I recently flagged an answer as Other->Should be a comment to the question. Subsequently the OP came back and changed their answer based on feedback from the person asking the question.

Several things could happen the most likely being

  • The flag is considered helpful by a mod and the answer is converted to a comment - the OP ends up confused/unhappy as they have provided an answer.
  • The flag is considered invalid by a mod - I'm unhappy as I flagged in good faith.
  • The mod realises what's happened and leaves it all as it should be.

This uncertainty could be avoided if the system automagically removed flags from posts that the OP changes after the flag is cast.

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    How would the system know if the OP changed the question or answer because of the flag or for some other reason? – user162697 Nov 22 '11 at 19:27
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    Is there a reason why you flagged it as "other" rather than "Not an Answer"? Not an Answer flags get seen by far more people than the "other" flags do. – Flexo Nov 22 '11 at 19:47
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    @Siva: Why would the system care ? Flags are thrown on what was there originally. If it's been changed just clear the flags. The question/answer will roll past the front page and if it's still flagworthy someone else will flag it. It's not like we don't have lots of people flagging. – user147520 Nov 22 '11 at 19:50
  • @awoodland: Because it was really a comment and I asked for it to be converted to one. – user147520 Nov 22 '11 at 19:51
  • @Iain - the "Not an answer" flag is for exactly that purpose - "This was posted as an answer, but it does not answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, ..." (emphasis mine) – Flexo Nov 22 '11 at 19:54
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    @awoodland: My question isn't about what type of flag it's about processing flags. – user147520 Nov 22 '11 at 20:00
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    @Iain Scenario 2 shouldn't happen because mods were instructed to deem flags issued in good faith "helpful," regardless of the outcome. – NullUserException อ_อ Nov 22 '11 at 20:16
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    @NullUserException_: That's not my recent experience but I didn't complain then and I'm not now. Mods are human too. – user147520 Nov 22 '11 at 20:19
  • @Iain: please also do read the "Linked" question. You'll get four mod's points of view on pretty much this issue. – Mat Nov 22 '11 at 20:47
  • @Mat: I have just been doing that - it's an entirely different proposal. – user147520 Nov 22 '11 at 20:50

Perhaps a notification on the mod dashboard that says This has been edited since being flagged so that the mods are a little more aware that you might have flagged in good faith and will be more likely to click through to the edit history to see the validity of your flag. They could then dismiss it as helpful without taking action.

  • This was the solution I supported the last time this issue came up. – user154510 Nov 22 '11 at 20:28
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    Dear sir, it has come to my attention that some copyrighted materials belonging to me have been posted on your Answer without the copyright holder's consent. This is an official notice, and I seek the promotion of the aforementioned infringing material in your Answer. Should you wish to discuss this with me please contact me directly. – Chris S Nov 22 '11 at 20:32
  • This solution makes the most sense (perhaps even making the "This has been edited" text a link to the version that was flagged). Seems like the best solution all around. – voretaq7 Nov 22 '11 at 20:34
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    @ChrisS You snooze you lose. Also, what happens in chat, stays in chat. I'll think of more later. – MDMarra Nov 22 '11 at 20:34
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/105453/… – Mat Nov 22 '11 at 20:38

I don't think that would work.

What if the edit on the question didn't make it better, but added SPAM on top? Or added a snarky note to an already offensive post? Or completely unrelated gibberish?

If the flags are reset every time a change is made, you'd need to continually monitor problematic answers until an mod manages to "catch" a flag in flight while the user happily edits his "answer" once in a while.

As long as there is no way of automatically detecting if an edit it good (and I think we have some time ahead of us for that), the conflict has to be resolved by humans (or God-like mods anyway).

So for "Not an Answer" flags, don't flag too early if it's not actively bad. Add a comment, wait a bit. Flag if there's no sign of the post getting better. That should avoid this problem most of the time, and it lessens the pressure on the flag queue.

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    When the OP makes a change, the question/answer gets passed over the front page again. If it's still flagworthy then it'll get flagged again - there are lots of people looking. – user147520 Nov 22 '11 at 20:07
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    So? Bad post -> flag -> useless edit -> front page -> flag -> worthless edit -> front page -> flag -> crappy stuff -> flag -> .... that keeps the bad stuff on the front page and wastes everyone's time. – Mat Nov 22 '11 at 20:09
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    Does an OP get notified that a flag has been placed on their post? Why would they keep coming back and editing it ? – user147520 Nov 22 '11 at 20:18
  • No, the OP doesn't get notified of flags. But spammers or people with a strange sense of humor do stupid things. You want bad content to be disposed of with as little fuss as possible. If people know editing removes flags, they'll just have fun with their posts. – Mat Nov 22 '11 at 20:22
  • I have every faith in the SO team being able to programatically detect that and put a stop to it. – user147520 Nov 22 '11 at 20:26
  • That would mean some sort of rate-limiting on edits. Which could be very annoying for people legitimately editing their own posts (I know I'm very bad for this - pretty much always edit my posts two or three times to fix the English, typoes and hwatnot). – Mat Nov 22 '11 at 20:29
  • (I do the same) but surely it's catching flag->edit->flag->edit... not edit->edit->edit ... ? – user147520 Nov 22 '11 at 20:31
  • And if the flags don't get removed on edit, they don't need to do that at all. The current system works. Ok, once every so often a flag gets incorrectly declined. I'd much rather have that than giving crappy content a better chance at staying in the system (especially since flag weight serves no real purpose, except for the two badges). – Mat Nov 22 '11 at 20:35
  • How soon is "too soon" to flag? I agree that we don't want to just clear the flags (for the reasons you pointed out) but we don't want to leave lousy stuff floating around in the system either. Saying we should sit on our collective hands for (some period of time) doesn't seem to be a good solution either... – voretaq7 Nov 22 '11 at 20:41
  • Depends on the content. If it's spam, don't wait at all. If it's a very short answer that's 2s old and marginally bad, the OP might just be editing at the same time. Anyway, the mods can see the edit history of a post, @voretaq7 – Mat Nov 22 '11 at 20:43
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    Being able to see the edit history of a post and Being aware that the post was edited since the flag was applied are two different issues, at least as I see them. My understanding is Mods have the former, but I think having the latter would be useful. (I also don't have a fox in this hunt though: I'm not a mod, and I could care less about my flag weight as long as it's a non-zero value.) – voretaq7 Nov 22 '11 at 22:54
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    @voretaq7: this question is about automatically deleting flags on edit. I strongly oppose that suggestion. Whether things could be made better/easier for mods to spot this is a different topic, and already under discussion on the Linked question and others. – Mat Nov 23 '11 at 8:38
  • @Mat: I disagree: This question is about possible ways to improve the flagging system - the original suggestion is one possible way to implement that improvement. If you elect to limit your analysis to the original concept, or to ignore input because there is already a discussion about aspects of the flagging system elsewhere, that's your choice. – voretaq7 Nov 23 '11 at 15:53
  • @voretaq7: read the title and body. – Mat Nov 23 '11 at 15:56
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    @Mat: I have. I've also read the answers where the same "Banner it" solution I mention above was proposed (but as far as I know is not implemented, at least none of the SF mods have mentioned its existence). Seems to me like that or the "nullified" option would be a simple solution to an edge case problem of mods declining flags that were nullified (for lack of a better word) by edits. – voretaq7 Nov 23 '11 at 16:02

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