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I think I just witnessed a moderator decline a flag raised on his own comment. (I'm hesitant to discuss specifics unless I have to, as I don't mean to put anyone in a negative light.)

Since there are at least 2 other moderators per site, I'm not sure this should be allowed—I feel that either

  1. only uninvolved moderator(s) should be able to view and handle flags on co-moderators' posts, or

  2. moderators should be able to view all flags, but a flagged moderator should not be allowed to decline a flag against him- or herself.

I have no personal issue with this moderator. I just felt in this case that there was truth in both sides (the moderator's as well as the flagging user's), and sought a win-win solution, i.e. by improving the disputed answer. Coming back an hour later to see that the moderator unilaterally declined the user's flag—that didn't seem fair to the user...

I am making some assumptions based on the "Last Seen" stat in the moderator tools, so if I'm simply mistaken on what happened, I apologize in advance.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 16 down vote accepted

You know what they say about assumptions...

There's no hard rule on this. As dmckee notes, it's generally considered a faux pas - there are always other mods, let them handle it. But sometimes, it's expedient to just get flags out of the way: in particular, I often dismiss those "too many comments" flags that Community raises when I'm in the middle of trying to work through a problem with someone.

Use your judgment. And if you think someone - another user or another moderator - is abusing their privileges on the site or that it might appear that way to an outsider, start by taking them aside and talking to them about it privately. We do log everything, so if someone goes completely off the rails and decides to start abusing their privileges in a major way we can get a record of it - but it really should never come to that under normal circumstances.

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+1 - Though, might be worth mentioning that if I had logged on just an hour later, I wouldn't have even known any complaint was raised, because once the moderator declines the complaint, their "last activity" time updates but with no trace of what that activity was. (One would have to stumble upon the post's timeline to see, by which time, it's ambiguous which moderator declined the flag.) So, maybe not the easiest thing to keep an eye on. But, I still agree overall, because anyone abusing privileges will exhibit that behavior in more ways than declining mere comment flags. –  Andrew Cheong Mar 6 at 1:32
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Realistically, we don't care that much about comments. If you didn't delete it on sight, flag or no, then it probably wasn't that bad. There's precious little tooling involved here, because - unlike posts - they're considered next-to-worthless. Heck, moderators can't even see who flags a comment - which is actually rather nice, insofar as preventing bias goes. –  Shog9 Mar 6 at 1:40

As a moderator I have seen flags on my content a couple of times. I presume I could act on them.

I have always avoided acting on those because it just seems like a conflict of interest situation, and principle calls for someone else to check it and tell me if I am behaving like a twerp.

In any case I think that not letting people clear complaints directed at them is a basic security measure.

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The SE software doesn't specifically disallow dismissing flags on your own comments, or any flags directed at any of your posts, for that matter. But you're right; etiquette dictates deferral to another mod, in most cases. –  Robert Harvey Mar 6 at 1:02
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I completely agree but I believe that the question was whether etiquette should be enough? In this case I would vote that etiquette be enforced in software. –  nonsensickle Mar 6 at 1:12
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@nonsensickle: That would be a lot of expense for something that's not a problem in practice, and that involves relatively few individuals (there's only something like 150 moderators on the entire SE network). Remember, folks can always complain on Meta if they think something is fishy, and there's always at least two mods on every site for checks and balances. –  Robert Harvey Mar 6 at 1:12
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@RobertHarvey Without knowledge of how difficult this would be to implement I cannot comment on the expense. Allow me to rephrase, "it would be desired that it is enforced in software". The prioritization of this feature vs other work is not what I'm discussing. –  nonsensickle Mar 6 at 1:15
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@RobertHarvey We're up to 300-something moderators now. Still a small number in the grand scheme of things, though. –  Anna Lear Mar 6 at 1:16
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As a moderator I agree that moderators should not decline flags against themselves -- let somebody else do it. Even if you're scrupulous, there's the appearance issue and it's very unlikely to be so urgent that you need to do it right now (especially for a decline!). But I don't think it's worth trying to wire this into the software; strong guidance from the team to mods would suffice. Of course, the team would have to be willing to enforce this if they get complaints of violations. –  Monica Cellio Mar 6 at 2:05

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