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I'm wondering (since it just happened to me), is it possible to "cancel" ("undo", "delete", whatever) a flag I just raised if I misclicked it, so the mods won't waste time?

I looked everywhere, but I can't find such a feature.

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See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/71293/…. The upshot is no, it's not possible. But it's no big deal; the mods and/or community will ignore it if the flag is invalid. –  Cody Gray Apr 15 '11 at 13:07
Do you know your flags will go away after two days, if nobody agree? –  YOU Apr 15 '11 at 13:11
@YOU Only for spam/offensive and for comment flags (which take 4 days). –  Grace Note Apr 15 '11 at 13:16
How about cancel inadvertent comment upvotes? –  staticx May 9 '13 at 19:52
@0A0D easy, click the upvote icon again. –  Cole Johnson May 9 '13 at 22:02
@coleJohnson: only if you are within the cancellation window –  staticx May 9 '13 at 22:41
Agree that it will be useful, especially considering declined flags will affect flag weight. Would be best to have a "retract" link next to each pending flag in the flag summary page of the user. –  Shadow Wizard Jun 6 '13 at 12:18
With flag weight gone, I believe not wasting the time of reviewers is a valid reason for this feature. –  Stijn Sep 10 '13 at 12:40
This post should be updated to be "Allow SO members to retract flags." It's not just about misclicked flags, it's about flags that no longer apply. I understand mods are supposed to take into account the info at the time at which the flag was submitted; however, that's not always the case. I had a flag declined and my guess is because the post was edited post flag submittal or the mod did not read the first sentence of the post which violates SO's question guidelines. Reference: stackoverflow.com/questions/21012928/… –  Anil Natha Jan 9 '14 at 16:34
To add to my previous comment, punishing members with declined flags is not how members that are actively trying to help keep the boards clean should be treated, especially those members that understand when a flag should be retracted and when it shouldn't be, to save moderator's time. –  Anil Natha Jan 9 '14 at 16:36
@SlyRaskal I agree that the first version of the question would be definitively be flaggable... What did you flag it as? And was a reason provided for the declination? You can always raise the question here on meta as to why the flag was declined. I've always only seen the mods give good and honest feedback as to why the flag was declined. –  user213634 Jan 9 '14 at 18:48
@AndersUP: I originally flagged it as point #5 of the off-topic list of questions, "recommend or find a tool, library or favorite off-site resource" because the first sentence of the post, even now still reads, "just wonder if anybody would provide any links for me to customize my grid view...". Which sounded liked the person was asking for an external resource, which is why I flagged it. The user later added their code to the post. No reason was provided for the declination. –  Anil Natha Jan 9 '14 at 18:58
@AndersUP, had another situation where a flag was declined when it was technically accurate, very frustrating to say the least, but I started a discussion about a feature request to hopefully resolve this: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/218253/… and would love for you to chime in if possible. –  Anil Natha Feb 1 '14 at 3:03
@SlyRaskal I read your question - and while it is definitively a similar case, I can't really provide a sensible answer - Shog9 sums it up pretty well. The only thing is that from a math-perspective disputed doesn't affect your flags and if you flag consistently well then the odd declined doesn't really affect you either. But I know the pain - I don't like to have a good track-record spoiled by a declined flag, even though I don't think a couple of declined flags would bring me below the 100 flags/day I have. (And rarely use anymore, but that's a different story). –  user213634 Feb 3 '14 at 13:21
I'm not sure if this is a proper way to do this, but I would love to see this feature, but I don't want to create duplicate question; would commenting it bump it and gather some attention? I'd really love if it did. –  MatthewRock Sep 1 at 13:11

6 Answers 6

up vote 119 down vote

I would love to see this feature, although I don't think that misclicking is the real selling point here. As I've already stated in a comment to Calebs answer, the use-case for me is more frequently that other events than my flag being evaluated make the flag irrelevant.

The most frequent example is that the flagged post is edited so that it is now of a quality that would not cause me to flag it in the first place. I know that the reviewers are supposed to see the post as it was when it was flagged, but if it is good now, why not let me retract the flag as events have rendered it a waste of time? Here is one such example, where the code was not added (or invisible?) when I flagged it, but there and visible now.

