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I don't flag overly much these days, but I just had a flag declined with "We should learn to love duplicates."(!?!)

The reason seems like a bizarre non sequitur to me. Personally, I already "love" good duplicates for their SEO value (they should still be closed), but I hate poor duplicates that clutter up the site and make it harder to find the good stuff (they should be closed and deleted).

The question is a text-book duplicate, even the flag-decliner tacitly admitted it was a duplicate!

So, Is this a new policy, or a moderator hiccup?

Details:

I stumbled across this question, and noticed:

  1. It was a very generic question, surely it had been asked before.

  2. Sure enough, it was flagged as a duplicate 4 minutes after the Q was opened:

    possible duplicate of Can I use multiple versions of jQuery on the same page? – a'r Sep 23 '11 at 11:27

  3. Comparing the two sets of questions and answers, they were about as duplicate as it ever gets.

  4. The OP admitted it was a duplicate!

    Yep, it's a duplicate. Sorry for that! – Randomblue Sep 23 '11 at 11:27

  5. The guy that wrote the only answer recommended the duplicate:

    Please see the comment from a'r. I's a much better solution. (It was posted while I wrote my answer) – Jonas Stensved Sep 23 '11 at 11:30


So here was a question which was a textbook, cut-and dried duplicate, and both the OP and the answerer admitted it!
But, it had now been a year and the question had managed to get 103 views (when I first saw it a few hours ago). So, it had slipped through the normal close-vote process as low-view questions often do.

I did what I always do with such questions:

  1. Vote to close.
  2. Also flag it, since it had evaded the normal close-process only via stealth (low views).

This time, the flag was declined. But the reason seems bizarre and totally inappropriate to me...

Multiple versions of jQuery for one page 1 asked Sep 23 '11 at 11:24 by Randomblue

This is a duplicate of stackoverflow.com/q/1566595 , and the OP even admits its a duplicate! Yet it somehow squeaked by the normal close process. – 10 hours ago
declined - We should learn to love duplicates.


Again:

  1. Is this a new policy, or a moderator glitch?
  2. Please vote to close the Q, if you agree that it is a duplicate.
3
  • Perhaps the mod in question (mistakenly?) assumed you wanted it deleted instead of closed?
    – Bart
    Sep 28, 2012 at 3:37
  • @bart: Perhaps. But I did use "duplicate" and "close process" in my flag report. Sep 28, 2012 at 3:40
  • Yeah, though it's the only plausible explanation I can think of. I often flag in similar fashion without problem, so I can only assume a small oversight of your intentions.
    – Bart
    Sep 28, 2012 at 3:41

3 Answers 3

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For what it's worth, the decline message is a reference to the following blog post:

Dr. Strangedupe: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Duplication

It says it is OK to leave some duplicates open. That's fine by me, but I disagree that what's being said applies to the question you refer to. Personally, I would have closed the question because

  • (as mentioned) the OP admitted/agreed it's a dupe
  • (as mentioned) the questions are indeed the same
  • the duplicate has been answered adequately; so there's little reason to leave both questions open to new answers

If the similarities are there but it didn't seem like a clear-cut duplicate I would have dismissed it as helpful without closing or deferred it to another mod, and if it was an obvious non-dupe I'd decline. But neither was the case for this question.

So, had I gotten here earlier, I would most definitely have closed the question. Keep in mind though, different mods have different opinions. But we all love one another, don't we?

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  • 4
    +1 - Marking as helpful would have been the way to go. The decline message seems a bit passive aggressive. It'd be nice if the mod who did that could step forward and explain what the thought-process behind this was because it won't encourage someone like Brock to do good deeds and be a good flagger.
    – jmort253
    Sep 28, 2012 at 4:19
  • @jmort253: Trust me... he's not the only one who gets all passive-aggressive in decline messages :) Sep 28, 2012 at 4:22
  • Thanks for explaining the SE history of that decline comment. Sep 28, 2012 at 4:23
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    I can understand why. You guys deal with a TON of flags, so no one's asking you to be perfect. ;) Not that we can't reflect though. :)
    – jmort253
    Sep 28, 2012 at 4:23
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    Summer's over. School's back in session, kids. Welcome to the autumn of disdain.
    – casperOne
    Sep 29, 2012 at 2:20
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It's not a new policy, but I would not say it was a rogue moderator. Probably the moderator saw there were more than one vote to close it, and/or thought it was not necessary doing anything about the question.

