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For the most part, I treat "Community" like any other user when handling system raised flags. If they are useful, I mark them as such. If they are noise, I dismiss them as such. The Community user has a static flag weight, so our reaction to them is more or less feedback for developers.

Is this feedback from moderators network wide used in any way to help improve the accuracy of system raised flags? Or, would clicking either button suffice?

I'm asking because our reasoning behind declining a flag is now more precise. Does dismissing some as noise help improve the criteria that ultimately generates the flag?


Yes, thank you Skype, I realize that George Takei asked a similar question regarding powdered drinks on Twitter.

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I've heard from several moderators who do not ever decline flags from Community because technically they're all valid by virtue of whatever conditions necessitate the flag being true. – Adam Sep 11 '11 at 15:37
@Anna Start flagging all answers on those mods' sites as "this is an answer" and see how enthusiastic they are about marking all those flags valid – Michael Mrozek Sep 11 '11 at 16:26
@Michael despite some evidence to the contrary, Community is not sentient: it can't flag things wantonly to prove a point. So flagging things wantonly to prove a point ironically does not prove the point. (By the way, proudly one of the moderators who doesn't think any Community flags are invalid) – user149432 Sep 11 '11 at 17:55
@Mark It proves that marking a flag valid because the text of the flag is accurate, even if the flag itself was unhelpful, is wrong – Michael Mrozek Sep 11 '11 at 18:11
I found this question via your link here and I just have to say that your George Takei edit nearly made me cry from laughing so hard. – jwiscarson Dec 20 '11 at 17:19
Related: Track flags cast by Community, about moderators manually reviewing Community's flagging track record. – Gilles Sep 5 '13 at 9:32
up vote 29 down vote accepted

It took two years, but I managed to get a job at Stack Exchange specifically to investigate this for myself, that's just how dedicated I really am.

The answer is: (drum roll) ...

It's recorded, just like any other flag, but the data isn't really analyzed. If you think that an auto-generated flag isn't helpful enough, isn't helpful at all or should be tweaked so that it can be more helpful, raise a here to discuss it.

These are auto generated based on specific criteria that we've learned is probably worth investigating when it surfaces. Remember, these flags aren't the Community user telling you to go do something, it's just suggesting that you take a peek to see if something needs to be done. Declining these flags has no effect on the flags it raises, or how often it does so.

What is helpful is when users that have the privileges to do so dispute these flags when there's nothing worth investigating. This helps the moderators spend less time looking at the post wondering what Community is squawking about after seeing that several trusted users found nothing.

Still, even when there's no metaphorical fire, these flags are accurate, as they're just the artifacts of pattern matching at work.

And, even though I've fulfilled my long term quest of getting hired so I could see this for myself, I think I'll stick around.

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If, as Anna suggests, people are usually handling community flags as helpful the data you do have is meaningless anyway. As no one outside the team has access to the data wouldn't it make sense to change mod behaviour (if required) so that there's a good data-set to analyse? Currently, if someone raises a feature request, investigations into whether the feature is actually required might be impossible. – ben is uǝq backwards Jan 9 '14 at 13:08
Since you've stuck around, maybe you could arrange for us to have statistics? I think I decline most of Community's flags, but there may be a confirmation bias. – Gilles Jan 9 '14 at 17:29
I found this answer because I was going to ask this question. Thanks for doing that research! (BTW, I had gotten into the habit of always clicking "Helpful" simply because it was one less click; when I opt to decline, it asks me why. The follow-on question, then, would be: If no one analyzes the data, should the dialog box be different for community-raised flags?) – J.R. Jan 6 '15 at 12:49

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