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While it's still as true as ever that flags and close votes are not super downvotes (or even super delete votes; standard policy for moderators in response to "please delete this" flags is to decline), everyone, please do use flags when you come across things that shouldn't be on the site.

Particularly, if you come across content that you feel violates the be nice policy, flag it!

It's rare to come across rudeness on Worldbuilding, and honestly on Stack Exchange in general (being brusque to newcomers, while a problem, is a different problem), but especially on a reasonably high-traffic site such as Worldbuilding, it's pretty easy for stuff that really doesn't belong at all to fly under the radar. Once such content is brought to our attention somehow, we might then be looking at it in isolation; if people flag content that they feel is not-nice, then even if not every such flag ends up being validated as helpful, any pattern will be visible to moderators via the content owner's profile. This makes it far easier to accurately judge if it's a one-off thing, or if it's actually part of a pattern, which helps us to correctly handle the situation.

Moderators can't read every post and every comment, so we rely on the community to flag things that don't belong. Flagging is the mechanism of the Stack Exchange software to bring content to the attention of moderators, or to the attention of the community via the review queues. It's a feature that's available to just about everyone with at least a little bit of participation on the site; only 15 rep is required.

On the flip side, please be considerate with custom flags. Each custom flag (the one where you write something into the "in need of moderator attention" text box) goes directly to the moderator inbox and can only be handled by a diamond moderator. There absolutely are times when this is called for, but before you do that, please do consider if some other type of flag (possibly in combination with a clarifying comment) will fit the problem you're seeing with the content. Before raising a custom flag, ask yourself what, exactly, you want a moderator to do about the post, and whether that really requires a diamond moderator. (It's quite okay to flag posts to point out issues that have been fixed but are likely to be of legitimate interest to the moderator team, but if you do, please make it clear in the text of the flag that the issue has been resolved and you're flagging only for posterity.)

On the third side, when flagging comments specifically, please do consider providing more details in a custom flag, because comment flags go directly to the moderators anyway (so there's little difference in practice between a standard comment flag and a custom comment flag). It's difficult to handle the flag correctly when all we see is a comment in isolation and a flag that says "no longer needed". Instead, take a few seconds to type up a more descriptive reason for why you feel the comment should be removed. For example, we might see "has been incorporated into question" or "seems to reply to deleted comment" or even "answer in comment". (If your first language is something other than English, then don't worry about the finer points of linguistics. As long as it's clearly understandable, that's good enough.) Seeing such flags immediately tells the moderator handling them what the user flagging the comment felt was the reason why the comment should be deleted. The standard comment flags used to be more specific, clearly separating "not constructive" from "obsolete" from "too chatty", all of which are now bundled together as "no longer needed". Unfortunately, this makes the job of the moderator trying to handle that comment flag more difficult, because we might not see why the specific comment is "no longer needed".

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  • $\begingroup$ So many PSAs about flags, why not just post it over mother meta? :P $\endgroup$ – EKons Jun 4 '18 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ @ΈρικΚωνσταντόπουλος Because few people monitor Meta Stack Exchange, for a start. And not least because here, it can be tailored to the specific site. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jun 5 '18 at 6:21
  • $\begingroup$ If comment says @molot and I flag it as no longer needed, is it good enough? And uf there is a whole comment thread that's no longer needed, should I just flag a post with explanation? It was policy on Drupal and worked pretty well here, just making sure. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jun 5 '18 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling It was a joke... $\endgroup$ – EKons Jun 5 '18 at 10:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Mołot That's actually a trickier question. It's not immediately apparent that the user addressed is the one flagging; however, we can apply certain heuristics to reach a reasonable conclusion, or we can dig deeper and get an actual answer. Comment flags are semi-anonymous even to moderators, but who flagged can be dug out if there is a reason to. As an example of a heuristic, is there a comment by you that was deleted by you recently and the one that addresses you is clearly a response to that? When in doubt, if you can, it helps to err to the side of being more explicit than less so. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jun 5 '18 at 11:20
  • $\begingroup$ As for how to handle comment threads, I'd say that for me personally, I prefer that if only some of the comments have become, for example, obsolete, then flag each; if all comments should be removed, then go ahead and flag just one (or the post itself might be better in that particular case) and say so. Whichever you do, please don't make a diamond moderator redo the work you already did in trying to pick through a lengthy comment discussion; a flag "some comments out of many are obsolete" is prone to cause such unnecessary work. The easier you make it for us, the happier we are. :-) $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jun 5 '18 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ I thought that a certain number of "no longer neccesary" comment flags automatically had it deleted. If so, is it the case that these nln flags usually end up in the moderator queue before the automatic system kicks in (i.e. our flagging frequency is low)? $\endgroup$ – user3106 Jun 7 '18 at 7:46
  • $\begingroup$ @JanDoggen I'm actually pretty certain that it's comment flags in general. It certainly applies to both "rude or abusive" and "no longer needed" flags. Even so, it's quite common to see comment flags in the mod flag queue on Worldbuilding, and when it's obvious from the comment + flag text what the correct action is, it's a one-click action to handle the flag. So even if we lose out a little on the automatic handling, it makes things much easier for the moderator who is manually handling flags, which seems common enough that at least for now, optimizing for that case is worthwhile. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jun 7 '18 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling OK, then it's up to us if we want to make the effort of making it a custom flag with annotation instead of just checking nln. I'm a heavy nln flagger because I think clutter should go, maybe some kind of macro tool can help. $\endgroup$ – user3106 Jun 7 '18 at 11:05
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling Can we assume this please do consider providing more details in a custom flag guideline (instead of just clicking nln) to be accepted across all SE sites, or would it require a new discussion to be started on Meta.SE? $\endgroup$ – user3106 Jun 7 '18 at 11:07
  • $\begingroup$ @JanDoggen "then it's up to us if we want to make the effort" Absolutely. Please don't take this as "either you write a detailed custom flag or you just don't bother to flag". That's not the intent of this post at all! Rather, if you can, a detailed flag helps the moderator handling the flag; but a flag is always better than no flag if for some reason the flagged content doesn't belong! $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jun 7 '18 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ @JanDoggen "Can we assume this ... to be accepted across all SE sites" I wouldn't jump to that conclusion. Sites differ in culture as well as traffic levels, so what works here might not work elsewhere in the network. I don't think I've ever had a flag declined because it was too specific, though. Like everything else, it's ultimately a judgement call. The more obvious the situation, the less the need for clarification, in flags and otherwise. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jun 7 '18 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ @JanDoggen It certainly doesn't waste the mod's time if you write a custom flag. Whether it is actually necessary is certainly a different issue altogether. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Jun 24 '18 at 2:51

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