A Guide to Forum Flags


Alright, so I’m seeing a lot of issues with the use of our flagging system. I understand that it’s not perfect and somewhat limited as to what you can actually flag (notify person, off-topic, inappropriate, spam, something else), but I’m going to make an attempt to explain what should be used and when.

There was a post I made on flagging a while back, if you feel like checking it out:

I also made this post on user Trust Levels back when I started politiforum:

This will go a bit more in-depth than either of those posts ever did. So let’s look at what happens when you first flag a post, by hitting the appropriate button:

You get this screen:

I’ll go through and explain each one and the cases where you can use each flag.

Send User a Message - This can be used in an effort to save the discussion from going off-topic. If you are the one in the middle of a discussion or argument and things have strayed from the original intention of the topic, it would be appreciated if you used this flag to ask the other person to move things over to a private conversation, or just private message them with it. If you notice that an argument has gone off-topic it’s best to just use this and ask them to move their argument to a private message. I understand it is likely that some will be hesitant to listen to another member of the community, but if they continue you can use the notify moderator to let one of the staff members know what’s going on.

Off-Topic - This is primarily meant for topics with an ongoing discussion (exclude the Lounge category topics from this), if you see that someone is derailing a topic or a couple of people are, flag the posts. No one likes a thread getting derailed, so please use this.

Inappropriate - If someone is posting gore, hardcore adult content, or harassing another individual, it’s likely inappropriate and will be dealt with immediately. Disagreeing with an opinion is not considered inappropriate unless the person resorts to personal attacks at the expense of a sound argument. Please flag at the first instance of a personal attack. Don’t respond with a personal attack and then flag. Just flag so we can handle it and move on.

We just ask that you keep in mind that this is a free speech political forum. Occasional banter is likely to occur. We just think that ideas and opinions can be expressed freely without the need for personal attacks.

Spam - In addition to people posting advertisements or promoting products/websites, you can also use this category for reactionary gifs. If someone is posting reactionary gifs in a discussion, even if the gif “fits” it would be better to have it along some text for context, otherwise it’s just spam, and feel free to flag it as such. One word posts, writing “I agree” or “I like it” is considered spam. We have the like system in place so there is no reason why you would need to use these responses. If you disagree, please try to explain your reasoning behind why you disagree, otherwise it can be considered spam. Photos, screenshots, and political cartoons related to the topic should not be marked as spam, so long as there is context.

Here is a reactionary gif (posting a reaction gif without text outside the Lounge is spam):

Posting a reaction gif with explanation or amplifying information is fine.

Something Else - This is probably the most universal flag. It can be used in a circumstance where you’re not quite sure the other flag categories truly fit. In this case you’re given a message box where you can leave a note to the staff and we can respond accordingly. Make sure to be detailed. If you feel like a post needs to be moved to a different category, you want your topic to be locked or altered, someone included a spoiler, this is the easiest flag to use. Just make sure to write what the issue is in the box that pops up, and we’ll look into it.

Now for some information on flagging posts. If you read the topic I linked to earlier, you’d know that false-flagging actually hurts you just as much as someone who posted something that is flag-worthy. This isn’t about someone disagreeing with your opinion and that is grounds enough to flag them. Flags are supposed to be used in a way that allows the community to monitor themselves, to an extent of course.

If you’ve been flagged and it was done so out of spite, if the flag does not hold up, it will be dismissed and the person who flagged your post will be penalized by a lost of “trust” in the system. This means, if you consecutively flag posts that do not deserve to be flagged, your “weight” in flags is lost, continue to flag posts incorrectly, the system will automatically suspend you for a set period of time.

Someone who has correctly flagged topics/posts is rewarded with a raise in their flag “weight”, this weight is just a means of figuring out how many more members must flag the post before it becomes hidden.

The more “weight” you carry, the less that is needed to hide someones post. The inverse holds true as well, if your “weight” is low because of incorrect flags, you will require more members to flag it to hide the post. You can always work your way back up if you start flagging things appropriately, and you can lose “weight” if you start incorrectly flagging.

The Notify User/Something Else flag categories do not affect your weight if they are incorrect. This is to allow new users to ask questions and get the hang of how to flag things appropriately. If you feel you’re not sure if it’s appropriate to flag, use these to notify the staff and we’ll let you know.

As far as your post being hidden because of a flag. You’ll receive an automatic private message telling you your post has been flagged, including what category it was flagged under (unless it was one of the notify categories). At this point you can wait 10 minutes, then edit your post, in hopes of preventing the reason it was flagged. If it is hidden unjustly just contact staff and we’ll look into it.

Do not try to get around the flag by editing it into the same post that was flagged. If it was incorrectly flagged, usually it will be dismissed as soon as it happens, if it doesn’t you may contact us. Though if it is appropriately flagged, trying to beat the system by either mocking the person who (you think) flagged it, or not fixing the reason it was flagged, will heighten the issue and cause the post to be removed. We will work with you if you feel things were incorrectly marked.

It is always better to flag the post and move one, do not respond to the post, don’t tell them you flagged the post, if it’s a spoiler don’t quote the post. By doing this you’re perpetuating the issue and your post will be removed along with the flagged post. Flag the post, move on. That’s it, there is no need for any input on why it was flagged and if you were flagged asking why it was flagged in the topic instead of asking one of the staff members will get your post removed.

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This is a really helpful guide @Patriot thanks for taking the time to make it. I don’t ever use the flags because I wasn’t really sure what they meant beyond the description that pops up. I like that we are really unconstrained here, but there are occasions where some just get out of line.