Lack of Effective Flag Integrity Controls

But my public topics get turned into PM’s without debate & closed - I’ve more than 1 example.

That is good they have this category here, was thinking of starting a topic there.

For this one topic about the flag system this was initially speaking in general about that not specifically about any one forum.

Meta has a lot of traffic with about 150 posts a day, difficult for anyone to filter through that kind of volume. My overall impression being new here is this is kind of like an auto shop for taxis, and for talk about how to run a taxi service. Not at all like the backseat of a taxi cab like other forum pages may be.


I think it’s important to create topics which allow people to contribute meaningfully to a discussion, rather than ones which try to cover too much ground.

For instance, this topic is a mixture of several different elements all introduced in the OP which I don’t think allows anyone to contribute to any of them fully. It’s a community topic, but which appears to be floating the idea of a new feature for flagging. Though the quoted text is concerning an agreed/disagreed flag score which doesn’t seem connected to that [1]. It also goes on to criticise a moderation decision on the site. And because the replies are interwoven with a little of each within the same posts, it’s also impossible to split out or bring back on-topic in any meaningful way. :person_shrugging:

I think when creating a topic, it’s important to decide what you want it to be about, as a topic can’t be about all things at once without leading to a fractured and ultimately unproductive conversation.

Obviously, all sites are different and may have different approaches to this, and should be free to do so. :rainbow:

We tend to make our decisions as a team here on Meta. :+1:

As for the feature request itself, I think you have to trust your admins and mods to make the right choices. They do have a good sense of what is or isn’t expected, and will often work as a team to achieve this. There’s also some good reports on the dashboard you can use as oversight too, depending on the size of your team (or you can create bespoke ones if you have the data explorer if they don’t suit).

So, what do we do with this topic? Recategorise and retitle it to properly reflect what it’s about? There doesn’t seem to be an obvious choice for that. There also doesn’t seem to be a good split point for making it two (or more topics). Or do we close it and encourage the feature to be made into a feature topic and the ux into a ux topic, and draw a line under the fact that sometimes topics need to be closed at a moderator’s discretion to handle these situations?

  1. (and which, slightly tangentially, already exists. Though recently downplayed in the flag UI as we didn’t think anyone was using it. Potentially a good ux review-queue topic :+1:) ↩︎


Maybe recategorize. Perhaps ux maybe as this could likely be made as a theme-component that can always if the team feels could eventually be part of core much like pm bubbles did.

It might be an idea if you to select posts not related to idea. To be put in a separate community topic on ideas how to manage broad topices.

Ie Could be made as parent discussion that idea points become child new topics. But that would be more a starting point…

As for trust vs a control. We know how well trust works with for example Speeding in community safe zones or speeding itself. We are at a tech level where cars can be made with controls to limited to potentially eliminate unsafe driving related to speed.


How does that relate to flagging score? A mod who flags members posts boosts their flagging for helpful flags. Sure it is great to simply say choose your mod team wisely. In some scenarios it is a company head that decides who has moderator level; so a simple option to ensure integrity thst does not rely on rhe human condition can be preferred. “lead not into temptation

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One challenge is that there is a difference between what is moderation and what is editing/indexing for a historical record.

Many rivers meander while still on course to the sea.


If this is related to exploding subtopics; Lets move it here

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I would recommend a new title for this topic thread, unless you stand by your claim that there is no integrity system for flags. That is a bold claim I don’t agree with that.

There is a limitation to the flag system, yes, but to proclaim there is no integrity seems foolish. If that were true, this would not be the place to report that.

Integrity system tbh my opinion on this is still true.

I had a mod that was bumping his flagging score because he would flag posts unrelated honestly to moderation…Of ppl he simply disagreed with their pov. (Very clear example of mod abuse).

When a flag is not validated(agreed) and disagreed with the Flagger’s scores % droppeds.

This metric is in place I believe in part to give the mod team an idea if a flagger is maybe one who might be abusing flagging system.

But will modify title to suit better.


This topic reminds me of meta-moderation. And that reminds me of George Santayana’s

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

I would recommend

  • looking into slashdot’s metamoderation
  • looking into moderation of hacker news
  • looking into kuro5hin’s deliberate experiment of abandonment
  • looking to metafilter’s moderation and culture
  • looking into reddit’s moderation story and history

Some of those can be said to have failed, some of them offer valuable lessons, a couple of them continue to function very well after very many years.

I imagine there will be other histories too, which I’m not familiar with. Digg, perhaps. Lobsters? Delicious? And of course we have the Fediverse, with Mastodon instances, Diaspora instances, and others. There might be lessons from Google+ especially the Communities feature.

However, I might note that all the above are sites with the intent of scaling up and being self-governing. Discourse sites, I think, are more contained, and are governed and curated.

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All past and current platforms share moderation failures.

In an idea shangri la community moderation is conducted on the individual level internally without the need for members of authority or flagging systems…However humanity has not reached that level of enlightenment.

Putting neutral controls in place to help reduce personal bias in moderation is key. As often demonstrated in government without controls or after thought audits due to lack of controls. Often power corrupts even the most well intentioned individuals. Though not all.

But Tolkien did say even the purest of heart will eventually start to be corrupted by the one ring.

Removal of temptation removes the possibility of faltering.

I have been around since Fido networks during the Dos BBs days. History repeats because of both not learning from the past and limiting our future with tunnel visions.


