Here's a practical example:

I flagged this answer before it was edited and contained just one sentence which didn't answer the question at all. So I flagged it as not an answer. Later, the answer was edited, and I saw that, but I couldn't find a way to take my flag back (which hadn't been reviewed by the time), and consequently I lost 10 flag weight because the moderator deemed my flag as invalid ( I really doubt whether he would deem it as such had the answer not been edited).

So, wouldn't it be good to enable taking the flag back? Or, alternatively, let the moderator judge the validness of the flag by the version of the post that was current by the time of the flag?

  • I wouldn't worry about it. The moderators are smart enough to figure out what happened.
    – user102937
    Sep 25, 2011 at 19:28
  • 6
    @Robert Harvey: Apparently they aren't :P See the linked answer BEFORE the edit Sep 25, 2011 at 19:30
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/96026/…, this is a known problem. Sep 25, 2011 at 19:48
  • possible duplicate of How are Mod Flags affected by edits?
    – user149432
    Sep 25, 2011 at 20:19
  • 2
    Flagging a post by a user with a fairly decent rep, a track record of 533 decent answers at 1m 53s after being submitted seems a bit harsh and is what I consider flag sniping. It looks like that user probably hit the submit button by accident (I've done it a few times in the past). I think the decline was fair enough. You have a responsibility to use your flags wisely but if you're treating flag weight like rep gain then you're doing it wrong.
    – Kev
    Sep 25, 2011 at 22:56

2 Answers 2


Moderator flags are intended to be used on a post based on the condition in which you encounter it.

If the post is subsequently edited, the moderator is supposed to check the edit history to determine if there was originally a problem, and accept the flag as helpful if the original state of the post was flag-worthy.

Declining of flags is supposed to occur only when the flagger is clearly using the flagging system for something other than its intended purpose.

  • 2
    Problem is that most of my flags that are deinied were submitted in 5 minutes grace period, when history isn't logged
    – genesis
    Sep 25, 2011 at 19:32
  • All you say in your answer is theory which, according to my particular example, it not necessarily true in practice. Would you argue that the original flag was indeed invalid? Sep 25, 2011 at 19:33
  • 13
    @genesis: Then leave a comment, and allow the user the 5 minute grace period to clean up his post.
    – user102937
    Sep 25, 2011 at 19:34
  • @Armen: It looks to me like your flag was valid. But errors can and do occur from time to time. The dismissal buttons are very close together, and sometimes I click the wrong one. If you are a consistenly good flagger, one bad flag dismissal is not going to matter all that much.
    – user102937
    Sep 25, 2011 at 19:35
  • 2
    @Robert Harvey: Well, that might be OK for someone with a flag weight of 500. But imagine the frustration of someone who loses 10 flag weight out of, say, 745 just because the moderator missed the correct button... In any case, I do believe that the flag was deemed invalid because the moderator didn't look at the original post, and maintain that the feature of taking back the flag would be fair to users. Sep 25, 2011 at 19:38
  • The dismiss reason on your flag says that "flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer." Did you leave a comment with your flag? It sounds like the mod thought you were flagging the answer as being wrong.
    – user102937
    Sep 25, 2011 at 19:39
  • 2
    Why would you need a comment on that flag? The post was blatantly not a real answer. Sep 25, 2011 at 19:45
  • @Tomalak: Respectfully, you were not the one that flagged the post. I'm trying to find out exactly how the OP flagged the post.
    – user102937
    Sep 25, 2011 at 19:47
  • @Robert: There is no flag type for "technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer". Which means, whatever flag was used, the moderator responded incorrectly. Sep 25, 2011 at 19:52
  • @Tomalak: The flags that get dismissed this way are generally the ones where the user has flagged with a description: "This answer is wrong and misleading, and should be removed from the site."
    – user102937
    Sep 25, 2011 at 19:53
  • @Robert: I flagged it as "not an answer" without leaving a comment. I don't think I should have left a comment... Sep 25, 2011 at 20:07
  • 2
    “If the post is subsequently edited, the moderator is supposed to check the edit history”: I'm surprised to hear that from an SO moderator. It sounds like a colossal waste of time. Sep 25, 2011 at 20:16
  • 3
    @Gilles: Or assume the flagger has flagged in good faith, and summarily dismiss as helpful. Declining flags is supposed to be reserved for flag abuse.
    – user102937
    Sep 25, 2011 at 20:18

You can't take a flag back, but don't sweat it. Moderators will judge the post on the way it is when they see it. If they wonder why your flag doesn't seem to match the post, they'll either check the post history, or just dismiss it and move on. (In the case of SO, move on to their 154th flag for the day. SO moderators can't afford to spend several minutes on each and every flag.)

As for flag weight, don't sweat about it, it's pretty much meaningless (unless it goes down to 0, but you'd have to have lots of flags dismissed as invalid to reach that). Especially now that flag weight goes down whenever the moderator wants to provide feedback.

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