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Recently I have reached the almighty privilege of close voting. Around the same time I achieved the Deputy badge for 80+ flags.

While trying out close voting, I have noticed that questions I vote to close are not reflected as a helpful flag in my profile.

Also, I have noticed the following. If I "flag" a question as "very low quality", this counts as a flag.

If I "flag" a question as off topic, belonging on site X, it becomes a close vote.

This makes the Marshall badge harder to attain. The point I am trying to make is I believe that successful closes should count as helpful flags.

Lately I have been focusing on flagging "low quality" posts rather than closing as I am trying to increase my helpful flag count. If close votes contributed to the flag count, then this could be a good thing in reducing the work of moderators.

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Wait until you get to 10k. Then "farming" for flags becomes exponentially easier. I'd say it's something that probably needs to be changed... – Mysticial Mar 19 '12 at 21:50
@Mysticial How does this "farming" work? My understanding was that 10k+ mods can't handle flags that they have raised themselves. – yoozer8 Mar 19 '12 at 21:51
If your point is a feature request, you might want to tag this as a feature request. Also, nothing prevents you from doing both, as long as you remember to vote and then flag (otherwise you'll invalidate your own flag). – a cat Mar 19 '12 at 21:51
@lunboks Does it say that anywhere, or have you learned this through personal experience? – yoozer8 Mar 19 '12 at 21:52
@Jim At 10k, you can see part of the flag queue. And thus you can add your flags to existing flags - which still count towards your "earned flags" total. (or formerly "Flag Weight") – Mysticial Mar 19 '12 at 21:53
@Jim Experience. It's sort of a side effect of how the system works. If you cast a close vote, it dismisses canned flags on the question, like "very low quality". In some scenarios where you cause your own flag to be dismissed, it'll be nullified to prevent abuse/farming. – a cat Mar 19 '12 at 21:55
@Mysticial Oh, true. I had no considered that. Can that really be helped though? Not allowing 10k+ to flag doesn't seem like a good solution, and not letting them flag posts for which they've seen flags seems more complicated than it's worth... – yoozer8 Mar 19 '12 at 21:56
I suppose you could put more "weight" on the first flag. But that probably would've worked better with the old flag weight system... – Mysticial Mar 19 '12 at 21:59
up vote 15 down vote accepted

No, close votes are not equivalent to flags. This is very much . The point of gaining privileges with reputation is to start cutting out the need for moderators to take action on your requests. You've gained the ability to vote-to-close and if 4 other people agree with you, there's no need for a moderator. For old posts that are unlikely to get 4 other votes, you can still type in a reason manually to request it be closed, but use this sparingly so moderators don't have to show up to questions which have already been closed.

The real issue here is, you shouldn't be "aiming" to increase your flag count. Going on a scavenger hunt for posts to flag as very low quality is not the point of the badge. In fact, the "very low quality" flag is a horrible flag to be using, and I imagine if you keep using it, you're going to start getting declines, as there are very few instances where that flag is even useful, and some moderators despise its existence because it just passes on the responsibility of the user to the moderator. Most "very low quality" posts just need a simple edit, which you have full capability to do.

If you really want to help out and increase your flag count, get up to 5,000 and go hang out in the review panel in either the First Answers or Late Answers tabs. There are tons of things that pop up in there that you can flag as "not an answer" for an easy helpful flag.

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Excellent answer. thank you. – Valamas Mar 20 '12 at 2:35

Lately I have been focusing on flagging "low quality" posts rather than closing as I am trying to increase my helpful flag count. If close votes contributed to the flag count, then this could be a good thing in reducing the work of moderators.

Please don't. Helpful flag count only serves to prioritize your flags; it serves no other useful purpose apart from providing people something to aim for. If you're using the "very low quality" flag instead of close-voting, you're not doing your duty as one who is able to vote to close a question simply because you want to get the Marshal badge. You're wasting the time of moderators and other 10k+ users by polluting the flags list.

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This could easily lead to people voting to close all sorts of questions that don't need to be closed just to try to get to the badge more easily (since a close vote doesn't need to be approved - that's why you need 3k rep to cast one). Every "helpful" flag has to be approved/marked as such by a moderator, or verified/backed up by a related event (closing or deletion, although casting a close vote after flagging will nullify your flag). Edited as per lunboks's comments

Additionally, even if a question does get closed, it can get reopened (the point of closing a question is to give it a chance to improve and get reopened rather than deleted); should close votes on reopened questions count as flags too?

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Flags don't have to be dismissed by a moderator. There's other events that do that. Close votes, question closure, post deletion, and maybe edits, but I have no idea about the edits because who knows how the very low quality flag really works nowadays. – a cat Mar 19 '12 at 21:57
Thanks, I've edited the answer to mention that. – yoozer8 Mar 19 '12 at 22:01
@lun: Are you claiming that a single user casting a single close vote (not the final close vote) will dismiss a pending flag? If so, I believe you're mistaken. – Cody Gray Mar 19 '12 at 22:48
@CodyGray I believe lun is referring to a single user casting a single close vote dismissing their own flag, not a flag placed by someone else. – yoozer8 Mar 19 '12 at 22:58
"(the point of closing a question is to give it a chance to improve and get reopened rather than deleted)" good point – Valamas Mar 20 '12 at 2:35
@CodyGray Yes, a single user casting a single close vote can dismiss pending flags. Very much the case. Applies to "very low quality" flags too, but obviously not to spam/offensive or custom flags. – a cat Mar 20 '12 at 10:46

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