Knowing the Flag

How about: The message the software sends is kind of rude. It leaves the recipients puzzling, what is going on.

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Would that still be an issue when the moderator resolves the flag adding a comment if applied?

Personally, I consider the heavy weight that is laid on moderation in this forum here a bit too much. In fact, it bothered me right from the start. It differs a lot from the runnings of openstreetmap itself:

Imagine, I could hide a POI, a building, a path from the data and only the DWG can see my nick.

That is not, how openstreetmap works. No intimidating messages get sent to the original mapper. Here, a message is sent that starts with “The community considers your behaviour offensive or against the rules of the community &c.” - e.g. while there was just some single user who felt offended, because the accepted solution of a help topic was not to his or her liking.

This is lacking due process in every respect. Of course, everybody may feel offended by whatever they want. But they must not be taken for “The Community”. Other community members should be trusted, to deal with flaggings on their own, no need for moderators to get involved. Therefore, the community needs to know the flag. not just the moderators, unless this is to become a managed community, an egg-counting-hen-house so to say.

Moderation may still be of use, where members get hot, too hot. Moderators have the difficult task, to decide on what is reasonable according to the guidelines.

To sum this up: Please let me mark the post on the other thread as “NOT off-topic”.

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I agree that the default wording from discourse might be confusing for some people, and as I commented, we have room to change it to one that people feel more comfortable. Is there any wording proposal you would like?

On the other topic, how are the rest OSM discussion channels (old forums, help osm, mailing lists) handling for this same issue? I’m trying to figure out if there is a discussion platform where the flags and reports are public and how it works.

Maybe of help: There is a field of philosophy, it is called “Ethics”. There should be lots of literature on subjects like this. I think, it is fine, when acts of moderators are hidden behind a “System” proxy. I strongly disagree, that acts of ordinary users should be given the same treatment. When I flag a post as “off-topic”, I do not want the poster to get message by some ominous “Community”. Ethically, this is completely out of bounds. I am not the community.

From recent happenings, it might also be wise to spend a sentence, on what consequences the act of flagging will bring with it, there seems to be some confusion.


I think the original intention of the wording was also to cover when more than one person has flagged a post, even maybe for different reasons. How would you reword the current message to feel accurate and fair?

Hello Rubén,

Thank you for supporting this issue. There must be more message templates in the system. The ones you quoted, I did not see. Below from two PMs that I received so far:

Hallo, dies ist eine automatische Benachrichtigung von OpenStreetMap Community, um dich zu informieren, dass dein Beitrag verborgen wurde.

[ link to topic ]

[ message regarding flag type ]

Dieser Beitrag wurde wegen Meldungen der Community verborgen, deshalb prüfe bitte, wie du ihn überarbeiten kannst, um ihrem Feedback zu entsprechen. Du kannst deinen Beitrag nach 10 Minuten bearbeiten und er wird automatisch wieder sichtbar.

Falls er jedoch noch einmal von der Community verborgen wird, bleibt er dies, bis ein Team-Mitglied ihn prüft.

Weitere Informationen findest du in unseren Community-Richtlinien.

Here the different central phrases, they got sent in English, untranslated:

Your post was flagged as off-topic: the community feels it is not a good fit for the topic, as currently defined by the title and the first post.

Your post was flagged as inappropriate: the community feels it is offensive, abusive, or a violation of our community guidelines.

Not knowing the inner workings of discourse, I think, the messages get sent, as soon as somebody puts up a flag. If I’d send such mails myself, I’d feel as an imposter.

At first sight, hiding flagged posts even before a third party can look at it, might be warranted, just in case, so if there is really something grave happening, it is less likely to spread. I do not think, this will be the case often. The discourse creators obviously do not think so either. Still, if I flag a post off-topic, I really want it to be hidden, immediately. So with this I am fine.

Now, to the PM: I’d say, it should rather state:

A post of yours was considered off-topic by [nick name]. Perhaps it is not a good fit…

A post of yours was considered a violation of our community guidelines by [nick name]. Perhaps it is inappropriate, offensive, …

I’d say, naming the person to put up the flag in the PM is appropriate. After all, this is a community consisting of individuals, each with their own idiosyncrasies, and getting to know each other is always welcome, even if it is not all milk and honey all the time.

Following this thought, I’d say, on the public side, in a similar manner, as one can see, who hearts a post, one should be able to see, who flagged it, and which flag was set. So the community of ordinary users can help themselves self-moderate. Assigned moderators have more weight, but in most cases, they will only have to get active, when there starts e.g. an edit war.

Do I put too much trust into the community?


I think more people should be required to make the flag have effect, e.g. 3, particularly if the flag reason is „offtopic“ it seems harmless and not urgent. It could be hidden right away for the one setting the flag, but not for everybody else.
Abusive, insulting or threatening posts are more delicate (maybe also copyright infringement), and a lower threshold for initial hiding (until an admin or moderator confirms or rejects it) may make sense, but for offtopic flags we do not need to hurry


Thanks @Hungerburg

I haven’t found a way to display who is flagging on the messages, I’ll keep investigating.

