As a trusted SO user, I barely see any reason to flag.

Spam or offensive questions or answers are handled fast enough by simple votes to close then delete. Maybe because we have now enough trusted users to do it.

The only uses I see are

  • asking moderators to revert one of their mistakes like an erroneous closing, but they don't do many mistakes, I had to do this only once
  • flagging an offensive comment, but I yet have to find a comment really needing moderator attention
  • flagging a spamming user, I did it twice

I see some high rep users manage to get the Marshal badge and, during last moderator election, some candidates were boasting their high number of raised flags.

So I guess I miss something. What ? Why do trusted users flag?


2 Answers 2


Those actions are totally valid in my opinion:

  1. Flagging as "not an answer" then also downvoting and voting to delete.
  2. Flag a post as "spam" when you see spam post, not just downvote or vote to delete.
  3. When you see answer from user with 50+ rep that should be a comment, flag as "Other" and ask this to be converted to a comment. If less than 50 rep, see #1.

Those alone can easily give lots of valid flags every day if you pay enough attention to posts.

  • 6
    Also any other general irregularity that you think we should investigate. Someone being a major jerk, possible voting irregularities, obvious and consistent issues in a user's history we may need to address, etc.
    – user50049
    Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 8:27
  • @Tim sure, thought it's too trivial so didn't mention it. Plus it's pretty rare, I gave the more "common" stuff, which one might think he/she shouldn't flag having the power to delete it. :) Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 8:35
  • +1 Thanks. I guess I should use more often the third one (I usually simply comment to suggest to comment). But could someone explain why flagging is useful in the first two cases (provided closing and deletion in obvious situations is always very fast) ? Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 9:16
  • @dystroy we should not count on other high rep users; while it might be very fast flagging it ensures that at some point moderator will handle it. If other users already dealt with it by deleting the moderator will just dismiss the flag and on cases where the users wrongly deleted a post (rare, but it can happen) the moderator can correct the mistake and undelete the post. (For example user posting something suspicious, but on deeper look it's valid) Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 9:24
  • 2
    @dystroy - Lots of spam slips through the cracks, as do many non-answers, and rarely do we get enough users to deal with this problematic content. I even ran an experiment to see if downvoting and voting to delete non-answers was as effective as flagging, and it was not, because not enough people were made aware of these non-answers. Instances of flagged spam can also help us uncover rings of spammers using the moderator-only tools at our disposal. Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 16:54

While there exist things that only moderators can do, there remain potential reasons to flag. Looking at my flagging history I see:

  • mostly, not-an-answer: for these, mods have a button-push convert-to-comment action available, while an ordinary user would have to comment on the (perhaps very old) answer, and hope that: the poster has rep to comment; does comment; and then deletes the offending answer

  • flags as spam. This is still helpful even after having the power to downvote and delete-vote, because a certain number of ordinary-user spam flags automatically does <something> to a post

  • suggestions to migrate-as-off-topic to sites other than the fixed list available to non-mods. Non-mods have no way to achieve this at all, other than by suggesting a re-post, which would lose existing comments and answers

  • requests for comment thread clean-up: the alternative would be to @ ping everyone in the thread...

  • requests for corrections to incorrect previous mod actions

  • very occasionally, to advise of a user action which ought to be dealt with at a 'staff' level: eg blatant abuse, posts including live passwords, users whose every post is spam


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