Oh dear, I feel dismissed. I think especially the metamoderation idea is in conversation with your idea.

What does metamoderation mean?

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I wouldn’t feel dismissed. One of the very great things about Discourse is that all things for the most part can be accomplished in one form or another.

And has been proven over time an idea once opposed by DeVs may eventually prove enough merit to be merged into core.

It is interesting at times though how often an idea might be dismissed.until an idea is clearly demonstrated to illuminate it’s own value.

Tbf I really do not like Reddir’s sloppy volunteer moderation or karma system. Youtube once had a reasonable :+1: :-1: system now it only shows upvotes downvotes hidden.

At a base Moderators are rated by the community on a quick scan.

Some Companies have workers evaluate their supervisors and based on a number of worker reviews combined with the Supervisor"s manager review gets combined of sorts.

Really not a bad system to foster growth on both levels of member and moderator.

I have a multiple occasions members have approached me on a moderated action They knew I was involved in and provided feedback when they have felt I was unfair. And they were successful…So responsibly I apologized to those involved and the community accepting & owning my fallibility. - This gains a moderator credibility by demonstrating we are just as human.


Ed iirc isn’t there or was there not a plugin at one time where you could vote for ppl to be a moderator?

Before was maybe a bit risky. But with Category Mods being less powerful maybe not aa much of risk. Been awhile but recall some kind of plugin…

Kind of from a quick scan. This one.

Not being used in the fashion of electing mods. Which is a good thing as Full Mod is a position to be careful granting if as Admin your company allows that discretion. :wink:

Hi, I was quoted in the OP.

I wanted to set up a news site with inevitably some political topics.
Initially I would be the sole admin/mod.
I was concerned I’d spend a lot of my time moderating.

Users flagging would be a big help, but also a hinderance (false flags).
If users held politically diametric views they could attempt to use the flag system as censorship of an opinion they disagreed with.

Flag integrity would be a huge help.
If the false flaggers got a negative weighting. After a number of false flags their flag could be given no weight.
Correct flags a positive weighting … that gave their future flag more credence.

Flag integrity would be helpful in my case.

If you have teams of mods less so.
I hadn’t even considered Mods posts being flagged. Seems an edge case.

Also as I got zero likes for my original suggestion until the OP gave me one ( :heart: thanks) it’s probably also an edge case problem/solution.


I’m amused, or is that saddened by how many specifics are set out in this thread that are examples that my attempts to start discussion of the general mechanisms in societies/ the sociology of digital community … & thus isolate cause, effect, hypothetical responses, design guides and patterns/ anti-patterns.

Well understood problem domains can have simple solutions (high degree of coherence in advance). Complicated domains necessarily have many components that with care and precision leads to solutions but normally fragile. Complex domains represent case where vision of the relevance and relevant components has not been isolated and thus need an exploratory approach - coherence can only be detected in arrears - [This is the observation that sits at the philosophical core of the agile software development movement and thereby generates concrete artefacts such as the daily standup or the product owner with a backlog that is groomed on the basis of user needs]

If a moderation system is set up with only the capacity to deal with simple then there is never the opportunity to move the complex through understanding, past complicated and into the realm of simple.

I’m sure I read somewhere aspirations about next generation online community within meta but I currently see that as precluded by the moderation stance. The flag integrity mechanism may have relevance but is probably in the complicated / fragile category. Another relevant component would be the freedom to discuss the sociological drivers that are not yet clear enough to be put in a highly coherent thread but would get there in the future

Hi Geoff,

Your quite welcome even though pur ideas have perhaps some different directions. But are related as well.

Political topics much like we experience here with differing pov & philosophies on how to achieve similar goal/end points. Creates alignment issues.

There is a flag integrity of sorts based on how a moderator resolves a flag.

for example. Flags a moderator agrees with on a particular user will keep their flag score at 100%.

If you have a user for example that you almost always disagree with their flags their flag score drops in %.

On the one forum I am a volunteer admin we had a very dedicated troll that would post tons of links to other posts on the forum as a new user. The system would then flag the new user and all linked posts. Only the new user in question was the issue.

However we would then have to disagree with so many system issued false flags the system flag score dropped to 50%.

Oh wow

Light bulb moment

So moderators are incentivised to find things to complain about. This is a memetic mechanism that probably explains part of the culture of meta and by extension through Conway’s law other communities and may come from reddit and source-something (forge?) both of which I’ve heard can be more penal than rewarding.

It also explains why a post I wrote had the use of the word ‘catholic’ with the lower case c AND quoted in single quotes - Which means illustrative of the rich variety of life - was treated as if I had written the word Catholic with a capital C which is a reference to a religion.
You get the behaviours you incentivise, whether explicitly or as unintended consequences

Discord Servers usually use a dump category/channel of little to no moderation a “Free4all” channel that is not publically viewable either requiring proof of age or fir a user to apply for access. Though usually proof of age on Discord.

Discourse Meta having the openness of being extensible through plugins & theme-component is a very positive forward thinking and a very large reason for it’s success.

Keeping open discussions of philosophies is also key with healthy debates of differing pov. It is only when debates are misread and closed that can slow things down.

There is a flag integrity system. However it is lop sided when there is no option save babysitting to ensure in cases where mod selection is not in dare I say competent hands. I am speaking only to my case scenario and others who are in an admin position more as a maintenance/design control. Where a company decides who gets mod and relies on system controls vs personal integrity.