Often my Spam flags never get marked as 'Helpful', even after they are deleted:

Wonderful Spam

Bill the Lizard, JNK and I carried out a little experiment to check, and I do not receive an increase in flag weight when this occurs, although the same does not apply for offensive flags.

  • 3
    ...did you check your flag weight? Oct 12, 2011 at 14:26
  • @Mr.Disappointment I will try, but I've still got a few pending atm.
    – fredley
    Oct 12, 2011 at 14:28
  • Ok, I've got one outstanding flag (it's actually offensive not spam). Hopefully it will be deleted without being marked helpful and I can see if my flag weight changes...
    – fredley
    Oct 12, 2011 at 14:51
  • I deleted that post without marking the flag as helpful (for science). Can you check now to see if your flag weight changed? Oct 12, 2011 at 15:13
  • @BilltheLizard Science fail, it is marked as Helpful (and my flag weight has increased).
    – fredley
    Oct 12, 2011 at 15:15
  • I wonder if spam and offensive flags are treated differently when a post is deleted without explicitly marking the flag. Oct 12, 2011 at 15:18
  • Possibly. Can't see any more spam flags for the moment, I'll look again later (though there are hundreds of non-answers, the limit on flagging is extremely annoying!)
    – fredley
    Oct 12, 2011 at 15:19
  • Do you want to just post an answer here on this question and flag it as spam so we can test it? Oct 12, 2011 at 15:21
  • @BilltheLizard Another fail, I can't flag my own post as Spam! Someone else do it? (P.S. this won't negatively affect my account will it?)
    – fredley
    Oct 12, 2011 at 15:23
  • As long as only one person flags it you shouldn't see any negative effects. You took my last comment so literally that I'm afraid to ask you to post and flag something offensive for comparison. ;) Oct 12, 2011 at 15:25
  • 1
    No change in flag weight after marking it as spam.
    – JNK
    Oct 12, 2011 at 15:27
  • It didn't get marked as helpful either. Oct 12, 2011 at 15:29
  • @BilltheLizard Interesting. Should I retag this as a bug do you think?
    – fredley
    Oct 12, 2011 at 15:30
  • 1
    Related: What determines the outcome of a spam/offensive flag?. I did watch my flag weight, and only those marked helpful affected it.
    – a cat
    Oct 12, 2011 at 15:34
  • 3
    sounds like a bug - adding to my list Oct 12, 2011 at 19:48

2 Answers 2


There was a bug here; it was processing things that were "flagged for moderator attention" (i.e. bespoke messages), but it was not processing the spam/offensive flags. This is because back in the depths of time (before we explicitly tracked flag outcomes), such votes on deleted posts were ignored in the moderator-facing UIs. It looks this didn't get updated to explicitly process the outcomes when the community votes to delete a post.

This has been fixed in the code (and will be deployed next release, usually within a day), and I will try to apply the change retrospectively.

  • So is/was the bug here that post deletion doesn't dismiss red flags, or that a moderator agreeing with them doesn't trigger post destruction, with rep penalty and all that?
    – a cat
    Jan 20, 2012 at 18:31
  • @lunboks in related to the scenario where it was deleted by voting Jan 20, 2012 at 19:14
  • Great. Will this still deliver the -100 rep penalty when something is spam?
    – user154510
    Jan 20, 2012 at 19:25
  • @MatthewRead yes, this is unrelated; the rep penalty is to whoever posted it; the credit that was missing was to the people who flagged it as spam Jan 20, 2012 at 19:27
  • Right, cool. I suppose that just means we have to be really careful to dismiss a spam flag before deleting if "Not An Answer" or such applies instead.
    – user154510
    Jan 20, 2012 at 19:29
  • It seems the change was applied retroactively -- my number of helpful spam flags on tex.sx has increased from 6 to 10 (out of a total of 15).
    – lockstep
    Jan 21, 2012 at 16:56

It looks like this is a behavioral issue on the part of moderators. There are actually four actions we can take with spam flags:

  • Marking it helpful. This increases your flag weight without deleting the post.
  • Marking it unhelpful. This decreases your flag weight.
  • Just deleting the post. This does not affect your flag weight.
  • Reflagging it as spam ourselves.

A moderator reflagging a post as spam will delete the post and increase everyone's flag weight who flagged it, so it seems that that's the option we should be using when we agree with spam flags.

  • 1
    Is this a naming issue with the options on the mod console then? (I.e. would it be better if the options were renamed to (Agree/Disagree/Just Delete). I don't see the point in having 'Mark as Helpful' without deleting the post too.
    – fredley
    Oct 12, 2011 at 15:53
  • @fredley: Yeah, a few of us were a little bit puzzled by that too. I guess "helpful" is supposed to mean that we don't necessarily 100% agree that the post should be removed, but we want to encourage you to keep flagging the way you are. In my mind deleting really should be tacit agreement with the flag, but having more options does give us finer control over the outcome. Oct 12, 2011 at 15:57
  • 2
    If you delete a post that was brought to your attention by a flag, isn't the flag helpful by definition? Even if the post was really "not an answer", the "spam" flag still alerted you to it. I agree that fine control is good, but the default for deleting a flagged post should be marking the flag helpful. It should be dismissed before the deletion if that case ever comes up.
    – user154510
    Oct 12, 2011 at 16:17
  • 3
    Flagging as spam also shows the post deleted by "Community" rather than the moderator and gives the post another down-vote - both of which are a "good thing".
    – ChrisF Mod
    Oct 12, 2011 at 16:23
  • 1
    @MatthewRead Yes, I agree. That's what I'll be doing from now on, it just doesn't make sense that the flag isn't automatically marked helpful when I delete the post. Oct 12, 2011 at 16:25
  • @fredley - There's the opposite case too where the flag is helpful but the action wasn't a delete (e.g. editing post/sin-binning account)
    – Flexo
    Oct 12, 2011 at 16:27
  • And when the devs want to run stats on how much spam there is and what is coming through, deleted posts bring that true number down in a bad way. Non answers aren't spam so shouldn't be handled, flagged or removed in the same way. @mat
    – random
    Oct 12, 2011 at 16:28
  • @random Makes sense, except that dismissing a flag and then deleting the post anyways creates a void of information about the real reason, similarly affecting the stats badly.
    – user154510
    Oct 12, 2011 at 16:31
  • 4
    This sounds like a bug; I can see this is going to be fun to re-apply retrospectively Oct 12, 2011 at 19:48
  • 2
    I think the main reason why #4 isn't commonly done is that there's no "flag as spam" option from the flag queue. You actually have to click through to the post to flag it as spam.
    – waiwai933
    Oct 12, 2011 at 22:57
  • @waiwai933 Yes, exactly. It's much easier to just delete from the mod queue if I can see that it's spam. Oct 13, 2011 at 1:10
  • 1
    @Bill can I add a fifth option to that pile - which is to just destroy the owning user without directly interacting with the post or flags (which I sometimes do on SU if they're a one-post spam user, for example) - if deleting doesn't, then I suspect this also probably doesn't confer any flag weight.
    – DMA57361
    Oct 13, 2011 at 8:49
  • @DMA57361 Yeah, I can see how that might happen. If I look at their posts and quickly see that they're 100% spammer, I might destroy the account without clearing flags. Oct 13, 2011 at 11:26
  • @ChrisF Really? Just noticed that the deleted spam post on this thread is shown as deleted by Bill the Lizard.
    – fredley
    Oct 18, 2011 at 16:47
  • @fredley - probably because Bill deleted it rather than flagging it as spam.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Oct 18, 2011 at 16:48

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