If you used a custom reason for the flag, the rejected reason would be a funny way to reject your flag. Your reputation on Stack Overflow allows you to vote to close a question; in that case, if there isn't something that requires the question to be immediately deleted, or closed, you should not flag the question for moderation attention.

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  • 8
    Did you read the question? He stated that he flagged because it was an old question with low views. That is a perfectly acceptable way to flag. Sep 28, 2012 at 3:48
  • I am not saying the question should have been closed, or not. I am just saying that I don't see any reason to flag a question, if it just to close it, when the user has already the privilege of voting to close any question (as he did).
    – apaderno
    Sep 28, 2012 at 3:51
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    If a question is old and unlikely to get attention but is better off closed all the same, a flag for moderator attention to weigh in is not an inappropriate use of a flag.
    – Bart
    Sep 28, 2012 at 3:52
  • I just mentioned one reason in my comment... Sep 28, 2012 at 3:52
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    Please see Close Votes expire too soon for low-traffic tags (and several others). Flagging is the most sensible fallback for when the close-vote system fails. I've done this dozens of times, with no problem until now. (One reason why I looked for a change in policy) ... The alternative is to post on Meta, but that's much more resource-intensive. Sep 28, 2012 at 3:53
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn Is that a reason even with the new review queue? I have seen old questions being closed on the past days, on Drupal Answers, even if they were asked about 1 year (or more) ago.
    – apaderno
    Sep 28, 2012 at 3:54
  • @BrockAdams When did you flag the question, and when did you vote to close it?
    – apaderno
    Sep 28, 2012 at 3:58
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    @kiamlaluno: It has always been the case. I don't know about DA, but SO has so many questions that we can't afford enough views on every one for them to be closed. Sep 28, 2012 at 4:00
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    @kiamlaluno, I did both about 11 hours ago. As I state in the Q, I give such questions the ol' "one two". Sep 28, 2012 at 4:00
  • @BrockAdams Maybe the moderator saw the question had more than one vote for closing it, and thought it was not necessary to do anything in that case. Or he simply thought it was a case where the duplicate should have been left open.
    – apaderno
    Sep 28, 2012 at 4:11
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    Still, a better explanation should have been given for the decline, or it should have been marked as helpful. Brock is clearly acting in SO's best interests, although I disagree with his approach of calling the moderator a "rogue". I'm getting a bit sick of people using that word to describe mod actions they don't like. It's not constructive, and isn't going to encourage constructive feedback from the person who might have had an error in judgement because he's human.
    – jmort253
    Sep 28, 2012 at 4:20
  • @jmort253, Okay I toned down the adjectives. Sep 28, 2012 at 4:26
  • @kiamlaluno, There was only one close-vote (mine) when the flag was declined. The other close-votes came only after this meta Q. Sep 28, 2012 at 4:28
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    The thing is, declined should be used sparingly. As a mod, you use that when you want to explicitly discourage a behavior. Even if you don't take action it's still sometimes a good idea to mark a flag as helpful if it's borderline. You don't want to alienate your helpful flaggers. :)
    – jmort253
    Sep 28, 2012 at 4:40
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    Of course, @kiamlaluno, if a flagger obviously doesn't understand the difference between not an answer and a wrong answer, educate them using the decline message, but if the flagger has the right idea, it might be wise to use discretion. :)
    – jmort253
    Sep 28, 2012 at 4:57
-2

I'm not sure why you're even flagging a question as a dupe? There are already processes in place to have it closed as a dupe (it's the top reason when you click 'close'), and also to delete it once closed should you so wish

I think the moderator flagging should be reserved for more "serious" issues, such as abuse, leaving the simpler dupe/off-topic/useless-to-others reasons to the community processes.

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    Okay, but a moderator has already said "That is a perfectly acceptable way to flag." -- as have other mods and Jeff. See the linked Q and its linked Q's. Sep 28, 2012 at 8:52
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    @Brock, yes, a moderator. Not all moderators may think the same. Once they're "elevated", I suspect they're given quite a bit of leeway. Strangely enough, not every one of the 10Krep+ people think the same way either, as evidenced by some of my own disagreements :-) It's probably not as bad as the "if you ask ten economists, you'll get eleven answers" but certainly there's variety.
    – user14860
    Sep 28, 2012 at 8:57
  • Agree to disagree on the part about flagging old, unattended questions (different people have different opinions), but sometimes I do wish we had less mundanities to deal with (crappy questions, non-answers, etc which tend to... sort of stock up) in proportion to isolated, severe issues which need our immediate attention. Sep 28, 2012 at 19:03

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