Today I was flag this first answer as a duplicate answer with 2 and 3.

  1. drawInRect error: CGContextSetFont: invalid context 0x0
  2. drawRect and dispatch context error 0x0
  3. iOS : Core Text - loosing context when drawing image inside a block

This flag was declined and moderator noted:

Do you know that you're wasting your time?


Did I something wrong here? Flagging duplicate answers is wrong?

EDIT: I think I owe you an apology. As Bill the Lizard said, moderators warned me before but since I didn't read their message, looks like I continue to wrong flag this kind of answers. I'm deeply sorry for that!

The moderator message could be nicer? Yeah.. But hey :) Things can happen...

  • 3
    How long can the decline reason be? The moderator could have be a little more informative.
    – juergen d
    Mar 27, 2013 at 12:15
  • 6
    I think the decline message shouldn't be a rhetorical question...
    – nhahtdh
    Mar 27, 2013 at 12:15
  • 23
    The real question here is which moderator felt the need to be a dick to somebody trying to help the site by daring to use flags.
    – user229044
    Mar 27, 2013 at 12:17
  • 6
    @meagar: Did you know he's wasting his time ? :)
    – user1228
    Mar 27, 2013 at 12:49
  • 9
    @meagar: As it turns out, the mod had already tried to tell the OP in nicer terms time was being wasted. Because the OP was wasting his time. Really. Mar 27, 2013 at 12:53
  • 2
    Absolutely no apology needed. Don't sweat it. I probably should have just dropped a mod message, would have saved this.
    – user1228
    Mar 27, 2013 at 17:37

6 Answers 6


The real question here is which moderator felt the need to be a dick to somebody trying to help the site by daring to use flags. – meagar 18 mins ago

@meagar This is exactly what I think also.. – Soner Gönül 16 mins ago

I don't mean to condone the snarky tone of the decline message, but you have been told before, more politely, that you don't need to flag these posts.

declined message

These are fairly low priority flags, and they don't need to be bumped up the queue by having people piggy-back off the automatic Community flag to raise their flag weight. Go ahead and flag the question if it's also a duplicate. That's a much better use of our time and yours.

  • So why not suspend the user from flagging for a while? Mar 27, 2013 at 12:47
  • @0A0D That's what declining a flag does. If you get enough of your flags declined, they become meaningless in the system. Mar 27, 2013 at 12:49
  • 1
    @GeorgeStocker: Sounds like the flagging system needs some tweaking to detect this Mar 27, 2013 at 12:51
  • 7
    @0A0D I don't think this is nearly bad enough behavior to warrant a ban on anything. I'd rather just ask the person to stop and hope they see the declined flags. If I'd seen the many later flags by the same user for the same thing, I'd have probably sent him a private mod message instead of continuing to decline flags. Mar 27, 2013 at 12:53
  • @BilltheLizard: I am not a mod obviously so I can't see the tools you guys see, but is it really that annoying to see those flags? It almost seems futile to even respond at all (meaning custom message). Mar 27, 2013 at 12:55
  • @0A0D Only if there are a lot of them pushing other flags further down the queue. Just one of two are easily ignored (and usually dismissed as helpful, because that's just way less effort). Mar 27, 2013 at 12:57
  • @BilltheLizard I accept your answer because you pointed to me the right direction before but I might ignore it. I edit the question also. Thanks and sorry.. again. Mar 27, 2013 at 13:30
  • @SonerGönül Thanks, and it's not that big a deal. Like we said, it's not really bad behavior at all, it's just not necessary. Mar 27, 2013 at 13:38

Flagging duplicate answers is a waste, for the following reason:

  • If the OP copies his own answer, then the system warns us automatically, every time they do it (which leads to an interesting flag queue if they do it a couple times)


  • If the OP copies someone elses answer, then that's something that the system doesn't alert us to.

If you see someone plagarizing, please let us know through a flag. If someone is just copying and pasting their answers, let it go (though that may be an indication that the questions are duplicates, which are worthy of close votes or flags as appropriate).

