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After moderator attention flags are reviewed the user can see that the flag has been deemed helpful, disputed or declined in their Flagging summary. Sometimes the user may rightly guess why a certain flag was disputed or declined but sometimes they may not.

To educate users and to add transparency to flagging it would make sense to add the option for flag reviewers to give a reason for why they dispute or decline a flag. Note that I wrote "option" because moderators may have lots to do so they should be able to opt out of giving a reason.

If users by getting a reason for having one of their flags disputed or declined learn how to better flag it would be benefiting in two important ways:

  1. Better flags means that unwanted content gets handled more efficiently.
  2. Better flags means less strain for moderators.
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3 Answers 3

Note that I wrote "option" because moderators may have lots to do so they should be able to opt out of giving a reason.

It's nice that you included that, but now every "my flag weight went down; I demand answers" post on meta will include the line "And the lazy jerk didn't even include a reason!". I don't think mods really need to leave a reason often enough to add a feature for it

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sigh +1, but it makes me sad inside. –  mmyers Sep 2 '11 at 15:13
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@mmyers That's how everyone feels when they upvote my posts. You get used to it –  Michael Mrozek Sep 2 '11 at 15:14
    
Why must you spread sadness and gloom? –  mmyers Sep 2 '11 at 15:15
    
Note that I also wrote "To educate users and to add transparency to flagging it would make sense to add the option..." Isn't this a stronger argument for adding the option (to get users who are more skilled in flagging makes the community work more efficient and it relieves moderators of dealing with bad flags) than the downside of people moaning about not giving a reason for turning down their flag? –  N.N. Sep 2 '11 at 15:18
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@N.N. Are explanations really necessary to accomplish that? There's a difference between a declined flag, and a declined flag that requires an explanation to understand. I've had flags declined, and generally I look at it and can understand why the mod declined it; it's rare to have a flag declined where I have no idea what they were thinking –  Michael Mrozek Sep 2 '11 at 15:22
    
@MichaelMrozek You may be an experienced user but all users are not, hence some might benefit from explanations. –  N.N. Sep 2 '11 at 15:25
    
@N.N. But now you're requiring mods to know if a user will benefit from an explanation before they've even acted on the flag, which is quite a lot of overhead. It's easier for the users that don't understand to just check meta and post something if they still can't figure it out –  Michael Mrozek Sep 2 '11 at 16:20

I'm a little confused by your proposition, because to my mind the reason is implied in the fact that they've declined a flag of a particular type.

We have well-established and well-described flagging reasons, like "not constructive" or "not a real question".

If a moderator declines for example a "not constructive" flag, there are essentially two possible reasons:

  • The question is constructive
  • They accidentally hit the "invalid" button when they meant to hit the "helpful" button.

Above and beyond these, what meaningful reason options would you propose to provide the mods with to select from? I'd suggest that a free text field would be a really bad idea, because every declined flag would spawn a discussion on meta, and the mods would quickly be incentivized to avoid it.

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I think that it may be the other way around. Providing a reason, something more specific than what is implied by flag type and whether it's disputed or declined, may have the effect that there's no need for a discussion. –  N.N. Sep 2 '11 at 15:31
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@N.N. Maybe - but I'm highly sceptical. :) –  razlebe Sep 2 '11 at 15:56
up vote 2 down vote accepted

This seems to be implemented now as I've gotten what seems to be non-preformatted messages describing why my flags have been declined.

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It has; see Proposed flag decline reasons? and the ( ) other: [enter one line of ASCII here...] decline reason. –  Kevin Vermeer Oct 21 '11 at 13:45

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