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If a user is flagging poor questions / answers, other than the obvious fact of cleaning up, is there any direct benefit to the user?

Also, I have seen that some of my flags have been marked helpful but when I see the flagged post, there is no action/change. So how was my flag helpful?

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are you aware of flagging badges? Citizen Patrol (you likely have it already, with helpful flags you mention), Deputy, Marshal... – gnat Nov 22 '12 at 15:00
I didnt know the ones other than Citizen Patrol .. – AsheeshR Nov 22 '12 at 15:09
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Well, your (helpful) flag count goes up. That is good because it means you care about the site enough to flag bad/low-quality content.

In a general perspective, that is one of the things that we all see when someone self-nominates for a moderator position: no-one knows a mod that didn't review enough. But even if you don't want to run, the value is still there. Mods are only a part of the whole: the community that flags greatly help the mods cleaning-up job. That's one of the reasons that explain why you get privileges.

You also get badges for flagging properly:

Regarding your second question, it depends on the case:

  • A declined flag means you shouldn't have flagged in the first place (e.g. you have the privileges to act on your own), or it was unjustified/pure noise, i.e. you flagged for the wrong reasons.

  • An helpful flag means your flag has merit (e.g. you don't have enough privileges and your only way is flagging) but this doesn't always mean that immediate action needs to be taken, especially if by action you meant deleting.

I don't know the particular circumstances of your query, but as a mod, I've handled flags on questions low-quality as helpful and left a comment. I didn't delete right away, except in clear-cut cases, but I let the OP some time to improve the post before closing/deleting.

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I had flagged a question for low quality – AsheeshR Nov 22 '12 at 15:02
If no action was taken, then how is the flag useful ? – AsheeshR Nov 22 '12 at 15:02
@AshRj Can we see the question? – Alenanno Nov 22 '12 at 15:05
@gnat I didnt know about flag weight. Thats a pretty useful feature, though .. – AsheeshR Nov 22 '12 at 15:08
@AshRj Flag weight is gone. Now we have helpful flags vs declined flags. – Alenanno Nov 22 '12 at 15:08
@Alenanno according to tag wiki, flag-weight "...continues to be used behind the scenes for ordering flags in each site's moderation queue" – gnat Nov 22 '12 at 15:12 was one that i flagged as not constructive. This flag was "helpful" but with no visible change .. – AsheeshR Nov 22 '12 at 15:15
@AshRj If you flag questions for close reasons, the flag is first seen by 10k users. If one of those decides to act on your flag by voting to close, it is dismissed as helpful. – Ral Zarek Nov 22 '12 at 15:29
@gnat Ok, but the system we use is different now, I meant that. – Alenanno Nov 22 '12 at 16:47
@Alenanno agree. From flagger perspective, there's a distinct difference in badge criteria – gnat Nov 22 '12 at 16:58

80 helpful flags and you get a silver "Deputy" badge.

If you are helpful 500 times, you'll earn a gold "Marshal" badge.

The "Deputy" badge is one of four badges that makes one eligible for being a community moderator, which I think would be a lot of fun (and a heck of a lot of volunteer work).

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I am assuming there is more to becoming a Community Moderator than just flagging/changing/improving ? – AsheeshR Nov 22 '12 at 15:05
Oh yeah. Here is some information about the 2012 Moderator Election. The first few paragraphs detail what their (entirely volunteer and mostly thankless) role involes. – Michael Dautermann Nov 22 '12 at 15:19
The more i ask, the more there is .. :) [regarding the community] – AsheeshR Nov 22 '12 at 15:28
Fun? Are you ki— oh, sure, it's been the most fun I've had since rainbows, sparkles and ball pits. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Nov 22 '12 at 16:22

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