Users that have access to the flag queue can dispute flags, which in theory should signal the moderators that the flag in question was raised in error and should be ignored.

In theory, the information that a user disagrees with that flag could be useful, but the major problem is that the moderators don't know why that user disagrees with the flag. If a lot of users disagree with a specific flag, this might be solid evidence of a spurious flag, but most sites don't have the user base to accumulate a lot of opinions on every flag.

A single disputed flag doesn't tell the moderator much, just that someone disagreed. It still means the moderator likely has to investigate the flag in detail, disputing the flag doesn't help much there.

I'd propose that disputing a flag should have an optional comment field where the user could add a specific reason why that flag is invalid. In cases of WTF flags that don't carry any relation to reality this might be superfluous, but I think users might often be able to understand why a specific flag was cast in error and might be able to explain to the moderators why it should be disregarded. This might be especially useful if the disputing user has domain knowledge the moderator lacks.


If you think you need to provide more information to the moderator, add a custom flag on the post. Multiple custom flags don't create a significantly higher workload for moderators.

This is admittedly problematic for canned flags, which on Stack Overflow aren't normally handled by moderators. There you should also add a comment to the question (and hope that the 10kers will read it).

  • That's right, I forgot that all of the flags show up together on the post. Still, I don't think this is completely clear to users of the 10k tools. Maybe we can find a way to highlight that fact. – jmort253 Jul 1 '12 at 23:48

Your question seems to target two different scenarios: Providing more information to moderators, and providing feedback to users who flag inappropriately.

Providing Feedback to Users:

I think this could create a lot of unnecessary and conflicting noise. For instance, a handful of 10k users may disagree with a flag that is actually acted on by a moderator and marked as helpful. Since 10k+ users don't officially represent StackExchange policy, seeing a list of dispute reasons may cause some confusion and conflict and drown out the actual fact that the flag was ultimately acted on by a moderator.

Instead, when a moderator declines a flag, he/she has the option to leave a comment to the original flagger indicating why the flag was declined. In this case, the only official reason for declining the flag is the reason chosen by the moderator.

Providing Feedback to Moderators:

We don't want moderators to simply mark flags as helpful/declined based on how many 10k+ users either escalate a flag or dispute a flag. We need moderators to examine each flag and make the decision for him/herself. With that said, 10k flags do help guide the moderator, but it still leaves the majority of the investigating to that person.

When I encounter a low quality answer that has already been flagged by 2 users, I can escalate by marking as low quality also. The moderator still must investigate and determine why the answer is marked as low quality.

If I mark it as disputed, this gives the moderator a heads-up that something else might be going on. This prompts the moderator to investigate a little deeper than he/she might do in the absence of a disputed flag.

Possible Solution For Providing Feedback to Moderators:

With that said, if I were to implement this, here is what I would propose:

One possible solution could be to redirect to another screen when "disputed" is selected so that users could choose from a list of common dispute reasons. Other than that, I think it could create more noise if there's nothing but a comment box. A custom comment for each dispute could get a little overwhelming.

Most moderators are well-versed in StackExchange policy and the decisions made by the community; thus, I don't really see a need to provide a reason for the dispute. They will figure it out for themselves.

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