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TLDR version: If I wanted to, I could spoil everyone's flag weight by marking all flags I see as invalid. Nobody would earn flag weight, and I wouldn't lose anything either. This is IMNSHO broken.


I have seen Jeff's take on disputed flags, but I disagree with him:

This pits flaggers "against" each other, which is not at all in the spirit of the thing. In order for one flagger to "win" (gain flag weight), the other has to "lose" (lose flag weight). In my view everyone who flags, with extremely rare exceptions, is making the site better and I almost never reject a flag.

Why does anyone have to lose flag weight? This doesn't make sense in at least two scenarios:

  1. UserA correctly flags an answer as "not an answer." UserB flags the flag as invalid. Moderator comes in and deletes the answer. No flag weight is awarded to UserA, even though they were right.

  2. UserA incorrectly flags answer as "not an answer." UserB (correctly) flags the flag as invalid. Moderator decides UserA's flag is incorrect. UserB doesn't earn flag weight, nor does UserA lose flag weight.


It's not uncommon to have flags at two different points in the post lifecycle that are both correct. That is, an answer will be (correctly) flagged as "not an answer", then the OP will go back and edit in detail to make it a better answer. Now someone (correctly) flags it as "previous flags invalid". Both flags are correct!

In that case, just allow both flags to be deemed helpful!


We've considered a few alternatives (make mods dismiss each flag individually, add a third "indeterminate" outcome button) but they all seem worse than this simple solution.

IMO this is not a good solution. It makes flagging flags as invalid not only useless, but harmful. If the original flag was correct, this prevents the original flagger from earning FW. If it wasn't, it will prevent them from losing FW - both of which were the original intended consequences.

I think flag weight should be awarded to the user(s) the moderators agree with, without penalizing the user(s) who put in the wrong flag, if Jeff thinks this "pits flaggers against each other."

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Interesting. Anyone cares to explain why they disagree? –  NullUserException อ_อ Oct 20 '11 at 5:09
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Disputed flags are pretty rare (5 percent or less of all flags). In almost all cases where they do occur, the "deemed invalid" flag is either correct on it's face, or it's an edge case and the "deemed invalid" flag is still correct. If a flag is deemed incorrect, the flaggers disagree and therefore nullify each other's flag weight change. In short, I like the way it works now. –  Robert Harvey Oct 20 '11 at 5:40
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IME the original flagger (especially LQ and NARQ/NAA flags) is wrong most of the time when there is a subsequent Invalid Flag raised. I've seen quite a few LQ and NARQ flags where I wonder what the flagger was thinking - the question/answer might not be the best but it is still a question/answer, and voting down would have been more appropriate rather than flagging. –  slugster Oct 20 '11 at 5:41
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@slugster In which case the "invalid flag" flag is valid. –  NullUserException อ_อ Oct 20 '11 at 6:18
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When you have disputed flags, there is always a flag that's right. –  NullUserException อ_อ Oct 20 '11 at 15:07
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no longer relevant imho declining –  waffles Jan 20 '12 at 8:22

1 Answer 1

I think you have a point here - I'd actually given up on marking things with the "invalid flag" not long after gaining access to it.

I tried using "invalid flag" a few times on LQ/NAA flags that seemed way off base (the ones where it should have been a downvote because it was a plausible answer, albeit wrong/misplaced). They all came back as "disputed" though which made me assume I was making a mistake in my flagging so I stopped using them.

A while later it dawned on me that getting "invalid flag"s returned as disputed was probably "by-design", but I haven't actually used them since because it just doesn't feel like they actually help anyone.

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They help the moderators. A lot. –  Robert Harvey Oct 20 '11 at 20:57
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@RobertHarvey - that's interesting to hear, my perception of it was definitely that they didn't really do much. Now I've got the gold badge for flagging I'm free to be useful rather than just wondering about the impact on weight. The combination of no flag weight and odd feedback definitely doesn't go well with the flagging badges for producing useful behaviour then. –  Flexo Oct 20 '11 at 22:04

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