Trouble resolving system-auto-flagged posts / silenced user


(Brendan Schlagel) #1

This morning I found a few messages in our moderator inbox related to posts that were auto-flagged by “system” as spam, due to:

“This new user tried to create multiple posts with links to the same domain (www.youtube.com). See the newuser_spam_host_threshold site setting.”

I went the the posts in question and clicked “ignore flag” — but the posts were still hidden so I can’t tell if “ignore flag” actually had any effect. I tried manually unhiding the topics (“make listed”). I also realized the user was also auto-silenced, so I unsilenced him…but nope, his posts still seem to be hidden. (All his posts, not just auto-flagged ones!)

See:

And

I’d suggest that in this case there should be a more straightforward way to reverse an auto-spam action like this for which there may be false positives. Ideally one-click that would both unsilence the user and restore all their posts to normal. Rather than, in this case, having to take action in several different places (each flagged post to unhide, plus the user profile to unsilence). Still not sure if there’s a bug here or if I missed some additional action I need to take here.

TL;DR currently nothing in our list of active flags, and I’ve unsilenced the user — but all his posts are still hidden. I can’t figure out how to resolve this.


(Brendan Schlagel) #2

To follow up on this, one related thing I just noticed — I see the following message was sent to this user, and not exactly correct:

Hello,

This is an automated message from The Cracking the Code Forum to let you know that your post was hidden.

Early Kotzen Sweep Picking - Playing Technique - The Cracking the Code Forum

Your post was flagged as spam : the community feels it is an advertisement, something that is overly promotional in nature instead of being useful or relevant to the topic as expected.

Multiple community members flagged this post before it was hidden, so please consider how you might revise your post to reflect their feedback. You can edit your post after 10 minutes, and it will be automatically unhidden.

However, if the post is hidden by the community a second time, it will remain hidden until handled by staff.

For additional guidance, please refer to our community guidelines.

Would be great if this sort of thing indicated that the flag itself was an automated system thing — currently it implies that it was actively flagged by the community, which is not the case.

Also, the “Multiple community members flagged this post before it was hidden” part I believe in this case is incorrect. As far as I can tell this users posts were only flagged by system.


(Brendan Schlagel) #3

Okay I finally figured out I have to go through each post this user made individually, click the admin wrench, and click “unhide”. Simple enough but I’ve never had to do that before. At least it was only five posts; only alternative I found seems to be this.

I think this may be what’s happening here:

I also agree w/ the OP on that topic that not differentiating between community flags and automated flags adds some confusion in the messaging:

So, perhaps not a bug, but some confusing UX here. If there were a simpler way to undo the system-created automatic flag + user silencing in this case, I think that would be an improvement. But at least I think I get what happened here now!


(Brendan Schlagel) #4

Okay whaaaaat?

I just restored all the aforementioned user’s hidden posts. Was drafting a reply to one of them…and the post changed to “hidden” right before my eyes. I went to look at the user’s profile again and it was set to silenced again by system. I just now unsilenced the user and it happened *again — silenced by system for a third time now.

Under “context” it just says too_many_spam_flags: ''

In settings I see:

flags required to hide post - 3
num spam flags to silence new user - 3
num users to silence new user - 3
num tl3 flags to silence new user - 2
num tl3 users to silence new user - 2
num flags to close topic - 12

As far as I can tell I just see two flags both from the system user (two different posts), so as per these settings I don’t know what’s causing the user to be repeatedly silenced even after I revert to unsilenced.

I’m at a bit of a loss now. I can’t find any way to permanently remove these flags or make this user immune to system silencing. Just tried changing the user’s TL from 0 to 1, will see if that helps… Anyone from the Discourse team have further insight here whether there might be a bug or just confluence of weird behaviors?


(Joshua Rosenfeld) #5

I’ve seen reports of this before, but I’ve never been able to track down what is actually going on - nor see it myself.


(Brendan Schlagel) #6

Gotcha. For now it seems manually making this user TL1 has prevented further auto-silencing. Will update here if I see it happen again.

