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Accessibility and Usability Forum

Is there a flagging alternative?
flagging means different things to diferent people

 5:24 pm on Jun 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi guys. Just ran into an interesting problem that thesaurus.com hasn't yet solved.

I run a job board in which employers can search a database of resumes. Some of those resumes are great, and warrant a "save" by the employer. At the same time, to keep the db clean, I allow employers to flag candidates. +3 flags and I manually decide weather to delete the candidate.

The save link and flag link are in different locations on the page. Save anchor text is: " save candidate". Flag anchor text is: "flag this candidate".

An employer emailed me today saying that she accidentally flagged a candidate when she meant to save them. After a quick discussion, I found out she thought flagging meant "make special note of this candidate" for later (even though I do have an explanation of what flagging is).

Upon more thought, I realized that I'm the one that created this usability problem!

Different applications use flags in different ways. For example, in forums and blogs, flagging is a negative connotation. But in task management programs (the prevalent MS Outlook), flagging means "this is special"... a positive connotation.

Bottom line: my link text is ambiguous.

How would you deal with the problem?

1) Confirmation box: I really don't want to bring up a confirmation box, because I think that is a bandaid as opposed to a solution.

2) Change location: consolidate the "save" and "flag" links to the same place so it causes the user to differentiate between the two. This seems weak as well, because it doesn't get around the ambiguity of the link text.

3) Change the name of the link text. Possible action words that would might work "________ candidate":

The problem with these are either a) they remain ambiguous, or b) they don't do what they say they'll do. For instance, if I wrote "delete candidate", then I bet many people wouldn't click it because they would be afraid that I would actually delete the candidate, when i'd really just be flagging them.

Perhaps I have to skip the verb-lead anchor text that I have been taught to use (and completely agree with), and just go with something linked like this, "Candidate should not be in database."

Ohhhh... I think I just solved it! Sometimes all it takes is typing to oneself! :o)

"Report this candidate."

Suggestions still welcome!



 5:30 pm on Jun 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

Funny... just saw link text on webmasterworld that says "report msg". Hopefully this doesn't wast time but, instead, inspires people to write action oriented, unambiguous link text.


 5:31 pm on Jun 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

How about simpler labels like "Like" and "Don't Like"


 9:02 pm on Jun 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

P'raps it's best to condense what the "flagging" does. Flash: for some reason "flog this candidate" came to mind, no ambiguity there . . .

+3 flags and I manually decide weather to delete the candidate.

I think you're on the right track with "report this candidate." Isn't that in effect what they are doing?

P'raps, also, I should be ashamed to admit - "flagging" has always been confusing to me too. I'm a visual person, I visualize a flag stuck on something, which can be good or bad, depending on the color of the flag and the context. If it's a well-witcher, 'dem's GOOD flags - a logger, not so good, for the tree!


 9:16 pm on Jun 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

Green Card (keep) & Red Card (remove)?

Or go graphical: thumb up (keeper) & thumb down (loser)?


 9:44 pm on Jun 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the responses so far peeps. You are all quick on your feet. Or hands.

"like" and "don't like"

Or go graphical: thumb up (keeper) & thumb down (loser)?

Good idea, but doesn't fit with my action-verb-then-noun linking mantra. I read about this somewhere. If I dig up the link I'll post it. Additionally if someone doesn't like a candidate, I don't want them to request it be removed. Just the ones that are garbage. That is why this is a bit of a tough issue.

Isn't that in effect what they are doing?

Yup... sure is. That word (report) hit me like a ton of bricks at the end of my post. It is perfectly descriptive of what's going on. Well. Not perfect. But close. And a quick link to a "what is reporting" solves the question portion.

Funny what you said, rocknbil, about floggin candidates. That would be perfect. Re: flags on trees: I've seen the ribbon-o-death quite a few times... sad.


 9:53 pm on Jun 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

What about a link that says "Report Spam"?

Receptional Andy

 9:55 pm on Jun 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

"Report Spam"

I was just going to suggest something like "report a problem". "Spam" may have a particular meaning which probably doesn't cover things like offensive language.


 10:29 pm on Jun 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

"Report CV"

That when clicked gives you a CSS menu drop down with different reasons?

Offensive Language



 12:45 am on Jun 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I vote for "Report Spam" also, or "Report as Spam", or "Report" and some other word that's more fitting. The problem with most of the other choices is that they don't convey immediately whether the action is a positive one or negative. Nor do they say whether the action is for their own record-keeping, for a vote to be seen by other users, or a message returned to the candidate.


 6:57 am on Jun 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Great suggestions!


 1:03 am on Jun 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I vote RJ's drop down suggestion.


 11:48 pm on Jun 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Continuing to think about this ...

Craigslist [craigslist.org] has a set of flags - at the top of each post there's a box that says "Please flag with care." It then gives a list of several flags to add to a post: overpost, spam, miscatigorized, etc.

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