Sutta Central Guide To Flagging

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to write up this guide to flagging, as there are some unique aspects to flagging on the Discourse platform that you may not be aware of, and it can be useful to understand this system to help you help the mods make a better forum for everyone!

Just like in many other forums, flagging is a way for you as a member of the community here to point out something that seems a bit wrong to you. Although the mods try their best to stay on top of everything that happens here, we might not read every post in detail, and we might miss important things that need attention. Flagging is your way of drawing our attention to those things, and creating the forum that you want.

Sounds simple enough. But Discourse has some unique features to make the flagging system more intuitive and intelligent. While you can find other descriptions of this here and here, I’m also going to lay out the full process as it applies to you here.

What Happens When A Post is Flagged?
When you flag a post, a menu appears that gives you the option to categorize that flag (inappropriate, off-topic, spam, or something else). Below is a brief guide to the flag categories.

Flag Types
Off Topic: Can be used for posts that are not related to the topic at hand. However, inappropriate may be the better flag to choose in some cases, as many off-topic posts are also predominantly inappropriate.

Inappropriate: Probably the most common flag type to cover any posts ranging from obscene to just not belonging on this forum. Posts that contravene the guidelines should be flagged as inappropriate. This would also be the best flag for posts you feel are wrong but you can’t pinpoint exactly why.

Spam: Discourse is pretty good at picking up spam, but if a user starts posting spammy content or bad links, flag as spam.

Something Else: This flag is also known as custom, because you can describe the reason for this flag completely independently. While this flag is popular because it allows you to briefly describe your flag, it’s also the least effective because Custom flags don’t accumulate (*see Automatic Hiding below). Try to see if your flag would fall under one of the other categories.

Explaining Your Flag
If you think the reason for your flag might not be understood by a member of the community or mod, please send a message to the moderators to explain this. We may also message you asking for more information about a flag.

The person you have flagged will not know you have flagged them until they are contacted by the mods or action is taken. In any case, they will never be able to identify the individual who sent the flag. We will never disclose who flagged a post to any member of the community outside the mods/admins.

Mods Are Notified
After you send a flag, mods and admins are immediately notified when we next log into Discourse. We then begin to discuss the situation and brainstorm how to best address the problem. We may need to ask some questions about the flag in order to help us better understand the issue.

We Make A Decision
Totally egregious posts are deleted on sight.
The majority of flags are not that bad and require Moderator consultation in order to resolve them. There are three options in this case:

  • Defer
    Deferring a flag means we basically do nothing. The issue may be resolved or we may decide not to take action. In this scenario the flag is dismissed, and both the ‘flagger’ and the ‘flagee’ receive no benefit or penalty. In most cases, this is what we do.

  • Agree
    If we believe your flag raises a significant issue and we cannot agree on a suitable resolution with the ‘flagee’ we will agree to the flag. This causes a heavy loss of ‘Trust’ from the flagged party, and adds a little trust to the flagger.

  • Disagree
    If we think your flag is really unwarranted and you are perhaps flagging to target or troll someone, we will disagree with your flag. This restores any lost trust to the flagged party, and the flagger gets a heavy trust penalty.

If you’re not sure what trust levels are, here’s a handy guide from Discourse

After Flagging
You may not hear from us at all after your flag is sent. Don’t worry - this is normal as we don’t have time to respond to every flag individually, and we can’t always give feedback regarding flag decisions. But we do give every flag due consideration and ensure it is handled with care.

Automatic Hiding
Posts that receive 3 or more flags from trust level 3+ users are automatically hidden. Mods will still check that those flags are warranted and unhide the post if necessary. If we agree we may leave the post hidden. Automatically hidden posts are deleted after 30 days. We may also need to delete posts sooner if they contravene the guidelines.

The Power is Yours!
The Discourse flagging system is designed to put the power in the hands of the community so you can help create what you want here. Don’t freak out if you get flagged or if we message you to raise an issue with you, we probably just want to ask you about what’s going on or see if there’s a more skillful way to approach a problem.

Always keep in mind the following from our guidelines:

If you find yourself moderated in any way, please show respect for the moderators. You have benefited from the kind and accepting environment that they help to create here. Be grateful. To have someone willing to correct you and help you improve is one of the greatest blessings in the Dhamma. If you attack any moderator or their actions, this will be regarded as a sign of lack of good faith.

False Positives Are Better Than No Flags
If you see a post you think is problematic, but you are unsure if you should flag it or not, it’s always better to err on the side of flagging. We would rather know what is going and even in the case of unwarranted flags, we tend to defer so there is no punishment to either party. If we think you are beginning to flag too much for no reason, we will let you know first. If this behavior persists, then we may start disagreeing with your flags.

I hope this gives you confidence to flag more!

The aim of this guide is to make you aware of how the flagging system works, so you can understand how to flag, what it means, and why it’s a useful tool to help you make D&D even better.

Comments or questions about the flagging process will be answered in the Feedback Section.

Thank you all for being a part of our community :anjal: