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The maximum value of flag weight is capped (originally at 500, now at 750). This is presumably to keep people from being able to cast hundreds of "inform mod" flags per day.

That makes sense.

However, I'd argue that it would make more sense to artificially limit the number of flags a user can have and keep the flag-weight uncapped. This will allow for the sorting of flags by weight to be more effective.

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Why am I always opposed to your flagging suggestions? It's not as if we're even that disagreeable in general... At any rate, my thought pattern is, when it comes to users with 500 flag rating, they've done such excellent work that I don't even know what effect additional priorities between them would serve. When you're that good, I think the fixed position at the top with all the other top users probably serves the best. But I speak from a site with flag volume that is far lower than what is on Stack Overflow, so maybe it is more useful to them. –  Grace Note Feb 28 '11 at 16:20
    
Is the trust on an user who flagged 100 times and has a weight of 1000 better than an user who flagged 50 times and has a weight of 500? –  BalusC Feb 28 '11 at 16:20
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@Grace, but is there any harm in letting people with flag-rates in the 1ks rise above those with 500? –  jjnguy Feb 28 '11 at 16:21
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@BalusC, maybe not. But it shows that the person at 1K is super consistent. –  jjnguy Feb 28 '11 at 16:22
    
Even when he was registered/active 2 years while the other is registered/active only 1 year? –  BalusC Feb 28 '11 at 16:23
    
Development time, for starters. I also see no benefit to ranking them higher. There is basically a point where your flags are trusted enough that they are looked at with haste. –  Grace Note Feb 28 '11 at 16:23
    
@Rup, you would gain the ability to distinguish between flaggers at 500 and those that have even made it beyond that. Right now, everyone with 500 are at the same level, but some people in that group would have a much higher rating if it weren't artificially limited. –  jjnguy Feb 28 '11 at 16:24
    
@Grace, ah yes. Development time. Always a show-stopper. –  jjnguy Feb 28 '11 at 16:25
    
@Balus, yup. I think that having a higher flag rating shows constancy and a great knowledge of what belongs on the site, and what doesn't. –  jjnguy Feb 28 '11 at 16:26
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In theory, I could hit the current max with a day or so of inspired flagging. But another day of horribly misguided flagging would put me down at the bottom again. With this suggestion in place, it would be possible to gain such a weight that only prolonged abuse would restore it to an accurate value. That doesn't seem like a great idea - you shouldn't be able to work your way to "untouchable". –  Shog9 Feb 28 '11 at 18:20
    
It shows somebody to be extraordinary average. Bleh, there's enough average already. –  Uphill Luge Feb 28 '11 at 18:28
    
@Shog, good point. –  jjnguy Feb 28 '11 at 18:31
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Incidentally... This (and several other posts on the subject) illustrate the down-side of making flag weight visible: once there's a number, folks tend to fixate on it. –  Shog9 Feb 28 '11 at 19:14
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@Shog(first comment): Not theory. On SO, I did hit the cap with a day of flagging. –  John Mar 7 '11 at 17:41
    
So what exactly has been completed here?? –  Hendrik Vogt Mar 11 '11 at 12:16
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2 Answers

Before the flag weight went into effect, Jeff shared Stack Overflow's flag weight distribution in chat. At the time the maximum weight was 250, with only 73 people at that level. This represents just 0.02% of the Stack Overflow userbase. Even if you were to take flag weights of 150 - 250 inclusively, you would still only end up with 342 people.

Granted, people were unaware of flag weight then and might be more encouraged to flag now, but that's still a very small group. Now that the maximum weight has been raised to 500, the number of people at the limit is even less, at 27 people (0.008%).

From that perspective, increasing (or removing, in this case) the limit hardly seems to be beneficial, because it doesn't appear that the highest flag weight levels are particularly saturated. Should we assume that there's no harm in raising the limit as you said, it's still really is hard to see point in doing so since the current system is representative enough.

However, I'm not convinced that it wouldn't be harmful. Flag weight is a measure of reliability, but not necessarily one of importance. If you could get infinitely high flag weight by marking stuff on /review, it might completely bury flags about things like post vandalism under a sea of flags about non-answers. Said another way, a report from the reliable-yet-infrequent flagger about post vandalism shouldn't be ranked so much lower than reports from the reliable-and-frequent flagger about non-answers.

It's hard to say how the current system handles this, and I'm sure that in general there really aren't that many flags. Still, it feels to me that setting the cap at a reasonable level (which the current one seems to be set at) allows for a good mesh of flag reliability and diversity at the top of the queue, and taking away that cap comes across as a bad idea.

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Good points! I have no counter arguments. (Besides 'Yeah....but still....') (I'd love to have a higher goal to achieve. The tiny extra incentive to flag has been removed now that I've hit the max.) –  jjnguy Feb 28 '11 at 17:40
    
@jjnguy Yeah, having the goal as motivation makes sense. As far as /review goes, I set a goal of clearing things out until I stop seeing anything flaggable after clicking "Next 30" a few times. Probably not the same impact, but. –  Tim Stone Feb 28 '11 at 17:55
    
I try to go to the review page anytime I see edits pending approval and cast at least 2 flags. Having a number increment seems to work so much better for me though. –  jjnguy Feb 28 '11 at 18:09
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A simple argument would be that although they make up a small number of the userbase, the number of flags made by these users as a percentage of all other sources of flag is significant enough that we might want to do this - most SO users have never flagged in their time on this site! –  Yi Jiang Mar 7 '11 at 22:18
    
@YiJiang Erm, I'm not sure I follow. The high concentration of flags by reliable flaggers will remain a high concentration of flags no matter what you set the limit at. There's no intrinsic value in ordering them by super high flag weights, since the flaggers are all "mostly reliable" at that point regardless. As I mentioned in the answer, what becomes most relevant at that point is the flag's "importance", and it's unclear if there's an adequate approach to determining that currently. –  Tim Stone Mar 7 '11 at 22:32
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In part, we need something where a large number of bad votes will still actually put a dent in it; inappropriate flags are a net-negative.

However, we are investigating options for letting this grow above 500 (note that the cap on "how any flag-votes can I get" remains in place, though - you can't get infinity-infinity flags...).

This is in part tied into Flag weight 500: How can you tell if you're still flagging correctly?

We're looking at a few options here; at the moment the strongest contender is some kind of asymptotic scale, so getting to the current badge level (500) remains roughly the same, but growth above that slows down. You can still take pride in your exceptional flagging acumen though - and who knows, maybe some Au in the future (thinking off the top of my head there; not a guarantee).

Thoughts welcome...

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