The other, rare, example I've just experienced a few times was after I reviewed a late answer and I ended up placing multiple similar flags - each in essence a superset of the previous as I found out more, and each time I would have liked to retract the previous flag as the newer would provide a more complete picture.

Now the second of the flags have been handled. The other two are still active as I write this and while the third flag is still relevant, the first is factually handled, the flagged answer already deleted and there is nothing more to do on it. But the flag is still active. (That is the Schedule to create AMI weekly from a running instance? flag below.)

I realise I should probably have waited until I was sure I had 'everything' until placing my flag, but I rarely go deeper once I've placed a flag - especially not from the review queue.

For those interested in the details of the second situation, the answer I reviewed consisted of:

You can go to http://www.SomeCompany.com/TheCoolProduct.html - this tool can do exactly what you need. (Disclaimer: I work at SomeCompany).

The domain of the question was not for me, so I couldn't really tell whether the answer was useful. The user posting didn't provide enough effort for me to automatically accept this as being within these limits, but the user was also new, so a red spam flag might be too harsh.

I flagged it for moderator attention and explained why. Then I got curious, looked some more at the user, and found that all 5 answers he had provided were of the same type. So I flagged one of the other answers and explained the new findings. As mentioned, I would have liked to retract the original flag at this point.

A few minutes later I got more curious and tried searching on SO for SomeCompany. This turned up yet another user with few answers, similar name and similar style answer. So I flagged that as well.

For documentation I've attached a screenshot. As the third flag is still active, I've anonymized the question and the user there as well as my reasons in all three flags.

A needlessly active flag

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It is definitely worth re-visiting this issue as there have been a few times recently where the flag was valid when I made it, but in response to a comment (mine or someone else's), the question/answer/comment has been changed to no longer warrant the flag. Would be nice to be able to retract the flag and drop the mod's queue down a little. –  AnonJr Sep 17 '13 at 17:24
@AnonJr Exactly! –  user213634 Sep 17 '13 at 17:25
In addtion to @AnonJr's excellent reason which I agree with, I personally also worry about having a flag of mine declined when I wished I hadn't submitted the flag after I realized my reason for flagging it was invalid. This has happened already a couple times to me. –  Anil Natha Dec 26 '13 at 21:34
It's such an obvious feature, I can't see why it should even be discussed whether to implement it or not. Is it that difficult to implement? That's the only sensible question. –  matteo Mar 1 '14 at 22:38
Yep. I just got a custom mod flag declined for the reason that I should use a standard flag, which in a moment of durp, I'd forgotten there was a standard flag for the reason. I remembered just after custom-flagging it, but too late - it was in the queue, and there was nothing I could do about it. Really wish I could have just removed it, so as to not waste the mod's time. First time I've done exactly that, but there've been a couple other times I've wanted to cancel a flag for other different reasons. Really don't understand why this still hasn't been implemented. –  neminem Apr 11 '14 at 23:25
And, just happened again - flagged something as a dup, then immediately realized after I'd already flagged it, why it wasn't actually a dup. Now someone is going to get it later in a review queue and have to figure that out again, even though I already know it isn't. Really wish there was a way to undo. :( –  neminem Nov 24 '14 at 23:32

First of all, it's no big deal if you flag inappropriately "every now and then". (As long as it is not a chronic misunderstanding of how the flagging system works).

To answer your question, you can't "take back" a flag.

As for your feature request I don't think it is a common enough mistake to make this feature available, plus it might be an expensive operation (not sure about that one).

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Definitely no big deal. I would rather see a few inappropriate flags than miss a post that should have been flagged. –  ChrisF Apr 15 '11 at 14:40
@ChrisF: Good point too! –  Trufa Apr 15 '11 at 14:45
@ChrisF: that's not really the tradeoff being offered here, though. People are pretty unlikely to accidentally unflag something. –  Ben Millwood Sep 22 '12 at 14:23
If moderator dispute or declined this misclicked flag, will it decrease my total number of flags which I can flag per day? –  Prasad Jadhav Nov 9 '12 at 11:08
@Prasad as Trufa said, no. If you do it every once in a while, the system doesn't care as that's normal. The Stack Exchange system is very intelligent. (It knows Skeet will always pass the reputation cap, so it just gives it to him 200 a day) –  Cole Johnson May 9 '13 at 22:04
@ColeJohnson, what you stated is incorrect, at least it is now, don't know if it was this way when you posted. Declined flags do negatively affect a user's total flag count. "You are awarded additional bonus flags when you flag correctly - one bonus flag for every ten net helpful flags (helpful flags minus declined flags)." Reference: How many flags do I have? –  Anil Natha Feb 1 '14 at 3:08
@PrasadJadhav, please look at my previous comment to ColeJohnson as that is probably of interest to you. –  Anil Natha Feb 1 '14 at 3:08
@SlyRaskal It was different when I posted that IIRC. –  Cole Johnson Feb 2 '14 at 2:23
@ColeJohnson, I figured as much, but at least wanted to let you know of the change. Cheers. –  Anil Natha Feb 2 '14 at 2:33
up vote 21 down vote

