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In my other post yesterday, I suggested requiring the initial flagger in chat be in the room proper, to discourage people cruising the transcripts from doing drive by flaggings, and a point came up: what if we required a reason be entered for the flag, which was then shown to validators and, if successful, the flagged person?

On one hand, the cynics among us will say that the reasons will always be simple, like "I was offended". On the other, it would still take enough time that some thought might be put into it for those who are flagging out of actual offense taken, and it would change the way flags were seen by validators who paid attention. Furthermore, it would create a means of fostering correction of the problem -- because, be honest, we've all seen flags for fairly random things, and stating what the problem is might help the flagged user correct themselves after the suspension.

I know this isn't the place for a feature request. This is not a feature request. I am gauging public opinion before posting a main Meta post.

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    Waste of time, I'm afraid. Perhaps you could engage your efforts more usefully. – Valorum Sep 13 '16 at 16:44
  • @Valorum Meta is often a waste of time. I still get told to go there, even when well-liked requests go ignored. – user40790 Sep 13 '16 at 16:47
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    My experience is that on-site policy decisions are worthwhile to ask (on SFF:Meta). Asking questions about cross-site programming changes is utterly worthless, both here and on Meta:Main. Periodically the CMs will ask for the user-base to ratify a decision that's already been made. – Valorum Sep 13 '16 at 16:56
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    @Valorum I've posted a few feature-requests on main meta for minor programming changes which have since been status-completed. Although there are requests which have been hanging for years without being dealt with, it's not as bad as you make it sound. – Rand al'Thor Sep 13 '16 at 17:06
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    @Randal'Thor - I'm pretty sure it's exactly as bad as it sounds. I've seen highly upvoted suggestions utterly ignored and I've seen things being implemented with only the most minor regard for the user base. The worst part of it is that users who vocally object to CM-made decisions are derided as "problem users" in the private chatrooms. – Valorum Sep 13 '16 at 17:17
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    @Valorum Both parts of what you say are true, but there are also things which happen exactly as they should: a suggestion comes from the community on main meta, gets highly upvoted, and gets implemented by the CMs. Anyway, we're probably straying a little off-topic in these comments ... – Rand al'Thor Sep 13 '16 at 17:21
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    So you opened a meta post to discuss whether or not there's enough support to open a meta post. How meta. – phantom42 Sep 14 '16 at 12:21
  • @phantom42 So far it's been a better experience than expected. – user40790 Sep 14 '16 at 16:17
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    this is basically the same question you posted yesterday, no? Public opinion in the previous post was fairly clear imo – NKCampbell Sep 14 '16 at 23:18
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    @NKCampbell It's not the same at all. Also, the net votes are still positive on both. – user40790 Sep 15 '16 at 0:18
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    what is the objective difference? I fail to see it personally. You want to discuss this topic - the post yesterday did the same. This post sounds like you just don't like the response you received yesterday and are wanting to discuss the discussion. very meta indeed – NKCampbell Sep 15 '16 at 0:42
  • @NKCampbell It's a different topic. Thus it needs a different post. – user40790 Sep 15 '16 at 15:45
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This should not be implemented

First, the most important point is that a single per-site meta will not offer a good gauge of support for this proposal. This is not a feature request, but even as a discussion it would be much better suited to the main meta. For example, SFF could be quite in favor of this suggestion, but Stackoverflow could be quite against it. Thus it could be quite well received here, and ultimately have no chance of winning widespread support.

With regard to the merits of the proposal itself, I doubt this would be effective. Consider:

  • This is unlikely to help users correct their behavior, which the question puts forth as one of the reasons for such a proposal. Most situations fall into one of two categories: (a) the user knows very well that they are being rude, in which case a flag reason won’t give them any additional information, or (b) the user is not being rude at all, and the flag was in error (quite common) in which case a reason will only encourage people to avoid innocuous behavior—precisely what the suggestion is intended to prevent. Flag reasons are not likely to dissuade actual rudeness.
  • The question dismisses the significance of reasons always being something trivial, but I suspect this will become the main reason to flag. Most of the time, what else can a flagger say about a post besides “This is rude”? Most flags are not for spam or obvious bigotry. We could well end up simply having a lot of undescriptive flag reasons, which would increase noise and help no one.
  • If the reason is not clear from looking at the chat post, then it is likely either not flag-worthy, or the person looking at it lacks the expertise to evaluate the merit of the flag. Yet people validate dubious flags anyway. The issue is not that people lack information about why a chat post should be deleted. The issue (if there is one) is that their measure of what makes a post offensive is perhaps a bit too sensitive.
  • Right now, a common point of contention is that people in other rooms are robo-validating flags without consideration of their context. The mere fact that there is a flag is enough for some people to validate. If a reason were included with each flag, it might well increase the confidence of robo-validators. “Not only has this been flagged, but someone else thought about it long enough to give a reason! Validated.”

Basically, what it comes down to is this: This probably wouldn’t change the behavior of flaggers, who could just copy-and-paste a generic flag reason. It wouldn’t change the behavior of flag validators, who might simply have more confidence in the validity of flags. And its effects on users are uncertain, and could be negative.

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  • 1) How do you think requiring a reason would make people avoid non-offensive behavior? 2) Your argument is "people are jerks, so it might not help"? 3) The stated purpose is already to slow the process and make investigation more common. 4) How can you validate more often than every time? – user40790 Sep 15 '16 at 0:08
  • @Axelrod - 1) People would not only get banned for doing inoffensive things (as is currently the case), but also see a message saying that their innocuous behavior was rude (in light of the second point). Not being rude people, they might actually stop doing said innocuous behavior (as opposed to the actually offensive people, who are likely to already know the precise reason they’re being flagged). 2) Yes. 3) I agree. I doubt this will actually do that. 4) Well, I’m clearly not thinking of the people who validate every time. – Adamant Sep 15 '16 at 0:27
  • 1) That worst case scenario is exactly the same as the system we have right now. How is it worse? 2) The marginal benefit is the entire point when you do small QoL changes. This has one. 3) You think people will just cruise around with a preform reason at all times? Even if it requires they go to another page, it's more time to rethink their actions -- and if this is about the kind of people who use flags in a harassing manner, it can't be addressed because the current system champions anonymity above all else. 4) The ones who don't utilize reasoning. This will help them. – user40790 Sep 15 '16 at 15:49

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