Flagging is an in-built moderation measure in Discourse, intended to dissuade bad behavior and spam, as well as to promote civilised discourse. If you want to raise an issue about a post without derailing the topic at hand, the best course of action is usually to flag it.
By default, clicking the flag button will present a user with the following options:
I want to talk to this person directly and privately about their post.
This post is not relevant to the current discussion as defined by the title and first post, and should probably be moved elsewhere.
This post contains content that a reasonable person would consider offensive, abusive, or a violation of our community guidelines.
This post is an advertisement. It is not useful or relevant to the current topic, but promotional in nature.
This post requires moderator attention for another reason not listed above.
Marking a post as Off-Topic, Inappropriate or Spam will trigger a moderator notification so moderators may review the issue in their flag queue (doc pending). Furthermore, this also “casts a flag” on the post, which has other consequences:
- A user whose posts have accumulated 5 “agreed” flags can not reach TL 3. (with unique posts and unique users for each flag, confirmed by a moderator)
- A post with 3 flags will be automatically hidden. Registered? users may click-to-view the post.
- A staff member can use the “Take Action” button, which will cause this to happen immediately.
- When a post is automatically hidden due to flags, the user receives a PM informing them their post was flagged. After 10 minutes, the user may edit their post and it will be unhidden.
If another 3 flags occur, the post will be hidden again and editing will not unhide the post.
- A new (TL0) user whose post is flagged as spam 3 times from 3 different users will have all their posts hidden as a result. (TODO: Should probably include inappropriate too)
- If after 48 hours a flag is still in the flag queue without any action taken, an automatic mail will go out to contact_email.
- A topic with 12 unresolved flags from at least 5 different users will be automatically closed until the moderators can intervene.
Also worth a read: So What Exactly Happens when you "Flag"?