New flag type: insisting


(probus) #1

One thing that seems to pop up quite frequently is two (or more) people going on and on about some argument where everything has already been said many times before. Neither just wants to let the other one get last word. It might not be strictly off topic or inappropriate, but gets annoying really fast. You can always notify moderators, but I think this might deserve it’s own flag type. What do you think?


(PJH) #2

I’d consider that in the broad category of inappropriate, and let the mods sort it out with their icon - or simply ignore it.

It this sort of thing much of a a problem on your forum? If so, all the more reason for actually categorising it as inappropriate behaviour…


(Sam Saffron) #3

Why not use a moderator message then, seems like a perfect fit.


(Jeff Atwood) #4

I know exactly what you mean and it is definitely harmful to discussion.

I don’t know if it needs a whole flag type, but here’s what I recommend:

  • flag it for mod attention with a note
  • the mod (ideally) comes in and posts a reply asking the two people to cool it

However that doesn’t help you if no mods are around. I might even suggest posting as yourself (non mod, just another user) and asking the two people to cool it.

Maybe related story.

One night in Boulder, Colorado as I was driving home late from my job – this was maybe around 1992 or 1993 – I pulled up at a traffic light in front of two other cars. Not many cars were around, it was dusk, maybe 7pm or so at a relatively deserted intersection on the outskirts of town.

Anyway, these two guys were yelling at each other for some reason. Then they both got out of their cars, I swear to God, and were about to have an actual throwdown fisticuffs fight in the street. At this point I’m pissed because I’m sitting behind them at this traffic light and I can’t go anywhere with these two jackasses out of their cars.

So I lean out of my car window and yell as loud as I can, GET BACK IN YOUR CARS!

The two guys look at each other sheepishly, get back in their cars, and drive away.

True story. I’ve always remembered that.


(Jeff Atwood) #5

Also related needs:

  • custom flag types (planned for eventually)
  • insert arbitrary mod messages in the stream in the staff yellow color

The latter would make it more “official” of a warning when posting in the stream. You put on your wizard robe and hat.


(Sam Saffron) #6

I would say “convert to mod message” would do the trick here, you can decide to “highlight” at any point really.

I guess you kind of have this feature now in a hackish way

COOOL DOWN @codinghorror with the feature requests :slight_smile: (totally agree it should be far more usable)


(Jeff Atwood) #8

Open/close is pretty nasty side effect wise to get that though, the extra message in the stream is unsightly.

Yeah an admin wrench function to convert a message to a staff message I guess is fine. If someone wants to PR that (@riking maybe when you get back) that would be a nice feature.


(probus) #9

Not really, we’ve managed to keep the discussions pretty clean but it’s a quite specialized forum. It’s in our short list of top problems, though. I admit being guilty of it myself sometimes…

But I’ve seen this in many forums I read. I’d even say it’s one of the most common problems that gets by moderators, because often nothing in that particular message is inappropriate or off topic, you need to read a little more to understand what’s going on. It would just be easier for users to report this.

Writing a message to mods feels more official and takes more effort. I’d wait until I’m sure that this has gone too far. Clicking the flag icon feels more anonymous, I can just throw it in there and see if others agree. Also, the posters can see what flags have been give even if the post hasn’t been hidden yet which might cool down the argument without needing any staff action in the end.


(Daniel Gagnon) #10

That works for me but where is it in the UI?

I don’t see that under the top-right wrench. I tried selecting the message but I don’t see it then either.


(Kane York) #11

What sam did here was that he closed the topic, reopened the topic (inserting two mod messages), deleted the open message, then edited the close message to have the desired warning.


(Homebrew Hops) #12

This hits on the karma up/down toggle really. You’re not so much flagging the content to be moderated, but letting 1 or both parties accumulate demerits. However, this can ineffectively label someone as a troll even though they are probably just passionate about what they are writing. Maybe just a dislike topic to warn people to stay out of the topic altogether is a more feasible feature.


(Jeff Atwood) #13

Not exactly. It’s more like “hey you two guys (and yes it is always guys) stop yelling at each other, take a break” needs to be inserted in the topic, either by another user or a staff member.

One thing I’ve thought about is a specific warning that appears when two users are replying to each other over and over in an excessive chain. That would automate this to some degree, and I think I want to get to that sooner rather than later.

We have warnings like this for one user, but having it for two users as well would be helpful. 4+ chained replies back and forth is generally a pretty bad sign.


(Jeff Atwood) #14

We don’t have insisting but we do have Add Staff Color, so you can insert messages like

Hey guys, it’s getting a little heated in here, let’s cool it a bit.

In this color.

I still think automating the “two people are replying to each other over and over” warning is a very good idea.


(Zane Beckman) #15

The psychology of suggestion and persuasion is very interesting. For example, images of eyes have been shown to promote altruistic behavior. (A little off topic, but I thought you’d find it interesting @codinghorror)


(Zane Beckman) #16

One thing you could do for the warning message after repeated back and forth, is stop bumping the topic until someone else chimes in, but also tell them that’s what’s happening. I think it might have an effect on the behavior because it will prime them with the idea that there is not an audience to the conversation any more.

Since this discussion is mostly between two people, it won’t be bumped to the top of the topic list.

If you wanted to get tricky, you could tell them it won’t bump the topic at an earlier threshold than when you actually stop bumping the topic. If the message they were about to send was aggressive or show-boaty they might reconsider.

As far as the logic goes, I’d suggest something like the following:

Among the last 10 posts, if at least 8 of them are from the same two people, and at least 4 of them are from [me], display a warning, unless the warning for my repeated posting was already displayed.


(Mittineague) #17

Although I have seen many discussions that are indeed “two members borderline arguing”, I have also seen many discussions that are “this is difficult and only one other member is helping”

The idea of automating this would be absolutely great for a heated back-and-forth but I wouldn’t want to have it happen to a “only one person is helping” discussion.

As for a Flag, wouldn’t Notify Moderators cover this?