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When I come across a post that should be flagged either as spam or offensive, should I also flag it for ♦ attention?

When a post can be flagged as either, chances are good not an answer or very low quality also apply. In fact, if it's, say, both offensive and a valid answer, editing would probably be a better course of action.

Things that seem to support my theory of double-flagging:

  • The system lets me do it.
  • Double-flagged posts show up in my flagging history as (in)valid and affect my flag weight, simple spam/offensive flags don't. Correction: That's caused by the post being simply deleted. If it ends up destroyed (with the rep penalty and everything), the red flag is dismissed.

On the other hand:

  • Any type of flag probably already alerts moderators, although I'm not sure.
  • If the post ends up destructorized by community consent, the extraneous flag might mean a few unnecessary button clicks for the moderators.

So, could anyone advise me on those "might"s and "probably"s? Do or don't?

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It looks like spam flags don't show up as invalid, but do affect flag weight. One of those is probably a bug. –  Anna Lear Aug 14 '11 at 22:03
    
@AnnaLear In my experience, they do neither. I flagged a post as spam that ended up some form of deleted (I can't see the post anymore, at any rate) and it didn't affect my flag weight. –  lunboks Aug 14 '11 at 22:11
    
@lunboks - But if it ends up not being deleted your flag weight might drop. –  Bo Persson Aug 15 '11 at 6:41

3 Answers 3

up vote 20 down vote accepted

As a moderator, I'd rather just see a spam/offensive flag. That tells me everything I need to know.

There is no need to double-flag if all you want to do is alert moderators that a post is spam or offensive. Spam and offensive flags look slightly differently from "normal" flags, so it's actually easier to notice them than a normal flag for moderator attention.

Plus, as you mentioned, if the community takes care of the spam flag, you'd be creating extra work for a moderator. That'd likely increase your chances of having the flag dismissed as invalid.

If a post is salvageable through editing, you should suggest an edit (or just edit it, if you have over 2000 reputation) instead of flagging for a moderator.

Last but not least, a moderator might not see the flag right away, especially on a busy site like Stack Overflow where they get hundreds of flags. Spam and offensive flags carry penalties against the author of the flagged post that normal flags for moderator attention do not, so it's best to let them do what they are designed to do.

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The spam and offensive flags are already the most powerful flags you have available. If a post is blatantly offensive or spam, there is nothing else about it that needs to be said, any additional standard flag does not provide more information to the moderators. You should not flag a spam or offensive post with not an answer or very low quality flags, the spam/offensive flags are enough to get a moderators attention and to delete the post.

If there is additional, useful information you want to convey to the moderators an additional flag makes sense. I would use this mostly if you notice a pattern with the user in question, e.g. if he repeatedly posted offensive content. In most cases a moderator will anyway take a look at a user flagged for spam or offensive content, but providing more context is often helpful to the moderator.

If a post just contains some insults among useful content, I would edit the offensive parts out and flag for moderator attention in severe cases (not using the offensive flag, as I don't want to delete the post).

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Well, now it's a couple months later, and I believe there are some legitimate reasons for combining a spam/offensive with a normal flag. I'm not going to change the accepted answer, just my $0.02:

Combining a red spam/offensive flag with a normal, canned flag (not an answer / very low quality, as applicable) can help attract regular users to the scene of a heinous crime via the 10k flag queue, who can then help achieve post destruction without the moderators having to lift a finger. Spam/offensive flags don't cause a post to enter the 10k flag queue.

I am told that on Stack Overflow, such posts have a life expectancy of a stick of butter in hell, but on smaller sites, they tend to hang around for upwards to a couple hours without mod or mob intervention.


Combining it with a a custom other flag can be used to highlight your reasons for flagging the post, if they're not immediately obvious. One recent example I came across is a spammer who copied an existing answer and inserted spam links at strategic keywords. In the flag queue, where you just see the question + the flagged answer, this might have passed for a legit answer at first, and maybe even second, glance. Until you inspect the links, anyway.

Of course, it's also double-dipping on flag weight, or indeed single dipping if the moderator forgets to destroy it as spam/offensive.

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