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Problems I see:

  1. How disputed flags work: as I argued here, disputed flags are useless and might do more harm than good.

    Really, what is the incentive to flag a flag invalid? The way I see it, I'm spending one of my own flags to ensure the user who flagged incorrectly doesn't lose any flag weight as they should, while I don't earn any FW.

  2. The penalty for incorrect flags is way too high as your flag weight improves. I'm capped at 750 right now. If I get one invalid flag, it will take 92 of them for me to get back to where I was. This strongly discourages folks with high FW to flag questionable content (at least that's what I think).

    Granted, since your flags have more weight, you should be more responsible while flagging. But the risk-reward ratio is way too high IMO. In fact, if you have maxed out FW there is no reward at all.

  3. Users with close privileges (ie: > 3k rep.) can't flag questions as "doesn't belong here," since that makes them cast a close vote instead.

    If we encourage users without close privileges to flag questions that don't belong, why don't we encourage users who cast (correct) close votes as well?

  4. Flags found in /tools/flagged (10k only) are an easy way to "farm" flag weight. What I mean is, it takes much less effort to go through flagged posts and re-flag them than to use /review or flag posts "in the wild".

    About 90% of the flagged posts have "correct" flags, while less than 5% of posts found in review are flag worthy (these numbers are guesstimates based on my own experience, not hard facts).

  5. Lack of a neutral resolution (with the possibility to add a custom message) that doesn't impact the flagger's flag weight. This would be helpful in guiding flaggers without punishing them. Currently, moderators can't provide custom feedback unless they decline a flag.

  6. Flag dismissal decisions (eg: helpful or declined) can't be reversed. If a mistake was made, we can't fix it. This results in a ton of flag weight grievance posts on meta.

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+1 for invalid flags not being -10. And most of the -10 invalid flags end up getting turned around in the favor of the person that got -10, without the 10 returned. –  bkaid Nov 14 '11 at 21:34
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Isn't a close flag just a less effective close vote? Otherwise I agree, though. Currently we're encouraging people to get to 750 and stop, as well as encouraging them to not flag things that the busy mods might not agree with at a glance. Not everyone seems to have gotten the "well-intended and reasonable flags should be marked valid" message. –  Matthew Read Nov 14 '11 at 21:34
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@MatthewRead It's potentially more effective if the close flag is valid and a moderator intervenes - a close flag is then effectively a binding close vote by proxy. –  Anna Lear Nov 14 '11 at 21:41
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I very much dislike flag weight, in part for the reasons you list (but I don't think it can be fixed). I'm beginning to think flag weight could be replaced by “green points” (name TBA) that took into account not only flagging but also other cleanup activities such as editing, closing, deleting and voting. The new /review would be the #1 place to gain green points. –  Gilles Nov 14 '11 at 21:43
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Do people really care whether you're at 740 or 750 flag weight? –  mmyers Nov 14 '11 at 21:44
    
@mmyers I suppose the badge has something to do with this. Though after having got the badge, there isn't much value. Maybe we should have some auto-decay mechanism: each day the flag weight (if over 200) decays by one. –  Paŭlo Ebermann Nov 14 '11 at 21:50
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"Really, what is the incentive to flag a flag invalid" Isn't the purpose to give it a lower priority on the Mod Queue –  Some Helpful Commenter Nov 14 '11 at 22:00
    
@JoshCaswell Added/fixed. –  NullUserException อ_อ Nov 14 '11 at 22:14
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I originally had disputed flags gain flag weight and the disputee lose out on flag weight. Jeff overruled it, in practice have the disputes around is real helpful, but I do not want to confuse mods with complex and semantics –  waffles Nov 14 '11 at 22:56
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@waffles According to Jeff, he had an issue with it because "In order for one flagger to "win" (gain flag weight), the other has to "lose" (lose flag weight)". Why does anyone have to lose FW? –  NullUserException อ_อ Nov 14 '11 at 23:01
    
so you want the "disputer" to win and "disputee" to get nothing? –  waffles Nov 14 '11 at 23:12
    
@waffles In a perfect world, the moderator would be able to dismiss each flag individually. Blatantly wrong flags that are disputed should result in loss of FW to the disputee. We don't live in a perfect world, but at least the flagger who made the "right" call should be rewarded. –  NullUserException อ_อ Nov 14 '11 at 23:24
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Definitely agree that once you've hit 750, you are strongly disincentivised to continue flagging. There's a lot of high profile talk about acting 'for the good of the site', but I think the silent majority mostly play the game, because it's fun to accrue stuff, and show that off. That's the main reason reputation works at all. I personally got bored of the flagging game when I hit 750. It's never-ending, and pretty thankless. And the number does have status value - it puts me in a small band of 'elite' flaggers. Just read the mod nominations to see how much it matters to people. –  ire_and_curses Nov 15 '11 at 17:59
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If flag weight shouldn't matter and you should just flag for the good of the site, the 750 FW badge should be gotten rid of. If you make something a game, people will play it. –  BNL Dec 5 '11 at 18:26

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The penalty for incorrect flags is way too high as your flag weight improves. I'm capped at 750 right now. If I get one invalid flag, it will take 92 of them for me to get back to where I was. This strongly discourages folks with high FW to flag questionable content (at least that's what I think).

Flag weight is now dead, you should decline flags that are not helpful and teach people how to flag in a helpful way.

Granted, since your flags have more weight, you should be more responsible while flagging. But the risk-reward ratio is way too high IMO. In fact, if you have maxed out FW there is no reward at all.

