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In the past, the general consensus on chat flags in the past has been that no one likes the situation, but no one wants to change anything.

So let's address the elephant in the room:

In rooms where flags occur often, they are generally done by people who do not frequent the room, and are often even done by people who aren't even in the room. This has been established.

My suggestion is merely to require flagging take place within the room, rather than via a passerby in the transcripts. Why? Because it closes a tiny gap of a larger problem. All it requires of the flagger is a single click and the removal of their anonymity. In return, it offers a chance to discuss the issue, and perhaps even roll things found offensive back.

In the end, isn't that the actual goal of chat moderation? Not to force people to silence, but to make them be nice to each other?

This is a discussion, not a feature request, so please share your thoughts!

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    Previous topic on main meta – phantom42 Sep 12 '16 at 16:08
  • Anonymity and Accountability are hard concepts to combine. – Skooba Sep 12 '16 at 16:17
  • @Skooba The two should only be mutually inclusive in systems without jerks. Which this one certainly isn't. Thus the plethora of flag posts. – user40790 Sep 12 '16 at 16:20
  • @phantom42 3 years have passed. Let's discuss it again. – user40790 Sep 12 '16 at 16:22
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    Go ahead. I was just pointing to it so those discussing could see some of the points already brought up in the past. – phantom42 Sep 12 '16 at 16:26
  • @phantom42 Thank you. Do you have a take on it? – user40790 Sep 12 '16 at 16:31
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    is there any point to having a long discussion over something that is never going to happen? – KutuluMike Sep 12 '16 at 17:16
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    1st: Wrong place to aks for this feature, it should be on main meta, 2nd: It's already been discussed on main met too so there is no much point left. – Akira Fudo Sep 12 '16 at 17:22
  • @KutuluMike Yes. If there's enough pressure, it will happen. Also, it's already the most positive thread regarding this subject yet. – user40790 Sep 12 '16 at 17:27
  • @AnkitSharma 1) It's not a request. 2) The dupe policy is only in force when people want it to be. – user40790 Sep 12 '16 at 17:28
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    this is the wrong meta... the only way to get changes done to chat is system-wide, that means main meta – KutuluMike Sep 12 '16 at 18:09
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    I'm not really sure what the point of this conversation is. It's not a feature request, so you're not asking for things to change. You just want users to sit and chat about this? To what end? – phantom42 Sep 12 '16 at 19:40
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    What if there are only two people in the room and one wants/needs to flag the other? Who will review the flag then? – Möoz Sep 12 '16 at 23:21
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    @Mooz The person in the room would be able to flag, because they're in the room. I'm not suggesting validation require the validators in the room simply because that would be too easy to abuse. This is just a simple fix to hopefully discourage "drive by flagging" and encourage discussion. Because flat out saying "require discussion first" would be immediately denied. – user40790 Sep 13 '16 at 16:17
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    yes, it was ignored because it is based on a fundamental disagreement with SE over what chat is. Specifically, they do not see chat as an "instant medium". SE Chat is an extended public comments thread, which is why we don't have private rooms, or private messages, or room-specific moderators, but do have permanent transcripts where you can flag messages. Until their entire principle belief about chat changes, those things will not. – KutuluMike Sep 16 '16 at 0:50
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Caveat #1: This is never going to happen. It's been brought up repeatedly in chat, and at least once on main meta, and it's always rejected. So, any discussion here is merely academic.

Caveat #2: Changes to chat are system-wide changes, so any discussion that might possibly result in such a change needs to to on main meta, not here, so again... academic.

I don't honestly see how what your proposing is going to change anything at all. You're working off of assumptions that aren't necessarily supported, and solving problems that don't really achieve your own stated goal.

For starters:

In rooms where flags occur often, they are generally done by people who do not frequent the room, and are often even done by people who aren't even in the room. This has been established.

Established where? By a bunch of users guessing who flagged things? I can tell you that the one time we specifically asked a CM if this is what was going on, we were told in no uncertain terms that no, different users in the room were flagging messages that we wanted to blame on a single lurker.

There are several users that we know lurk in our transcripts, because they respond to things said in chat; we have no proof that those users are the ones doing the flagging (and we wouldn't be told if we asked.) We want to believe that this is what's happening because we want to believe that "well, no one that I actually talk to in chat would be offended by this" but the reality is, more likely than not, the flags are being thrown by people in the room.

All it requires of the flagger is a single click and the removal of their anonymity. In return, it offers a chance to discuss the issue, and perhaps even roll things found offensive back.

There's several problems with this:

  • Removing the anonymity of the flagger defeats the entire purpose of the anonymous flagging feature. Like it or not, it's anonymous for a reason.
  • Forcing someone to join the channel to throw a flag doesn't actually do what you said, because we have people join and leave chat rooms all the time. At worst, it's going to cause people to jump to conclusions every time a flag happens that whichever new user just came in must have done it.
  • Nothing in this proposal "makes people" discuss the issue. If they wanted to discuss the issue, they'd do that now.
  • What's to stop a lurker from joining chat, flagging, and immediately leaving again?

Not to force people to silence, but to make them be nice to each other?

What you are proposing is practically guarantee to do the opposite of this. If the identity of the flagger is somehow made open through whatever means, including forcing them to join the chat room momentarily to do so, that person will immediately be made to feel unwelcome, probably causing even more flag-worthy behavior.


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  • So, to recap, your belief is that the risk of possibly alienating people who only want to flag something is worse than having people be able to flag things at will with zero accountability? – user40790 Sep 12 '16 at 17:36
  • No, as my answer states, my belief is that your basic assumptions are wrong and that your solution won't fix the problem that you've stated. – KutuluMike Sep 12 '16 at 17:40
  • Edit: Fair enough. Why not? Where is the major flaw? – user40790 Sep 12 '16 at 17:41
  • If you are offended but refuse to voice your concern in any productive manner, should you have such power? – user40790 Sep 12 '16 at 17:44
  • The major flaw is that you cannot force people to tell you when you offend them, especially when doing so opens them up for abuse, so the only other option is to just remove flagging completely and SE is never going to go for that. – KutuluMike Sep 12 '16 at 17:44
  • It's not an all or nothing at all. We can require a reason without showing the identity, if that's your honest concern. Also, how does your "it would open them up" argument apply, if again you think that outsiders aren't a source of flags? – user40790 Sep 12 '16 at 17:46
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    I don't see how requiring a reason would help, since the reason will just be "this offends me", which we already knew. – KutuluMike Sep 12 '16 at 17:47
  • Because it would require forethought and would change how the flag is perceived. You assume people will be jerks. There's opportunity for growth. – user40790 Sep 12 '16 at 17:49

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