
    • Knee-jerk contradiction.
  3. Instead, provide reasoned counter-arguments that improve the conversation.’ When I see a poster I recognize engage in name-calling, knee-jerk contradiction, ad hominem attacks, responding to the tone of a post rather than its actual content, I wonder if there’s some ‘rules for thee, but none for me’ going on.

  4. Unpredictability is a ‘feature’ here: ‘Enforcement may be lax or draconian as befits the whims of the Entity. The rude will be eaten first.’


i tend to only flag the egregious, blatantly offensive stuff when I see it. heck half the time it has been hidden already.


I tend to err on the side of caution. Are they Trollin’ to be Trollin’? Or are they provoking.

Most of the hot topics where the flags are flying, I’m usually just skimming and don’t actually see the flaggable comment.

If I see something pointing out a questionable comment, I’ll take a look and make my call, but still I go back to erring on the not flagging.


I tend do restrict my flags to shit-n-run posters, Gamergate brand trolls, etc.

I’m not generally worried about lack of feedback (those cases usually get a reply)

Interpersonal arguments usually occur within “rules” bounds even if I find someone’s approach tiring.

I sometimes don’t see a difference with persons who take an inciteful approach, but I still err on the side of “UGH” than I do flagging someone for their shtick.


@JemmieDuffs brings up a good point.

We can’t say we weren’t warned, per the official FAQ


I notice none of the options are “I believe in live and let live” or “I rarely see anything that bothers me that much”

The few times I’ve caught a flagged post before it disappeared or a thread locked-due-to-flagging before it disappeared past the bottom of the page into oblivion, I’m usually honestly baffled as to the reason.


The post is a Wiki, people. Anyone can edit it. My three reasons are supposed to be the start of the list, not its entirety. The polling happens later.

If people don’t feel comfortable editing, I’ll do it, but I feel much more comfortable when people summarize their own ideas in point-form than when I do it for them.

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Some reasons on my part:
1 - I’m not easily offended.
2 - Anything over the top I often assume is sarcasm
3 - I don’t get into arguments here.
4 - When I come across an argument here I don’t get involved – it’s not interesting to me.
5 - Most of the time others get to flag it first
6 - I assume some % of people will be assholes if you flag them or not
7 - I suck at remembering post history - so I don’t know offhand if it’s a repeat offender or nt.


Ah, I see, my bad! :flushed:

/lack of reading comprehension should be a flaggable offense

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As an aside editing the wiki seems like a super lousy experience on mobile (iOS Safari). The editing textbox was scrolling all over the place and could go completely offscreen and I couldn’t see any replies. Maybe this is just a lesser used feature that isn’t optimized for mobile use or maybe I was just hitting a bug.

Cc @codinghorror

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Some more reasons from me:

  1. Time zone strangeness- Trolls tend not to keep my hours, so it’s rare that other people haven’t got to them first.
  2. Inconsistent responses. The same bad behaviour sometimes gets a pat on the head or a ban-hammer, depending on Reasons. Sometimes the mods side with the perpetrator, so what’s the use.
  3. Self-selection. Except when curiosity gets the better of me, (okay, that’s actually way too often) I can see where a thread is going and have noped out before the luck dragon gets there. Sometimes I’ll help things along with a flag on the thread to say “lock this down, or it’s heading off a cliff. on fire.”
  4. Actually, this is a pretty nice place, and doesn’t require too much intervention. My grumbles aside, it’s usually a civil enough place here, so it doesn’t need much moderation. That’s one of the reasons I stick around.

EDIT- Okay, scratch #4. We’re apparently a cantankerous bunch, today.


Other than being a first post (with title, category) it’s no different than any other editing scenario. But on mobile space is at a premium, so those extra required fields hurt.

Ah! I wonder if the visual and behavioral strangeness is because it’s a “first post.” It felt uncharacteristically busted to me but then again I don’t create new posts very often as a point of comparison.

Everything @lamaranagram said, plus:

  • leaving alone a racist/sexist/*ist comment so that it might serve as an example of the sort of thinking affecting a particular ‘national dialogue’.

It should go without saying but this kind of abstention also entails not friggin’ responding to said comment. Remember that scene in 12 Angry Men where everyone slowly walks away from or turns their back towards the overt racist? That’s all such comments deserve.

ETA: The really nasty ones should still be flagged into oblivion. By ‘nasty one’ I mean both the comment and the commenter.

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Okay, I’ve got the list in the topic up-to-date. If you disagree with my summary of your position, or if I skipped one that I shouldn’t have because I thought it was too close to something that had already been said, you can either let me know and I’ll fix it, or you can fix it yourself.

I will echo @Donald_Petersen about not wanting to contribute to the formation of echo chambers… :stuck_out_tongue:


This. I flag sometimes; I don’t know if that’s enough, too much or not enough. If I’m not flagging enough, someone’s going to have to tell me what I should be flagging that I’m not.


To be honest, that contribution of mine does not 100% coincide with my actual opinion on echo chambers, or whether this BBS is in any actual danger of becoming one. I do think out-and-out lies should be called out, and I think abuse should be stifled. I think incorrectness and ignorance have a right to be aired in hopes of them being corrected by the illumination of the congregation.

But I also feel pretty strongly that there should be plenty of room for disagreement, and even for a little heat. The consensus view could often stand to be challenged and hopefully upgraded; we’re not that much smarter than Pope Urban VIII and his Inquisition.

By Sailko - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31258181