You can't "take back" a flag.

It is a much requested feature, but it has never been implemented.

After I've discovered that flagging is unreversable in all cases (and that includes when the flagged text has been edited), I've been much more reluctant to flag. I flag spam and new questions posted as answers, as those are usually obvious, but I never flag anything that requires a value call, or where there is a remote possibility that editing by the OP or the community may change things.

While some say it doesn't matter, I just don't like the aesthetics of having declined or disputed flags listed on my profile page, so I rarely use the flag.

If my reaction is typical, it may be that this is the intended behaviour. I.e. that the designers of this site want the threshold for flagging to be high, so that only clear cut transgressions are flagged. If it is inteded to condition behaviour in this way, there is probably no point in requesting this feature to be added.

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Just my thought on the UI :)

  1. Options, if used, shouldn't be greyed out...

    enter image description here

  2. ...and once you choose one of used options, button changes to "Retract Flag":

    enter image description here

    Note that even if this used option contained some sub options, clicking it shouldn't lead to sub options, but just provide an ability to retract this type of flag.

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Although admittedly it would sometimes be nice to see just exactly what subreason you flagged. –  Nathan Tuggy Jul 15 at 7:16

Raising a flag takes a minimum of several sequential clicks. On the two sites I moderate, I have yet to see a flag raised by pure click error. I think any feature trying to mitigate this problem will just add complexity and confusion to an already well oiled machine.

Additionally, since flags are inherently something that requires the flag handler to exerciser judgement on, an occasional miss-flag will just be dismissed or declined. This shouldn't be a big deal for occasional mistakes.

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With the new off topic close reasons on Stack Overflow, it's easy to misclick and choose the wrong reason by mistake. Not big deal, but being able to cancel this would be nice. –  Shadow Wizard Jul 10 '13 at 9:50
I think that this feature would be cool for a different reason: I've frequently found that I flagged something and then the post is edited, making the flag irrelevant. It will frequently be handled as helpful as it was helpful at the time - but knowing that the post has been fixed I would still like to be able to retract the flag and save the bandwidth, so to speak. –  user213634 Jul 10 '13 at 9:54
@AndersUP : I have declined flag because of this. –  user2284570 Nov 26 '13 at 0:38
@AndersUP, I have declined flags because of this too. Not fair to the flag submitter in my honest opinion to decline a flag that was valid prior to the post editing. It just happened to me again this morning, see my comment posted underneath the original post. –  Anil Natha Jan 9 '14 at 16:39

Stealing slightly from this comment:

It is definitely worth re-visiting this issue as there have been a few times recently where the flag was valid when I made it, but in response to a comment (mine or someone else's), the question/answer/comment has been changed to no longer warrant the flag. Would be nice to be able to retract the flag and drop the mod's queue down a little. – AnonJr Sep 17 '13 at 17:24

I completely agree, and if you're someone like me (and like many of us) who goes back and checks on their pending flags, we could absolutely make moderator's lives easier by retracting our flags.

If we look at my own flag history, look at the revision history on some of these:

I would have retracted my flag on all of these. Instead, we just clutter the queue for even longer and make more work for moderators.

One thing that CMs and moderators talk about time and time again is that moderators should be able to process hundreds or thousands of flags quickly. This ability is important because it provides a mechanism to remove moderator roadblocks that slow them down / waste time, because they have to look at the revision history, otherwise they can make mistakes. In other words, a revised post selects for a category of the most time consuming, brain involving flag situations, and taking steps to help with this category can help a lot.

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