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Comments November 10, 2009

Post Already Reported? Then Tell Me!

Filed under: Board Management, MOD Writing, phpBB — Dave Rathbun @ 9:17 pm CommentsComments (5) 

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.

Icon Explanation

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.


  1. Some of the phpBB 3 systems, such as the Friends/Foes list just seem like they were added-on just for the sake of it, rather than well thought-of and planned.

    Comment by Dog Cow — November 11, 2009 @ 11:33 am

  2. Meik admitted at the Londonvasion event that he recognized that none of the developers were board owners (or at least not “big” board owners), and he actively solicited feedback from the moderator team on operational matters. Some of those suggestions have made it into the code already. Others may / may not make it as they get prioritized with other requirements.

    Comment by Dave Rathbun — November 16, 2009 @ 8:12 pm

  3. The alert box is shown for moderators which have permissions to deal with reports in that forum. I think that is enough, I didn’t have need of anything more on my board.

    I think this is one of the less annoying usability bugs of phpBB3. There are much worse issues in the MCP for example. Linking back to the original page doesn’t work flawlessly, everything requires several clicks (redirection messages everywhere) etc.

    I have an article in my head some time now, but I haven’t time to write it down yet and decide where to post it, this is something that should definitely be kept in mind with the development of new version.

    Comment by Vojtech Vondra — December 7, 2009 @ 1:53 am

  4. Hi, and thanks for your comment. I certainly agree that moderators should see the alert, but it’s frustrating as a user to go report a post only to be told that it has already been reported. Maybe instead of showing an alert (as I do on my board) it would be enough to update the icon on the report-a-post button instead.

    But I believe that there should be some sort of feedback so users don’t sit there and get annoyed.

    Comment by Dave Rathbun — December 8, 2009 @ 12:39 am

  5. I am currently looking for such a mod and have not come across one as of yet but I totally agree that other users should be aware of a post that has already been reported as opposed for them to click the report button and then get a message stating that is has already been reported.

    If something like this is avail, would like to get a hold of it as before upgrade to phpb3, it was avail in phpbb2. I may have missed it somewhere but still looking for something similar that will work in 3.

    Comment by seahawk83 — February 14, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

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