Sometimes moderator messages are ... less than helpful. We see a lot of flags in a day, and there are times that we don't take the time to either

  1. decline with a link to a meta post
  2. decline with a long winded explanation

Usually, however, we do. When we don't, it's probably because one of the following reasons:

  1. We've seen way too many mod flags that day
  2. The user is consistently flagging for the same thing in an effort to up their flag weight (usually by doing an SEDE search for 'best' and then flagging 4 year old questions as not constructive, and 4 year old link only answers as 'not an answer')
  3. The user is (for whatever reason) fixated on another user. We see this more than we probably should.
  4. We get in a mood. This happens. We're human. Should it? Probably not -- but clearing hundreds of flags every day will lead a person to snark every once in a while.

I'm sorry you had a less than helpful mod message.


Sorry to be blunt, but I've tried to contact you about this (without using the babies-are-being-eaten-by-dingos! mod message facilities) without success.

As others have stated, we already get notified that a user has reposted the same answer on multiple questions. Therefore, whatever you are doing to search these out and flag them is a complete waste of your time.

This isn't "wrong", per se. We would appreciate it if it wasn't already automatically handled by the system. This is just a waste of your time, something you should have more of.

  • 10
    Next time a "No need to flag. This is reported to us automatically" message might be more clear.
    – Bart
    Mar 27, 2013 at 13:04
  • 4
    @Bart: You mean like this?
    – user1228
    Mar 27, 2013 at 14:24
  • Hmm, you're way more awesome than I imagined....Can't be Won't...you're Will, aren't you?
    – Bart
    Mar 27, 2013 at 14:35
  • 1
    @Bart: Right on both accounts.
    – user1228
    Mar 27, 2013 at 14:37

Duplicate answers by the same author are perhaps indicative of duplicate questions, but by themselves they are fine. Close the question instead.

Since those 3 answers are exact dupes, you are indeed wasting your time; exactly duplicate answers are automatically flagged already by the system, so moderators can investigate and find dupe questions. Granted, the flag feedback could have been a little less terse on that, but perhaps the mods already tried to tell you your efforts were in vain?

If you do find duplicate answers that are by different authors, then that could indicate plagiarism and gaming by one of the authors. Do flag those.


Our moderation team works very hard, each active moderator on the site spends an average of at least an hour a day, if not more, looking at the worst content that we have to offer. At an average of almost 2,000 flags per day, we ask a lot of these folks - and they consistently give us more than we ask for when it comes to their time and patience.

You were, as others pointed out, notified that the type of flag you were raising was not necessary - the system automatically raises those flags. It's likely that you didn't notice the first flag rejected, and continued to keep flagging.

Moderators declining a flag have a very limited number of characters to enter if they wish to give a custom response, and he was trying to point out to you that you were wasting your time by raising the flags. While it came off somewhat snarky, he was trying to be helpful. He's also human. Comments, chat and possibly a system sent moderator message might have been a better way to reach you, but hindsight is always crystal clear.

To answer your question again, directly - while we appreciate your time, the system automatically flags duplicate content by the same author, so no, you don't need to flag it.

If you see duplicate content by different authors flag it, we're probably dealing with plagiarism which is a very serious issue, one the moderator you interacted with is very good at investigating and ultimately handling :) The system really can't, therefore doesn't automatically raise flags for this.

  • 5
    And the system currently does NOT flag identical (or very similar) answers by different users (which would burn crazy cycles), so looking out for plagiarized answers is a much more productive and helpful way to spend your leisure flagging time.
    – user1228
    Mar 27, 2013 at 13:07
  • @Won't Edited a bit to make that clearer, definitely worth it.
    – user50049
    Mar 27, 2013 at 13:09
  • flagging guidance in two last paragraphs looks worth copying to duplicate-answers tag wiki for easier reference in further discussions
    – gnat
    Mar 27, 2013 at 14:07

Duplicate answers are not in themselves a bad thing. The same answer may apply to different questions. If the questions are duplicates, however, feel free to flag them or vote to close.

It is even allowed to copy someone else's answer as long as you attribute it to the original author (see the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license).

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