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I've noticed that after a question is closed, users still have the change to flag it. The only difference is the "it doesn't belong here" sections is removed. We still have the option to flag it as spam, offensive ("not welcome in our community"), very low quality, or other.

One one level this makes sense, since (valid) flags on a closed post probably mean it is a candidate for deletion, and these are the flags that typically mean a(n open) question is a candidate for deletion.

However, since this question was flagged and closed or voted to be closed by users with appropriate rep, it doesn't seem necessary to have all these flags.

  • If the post is spam, it would likely be deleted rather than closed.
  • If the post is offensive, it would likely be deleted rather than closed.
  • If the post is very low quality, it was likely closed for being very low quality, and this flag is redundant.
  • The "other" option is, I believe, necessary in any flagging situation, since some un-anticipated case may arise which is not covered by the pre-listed cases.

I suggest the flag options on closed questions be reduced to 2 or 3 options:

  • The changes to this post since it has been closed are not constructive, or are not improvements.
  • (Maybe. I don't think this one is necessary, but I'm just being thorough) This post has been closed for {a long time}, and has not been improved in any way.
  • Other

Since the ultimate result of a closed question should be either that the question is removed via deletion or migration due to being a bad fit for where it was asked, or that the question is reopened due to improvement, these options should cover all the reasons a closed question would need moderator attention.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted
  • If the post is spam, it would likely be deleted rather than closed.
  • If the post is offensive, it would likely be deleted rather than closed.

Regular users don't have the ability to vote to delete a question until after it has been closed. Only moderators can bypass closing in order to instantly delete something.

And only users over 20k can vote to delete questions immediately after they've been closed. Others have to wait 2 days before they can cast delete votes.

So this really isn't a good option for spam or offensive posts that need to be deleted as quickly as possible. That's what the flags are for. A community consensus (i.e., multiple flags on the same post by different users) will cause a post to be instantly deleted by the Community user.

Moreover, questions flagged as "spam" in particular are treated differently by the system than those that are simply deleted, so that flag reason means something special. In particular, the offending user receives a 100 point drop in their reputation as a penalty.

  • If the post is very low quality, it was likely closed for being very low quality, and this flag is redundant.

Yeah, probably so. I think it would make sense to remove this flag reason for closed questions.

But that's probably because I see little to nothing with removing it for all questions. That's a fairly useless flag. There's nothing that a moderator can do in response to it that the flagging user can't already do: leaving a comment, downvoting, editing, and even (voting to) close. That flag reason generally just gets exploited by lazy flaggers who don't want to take the time to do the work themselves (or those that think the moderators have some magic "automatically improve post" button—I wish).

  • The "other" option is, I believe, necessary in any flagging situation, since some un-anticipated case may arise which is not covered by the pre-listed cases.

Agreed, we always need the "other" reason. It probably gets used more for closed questions than any other time. Or at least, I can think of a half-dozen reasons off the top of my head why I might flag a closed question with the "other" reason.

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There are people going around flagging questions as VLQ en masse... ugh. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Mar 30 '12 at 2:51

You forgot that closed questions can still be edited.

Suppose that the user who created the question, which is then closed as off-topic, adds an offensive comment in the question about who closed the question (maybe in an HTML comment so it's not visible to who looks the question), or completely changes the question to a rude rant about the question being closed; in this case, I would prefer to be able to flag it. Suppose the OP, once the question is closed, changes one of the link to point to a spammy site; in that case, I would like to prefer to be able to flag the question as spam.

I suggest the flag options on closed questions be reduced to 2 or 3 options:

  • The changes to this post since it has been closed are not constructive, or are not improvements.
  • (Maybe. I don't think this one is necessary, but I'm just being thorough) This post has been closed for {a long time}, and has not been improved in any way.
  • Other

The first option would put on the same plane offensive posts, spams, and questions for which the OP adds something not significantly relevant. In the latter case, I don't see what should be done, and why such a situation needs a flag. I can also imagine the flag being used even when the OP edits the question to fix a typo.
I don't see any difference between the two options: They are both saying there isn't any improvement to the question. I don't also see the need of flagging a closed question for not receiving any improvement, when there are users who can vote to delete a closed question, and moderators can delete closed questions. Closed questions are candidates for deletion, and there are already users who can handle those questions, without the need of specific flags. If there is a closed question that is really so bad to need the immediate deletion, it is already possible to flag the closed question for moderation attention, and use "other" to explain the exact reason the question should be deleted.

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I had that in mind when I came up with the question, but I forgot to explicitly cover it. However, I think my first option ("The changes to this post since it has been closed are not constructive, or are not improvements.") qualifies to cover that. –  Jim Mar 30 '12 at 12:25
    
There is a difference between being offensive, and not being constructive. I don't see any reason why an offensive question should not be flagged as offensive simply for the fact it has been closed. There is a difference between an offensive, and a post that is not offensive; if there is the option to explicity flag an offensive post is because it is something that needs to be handled in a specific way. –  kiamlaluno Mar 30 '12 at 12:31

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