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Hello everyone !

Let me explain the situation:

I flagged 2 posts yesterday on SO, considering both of them were "not real questions". Apparently the mods disagreed with me and marked both as invalid, therefore lowering my flag weight by 20.

However, a few hours later, possibly due to other users flagging the same questions, they both got closed. But this doesn't mark the previously-supposedly-invalid flags as being valid. So in the end, those 2 correctly flagged posts have earned me -20 flag weight (which happens to be the opposite of 20, and should have been the correct option).

To avoid this kind of trouble, would it be possible to keep a track of previously marked invalid flags and update them according to moderator's decisions changes ?

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You're not going to be a happy person if you care this much about flag weight. And I say this as someone at 750.0000. Mods are human, you are human, sometimes your weight goes down, just go flag some more. Whether you look for it or wait for it to cross your path, it always shows up. – Kate Gregory May 6 '11 at 13:41
@kate-gregory: I can't sleep knowing that my flag weight has lowered. It makes me feel bad. My blood turns green. No seriously, I don't mind it at all, it's just odd. – Angry Lettuce May 6 '11 at 13:42
You will notice that this is more serious when you got flag weight around ~600, you gonna lose -10 for invalid flag but only got +1 for valid flags. – YOU May 6 '11 at 13:52
I hate your flag weight. With the passion. – Won't May 6 '11 at 14:54
up vote 6 down vote accepted

We do keep records of previous flags.

I don't agree that flags should be updated, however, because mechanically you can't ensure that the flag has remained valid post-dismissal.

For example, suppose a good answer is posted, but someone has a beef with it and flags it as "not an answer". We dismiss as invalid. Later on, though, that user goes berserk and starts revising all of his answers into nonsensical haiku. That answer gets flagged as "user is vandalizing posts in verse!", which we immediately swoop in and resolve. This flag should be dismissed as valid, but the original flag that was on it still has no business to be dismissed as valid.

Auto-updating the flag dismissal is not wise for the above reasons. If it's not automatic update but instead we individually re-visit flags, that's introducing two complications.

  • First, it means that your flag weight becomes very unstable. It's no longer that each flag makes one mark, but they could change at any time, if someone else decides to oppose your resolution. If it should not have been closed in the first place, does that mean your flag is now invalid? How are you supposed to even keep track of all of the changes and where they would be coming from? It can get really messy, really fast.
  • Second, it adds a higher level of complexity to our job as moderators. We are given past flags as a means of context to the history of the post. If we have to consider the fact that we might have to revisit the resolution of every past flag on a post, that significantly will increase our workload in addressing flags, meaning slower work. It's simply not a very efficient thing to introduce.

Since those are both pretty bad things for both sides of the engagement, and I don't believe the benefits outweigh either, I don't agree in updating the dismissal. Let's not focus our optimization of flagging on the weight.

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Well, in this precise case, the questions were not edited, it was just different moderators, different points of view. Thanks for the detailed explanation ! Still, an answer entirely in haiku would definitively be worth not flagging. – Angry Lettuce May 6 '11 at 15:41

Perhaps they just felt that you hadn't given the question enough time. If you leave a comment as to why you think the question is invalid, with a reasonable justification you're less likely to run into this problem (they can accept the flag without closing the question).

Depending on the Mod, they can be more/less flexible about what constitutes a recoverable question. I think given the scope for people editing questions between your flags and them eventually being closed, keeping track of the flags would cause more trouble than it's worth. Either the mods would have to rereview them, or an automated system would have to try to figure out if the community agreed with you at the time of the mods decision, or if comments / edits led the community to close it.

Generally, if there's a chance a question can be recovered, don't flag it as 'not a question'. I tend to leave comments, wait a while, then flag it if nothing has been changed...

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