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Original question: Do moderators see the flagged post as I flagged it, or do they see the current version?

If Since it is the current version, I request making it the flagged version instead.

The reason I ask this is that people are getting their flags declined because the original post was edited after the flag, thereby invalidating the flag. The flag was valid, so the flagger's weight should not be decreased.

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Ah, yes; this happened to me on Programmers.SE. But I knew it was a risk; I flagged the answer, but left a comment on the answer suggesting that it be improved, which it was. It became the top-voted answer. All in all, I'd say the overall outcome was a win; I'm willing to forego a little flag weight to make sure that a bad post that never improves gets killed. –  Robert Harvey Sep 8 '11 at 2:11
See also the suggestion to add a "This post has been edited since being flagged" notification on meta.stackexchange.com/questions/113253/… –  voretaq7 Nov 23 '11 at 15:51

4 Answers 4

up vote 48 down vote accepted

Edit: The new flagging dialogue is very good. As long as mods stick to Jeff's strategy (only declining when there is compelling evidence that the flagger wasn't trying to be helpful) this should be a non-issue.

The moderator will see the current version of the post only, not the version that was flagged. (I just tested this.)

If the edit occurred more than 5 minutes after the posting or previous edit, the moderator could review the history of the post. However, this requires time that many do not have, and also presence of mind that might not be reasonable to expect under all circumstances.

As for your feature request: I think that if the post is changed after you flag it, dismissing the flag as "declined" should really dismiss it as "disputed" (no effect on flag weight). That would be much easier than tracking the version of the post. We could call it "nullified" to distinguish from the normal "disputed" case.

I propose the same solution for when questions are closed and/or deleted after being flagged. Flags that have been declined should be auto-nullified when the post is closed or deleted for any reason. Our friendly neighborhood waffles has determined that approximately every 1 out of 6 declined flags, or ~17%, is for a post that gets closed. That's really high. This auto-nullify method would eliminate the trashing of flag weight for users who were probably doing the right thing to flag these to-be-closed questions.

Alternatively, something like the following could be displayed along with the flag, and the moderator given the option to dismiss as "disputed": "Note: Post was edited after being flagged." I prefer the method above ("auto-nullify on decline"), since it does not increase moderator workload and can never cause the user's flag weight to go down due to an edit occuring after the flag.

Another alternative: Auto-helpful if the post is edited by a 10k user (other than the flagger) or by a moderator. This has the downside of possibly marking some invalid flags helpful, so I still prefer "auto-nullify on decline".

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Or even better, the flag could be automatically disputed, if post is edited after flagging. It saves time, but could be potentially useful. On the other hand someone could abuse it by keeping editing his post, but...that can be blocked somehow I guess. –  Jaanus Sep 7 '11 at 22:14
@Jaanus I thought about that too, but the edit doesn't guarantee that the post is now improved. I figure it's best to let the flag remain, especially considering your point about abuse. –  Matthew Read Sep 7 '11 at 22:15
If I see that a post was edited after a low-quality flag was raised, I'll usually go ahead and mark it helpful. Especially if the edit was by a 10k user who was probably attracted by the flag. –  mmyers Sep 7 '11 at 22:19
All good suggestions. –  Robert Harvey Sep 8 '11 at 2:12
While setting the existing flags to disputed is an easy fix, they are not technically disputed - maybe a new status of discarded would be appropriate? –  slugster Sep 8 '11 at 2:57
@slugster That would make sense. –  Matthew Read Sep 8 '11 at 3:10
As noted, all sounds good - I need to think about the implications of each here... –  Marc Gravell Sep 8 '11 at 13:48
@marc strongly disagree: at the time the post was flagged there were indeed problems with the post, yes? Therefore the flag was valid at the time it was cast. Therefore, the flagger deserves increased flag weight. My proposed strategy is this: as mods, you should always assume the flagger was trying to be helpful except in the case of compelling evidence to the contrary. Simple really... –  Jeff Atwood Sep 11 '11 at 9:51
@Jeff The new flagging dialogue is very good. As long as mods stick to your strategy then this should essentially be a non-issue. –  Matthew Read Sep 12 '11 at 15:36

As a moderator I'm against this. I don't want to see an old revision of the post, I want to see the current revision so I can quickly see if I need to take any action. If the current revision of the post looks okay, I can (and do) check the time stamps to see if the flag might have been valid earlier.

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A lot of the very low quality flags on a post tend to stop once someone edits it. I agree, it's trivial to see that at a glance especially with the time stamps in the overlay. The irony is, VLQ is supposed to be for posts that have little possibility of salvation through editing. –  Tim Post Sep 8 '11 at 3:45
@tim this would also be solved if moderators would just dismiss as helpful almost all the time -- as I always intended -- unless there is extreme and compelling evidence of wrongdoing or foul play with flags. 99.9% of the time when I look at a flagged post, it has problems that need fixing. Granted for me, that means I push down on my "f--k it, nuke it all from orbit" hair trigger finger a lot of the time, but.. hey, 4k questions per day, you're either good or dead. –  Jeff Atwood Sep 11 '11 at 9:47
@JeffAtwood I might decline perhaps 5/1000 flags that I service. If I can see something wrong with the post being flagged, I'll dismiss it as helpful. Since we only see a snippet of the post in the overlay, we usually end up clicking through anyway, which quickly shows us that an edit is newer than the flag. At that point I just validate, because the user was obviously objecting to something that no longer exists. –  Tim Post Sep 11 '11 at 10:36

If the post can be fixed by a few minutes of editing, then edit it and don't flag it.

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Any post can be fixed by the OP, since they can change content wholesale, and some flags go hours without being handled. So there are definitely cases where flagging is the right thing to do and the user's flag weight shouldn't drop. –  Matthew Read Sep 7 '11 at 22:30
I just saw a flag for a question that was apparently submitted with the title "what's your programming question? be specific." The original poster had realized his error and corrected the title within the five-minute window. That's not a helpful flag. –  mmyers Sep 7 '11 at 22:38
@mmyers indeed, and in that case it would be hard to display a "this changed" –  Marc Gravell Sep 8 '11 at 13:52

This is so entirely awfully wrong.

What is the purpose of showing a mod the flagged version?

"See, I'm not a complete moron! There actually was something wrong!"

Well, awesome. Here's your .001 flag weight. Glad I had to waste some of the short time I am able to volunteer protecting your absolutely pointless (from the perspective of anybody outside of the system) flag weight.

I need to see what everybody else sees to determine if something needs to be done now. If the problem was fixed, then I need to move on.

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What if we only allowed sheriffs to run in the next mod election? –  waffles Sep 8 '11 at 13:50
+1: reduce moderator noise, show them the actionable content. –  user7116 Sep 8 '11 at 13:53
or, you could just assume most people are flagging because something was wrong and always be quick to mash down real hard on the GIANT HELPFUL button unless, y'know, someone pisses you off. (caveat: this may happen secondly for Will) –  Jeff Atwood Sep 11 '11 at 9:49

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