Thought: should it be possible for automated / system silencing to occur at all after an admin as unsilenced that user? Basically I’m thinking any indication of manual human approval of a user should override any future automated spam checks for that user, to whatever degree that’s possible.


(Jeff Atwood) #7

You may want to add youtube to the domain whitelist if you expect this to recur in the future. New users posting repeated links to a domain is highly symptomatic of a spammer.


(Brendan Schlagel) #8

Thanks Jeff! Agreed, video sharing is common / encouraged in our community so this should help. I added it to the whitelist as soon as I figured out what was causing this.


(Neil Lalonde) #9

The message could suggest doing that. Something like:

This new user tried to create multiple posts with links to the same domain (www.youtube.com). See the newuser_spam_host_threshold site setting. Consider adding domains to the “white listed spam host domains” if you want to allow them to be linked by new users.


(ljpp) #10

We have a user that is being repeatedly muted by System, with the reasoning of: Too many spam flags.

The user has been flagged and flags handled by moderators, but to my knowledge the user has never been flagged for spam. He is not posting any external links either.

EDIT: Our issues may related to the fact that the user was locked to level 0 by a moderator and got flagged afterwards, triggering the new user silencer based on flag count.


(Jeff Atwood) #11

If they are locked at TL0 then I suggest adding whatever domains they are posting to your whitelist… at TL0 you’ll be subject to fairly strict rules by design.


#12

I just found out a lost user that had been auto-muted for a month, without anyone noticing. He posted something a little bit silly/sensitive and got a handful of flags. He is on TL1.

  • Is there a way that Staff-members are notified for auto-muting, which seems to be a permanent action?
  • Are the auto-muting triggers documented of configurable somewhere? I’d want to lax them a bit, since our members seem to be rather trigger happy with flags.

(Jeff Atwood) #13

Was this user at TL0 when flagged? There are special rules around that.


#14

TL1 - he was not a newcomer.

Speaking of which, I just found a suspended TL0 newcomer that was muted for “typing too fast”. Had been muted for 2,5 weeks until he contacted the admins directly.


(Jeff Atwood) #15

You should have a search in your site settings because much of this is configurable.

However. Going back to the TL1 user. I’m curious how that could have happened, because I can’t think of a way… can you @neil? All the special rules around TL0 users. Were any of his posts flagged as spam by TL3 users?


#16

He got 2 flags for Inappropriate, and 1 for Off-topic – and all these regarding a single bad post. Two of the flaggers were TL3 and one on TL2.

And yes, I have to look into fine tuning the flag settings, thanks. However one of my original questions remain:

  • Is there a way that Staff-members are notified for auto-muting, which seems to be a permanent action?

Flagging and muting happens and even if I tune the available settings they may not be perfect. Is there a way for staff members to know, which would make the whole situation manageable.


(Jeff Atwood) #17

Yes, turn that on in your site settings as previously mentioned.


(Jeff Atwood) #18

@woodcock as previously noted, we can’t repro this, and I can’t think of any automated ruleset that would cause a user to be automatically blocked in the manner you describe. That only potentially happens with new TL0 users. Are you SURE a human moderator didn’t agree with the cast flags and cause this to happen?

Good point. I just added

This can be modified via the newuser_spam_host_threshold and white_listed_spam_host_domains site settings. Consider adding %{domains} to the whitelist if they should be exempt.


#19

They sure did - after which the system auto-silenced the user, without anyone knowing about it. As said, the user was on TL1, but maybe we simply don’t understand how these triggers work.

The setting for notifying staff regarding auto-mutes is enabled, but I do not recall receiving a notification ever. As reported earlier, one dude was auto-silenced for typing too fast as TL0.


(Jeff Atwood) #20

If one of the users who flagged was TL3, and cast a spam flag on a TL0 that is agreed with, that’s a headshot. It auto-silences the user. But that wasn’t the case according to you. (Are you SURE this user was TL1 when flagged? Because if they were TL0, and the spam flag was from a TL3 user, and a mod agreed with that TL3 spam flag, that would explain this perfectly.)

My suggestion is that TL3 users don’t flag as spam unless what they are flagging is… actually spam.