I had a flag disputed some months ago, but at the time I did not know that I could respond to them. I went through my list of outstanding disputes and reflagged (see image). When I got my response, I read it as this is a good flag (perhaps this is just my mistake here), but it was declined. The question was then closed (after having no activity for the past few months), which further leads me to think this was a good flag.

Am I misunderstanding the response or the declined/helpful process? If the flag was incorrect, how can I prevent the mistake in the future?

(On a more minor note, if it is a good flag as I read it, should it matter to me that I have a 'negative' mark on my flagging history?)

Link to question

My flagging response

  • 7
    Declining a flag is the only way to leave a message in response.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 18:53
  • 1
    @AnnaLear Then I appreciate the mod responding to me and helping me out, but then my secondary question applies: should I care about my declined mark?
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 18:55
  • 1
    Wait, you can respond to disputed flags?
    – Mike B
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 19:33
  • @MikeB News to me too. :-)
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 19:34
  • @Gaffi How? My list just shows i.imgur.com/vhjkp.png . No link or any apparent way to comment or respond.
    – Mike B
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 19:35
  • 1
    @MikeB Partly why I was also unaware. If you go to the question (click on the link in your list), just click flag again and the system auto-matches to your earlier flag. It appears however, that older disputed flags drop off the list and I'm not sure how to get to those without scanning all the questions you've ever reviewed on the site.
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 19:40
  • @Gaffi Thanks a ton! Never knew that
    – Mike B
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 19:44
  • 1
    That is not responding to a previous declined flag; it is re-flagging the post.
    – apaderno
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:10
  • @AnnaLear it may be the only way to leave a message in response but there's also an option to ping flagger from chat (I for one have been chat-pinged for my flags) - this makes declining not the only way to send a message, right?
    – gnat
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:11
  • @kiamlaluno As someone unfamiliar with the scenario, that sure as heck is what it looks like when the previously disputed flag is attached to the "new" flag. If a flag is "disputed" I understand that to mean it is up for debate - not a definite "no". Until recently, I had no idea how to "amend" the flag (by re-flagging), but if we are not to take action when a flag is disputed, then why even have the label? Why not just have "declined" or "not"?
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:12
  • disputed is different from declined, and helpful. A flag is disputed when a 10k user, using the flags page, mark the flag as invalid. It is just moderators who can mark a flag as declined or helpful, but once a flag is disputed, it will be disputed whatever action the moderators take.
    – apaderno
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:24

2 Answers 2


Okay, two things that you might be missing here:

  1. "very low quality" flags are incredibly fragile, and if they come back disputed it doesn't mean much. If the post is edited by anyone, VLQ flags will be dismissed as disputed, no matter who or how minor the edit was. The OP correcting a single typo would do it. That's likely what happened here. If flags are disputed and then subsequently declined by a moderator, they come back with a message.

  2. Moderators have no way of responding to a flag unless they decline it. Basically, the choice was either to give you an answer to your second flag or mark it as helpful. Technically, moderators can also create a new chat room specifically for you and then ping you, but that's probably more effort than the situation warranted.

So neither of the two flags was bad. The declined flag might have docked you a daily moderator flag, but don't worry too much about it, you'll earn it back.

  • Understood. That was a while back and I have since learned the power of customizing the flag notes. :-) And I agree, this was a minor situation that did not require a chat.
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 18:57
  • I wonder if this information is something that could be put into the FAQ, as I don't recall ever seeing/hearing this before (and a quick glance at the FAQ now finds nothing).
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 19:14

Am I misunderstanding the response or the declined/helpful process?

You misunderstood the purpose of flagging.

In your flag reason you wrote, "I didn't know until now that I can respond to disp[uted] flags." That is not true; what you have done is to flag again a post you already flagged, to which a moderator can reply by rejecting it, and giving a custom reason for the rejection.
Flags are not for getting a reply from moderators; flags are for letting moderators know something needs their interventions. Their reply is actually doing something with the post you flagged (e.g. lock it, close it, delete it). They give you the reason for declining it, but that is just to teach you how to flag posts; using the declining reason for answering something you asked means using the declining reason for a purpose that is different from its original one.

