Details on flagging posts

There’s been a few misunderstandings about how the flagging system works, so I thought I’d share some screenshots to show how it looks behind the scenes. The screenshots have been modified to not show user information.

tl;dr: A user flagging does not cause topics to be hidden by itself, and the system automatically deals with users who abuse the flagging system. Don’t be afraid to flag a post which needs moderator action. When flagging, use an appropriate flag reason. Don’t flag something that doesn’t need hiding.

When a user flags a post, a few things happen. First, it puts the post in a queue for review by the relevant moderators. As part of forums-governance or an admin I can view and interact this, but generally don’t. If no one reviews it in time, it’ll send out an email reminding the moderators with access.

At the same time, a score is calculated.

Each user’s flag is given a score, and that score is totaled and compared with the two thresholds at the bottom.

The first, minimum score for visibility, is how much flagging needs to take place before it’s brought to moderators for review. This happens with just a single flag for us, but I could see on a very busy forum moderators might want to limit this to posts that have been flagged by multiple users.

The second threshold is the score to hide a post, which was increased recently. This post, flagged by these three users, did not reach the threshold and has not been hidden.

The scores for users are based on their trust level and accuracy. If a user is regularly submitting invalid flags they will have no effect to posts and just cause moderator work. It is for this reason that we don’t need to do anything to users who submit invalid flags except reject them, unless they rise to the level of spam.

In this case, two of the users flagging are not very accurate. In fact, the first user is so inaccurate their flag did nothing but raise it to the moderator queue.

When an additional user flagged this post, it brought it over the trust level to hide it, and it was automatically hidden from the topic.

All of these actions are pending moderator interaction.

For a post that hasn’t reached the threshold, the moderator is presented with the options above. For one that has, it appears slightly different options.

Yes has a number of actions that can be taken. I probably see some additional actions because I’m an admin, but the moderator can either agree with the flag and hide the post, agree but leave the post as-is, or delete the post.

For a post that’s reached the auto-hide threshold, the hide option and leave option are merged into one to agree and leave hidden.

What no does is obvious - it restores the post if applicable and removes it from the queue. Ignore has a couple options.

Ignore has reasonably obvious options too.

I think “Delete User…” is specific to spam reports, but it’s not something I’ve used, and is more relevant to Discourse setups that don’t have single sign on.

There are a few other less-common flagging things that I can’t demonstrate right now, because they’re not going on right now. If there’s too many unhangled flags in a topic, the topic is automatically closed for the moderators to deal with. This has, to the best of my knowledge, only happened once.

A user can also flag for “something else” and include text, which the moderators can see. I don’t have an example of this right now.

Previous versions of Discourse used to show the percentage of flags accepted by the user in this interface, but that seems to be gone.

Some things that don’t work well are translations, and ordering of the scoring. The former doesn’t work so you have to go the full topic to see the post, and the latter is confusing. The scores in my screenshots are not in the same order as the reporters are shown.


In other words:
Category moderators cannot see or do the following things:

  • Silence user
  • Suspend user
  • Delete user

This is currently reserved exclusively for admins. User suspensions must therefore be requested by the category moderators and will be applied by ForumGovernance after review.

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