In re: The Matter of the Flagging System

#1

This morning I made an executive decision to remove the ability of forum members to flag posts for spam. In a very ironic twist, the system of flagging posts for abuse was itself being abused.

The present forum software appears to inflexibly be set so as (1) it is impossible for forum members to flag posts without everyone else learning who you are and (2) the number of times people are flagged are logged as some statistic in their public profile page, to the anger and frustration of many.

Because this is the internet and everyone is apparently unable to act like human beings when a screen is placed between them and another, this system has naturally given rise to the expected infighting, abuse, and revenge flags.

Though I suppose we could keep our system and we could just ban the people who abuse it, I have chosen – for now – to simply take everyone’s toys away. So effective immediately, if you want to sincerely flag a post for abuse/spam/whatever, please simply send a private message that contains a link to the post/page in question to all of the following: @“Andy P” , @Chuggles22 , @jennywaboom , @Plus2Joe , @snickerdoodle. Be sure to tell us whose post upsets you and why. Spoonfeed us. Please don’t make us go hunting.

Then we will take a look and go from there.

Remember: As always, don’t publicly call out other players or moderators. If you suspect someone is abusing the forum/cheating in the game/whatever, send a private message. If you think the moderators are being tyrants, send a private message to @jennywaboom, @Plus2Joe, and @snickerdoodle – they work for Microsoft and are our bosses. If you ignore these things and call people out publicly, do not be surprised if you get warned/banned. Yes, even if you are accusing me of tyranny, I will still ban you from doing so publicly. It’s a cruel world and ours is a very small corner of that world that we use to discuss a video game. So please do that.

EDIT: I also just added the ability to upvote a post for being “Insightful.” This may be the unilateral decision that nails my coffin shut, but I figured it’s a specific enough compliment that we don’t already have. (For positive reactions, we already have “Agree” and “Like” – which I honestly am not sure are often distinguishable. For negative reactions, we now still have only “Disagree.”) We have a few other unused choices, but we don’t need overload us with too many. But I like Insightful because it seems to encourage sagely thoughts, which occassionally dot our landscape. Ours is a fairly nerdy subject matter and it’s always a joy to see people double down on it and lay out complex strategies, historical connections, sagely advice, etc.

#2

Thank you very much, Andy. Flagging threads was starting to get out of control. I did it because that was what I was instructed to do by the community team for notifying the moderators in specific situations, but never liked it because the action was highly visible and created unintended hard feelings. I agree that private messaging the moderators is currently the best alternative to flagging threads.

Keep doing an awesome job. Happy Halloween!

#3

The flag system on this software isn’t really good and I was already trying to avoid using it myself. This seems like a solid decision, thanks.

Remember: As always, don’t publicly call out other players or moderators. If you suspect someone is abusing the forum/cheating in the game/whatever, send a private message. If you ignore these things and call people out publicly, do not be surprised if you get warned/banned.

I’m not sure I understand this correctly. Does this mean I should never tag the moderators in an issue’s context to notify them of the issue, otherwise I’m at risk of getting banned myself? What exactly constitutes “calling out” other players or moderators, am I supposed to never use the tag function? I’m just confused.

Tagging the moderators in context is what I’ve always been doing so far, as I see a couple benefits to this for both sides (at least in most cases):

  1. Easier for a user to do. Composing a private message is obviously much more work and requires manually linking back to the context.
  2. Prevents duplicate reports of the same issue. Sending a private message means that no other user will know I’ve sent this private message and already notified the moderators. This means several users will come forward and waste both their time and time of the moderators by flooding them with duplicate issues that were already reported by someone else.

Now, I agree there are cases where a private message is better, like when the issue is flaming and a public message could serve to escalate the issue. However, I don’t think it is better in all cases, or even most cases.

#4

@Eaglemut said:
The flag system on this software isn’t really good and I was already trying to avoid using it myself. This seems like a solid decision, thanks.

Remember: As always, don’t publicly call out other players or moderators. If you suspect someone is abusing the forum/cheating in the game/whatever, send a private message. If you ignore these things and call people out publicly, do not be surprised if you get warned/banned.

I’m not sure I understand this correctly. Does this mean I should never tag the moderators in an issue’s context to notify them of the issue, otherwise I’m at risk of getting banned myself? What exactly constitutes “calling out” other players or moderators, am I supposed to never use the tag function? I’m just confused.

Tagging the moderators in context is what I’ve always been doing so far, as I see a couple benefits to this for both sides (at least in most cases):

  1. Easier for a user to do. Composing a private message is obviously much more work and requires manually linking back to the context.
  2. Prevents duplicate reports of the same issue. Sending a private message means that no other user will know I’ve sent this private message and already notified the moderators. This means several users will come forward and waste both their time and time of the moderators by flooding them with duplicate issues that were already reported by someone else.

Now, I agree there are cases where a private message is better, like when the issue is flaming and a public message could serve to escalate the issue. However, I don’t think it is better in all cases, or even most cases.

For instance, if someone has a support question or something, I think it is fine to tag Microsoft staff for them to help. But for instance, if you think someone is trolling/spamming/being awful, I’d send us moderators a private message.

In either way, I wouldn’t interpret the act of tagging the moderator as calling the moderator out. But in the second instance, publicly reporting someone for abuse (obviously) publicly puts that forum member’s behavior into public discussion, which is what we want to avoid. (And to that extent, the former system that publicly identified both (1) that someone flagged a post and (2) who flagged the post oddly served in itself as publicly calling out a forum member – that’s another reason I never liked the system.) Let me know if you have more questions. If you do, I am sure more people do, as well. I don’t think our system of managing the forum is particularly confusing, but when people do find it so, it’s a good indicator that we are doing a poor job of communicating it.

#5

Thanks for the clarification, it is more clear to me now. :wink:

#6

Finally. Thank you for doing this. I confess, I did abuse the system just to raise how stupid it was. Flagging should have been a moderaters right not ours. And I also predicted that flagging @rhrmn will get this issue in fast track. Please don’t take it personally friend, I was trying to raise the problem by using your reputation. You are a good community member, every one knows this. I apologize to everyone but not to those who actually started this mess. Sorry again to everyone.

#7

This had nothing to do with anything that happened this week. I wound this clock 7 days ago to strike today so long as no moderator spoke up against it in the interim. I’ve never before changed a setting on the forum before, so I telepathed my move before acting. Mustn’t get ahead of myself.