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I flagged a post and (choose one)

  • my flag was marked as helpful, yet nothing was done
  • my flag was marked as declined, yet the post was deleted/edited/closed

Why?

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2 Answers

up vote 41 down vote accepted

Case 1: your flag was helpful, but nothing happened. Causes include:

  • An edit or other action that occurred between your flag and the moderator reviewing it meant that moderator action wasn't required. However the moderator felt you were right at the time of flagging, and so marked your flag helpful to reward/encourage you.
  • Your flag was borderline, and the moderator felt it wasn't a bad enough post to act on it, but wanted to let you know you weren't exactly wrong.
  • Another user voted to close the flagged question if your flag was a recommend closure flag. This will mark your flag as helpful, but if you can't see close votes it will appear that nothing has happened until the question is actually closed.

Case 2: Your flag was declined, but exactly what you wanted to happen happened (eg the post was closed). Causes include:

  • a moderator disagreed with you and your flag was declined. Later, other people agreed with you and also flagged or voted to close, and either their votes closed the post or a second moderator who saw their flags agreed with them and took an action.
  • a number of flags were on the post, and one of them would have a strong negative impact on the poster if marked helpful (eg spam flags can cause 100 rep penalties.) Moderators can only mark all the flags on a post helpful or decline them all - in declining the strong-penalty flag, yours will be declined too, but the moderator will often take your suggested action anyway.
  • The flag reason was wrong, but the post still had issues that would cause it to be closed. Because the review queue uses flag metrics for its baseline, it is important that flag reasons match why a post should be closed. Examples include flagging a question as "primarily opinion-based" when it's really "unclear what you're asking".
  • If your flag was a recommend closure flag, if it receives three "do not close" responses in the Close Votes queue without a single close vote, it will be declined. When you flagged, this is what happened, but later others decided that the question was worthy of closure and therefore closed it.

Alternate explanation that applies to either case: a moderator clicked the wrong button by mistake and it's not a big deal. For genuinely bad posts, other people flag them too, so they end up solved.

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Seconds before I post a similar answer, and I see "there's a new answer - reload?" - sigh... :) I would also add, though, that it seems some question are off-topic, but with enough community approval, are left open anyway (but your flag is still marked helpful). –  John C Sep 7 '11 at 14:36
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I've edited this to include another common reason for declining flags, as well as the relevant meta post related to that reason. –  George Stocker Jun 24 '13 at 0:37
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Flags are marked helpful when the moderator judges them to have merit, and declined when the moderator judges them to lack merit. Flags have merit when:

  1. The flag is being used correctly; it is highlighting a problem that may require moderator action, and not something best handled by the community, like evaluating the technical correctness of a question, and

  2. The moderator understands why the flag is being cast. Counter-example: Not an Answer flags on answers that are clearly attempting to answer the question, even if the answer is misguided.

Flags are declined when these two conditions are not fulfilled.

But the moderator still has to decide whether or not to take action on the flagged post. "Declined" and "No Action Taken" are not the same thing, and moderators might actually take some action on the post anyway, irrespective of the flag that was cast.

One common reason that a flag may be marked helpful but no moderator action is taken is when the user corrects the problem with their post after a moderator flag has been cast on it, but before a moderator has seen the flag.

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