Today i have flagged some duplicate answers through moderator tools because some OP has posted some answers with the same content they have posted earlier.

And i have just opened the flag summary page and looked at one declined flag saying:

declined - flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention

But you know i am surprised to see this reason because other flags which i made for duplicate answers are accepted by moderators and marked it as helpful and now one flag is not accepted and declined.

enter image description here


  1. If others are accepted then why one is declined with the sentence "flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention"?
  2. If moderators intervention wasn't required for other flags then why are those accepted and marked as helpful?

Links for which flag is marked as declined: this, this Links for which flags are marked as helpful:

  1. Original, duplicate
  2. Original, duplicate, duplicate


One more thing, many time i saw this thing:

enter image description here

This flag is marked as helpful, no action is taken yet. Check this and this.

  • 1
    I've had a similar flag decline for users pasting the same answers to several questions. The message I took from that was that so long as the answers relate to the question in some way, it doesn't matter that they are copied into multiple questions. – Ren Mar 11 '13 at 11:59
  • 3
    This could have something to do with the fact that you're basically escalating existing flags that the system already raises for us - those are liable to be declined because the system isn't affected by its own declined flags, and we can't handle individual flags on the same post separately. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Mar 11 '13 at 12:04
  • 1
    Keep in mind we currently have hundreds of flags in the flag queue. While it's admirable to want to have the site cleaned up now, it's going to take a little time. Give us time. – George Stocker Mar 11 '13 at 13:13
  • @GeorgeStocker Agree and acceptable. You should and definitely can take time, after all you Moderators are having high privileges :) but you shouldn't moderate flag rapidly then. – Paresh Mayani Mar 11 '13 at 13:20

It's very rare for humans to flag duplicate answers this way, since the Community user flags them automatically for us. When I see extra flags piggy-backing on top of the automatic ones, I normally decline them to let people know we don't need extra prompting for a fairly low-priority flag. So I declined the first duplicate flag that I saw this morning, but then I saw a bunch of others and decided not to penalize your flag weight and marked the others as helpful. I'm sorry about the confusion this mixed message caused, and that I didn't take the time to write a custom decline message. That would have been a lot more clear.

That being said, if you really want to help moderators with these types of flags, you can check to see which questions should be closed as duplicates and vote/flag accordingly. A duplicate answer flag that we already know about isn't as helpful as an explicit verification that the question itself is a duplicate and should be closed. (You can flag the answer as Other with the custom message "Question should be closed as duplicate of https://stackoverflow.com/q/xyz...").

Note: Moderators don't always take action on these flags. If someone posts eight copies of the same answer, odds are good that seven of them are going to be deleted. However, we can tolerate some duplication of content, so posting the same answer on two very similar (but not exact duplicate) questions will often result in no action taken.

Finally, thanks for actually checking your flag summary and following up on this. I do this sort of thing pretty often and no one ever calls me on it, so I don't think a lot of people even bother to check how they (and we) are doing. I appreciate the feedback.

  • I have already included message "duplicate" with link in every thread i have flagged. And yes thanks for your kind words. – Paresh Mayani Mar 11 '13 at 13:08
  • @Bhuro Right, but you were linking to the original answer, which is information we already had from the Community flag. These don't really need to be flagged again unless the questions themselves are duplicates and one of them should be closed. – Bill the Lizard Mar 11 '13 at 13:10
  • please check my updated answer, i have included one more action which i came across many times. – Paresh Mayani Mar 11 '13 at 13:13
  • @Bhuro See the note I added in response to your edit. – Bill the Lizard Mar 11 '13 at 13:18
  • 1
    How good is Community in finding those duplicates? Does it consider the first revision? I recently approved a suggested edit, then realized it could be not an actual answer to that question. Upon further inspection, I found an identical version of the 1st revision, also NAA. I considered both to be spam, and cast a custom flag, which was deemed helpful. Would Community have caught that? (Answer A, Answer B). – bfavaretto Mar 11 '13 at 13:40
  • 2
    @bfavaretto Yes, Community did flag that duplicate since the second answer was a duplicate of the first at the time it was posted. Duplication is all the 'bot really looks for though, so the subsequent flags were helpful. – Bill the Lizard Mar 11 '13 at 14:04

