I just encountered a situation while moderating Stack Overflow that I've encountered several times before:

  • User flags question or answer
  • Flag is dismissed by a moderator (either way)
  • Flag is disputed fifteen minutes after being dismissed. Dismissed flag re-appears in the queue with the new dispute under it.

I can think of two reasons why this happens:

  1. Caching
  2. Users not refreshing the tools page after being away for a little while

I'm not sure if this is a bug or not. Rather, I'm wondering what we should do with these?

I don't want to mark a previously declined flag as 'helpful' by dismissing the new 'disputed' (phantom) flag as 'helpful'. However, I don't want to mark the dispute as unhelpful. It seems like I would be declining the same flag twice by doing so?

Or, reverse the scenario for a flag previously marked as helpful.

The most recent example would be flags on this answer. Should users be able to dispute flags that have been dismissed, or is what I'm seeing simply an artifact of caching? More importantly, how should these be handled?


In addition to some other causes of phantom flags (see above), a change will be going in at some build in the future, to ensure you can't add "this flag is invalid" votes after the flags have been cleared. Basically, just closing down another 2-person race between the 10k tools and (most likely) the moderator tools.

  • Schweeeeeet :) Thanks Mark. I didn't see the other two meta posts creep in after this one, mostly due to being busy. The changes you describe should take care of it. – Tim Post Sep 27 '11 at 7:20

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