How do you deal with flag spammers?

We have one user who is constantly flagging many posts per day. Some flags are ok, most of them are not. His flag score is very bad, but the user is congesting the review queue.

Would it be feasible to have an option take away the flag feature on a per-user base for cases like this one?

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:thinking: Have you considered reaching out to this user individually via personal message to clarify the community guidelines and/or flagging criteria?

Are there multiple miderators/admins who agree that most of the user’s flags are unsubstantiated?

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Hello,

I suggest that you lock their TL to 0

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Yup, did both. 10% ok, 90% not. Reached out. But he is also contributing content, but if someone disagrees to his topics, he starts flagging posts in other topics by users not agreeing to his points.

I think it would be good idea to limit the number of flags for users with a low spam flag score per day.

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That’s not the point of flagging as you know. When you contacted him did you send an official warning?

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Yes, but it’s not just this user. Statistically, the highest number of flags come from users with a low flag score.

In light of this, I think it might be good to have some kind of flag limit per day for users with a low flag score. Thus, they think twice before flagging something, as they can’t just go around and go on a flag spree e.g. if number of flags historically > 10 and flags today > 3 and flag score < 50% = show pop-up, “you can’t do more flags today”

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This. We had the same with a ‘trigger happy’ individual. We talked to him, it didn’t help. We explained that if he continued doing this, we’d ban him for a week. That did the trick.

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Agreed, threatening ban can help. But have something at hand that limits the number of flags for users with a low flag score (and a high flag count) would be a sensible option, too IMHO. But it has to be rolling so they can get out of a potential temporary limitation.

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I think a new site setting would also help here. I agree.

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I agree with Bart, this is totally covered in the Discourse Moderation Guide. It’s on par with other disruptive behaviors that users can see.

In the official warning, be sure to explain the negative behavior you have seen, detail specifically what you’d like them to do instead, and the consequences of not changing their behavior.
If the behavior continues, be sure to follow through with the listed consequences. You may choose to…

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Well, we have lots of settings limiting users to do X or Y. I just proposed a sensible new Z based on our statistics. Of course, you could also argue to also remove all existing Xs and Ys by referencing the moderation guide.

But anyways thanks for the response, may look into options to patch core for our Discourse then.

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However, you stated in your OP that this happened with one user. This was the case for us too, in our 2.5 years on Discourse, this happened exactly once. So the statistics are actually against implementing a feature, and favor just handling it manually. If this becomes a recurring thing on multiple Discourse communities then yes, I fully agree with you.

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Also, I don’t think we’ve ever had any per-user ratelimit changes before. Only ever groups like staff exemptions.

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Well, we just switched to Discourse and the flag wars are ramping up. One user is on the extreme. I will futher monitor this, but we run a highly political and heated forum, not an art discussing or developer community. Big difference.

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Here’s a sample official warning for you to use. I’ve added the theory that this person is trying to abuse an automated flag-handling system to get the victim’s account automatically penalized, and refuted it.

Hello, I’m contacting you again about your continued use of flags on posts you merely disagree with.

Your behavior is causing a lot of extra work for the forum moderators. This isn’t like Facebook or Twitter where you can score a win by convincing the automated flag system that something’s wrong with the account you are flagging - we are looking at these bad flags and rejecting them ourselves.

If you persist in abusing the flag system like this, you will receive a 7 day suspension from the forum.

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Thank you. Will put this to use and will keep this thread updated about how things evolve.

Our community might be a border case, but I will look also into options to limit misuse of the flag system automatically via code for those interested.

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We have defined “intentional misuse of platform features” to our rulebook, and we penalize hard anyone breaking the rule.

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:woman_shrugging: This is a horse of a different color.

If your forum has many users weaponizing flags, then I suspect it might be warranted to improve your operational definitions of what is and is not allowed as well as both a public topic from admins/mods clarifying acceptable use of flags and the consequences of false flagging/flag abuse, and public replies in topics where flag abuse has locked them automatically.

@ljpp has a great suggestion for including this in “intentional misuse”. If your guidelines discuss “disruption to the forum,” this would also cover false flagging.

I am not at all opposed to a standardized site setting…except that I see this as a teachable moment in terms of community expectations. Sometimes you have to teach that you can be a meaningful contributor but also abusive to the platform, but also disruptive to the community. :grimacing:

Well here’s the issue! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Hi @papyrophilia, I agree with all of your points, but when I see the potential to limit misbehavior automatically (in particular if things scale) in a reasonable way that is based on stats I’m seeing, I try to have this implemented via code instead of policy and manual work e.g. currently you can only set the min TL user level for flagging being enabled. Even a simple global catch-all setting like “min flagee score threshold” to allow more than 3 flags per 24 hours would be amazing to avert the worst abusers of the flagging system.

And we’re not alone with mass flagging abuse:

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We sometimes have this problem too with different users, so +1.

The problem is that this is hard to explain to the user why he should or should not flag posts. It’s a moderation job to make decision about flags and rules, not user. User only use this functional to alert moderators that in his opinion something needs attention. And it’s okay. Just sometimes it adds too much work to the moderators.

We have nice disagreement ratio feature with helps auto moderation to make a decision. It would be nice if it would also help to human moderation in some way.

Or, personally, I would be happy if current max flags per day would be by trust level option, not global. TL0 lock is too much because it limits not only flagging. With flags limits per TL we will be able to make more flexible restrictions.

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