There's a post that has a spam or offensive flag. These flags are pretty serious, since if they're validated by the community or by a moderator, they carry a -100 penalty to the poster's reputation.

As a moderator, I had expected that deleting the post would validate the flag, and carry out the reputation penalty — just like deleting the post would dismiss other flags such as “not an answer” or “very low quality” as valid.

As it turns out¹, deleting the answer does not dismiss any pending spam/offensive flag. The flag is merely hidden (and reappears if the post is undeleted). To validate the spam/offensive flag, I need to cast one myself, instead of deleting the post.

I find this behavior surprising: I wouldn't have guessed that deleting the post didn't validate the flag until I was explicitly told so. I would prefer for this behavior to be changed, so that deleting a post flagged as spam/offensive does validate the flag.

However, this does raise the issue of posts that have both a not-an-answer or very-low-quality and a spam or offensive flag, when the post is deletion-worthy but not spam or offensive (it's just a nonsensical, off-topic or should-have-been-a-comment post). There should be a way to invalidate the spam/offensive flags while not invalidating the not-an-answer/very-low-quality flags.

My request is twofold:

  • I would prefer for deletion to validate the spam/offensive flag, with a way to specifically invalidate the flags if they are not warranted. If it doesn't, then please permit casting a spam/offensive flag from the moderator dashboard.
  • In any case, the guidance that appears to moderators should clearly document how to handle the three scenarios:
    • the post is spam/offensive → currently: the moderator must flag the post as spam/offensive (this can't be done from the dashboard)
    • the post should be deleted but is not spam/offensive → currently: just delete the post
    • the post shouldn't be deleted → dismiss the flags

For reference, this is the guidance that currently appears next to spam/offensive flags:

Posts flagged as offensive or spam do not necessarily require action!

If any post reaches 6 flags, it is automatically removed from the system.

Flags will automatically and harmlessly age away after 2 days if they fail to reach the threshold in that time.

¹ TL ref (♦ only)

(Note that I completely rewrote this post, because it turns out that my expectations as to what would happen were wildly off the mark.)

  • Out of curiosity, you're unable to dismiss flags on it's own, only allf lags at once? Oct 2, 2011 at 13:03
  • 4
    Declaring the flags helpful should not cause the -100 rep penalty, only enough offensive flags or a binding flag should do that. Oct 2, 2011 at 14:23
  • The offensive flag auto-resolves when you user your binding flag, which is how I would deal with a valid offensive flagged post. The "helpful" dialog for flags is for dismissing the flag if no further action is needed. I wouldn't expect it to do anything. Oct 2, 2011 at 17:09
  • @Fabian I expected that deleting the answer would validate the offensive flag, but in fact only casting an offensive flag myself would do. I've rewritten my post to request a better UI and a better documentation. Oct 2, 2011 at 18:21
  • Or maybe: don't allow for deleting posts (in the moderator interface) while there's still a pending spam/offensive flag?
    – Arjan
    Oct 2, 2011 at 18:56
  • 1
    This behaviour was fixed a while ago... May 28, 2012 at 5:53
  • @yoda Was it? Thanks for the heads up. You should post an answer then :) May 28, 2012 at 21:37
  • 1
    Hmm... hold on to that. Although Marc's answer says it has been fixed (and in the discussion in comments here), I've not been able to reproduce the behaviour Marc describes on my gardening sandbox post. But then, there are other problems with gardening (possibly several beta sites), so I'll just ping Marc and check on the status before posting an answer May 29, 2012 at 0:01


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