I found out about the flagging system in the chat area the hard way today. From what I can gather it seems to be a 30min ban per successful flag - maybe I got more than one entry flagged but that is the only thing linked to. (For the record, I was just taking a line from an episode of South Park - and I did manage to mention that before I was unable to partake in the chat any longer).

The relevant message, for the sake of posterity, was:

remember, 1/4th of americans are retarded.

It would be nice to know if something I said in jest and humor was taken offensively and I would then apologize for it. I do not like offending people - I am not a troll. I am however not a very politically correct person in general (the whole PC thing is a bit too hypocritical to me).

I am not trying to convince people that what I said was not offensive, I am also not looking to get my suspension time reduced so please do not take that from this post. What I am trying to suggest is there should be a bit of a gray area where people are allowed to make up for their mistakes instead of "Go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200".

When I ran/developed telnet chat programs (talkers) our staff always had a set of escalation steps, starting with just a normal verbal warning, an official verbal warning and then a suspension (or banning, depending on the case). It would seem the SE.chat system skips a few of those steps.

Update: After talking with Wipqozn, he was able to sum up what I was trying to get to here very well as follows (quoted with permission)

Yeah, I get it. What you want is a system where there is an option to either "delete and suspend" or "delete and issue warning"

From further discussion it would seem that the SE sites might not contain the ability to track the warnings received (which makes sense with the current system, the situation that arose has been handled and everyone has moved one). As alexanderpas said:

multiple warnings = suspension.

would imply the requirement to some how track if a user has had multiple warnings, as the people who can validate flags are not always going to be the same person for the same offender. Showing a little count next to the 'issue warning' to show how many the person already has would make sense as well.


2 Answers 2


Just like @agent86 I'm a huge supporter of improvements to the chat system, and I think this sounds like a great idea.

This does seem like a good opportunity though, to remind everyone that chat should only be used for conversations that are appropriate for all people in all situations. As someone who often idles in chat while at work, I've often left the room when people started saying things that I wouldn't feel comfortable having my employer read in my traffic. I never bring it up because I'd rather be non-confrontational, but it's gotten to the point where I'm avoiding chat at work just because of the language.

As a general rule, if you are about to say something in chat that you wouldn't feel comfortable saying to your grandmother, you should rephrase or reconsider saying it altogether.

  • @James Please don't consider the last two paragraphs an attack at you - I meant it only as a general comment Feb 24, 2012 at 3:50
  • 3
    I am 100% impartial on this, besides you should hear what comes out of my grandmother's mouth ;)
    – James
    Feb 24, 2012 at 6:11

I wholly support system reform, and I will upvote and make suggestions until I am out of upvotes and suggestions for the improvement of the chat system.

That said, for the time being the system is what it is, for better or for worse.

There are very few guidelines for chat; this is what the FAQ states:

Do I have to be nice?

Yes. We expect community members to treat each other with respect … even when they don't deserve it.

If you see an inappropriate, spam, or offensive chat message, please use the hover menu at the far right of each chat message to flag it. This will draw it to the attention of the community moderators.

We all have a responsibility to act mature and intelligent here.

As the people posting messages we are responsible for ensuring that our content is work-safe, appropriate and respectful to others. Everything posted in chat is publicly visible and google indexed, as "permanently" as can be on the internet.

As the people flagging messages we have a responsibility to use our flags appropriately. At this point in the system, sending a flag means that you earnestly believe the content should be removed immediately, and that the user deserves suspension for what was posted. If there are other solutions that seem appropriate, we should be aware of those options and use them where appropriate.

As the people responding to flags we have a responsibility to understand the context and judge the post on its merits. This is the responsibility of everyone who has been entrusted by the community with these powers, by reputation or by election.

Chat should be a welcoming, open place for discussion and fun. Let's not let this devolve into either a place where everyone is paranoid to post (because of the off chance someone will be offended) or where intolerance, offensive material, and disrespect are commonplace and encouraged.

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