I’m still curious about this desire for knowing the person flagging or sending a report, in every other OSM tools reports are sent directly to admins or moderators and the reporter is never disclosed to the reported.

Maybe this is a wider than these forums request? I assume you would also like to see this everywhere at OSM tools?

What do other people think about this?

On all other platforms I know, the reporter is not disclosed, and/or you would need special privileges to see this information. I’m sure in case members start abusing the “flag post” feature to harass other users, moderation can still take appropriate action.

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Hello Rubén, if the system does not support naming the flagger, so be it. The topic is, knowing the flag, not the flagger, this should be good enough. That allows to word the message differently. A simple sentence in active voice, passive voice being notoriously difficult:

A member of the community flagged a post of yours as …

I still think, the public should see, what flag(s) got set.

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Insbesondere sollte aber das erstmalige Markieren als “offtopic” nicht sofort dazu führen den Beitrag zu verstecken. Das stört meiner Meinung nach den Diskussionsfluss mehr und verursacht Irritationen bei den anderen Usern.
Eine Diskussion entwickelt sich und kann auch mal vom Ursprungsthema abweichen, ohne dass das falsch ist. Und das können auch Leser unterschiedlich empfinden. Aber offtopic-Beiträge sind meistens nur Ablenkung vom Thema, führen aber meist nicht zur Überhitzung einer Diskussion.

Es ist ausreichend, den Beitrag als offtopic sichtbar für andere User zu markieren und dem Moderator die Entscheidung zu überlassen, ob:

  • ein solcher Beitrag sichtbar bleibt, weil es vielleicht nicht so schlimm offtopic ist
  • mit einem moderierenden Beitrag eingreift
  • den Beitrag in eine eigene Diskussion verschiebt oder
  • den Beitrag ganz verbirgt.

Das sind Entscheidungen, die kann keine Maschine treffen.

Andere Beiträge, die ein hohes Konflikt- und Eskalationspotential haben (Beleidigungen, Rassismus, strafrechtlich relevante Inhalte usw.) können und sollten sofort ausgeblendet werden, bis ein Moderator eine Entscheidung trifft.

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Reading again through discourse meta forums, it seems they choose “by the community” because post are only hidden when a certain threshold is reached, sometime can be a single “high karma” user flag, others are a group of “regular karma” users flags. So I suspect the system doesn’t know if the post was hidden because X number of flags.

I’ll keep searching if it’s possible to show the type of flag to the reported, because right now it’s just plain text.

I have a concrete suggestion for transparency: remove the ability to anonymously flag a post, instead showing the user who raised the flag.

Sure, this might dissuade some from objecting to legitimately bad content, but wouldn’t it be more transparent to not allow manipulation of the forums by unaccountable users hiding in the shadows?

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People trying to use flags as an attack are quickly detected by the system since most/all of their flags are being rejected by moderators. Since these forums still have low volume it’s easier for relatively new users to flag posts of other new users, but the internal “reputation score” helps avoid any content to be hidden for review on users who have been around with good past reputation score.

Indeed, but I’d suggest that the “post flagged message” was changed from:

" Your post was flagged as inappropriate: the community feels it is offensive, abusive, or a violation of our community guidelines."


“Your post was flagged as inappropriate: someone in the community feels it is offensive, abusive, or a violation of our community guidelines.”

Whether flagged posts should be hidden immediately and then restored later by moderators or not immediately hidden is a question for the moderators - I suspect that the workload could be quite high if it becomes a well-known “attack vector”. I believe that most other bits of OSM (diary, comments, etc) don’t hide immediately.


See this past discussion about it:

Note that wording changes might require changes in every language and that the system is not able to tell if the flagged post was because one person (someone) or a group of people (the community)

In the example I was referring to at I suspect it was neither a single “high karma” user nor a group; could we perhaps check whether the flag threshold needs to be increased?

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We can check the threshold, when I checked last time I read that the threshold adapts to the number of users and activity a forum has, and that’s why in low traffic and relatively new forums it’s easier for messages to be hidden, because the system estimates that it’s going to be quite easy for moderators to review because of volume.

I propose we keep observing if this becomes a problem and see if when the forum increases in volume, this auto-hide is that easily triggered (it should not).

I think rewording the two messages is a lot of work without much benefit. My opinion is that is more important to be able to understand why your post was flagged in the first place and what kind of redress the author has to challenge the resulting decision. Users who get a message marked as off-topic or offensive should receive a reason why was flagged and the resulting action taken by admins. It is often a simple issue that can be resolved with a short explanation or a longer discussion offline. Even when its not, most people will like to be more civil when they feel like they have been treated with respect.
For example, most users are a not going to get upset when their legitimate but offtopic question gets posted and answered on a different thread. Just make sure to include a link in case they don’t agree and want file a grievance.