I asked two questions which shouldn't have been asked in the first place. One question was a duplicate and another question was my own misunderstanding about how SO and MSO are counted separately from the remaining 58 SE sites.

So, I flagged my own questions. I think that my flag weight increased because the flags were deemed valid. Please correct me if I am wrong. The flag weight increased slightly as far I can see but can't confirm it for sure because I don't remember the exact previous flag weight value.

If this is true, it seems unethical to me that I can gain flag weight by flagging my own questions, however valid that flag may be. It is in a way rewarding the user for asking stupid questions.

Could a check be put in place so the OP (like myself) doesn't gain flag weight by flagging their own questions even if the flag is deemed valid?

What do others think about this?

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  • Gah, that second one isn't a duplicate anyway, and shouldn't have even been closed. – Tim Stone Aug 11 '11 at 11:46

Flag weight isn't the same as reputation. All it means is that your flags are generally useful and valid, rather than generally invalid and erroneous. It helps the moderators in queuing and in processing the flags that are most likely to be valid first.

Thus, it's quite irrelevant which questions you're flagging, whether they're your own or someone else's. The point is that the flags you raise are still valid (or invalid). As with so many other features of this site, it is a symptom of our love for a high signal-to-noise ratio. If you're raising consistently valid flags, there is nothing to worry about.

There's no real risk that someone is going to successfully game the system this way. Not only would there not be much point (you get basically zero benefit out of having a high flag weight, other than a badge that can only be awarded once), but once you toss in a few bad or invalid flags, you'll see your flag weight go down faster than the Titanicbad flags cost you a whole lot more than good flags.

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  • Yes, I agree flag weight isn't same as reputation. I think that now I see that there is no merit in applying restrictions because invalid flag will prevent gaming the system. Thanks for your insight. – user162697 Aug 11 '11 at 12:35

Why is this wrong? After all you correctly flagged posts and the moderator(s) agreed, resulting in a more cleaner environment.

It becomes unethical if you deliberately post stuff and flag them in order to gain flag weight.

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  • In a way, yes but I feel it is similar to this. It could be a wrong analogy. I can commit a mistake and can be easily forgiven because I accepted and realized my mistake. Oh, I am also given $100 ( this is an exaggeration ) for realizing my mistake. I don't think it should work that. Instead, I should be made to think before I commit the next mistake ( in this case another stupid question ). – user162697 Aug 11 '11 at 11:15
  • It SO (and related sites) are very forgiving. Users get lots of chances, hints and so on before getting punished. And this is a good approach it think in order to get a great community. I feel that this situation perfectly fits within this forgiving environment. (Again assuming one does not use it for personal gain) – Veger Aug 11 '11 at 11:19
  • Good point about no one should use it for their personal gain. That's why I wanted to hear from others on. I feel bad that I have flagged like 6 or 7 of my own questions ( here in MSO ) and that has contributed to my flag weight. Sometimes, I ask dumb questions. :-( – user162697 Aug 11 '11 at 11:22
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    @Siva: The problem with your analogy is that you're not really "given" anything when your flag weight increases. It's a number that people pay way too much attention to, considering its actual impact on their lives. Thus, it's very difficult to see how anyone could possibly use it for their personal gain. If, as the joke goes, reputation is so worthless that 500 points and $7 will buy you a hamburger, flag weight is even more worthless than that. – Cody Gray Aug 11 '11 at 11:46
  • @Cody: Yes, I agree with your points. – user162697 Aug 11 '11 at 12:27

There are a few legitimate reasons for flagging your own posts, and those do help to clean up the site, so I think it's okay for you to gain flag weight for them. I can see how someone could try to game this to get one of the badges associated with flag weight, but it would be awfully bold to try and game the system by actively alerting moderators to your activities. (Sort of like the logic "Every time I report a crime, the police give me $20 for the tip. So naturally, I need to start committing petty crimes and report them.")

As Cody points out, the likely result of excess flagging is a reduction in flag weight, so that's one safeguard already built in to the system. The other is that the more of your own posts that you flag for deletion, the closer you get to being disallowed from posting any more questions and answers. Since it takes 40 flags to get the first badge (assuming you're starting at 100 flag weight) and nobody knows how many deleted posts it takes to get banned, that's a bit of a gamble.

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  • Thanks for your inputs. Yes, it makes sense now. I felt that I am getting something that I shouldn't. That's why I raised this question. – user162697 Aug 11 '11 at 12:30