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I submitted a flag on this question ' How to check for equals? (0 == i) or (i == 0) ' because it was poor but had an open bounty. As such, it could not be closed, so I flagged it with the message:

This is definitely off-topic or not constructive, but cannot be closed because it has an open bounty.

The response:

declined - a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it

But, alas, the question is now closed by Bill the Lizard, so apparently I was spot-on. I know I am not the only person this has happened to.

Why does this happen, anyway? Is there anything we can do to prevent these conflicting stances? Why are flags declined as being helpful but the course of action being taken anyway?

As a side note, I'd like that flag to be changed to be helpful. Silly SO moderators!

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Apparently Bill the Lizard agreed with me, but not whoever reviewed my flag. Heh, it'd be awesome if it was Bill who declined your flag :) –  Yannis Jun 27 '12 at 21:58
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It sounds like your flag worked: the post was closed. Does it matter if there was a hiccup in the process? –  blahdiblah Jun 27 '12 at 21:59
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I have had similar issues (multiple times) with topics that i flag for migration. The tag is declined, and then the topic is migrated. Maybe the the approved/declined flags should have moderator's names attached to them. –  teresko Jun 27 '12 at 21:59
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I'd like that flag to be changed to be helpful. That's not something moderators can do. –  Yannis Jun 27 '12 at 22:01
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@blahdiblah Yes, because this sort of thing happens regularly, as mentioned by teresko. –  Levi Morrison Jun 27 '12 at 22:01
    
Just to be sure, your flag was declined before the question was closed and the bounty was removed? –  Bart Jun 27 '12 at 22:04
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Without giving out too much detail, that question was flagged three times before Bill finally relented and closed it. It's a very old question; Bill probably figured if it stayed on the site for this long without gears falling out of the universe, that there wasn't much point in closing it if someone took the trouble to put a bounty on it. –  Robert Harvey Jun 27 '12 at 22:06
    
@Bart They happened within the same hour, so I can't be sure. I see 22 hours ago for both actions. –  Levi Morrison Jun 27 '12 at 22:06
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@RobertHarvey , wouldn't you agree that there was something fishy going on, if someone put a bounty on ~4 year old CW topic ? –  teresko Jun 27 '12 at 22:25
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There are no limits on bounties as such. The whole point is to get attention for old, unanswered (or insufficiently answered) questions. –  Robert Harvey Jun 27 '12 at 22:29
    
@Levi: if you hover your mouse over the 22 hours ago you'll get a detailed time as a tool-tip, down to the second. It works on every time on the site. (Well, if you find one that doesn't work, file a bug. ;) –  sarnold Jun 28 '12 at 0:42
    
A incorrectly declined flag here and there doesn't mean we need to fix the way the system works... the flag approval process works great in my opinion. And a moderator eventually closed the post anyway... –  Alex Lockwood Jun 28 '12 at 0:53
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Twelve upvotes, for a question which is essentially "why aren't human beings deterministic?" Stupid question. –  Won't Jun 28 '12 at 15:03
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3 Answers 3

up vote 27 down vote accepted

That was totally my mistake. (I was actually expecting a Meta post on this yesterday.) There were several flags on answers to that post at the same time as your flag on the question. The thing is, the answers actually answered the question, so there was no reason to flag them. I meant to decline those flags and accidentally declined yours. (All flags on a page appear in a list for mods, so this is an easy mistake to make.) I apologize for the mistake. You were right, your flag definitely should have been marked as helpful.

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Apologize? How dare you be human! Shame! –  Won't Jun 28 '12 at 15:03
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Different moderators, different opinions. We can not always expect the same, so I don't know how this can be solved at all. I think it's okay, there are more moderators and there is Meta to escalate things.

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As far as I know, there is no way for a moderator to go back and change the status of a flag. Once they've clicked it, it's cleared from the queue.

I've had the same thing happen to be (minus the open bounty part). I raved, I felt fully justified in ranting on meta about getting it fixed, but the reality is, it's just a flag. At least we don't have that silly FLAG WEIGHT thing to worry about!

Also, see these:

Why was my flag invalid when the requested action was taken?

Why does flag marking as helpful/declined not always correlate with moderator action?

Flag Declined although suggested action was followed

EDIT:

Yes, bad things can happen if you have too many declined flags. But, really, what's the ratio of "accidentally" declined flags to helpful flags for those that are concerned with such things?

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At least we don't have that silly FLAG WEIGHT thing to worry about! Actually... –  Yannis Jun 27 '12 at 22:02
    
You missed the point: regularly flags are declined as helpful, but the course of action is still taken. My flag note is an aside, not the topic of the question. –  Levi Morrison Jun 27 '12 at 22:02
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"At least we don't have that silly FLAG WEIGHT thing to worry about!" Yes, you do. Flag-related hellbanning still happens. See meta.stackexchange.com/a/135116/185951. –  CodeGnome Jun 27 '12 at 22:35
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