If you need feedback about something, you can:

  • Ask on the chat room associated with the main site
  • Write a comment for that post
  • Ask a question on the meta site

If the flag was incorrect, how can I prevent the mistake in the future?

You should use the flags just to say "there is something wrong with the post, and it needs the attention of a moderator." If you flag a post for getting an answer from a moderator, you are using the flag for the wrong purpose.

The "very low quality" flag has been declined probably because it has been used an answer that should have been flagged as "not an answer," a question that should have been flagged as "not a real question," or a post that could have been edited. The "very low quality" flag means that is not possible to edit the post, which is not understandable as it; if the post is an answer, then it is not really an answer; if the post is a question, then it's not a real question, as in its actual form there isn't a question at all. The "very low quality" flag carries a different meaning than "not an answer," or "not a real question"; it means something should probably done with the account used to post it, such as in the case of a user account used to post no-sense as one of his/her first answers (e.g. "ddfsefser jwerjwerefr Drupal sucks 12213 sfsdfdg2 234235 245wgrsgsdfv").

If you wanted to flag the question as not a real question, you should have followed these steps:

  • Click on the "flag" link
  • Select "it doesn't belong here, or it is a duplicate"


  • Select "not a real question" in the next screen


  • Click on "Flag Question"

  • And there was something wrong with the post, which is why I flagged originally and then reflagged. By "respond to the dispute", I meant that I can reflag, not necessarily have a discussion about it. While I did ask a question with the flag, it was just an add-on. I still stated the reason for the real, valid flag to be raised, and it appears the mod agreed with it, as the question was promptly closed.
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 19:51
  • When you re-flagged the post, you asked a question to the moderators, to which they can just answer by declining it. If you think the post is not a real question, you should flag it for that, instead of asking a question.
    – apaderno
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:00
  • Sure, I'll concede that the question in the flag is not the best, particularly if there is no legitimate flag reason involved, and that's partly why I ended up here in Meta, but is there really a problem with both? I raised the flag, action was taken, and a response to my question was given.
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:02
  • To make an extreme example, you could flag a post writing "What time is it?" and the moderators could delete the post because they notice the post is spam. The moderators could also simply decline your flag without even look at the post, as they notice you are using flags for a different purpose. In the first case, the fact the moderators took an action on the post doesn't mean you can ask questions when flagging a post.
    – apaderno
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:07
  • But that is an extreme example. My question was specifically related to the flag itself. Had there been no response, I wouldn't have thought anything of it. It was almost meant as a rhetorical question on my part. If anything, no response while marking the flag as helpful would have been an answer in and of itself. I'm not suggesting off-topic conversation be made commonplace, but for myself and others who may be unfamiliar with standard practices, I don't see why what I did was inherently wrong.
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:10
  • If you want to flag a question as not a real question, you don't use a custom reason; there is a way to flag a question as not a real question. What you think a way to say "the question is not a real question" has been understood from the moderators as a question about when using a flag, or the other.
    – apaderno
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:13
  • Sorry, I'm not sure I understand the last part there... I chose to use the custom response over the NARQ option to be able to elaborate on the original flag, so as not to leave it open for another dispute/decline.
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:17
  • See my answer. If you want to flag a question as "not a real question," there is a exact way to do it, which is not asking if NARQ was more appropriate.
    – apaderno
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:20
  • And if I choose to add more detail to the flag reason itself, such has been suggested by an actual mod?
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:23
  • In that case you don't write something that seems a question. What you actually wrote is barely understandable as "I think this is not a real question." For such flag, there isn't a reason to give details: Or the question is not a real question, or the question is a real question. There isn't nothing to explain, in that case.
    – apaderno
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:27

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