phpBB3 includes a “report a post” feature that was often requested in phpBB2 and available as a variety of MODs. I wrote my own that integrates with other MODs that I have implemented. But one of the things that I did different (and that I prefer) is that I provide a visual indication when a post has been reported.
Just a few minutes ago I was on phpbb.com and saw a post in the General Discussion with the title “Is this new home page nice?” Anyone that has been around phpbb.com for a while knows that this sort of post – even in GD – is against the rules. I figured that someone might have reported it already, but there’s no indication that such an action was taken. I decided to go ahead and report the post.
When I clicked the proper icon, here’s the message I got:
This post has already been reported.
Well. If that’s the case, why not tell me?
Reporting Posts With Feedback
I prefer my method. When a post is reported, a red “alert box” is added to that specific post, detailing when and why it was reported. It does not include who did the reporting, but that information is captured as well. Here’s what that box might look like:
This box serves a couple of purposes. First, it keeps a second (and third and fourth) person from attempting to report the post when it’s already in the queue for a moderator to review. Second, it serves as an immediate feedback to the user who posted in the wrong forum (as in the case above) and helps them learn the board rules and procedures faster.
Once the post has been acted upon, the alert box changes to show the updated status.
Suppose a person reported a post for being spam, or as in the example above for being in the wrong forum. The moderator may disagree with the assessment and decide to leave the post in the original forum. If there was no indication that this process had taken place, the post might very well be reported again. And again.
Both of the alert boxes pictured above are only shown to logged in users. Since guests can’t report posts, there’s no need for them to see this information. But any logged-in user with permissions to report a post will be told before they attempt to send the report whether it’s necessary.
The first image shown above has three icons, so I thought I would explain them briefly. The yellow flag icon allows the moderator to flag the post as “in process” or “being reviewed” for now. That means a moderator has picked up this post off of the queue and is working through the process but hasn’t decided what action to take yet. The green check icon allows the moderator to close the post and enter notes about the action(s) taken. Finally, the red X icon allows the moderator to reject the report and explain why.
If a user has accumulated a certain number of rejected reports, then their permission to report additional posts is revoked. This is to prevent someone from running around and reporting every single post they see just to be a nuisance. Over time I might also review the accept / reject ratio on post reports to determine if I want to extend an invitation to a particular user to join the moderator team.
It’s all about communication. The phpBB3 post report process is largely hidden. Mine is more visible. Is this a better design? I think so, but I would welcome any input, either in support of or contrary to my opinion.