So What Exactly Happens when you "Flag"?

What happens when you flag something?

:mega: Site admins are given significant flexibility via Site Settings to adjust how flags work. This topics assumes that all site settings are set to their default. Many of the automatic options presented here, like hidden posts, closed topic, etc. can be disabled or made to require more or less flags before triggering.

Single flag

When a user flags a post, it appears in the review queue. Staff, as well as category moderators, can then review the flagged content to decide what to do. Options may include agreeing with the flag, disagreeing with the flag, and ignoring the flag. Additionally, staff can hide the post, triggering an automatic PM to the user encouraging them to edit the post; silence the user; suspend the user; or delete the post. For full details on flag handling by staff, see the Discourse Moderation Guide.

Flags from some well trusted users might perform automatic actions like hiding. If a user has a high trust level and their previous flags have been agreed with often by moderators, their flags will be more likely to automatically hide bad content.

Multiple flags

If a post receives multiple flags before staff can handle it via the review queue:

  1. “Enough” users flag a post. This could be 3 trust level 1 users, 2 trust level 2 users, or a mix.

  2. The post in question is immediately hidden:

    • the post author sees

      Your post was flagged by the community. Please see your messages.

    • the community sees

      This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden. View hidden content.

    • staff sees the actual post, as posted, in a dimmed state to indicate it has been hidden for others.

  3. A friendly private message is sent to the author of the post, describing what happened, and letting them know that for {flag type} a considered edit of any kind is enough to un-hide the post.

    Users must wait at least 10 minutes prior to editing the post. This ensures the user stops and thinks before editing, to minimize any rash changes.

Editing flagged posts

When a post is hidden by flags, users are given the opportunity to edit them.

  • If the post author edits the flagged post, the post is un-hidden. The post remains in the review queue for eventual moderator review, but is visible as usual to users again.

  • If the post author does not edit the flagged post, it is never un-hidden, barring moderator action. If a post stays hidden for 30 days, it is automatically deleted.

Re-flagging a post that was hidden and edited

If the same post is hidden by a second round of flags, the flags must now be manually handled by a moderator. The user is not given an opportunity to edit the post, as they already had that opportunity, and the community still sees an issue.

Multiple flaggers in the same topic

Should posts in a topic receive multiple flags (exact number depends on the trust levels of the flaggers) from at least 5 unique users, the topic will be closed automatically. The topic will remain closed for 4 hours pending moderator intervention. This helps prevent heated topics from going “off the rails” before a moderator can review what is happening.

Trust level 0 users and spam flags

Trust level 0 users are brand new users to the site, and are not trusted. As such, should a trust level 0 user’s post receive 3 spam flags, not only will the post be hidden, but the user will be silenced, preventing any further posting until a moderator reviews the user.


The goal here is for the community to be able to protect itself from the worst users, even without a moderator present. But it works even better with a moderator, as the moderator can accelerate the process by handling the flags as they come in.

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11 posts were split to a new topic: Should users gain/lose trust based on flag actions?

I actually really prefer the approach where you don’t need mods to step in. That’s the best part of Discourse’s approach to flagging. But the concern about getting notified about edits is spot on. However, it should be the flaggers who flagged in the first place getting the notification IMO, not the mods getting notified:

I opened this: Notification to flagger(s) when a flagged post is edited?

I disagree about that. That pushes against the learn-by-editing approach. The goal is not just that one post is fixed, the goal is that people learn to avoid the bad patterns overall, and if it takes some people more than one edit to learn what’s acceptable, fine.

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Yes, agreed, this has bugged me for a long time.

The sad reality is that so few posts get flagged to threshold, and then edited, that we have precious little signal to work with.

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I have a question regarding the other person in the exchange viz… the person the flagged post was addressed to.

Let’s say that X posts a reply to Mr Nice. A moderator / the community notices that X has made a hateful post, flags it and the post is hidden. We know that X will get a email as described above, we know the post will be hidden on the forum… that’s all described above. But what about Mr Nice? Will Mr Nice still receive the hateful post as an email, (if our forum is set to send emails about new posts) despite the post having been hidden? What if the post was flagged and hidden in a timeframe less than the timeframe set for email notification of replies?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Unfortunately, no – but when they visit the site they will see that the post has been hidden through flagging, or that a staff member has opted to remove the post.

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Thanks Jeff! It’s great to hear that the flagged post will not be delivered as an email to the adressee. :grinning:

Sorry if I was not clear. The flagging would have to happen very rapidly to prevent an email notification from being sent (and remember that Discourse won’t mail you if any device has pinged the website recently to avoid double notifications). It just depends how fast the flags come in.

4 Likes