Flag weight is now dead.

Users with close privileges (ie: > 3k rep.) can't flag questions as "doesn't belong here," since that makes them cast a close vote instead. If we encourage users without close privileges to flag questions that don't belong, why don't we encourage users who cast (correct) close votes as well?

A badge for "correct" closing is a whole other kettle of fish, please raise a separate issue on this.

Flags found in /tools/flagged (10k only) are an easy way to "farm" flag weight. What I mean is, it takes much less effort to go through flagged posts and re-flag them than to use /review or flag posts "in the wild".

Sure, and it is also a way to give mods an extra hand, users can add context to the original flag and self-serve.

Lack of a neutral resolution (with the possibility to add a custom message) that doesn't impact the flagger's flag weight. This would be helpful in guiding flaggers without punishing them. Currently, moderators can't provide custom feedback unless they decline a flag.

Flag weight is dead, decline unhelpful flags.

Flag dismissal decisions (eg: helpful or declined) can't be reversed. If a mistake was made, we can't fix it. This results in a ton of flag weight grievance posts on meta.

Flag weight is dead, a mistake you make has only a tiny cost, not worth the effort needed to reverse it ...


Also, have I mentioned, flag weight is dead.

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There are quite a few "give me a meh option to dismiss flags" requests out there. Those should all be status-declined now. SO mods don't have to mod emotionally anymore – dismiss all the flags! –  Lorem Ipsum Jan 20 '12 at 23:33

First, let me caveat that I have no idea about disputed flags and the like. I have nearly 2000 flags, have had FW 750 since March, and still flag. I don't think I've had a disputed flag, and I've only had one marked invalid since we started reporting valid/invalid counts (I know I had at least one invalid before then, maybe as many as 5.)

There are a number of good reasons to have invalid flags cost 10 flag points. First, since high FW users have their flags at the top, they really should be sure they're right. A mod having a tough day might rely on who the flag is from and act on it, whereas a flag from a stranger might get more checking. Having more "skin in the game" is a good way to ensure that the "names" (I understand less than 90 people out of 350,000 have ever achieved FW 750) are sure before they click the button. Second, it increases the adrenalin factor and might be one of the things that keeps high flaggers flagging. Third, and probably most important, it's simple to code. Why does everything have to be super complicated, special cases, check this first, it matters what order you do it in, don't forget to subtract 3 on Friday? To be fair? FW doesn't mean anything! Fair is just same-for-everyone, not same-all-the-time! Once you drop from 750 you've dropped from 750, whether by 0.1 or by 10. It doesn't matter to me whether it takes 1 flag or 100 to earn it back. Those of us who still flag at 750 are, as far as I can tell, folks who just flag. So what you do to the score doesn't matter much, and simple wins.

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Those who still flag at 750 are the people who, even if they hit a declined flag or two, they are already pumping out good flags such that it's barely even noticed that they ever lost 10 flag weight. –  Grace Note Nov 14 '11 at 23:50
  1. Agreed. In addition, the entire "Invalid Flag" interface is initially difficult to understand and seems counterproductive. Listing as "Disputed" flags which I've invalid-flagged in my flag weight display doesn't make it at all clear that I am helping anything. (Even trying to talk about these flags is awkward. I had to rewrite that sentence three times.) I also think it's sometimes unclear when a flag should be considered "Invalid" by 10k users. It should be noted, however, that the moderators have occasionally indicated that they find the "Invalid flags" very helpful.

  2. I have to disagree with this. I've given my view previously, and I think Brian Reichle's answer to that same question is pretty much irrefutable. Granted that I would have been dismayed to get a flag returned as "Declined" while I was gunning for Marshal recently, but I still think that flag weight is not and should not be an end in itself.

  3. Definitely agree (suggested reading: Give an incentive for finding duplicate questions), although in a way, the flag-to-close system serves the same purpose as the suggested edit system: a way to allow newer members to help out while being shepherded so they can learn what is considered appropriate. The only reward for editing after hitting 2k is the satisfaction of a cleaner site; likewise for close voting.

  4. I don't really see a problem with this. First of all, moderators have indicated that piling on flags in borderline cases is helpful to them. Second, you've got limited numbers of flags in a day, so even if you're working for that sweet Marshal star and camping out in /Tools, there's only so much farming you can do. Then, once you have the badge, there's really no point to farming.

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"The only reward for editing after hitting 2k is the satisfaction of a cleaner site" What about Strunk & White and Copy Editor? –  John Nov 14 '11 at 22:43
    
@John: I admit that I forgot about those; I was focussing on rewards that "make the numbers go up". –  Josh Caswell Nov 14 '11 at 22:47
    
We have those for badges also! i.e. in the header: •5 •19 •33 –  Grant Thomas Nov 14 '11 at 23:22

I think flag-weight as a displayed number is not a good idea at all.

If we want to incentive people cleaning up, use another number like clean-up reputation (better name needed).

You would get points for

  • edits (which are not rolled back later)
  • close votes which lead to closing (and not reopening later without relevant edits)
  • reopen votes which do not lead to closing again
  • flags which are considered helpful (but different amounts for "flagging in the wild", "flagging from review page" and "flagging again from the flag queue", according to difficulty of those)
  • reviewing anything on the /review tabs
  • As moderators: handling flags on the mod flag queue (so mods have also some thing to work for)
  • Anything else which the devs consider useful, but does not directly relate to domain knowledge (as reputation does).

The clean-up reputation could be used (instead or in combination to normal reputation) for some of the privileges.

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