I would like to understand a few things about a flagging exchange I recently participated in. Exchange went about as follows:

  1. I flagged the question
  2. my flag was declined
  3. I flagged it again as "other" with a note asking to clarify status of prior flag and with an explanation for the reasons why I flagged it that way
    Side note - there is a text size limit for this flag note; I would instead post at meta if I had to exceed it
    update clarify status of prior flag part was slippery - stuff like that might be better to discuss at meta
  4. my "other" flag was marked as helpful

I wonder if my understanding of "helpful" mark above is correct. The way I see it now is that its purpose was to "give the lost weight back", so that things sort of returned back to the state as it was prior to my first flagging.

I also wonder if using other flag is a reasonable way to clarify declined status? I mean, the issue is rather minor - simple mis-click, minor clarification, minor correction, ie it wasn't necessary to discuss that minor stuff at meta. Or was it?

update - lesson learned: if a question is generic and vague, but not obviously deserves particular definitive flag like very-low-quality or duplicate etc, it might be a good idea to use "Other" and explain (briefly) why you think that it should be closed.

  • For example, looking back at particular question I took my example from, I can tell that it would be better to use other+explanation from the very beginning in that case. That would 1) save moderator effort spent on declining and 2) give me +10 in flag weight.
    Not to mention potential positive long-term impact on my flagging karma in the future

update2 - lesson learned made this answer worth a bounty to me

  • 4
    Dang, I hate those flogging exchanges. Sep 1, 2011 at 9:12
  • 1
    I wish I could flog some of the flaggers around here...
    – user1228
    Sep 1, 2011 at 15:29
  • @Won'tಠ_ಠ I wish I could ...it's either you will, or you won't
    – gnat
    Sep 1, 2011 at 16:43

3 Answers 3


I assume that first one was just misclick, and to make you happy, second one was flagged as helpful to give you your lost weight back

  • I see. Minor issue - simple mis-click, minor clarification, minor correction. If that's the case, clarifying it with other flag looks reasonable, right? I mean it wasn't necessary to discuss that minor stuff at meta - correct?
    – gnat
    Sep 1, 2011 at 9:47
  • @gnat: yes, correct
    – genesis
    Sep 1, 2011 at 9:48
  • 4
    Note that using a helpful flag to restore lost flag weight won't work after your flag weight is north of 500, because after that the scale is no longer linear. i.e. weight lost through invalid flag != weight gained through helpful flag.
    – razlebe
    Sep 1, 2011 at 11:28
  • 2
    Most likely not. Either the first flag wasn't appropriate whereas the other flag was, or the first flag didn't give enough detail whereas the second one did. Also, two different mods could have handled each flag, thus resulting in different outcomes.
    – user1228
    Sep 1, 2011 at 15:32
  • @razlebe thanks - I added clarification wrt value of restored weight for heavyweights
    – gnat
    Sep 1, 2011 at 19:23

Both flags were invalid. I marked the second flag valid because I didn't want to ding you twice, and the question in your second flag was asked in good faith. I'm sorry if that caused confusion.

Please don't use the flagging system for conversation, or for re-verification of previous flags. That's not what the flag system is for.

As to the veracity of your first flag, the "Very Low Quality" flag should only be used for posts that are not salvageable by editing.

  • not salvageable is slippery don't you think? Look for example at rev 3 of the message you refer to. There are severe misleading errors in title, question text and tags - and that's after re-tagging and heavy edits done in prior revisions by two hi-rep users. Anyway, issues like that won't be my headache anymore - if there's even slightest shade of doubt I'll use "Other" instead of "Very Low Quality"
    – gnat
    Sep 2, 2011 at 10:37
  • 1
    As you correctly pointed out, there are plenty of "other" ways to flag.
    – user102937
    Sep 2, 2011 at 15:04

It is possible that your initial flag was declined because the moderator who handled it did not agree or declined it by mistake. It has been said by moderators on many occasions that they are only human and that a decision by them on a flag is subjective. Examples:

Answer: Flag declined, but question closed for the same reason

With that being said, I'm pretty confident that this particular case was just a mistake that happened as a result of a human being doing repetitive work.

Comment to: Flag declined, but question closed for the same reason

Moderators aren't machines. Its all about human judgement with the occasional "Oh shnikeys I shouldn't have dismissed that flag" thrown in.

Comment to: Flag marked invalid even though question was closed for same reason: can I challenge?

The only problem is the fact that flagging and the response to flagging is subjective in its nature, and therefore imperfect. You come up with a solution for that and you've solved 99% of the world's problems. – Won't ಠ_ಠ♦ Jul 13 at 13:12

For your second flag, the "other" flag: There's no guarantee that this flag was handled by the same moderator that handled your first flag. Eery flag goes into a flag queue and moderators go through them at different times, dismissing or actioning as they go.

If it was the same moderator, I doubt they will have validated your flag just to give you flag weight back, since this wouldn't work at all after you breach the 500 flag weight barrier.

It is more likely that the additional explanation you added for your reasons behind your decision to flag were easier to interpret for the moderator handling this flag. That allowed them to follow your train of thought and validate the flag.

It is often a good idea to indicate to the moderator why you are flagging if you don't think it will be immediately obvious:

  • If an answer is some form of had same problm, fixed naow thx. Flagging as "Not an answer" is fine.
  • If a question is generic and vague, but not obviously so, it might be a good idea to use "Other" and exlain (briefly) why you think that it should be closed.
  • your explanation of how to use other flag looks faqing good to me - I'll update the answer with lesson learned
    – gnat
    Sep 1, 2011 at 12:08
  • (on a further thought) I think I owe you a bounty for explanation of how to use "Other" flag. Please feel free to point to any of your open questions and I'll add +50 as a bounty to it. I've got 101-or-more at all the SE sites => can pay wherever you prefer.
    – gnat
    Sep 1, 2011 at 12:54
  • 1
    I appreciate the offer, but an up-vote is thanks enough, I'm glad I could help :) Sep 1, 2011 at 13:11
  • I've accidentally hit 'declined' a few times purely by mistake. Working the flag queue is a very repetitive process, and those are typically rather error prone. Thanks for pointing out that we do try to be careful, but make mistakes from time to time. Flags are one of the few mistakes we can't un-do once done.
    – user50049
    Sep 1, 2011 at 14:13

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