If I type out a pre-existing flag reason in the it needs ♦ moderator attention → other field, does it behave as if I had cast that type of flag? For example:

  • If I flag an answer and type out "not an answer" in the reason field, is it treated as a normal NAA flag (e.g., shown to 10k+ users)?
  • If I manually enter "invalid flag" outside of the flag queue, does it work? (Say I dismissed a post by upvoting it, but forgot to mark the flags on it invalid before leaving the queue.)
  • Is it possible to emit close question flags at 3k+ by typing out "off topic", "not a real question", etc.?
  • Re: my bounty message: Err, I meant to say that I type "not constructive". – ABANDON STACK -- Jeremy Banks Feb 10 '12 at 10:15
  • @JeremyBanks You wouldn't actually need a dev to confirm this (at least the close flag part), just someone with 10k reputation. If they a) see your flag in their queue and b) get a "close question" button, then this applies to close flags too. – a cat Feb 10 '12 at 13:05
  • I raised a couple of flags to test this: one default "not constructive" (from a sockpuppet) and one manual "not constructive" (from my account) to compare. Popular Demand was unable to see either of them. Not sure what to make of that. (Over-aggressive caching? They still weren't visible four hours later.) – ABANDON STACK -- Jeremy Banks Feb 16 '12 at 1:14
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    @JeremyBanks Well, there's a number of things that could have happened. I think as a 10k user you can't see flags on your own posts, nor flags on posts that you've voted on or flagged yourself. Could be that the sockpuppet's flags were suppressed due to low flag weight. Could've been a passing moderator who ruined the experiment. – a cat Feb 16 '12 at 15:57

It appears that there is some matching done on the text of the "other" flag that might send it to the 10k queue as well as the mod queue. One such case is described here.

For all intents and purposes, entering a message from the "it needs ♦ moderator attention" selection (such as not an answer) in the other field is the same as selecting from the list, even for "invalid flag" flags.

Close flags do not work this way. Neither do spam or offensive flags; they're too short to enter into the other field anyway.

The one exception to this are exact duplicate flags. Custom flags can be converted into close flags if they match a certain format; possibly this regex. This is the default format for close votes from low-rep users:

exact duplicate of https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/119125
  • 10k users can see them
  • they are dismissed when someone votes to close
  • users with 3k+ rep can use this to dupe flag, but probably shouldn't
  • I don't think that's quite right: some "other" flags are not moderator-only, see Marc's answer here. – ABANDON STACK -- Jeremy Banks Jan 15 '12 at 1:35
  • @JeremyBanks Huh, interesting. Thanks for the link. I adjusted my answer. – Adam Lear Jan 15 '12 at 1:37
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    How would the system know whether I've used the other field, though? I've captured the traffic generated by myself flagging this question, and the only thing that seems to get posted is the flag message - same as with normal "not an answer" flags. – a cat Jan 15 '12 at 1:56
  • @lunboks I'm not sure how it works in the actual code, but you're using a textbox + a different radio button. That seems like a easy way to test which flag type is being used. – Adam Lear Jan 15 '12 at 2:00
  • @lunboks Feel free to flag my answer as "not an answer" written in the "other" field and we can test it out. – Adam Lear Jan 15 '12 at 2:01
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    @lunboks It appeared in the 10k queue, so it appears that I stand corrected. – Adam Lear Jan 15 '12 at 2:02
  • @AnnaLear Interesting, thanks for helping me confirm that. So presumably blind-flagging as "invalid flag" would work as well. Hmm. – a cat Jan 15 '12 at 2:09
  • @lunboks I don't know if it would, since that applies to a specific flag. Hrm. We can test that too, but we'll need someone who's not a mod to flag it again so another user (you?) can dispute it. I'm a bit useless here. – Adam Lear Jan 15 '12 at 2:16
  • @AnnaLear I just tried flagging this answer as "invalid flag". I got an error message saying that there are no remaining flags on it. Nothing about not being allowed to do that on account of my below-10k rep. – a cat Jan 15 '12 at 2:23
  • flagged for you. btw @anna NaA, VLQ, etc. from a moderator are not binding – i.e., it does nothing and raises a normal flag. So you could do it as a moderator too. Helps in cases where you warn a user asking them to improve and leave yourself a flag for later. Also, moderators can cast invalid flags from the 10k tools. I've also done this in cases where I've disagreed with the flag, but not enough to ding them 10 pts. It might not be practical to do so on SO, but for SE sites, yeah. – Lorem Ipsum Jan 15 '12 at 2:25
  • @yoda Thank you. Flagged as invalid flag again, went through, let's see how this goes. – a cat Jan 15 '12 at 2:26
  • @lunboks Looks like those made it to the 10k queue as well. – Adam Lear Jan 15 '12 at 2:27
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    @Arjan I've done some more digging, and it looks like a) flags are really interpreted based on string matching, and b) what you just said specifically isn't possible. Apparently there are some sanity checks, but none that prevent, say, a noob from blindly casting "invalid flag" flags. – a cat Jan 15 '12 at 11:55
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    This doesn't apply to close flags for users with close-vote privileges as far as I've seen. I've been monitoring a user with over 26k rep who has never cast a close vote, but keeps raising "other" flags with "off topic; belongs on Server Fault" or "off topic; belongs on Super User" as the message. It's downright annoying. Worse, I don't think this user knows that flags are declined with a message, because no matter how many times I decline his flags telling him to vote to close, he doesn't learn. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Feb 10 '12 at 13:48

The short answer is no. According to dev Marc Gravell in chat:

No, it isn't. Each template has an associated "what was this" marker, and also a "does this suggest user suspension" marker, that we use for tracking. But it isn't a huge difference, and no-one is going to be upset; it is almost the same.

(I formatted Marc's chatspeak; original text is here.)


I've compared the form data sent for standard flags, custom flags and votes to close. Standard and custom flags submit different data to different URLs so it is possible that they are handled differently.

Flagging as Not Constructive (<3Kr)


Flagging as Other: "not constructive" (≥3Kr)


Voting to Close as Not Constructive (≥3Kr)


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