Flagging is an imprecise art. Imprecise because there are a number of factors to take into account:

  • The moderator who will see your flag
  • How many flags of the same type they've seen that day
  • Whether or not they feel like you're trying to game the flag system
  • What color their shoes are
  • Whether or not they had bacon that morning

On any given day, each moderator is likely to clear hundreds of flags. That means that we'll start to see patterns. For instance, if you use flags instead of voting to close, we'll likely decline one of your flags to let you know that you can vote to close.

Sometimes, we'll fat finger something. We get on a roll, and we'll click the wrong button. It happens. I've done that just this week.

Some days, I'll handle flags where the user did an SEDE Query for 'question' in the answer, and just decided to start flagging 4 year old answers as 'not an answer' based on that. I may decline one or two flags with the message, "It's great that you're helping us out by flagging, but could you focus on the posts that are more recent?"

Overall, no matter what you do, it's very unlikely that all of your flags will be marked as helpful. If you start to accrue lots of declined flags, then it's time to ask if you're doing the right thing. One or two, here or there, and it's not worth getting upset over.

  • This doesn't seem to be a fat finger, see my answer below ('course, you probably know more about the exact details of the situation than I do) – Manishearth Mar 11 '13 at 12:10
  • @Manishearth I can see more of what happened, but I'm going to let the Moderator who handled that flag chime in if he wishes. – George Stocker Mar 11 '13 at 12:11
  • 1
    you can vote to close => But what if there is no "Close" or "Delete" link? – Paresh Mayani Mar 11 '13 at 12:25
  • @Bhuro If the answers are duplicates, then you should probably look at the question and make sure they aren't duplicates. If they are, you should probably vote to close the question as a duplicate to stem the tide of duplicate answers. – George Stocker Mar 11 '13 at 12:26
  • @GeorgeStocker yes you are right, but i am sure its not the possible case every threads are having duplicate questions/answers. – Paresh Mayani Mar 11 '13 at 12:43

Why are you reflagging stuff that's in the queue already? You may bump it up a bit higher...but that's it. While this makes sense for NAA flags (these need to be bumped up the mod queue), this doesn't make sense for custom Community flags. If the flag is incorrect, mark it as invalid. If it's correct, ignore it and move along.

  • I'd rather moderator stats should how many items that person has voted to closed, commented on, voted for, and voted to re-open. (though I'd expect the re-open number to be significantly lower than the close number). – George Stocker Mar 11 '13 at 12:16
  • 5
    "Why are you using the custom flag to mark duplicates?" Because these are duplicate answers, not questions, which brings us to the third point - why is he reflagging stuff that's in the queue already? From previous incidents this seems to be because there's no way for 10k users to dismiss system flags except to re-flag them or dispute them. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Mar 11 '13 at 12:16
  • @Bolt oh. That makes my rant somewhat misplaced. (although it's still true) – Pëkka Mar 11 '13 at 12:17
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn: Ah, I see. Oops, editing – Manishearth Mar 11 '13 at 12:18
  • Although I agree such flags should not be escalated, it should be noted that's not obvious from the 10k tools user interface. – bfavaretto Mar 11 '13 at 12:42
  • @bfavaretto: I know, I think there was a featurreq on that somewhere. – Manishearth Mar 11 '13 at 12:43
  • @BoltClock - because there's no way for 10k users to dismiss system flags indeed, so, for NAA flags, does our re-flagging them do anything for you all? I know close flags can be dismissed if we vote to close in the 10K queue, but are we 10Ks doing anything useful by re-flagging these NAA and low quality flags? – Adam Rackis Mar 11 '13 at 15:08
  • @AdamRackis: Well, reflagging pushes it up the queue, but in general it's a rather haphazard system – Manishearth Mar 11 '13 at 15:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .