If even there is anything like "Lazy Moderation" this sure is not rightly worded by myself. But why are so many of these flags I do on obvious VLQ QA accepted as helpful? I also need to ask the other way round: Why are so few declined?

I run over this: I get for many of the flags I raise on VLQ questions a helpful status and therefore for only some little amount of those flags a declined status. Just for a very little fraction of the VLQ QA I flag, as written to the largest extend I get helpful in this domain.

This is done with the following arguments given (I guess these are the standard ones so probably not much news for everybody). Please note that for helpful there is no argument given. That is why I can only present one argument here:

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

My EI is flagging me that this overall pattern it spots might be "lazy moderation" so giving me a warn-sign under the hood that something might gone out of order for all of my flagging.

Some thoughts do poke me: "Shouldn't moderators less often (or the opposite depending on the point-of-view) confirm a flag with helpful when problematic material on site is pointed to them that could be dealt with anyway by users doing delete-votes?"

As written, this is subtle. The difference can only be manifested on a small fraction of all flags and only by the difference between those two different responses. It looks to me that this happens at some little time-spans only (as I just saw when I reviewed my flags) - things like "probably one moderator that thinks differently across the board?" pop into mind. But I can hardly imagine that this is the case, because wouldn't that just be "lazy moderation" then (by that one or all the others depending on the point-of-view)? But moderation can never be lazy - it is as documented: necessary and as little as possible.

As this implies that this should not happen at all (naturally substracting the standard variance things have first), does it mean that I should better stop to flag obvious VLQ material because something is not right with flagging such per-se? E.g. has the overall amount of VLQ material on site gone out of control and the moderator queue is getting flooded by users flagging obvious VLQ questions?


the first two are an example of such a batch of declined flags with the named argument, the rest are those from the same-question-review in the same line-up that are not (and continuing but I started from the back. But this already shows quite well the weight and hopefully makes more visible what I ask about)

  • What are the example of declined flags?
    – nhahtdh
    May 1, 2013 at 19:03
  • Given the size of SO, mods could be just too busy to deal with VLQ. You can edit or downvote them. Leave the mods for important stuff like spam and voting violations.
    – Antony
    May 1, 2013 at 19:04
  • I mean the examples of answers/questions that you flagged, and got the flag declined.
    – nhahtdh
    May 1, 2013 at 19:05
  • @Antony: VLQ is a flag-reason given by the tools. I think for the busy-level there is a queue so they can leave flags if they are too busy.
    – hakre
    May 1, 2013 at 19:05
  • 2
    This is the official one: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/93595/…
    – nhahtdh
    May 1, 2013 at 19:10
  • 12
    So you flag already closed questions as VLQ?
    – JonW
    May 1, 2013 at 19:17
  • 3
    Because you just add work to the mod queue - I would reject as well!
    – Rory Alsop
    May 1, 2013 at 19:21
  • 5
    @hakre Because those do not need moderator intervention. They'll be deleted automatically. May 1, 2013 at 19:21
  • 1
    @hakre Generally, flags raised with good intentions aren't declined, even if unnecessary. So you flag low quality closed questions that will be auto-deleted. Good intention, but superfluous, mods usually dismiss as helpful. Hypothesis: Some moderator notices you do that a lot. Wants to send you the message "stop flagging these, they're dealt with automatically". A custom decline message would have been better for that. Different hypothesis: most moderators say "Good intentions, okay", one or two say "Don't bother us with that - decline". Anyway, for the future, you should now be aware that ... May 1, 2013 at 19:31
  • 12
    The actual lazy behavior is when we mark a ton of VLQ flags as helpful because it's easier than clicking through the menu to reject. That happens more than I'd like to admit. (edit: just did it on this very question, although in my defense, it was a Community ♦ flag.)
    – mmyers
    May 1, 2013 at 19:36
  • 6
    Note the dupe is the official response (and note, our actions on those flags impact the review queues, so it's important that we reject these). VLQ is supposed to be for those things which are truly indecipherable (where you say "WTF"). Most of the links you've posted aren't indecipherable, they're just really crappy questions.
    – casperOne
    May 1, 2013 at 19:43
  • 3
    @hakre Basically, the review queues are fed with what we accept/decline in the spam, not an answer, and VLQ flags. If we don't accept and decline them literally, then the review queues will be populated with items that aren't what they say they are (these items are used as honeypot posts to capture people who are being lazy in the review queue).
    – casperOne
    May 1, 2013 at 19:58
  • 2
    The phrase is "quote, unquote"
    – random
    May 1, 2013 at 20:46
  • 8
    Why do you hate us so much that you want to waste our precious time? Tell me which moderator touched you, and show me on the doll where.
    – user1228
    May 1, 2013 at 21:19
  • 4
    The phrase "quote, unquote" is not necessary in writing. You just put quotes around the phrase you're quoting. May 1, 2013 at 21:26

4 Answers 4


I can't comment on the specific motivations for the moderators who declined your flags, but you've been going through and flagging a bunch of downvoted, unanswered, and already-closed questions as "very low quality." These are three recent questions which had declined "low quality" flags on them:

There really isn't a good reason to flag these for moderator attention, because the automatic deletion system will take care of them for us (in fact, it is about to do so for us sooner). There isn't an urgent need for us to step in to remove those right now, which is a likely reason why some of your flags were declined.

  • 6
    Oh, VLQ on closed, downvoted questions? Yeah, no point in that. When flagging something, you should be able to identify some action that the person handling the flag could reasonably take in response. If the response is just "yeah, so?", then the flag won't accomplish anything except creating some work for the person handling it. May 1, 2013 at 19:15
  • @Monica Cellio: There is use in rating a question I suppose. I gave my rating with the flag and a moderator then confirms or declines that rating. For me it is not given at all that this on it's own is a useless process as you write. Why should it? Other mods also write that this data is actually used to make this website better.
    – hakre
    May 1, 2013 at 21:05

If you're flagging already closed questions as VLQ then I'm surprised you haven't had more flags declined, to be honest.

The purpose of flagging is so moderators can handle bad questions. If they've already been closed then they've already been handled.

The questions that are closed are done so primarily for the poster to then improve the question so it can possibly be reopened. If you're flagging closed questions then you are expecting these questions to be deleted? That doesn't give the OP a chance to improve it. It doesn't matter if a low quality question sits there closed for ages; nobody can answer it so it's not like it's harming the site. If anything it shows people the such questions aren't suitable on the site.

If the OP doesn't improve it then it'll be deleted automatically, if they do improve it then it will be added to the reopen queue so other site users can vote on whether or not it is good enough to reopen. Neither of these options require moderator intervention.

  • Thanks for making a difference. The point you raise in the very first sentence is actually the interesting one. What follows does not explain why it's not so. As every question, we can word it in both ways: Why are so many of these flags accepted as helpful?
    – hakre
    May 1, 2013 at 19:28
  • I don't know why either. I am a mod on another stackexchange site ux.stackexchange.com and I would, and indeed have, rejected flags when they've been raised on already closed questions.
    – JonW
    May 1, 2013 at 19:29
  • So from your moderators perspective would you say: I would not count at all, so regardless which response is given (helpful, not needed etc.) isn't important at all, just giving any is the key to get the flag removed from the queue?
    – hakre
    May 1, 2013 at 19:30
  • 3
    Perhaps those mods were just being nice and not just rejecting outright. The default response for mods when dealing with flags is 'if in doubt as to whether it's a valid flag or not then mark it as helpful'. A mod has to do something with the flag otherwise it stays there. We either accept it or reject it.
    – JonW
    May 1, 2013 at 19:31
  • That is one option I had in mind, too, however according to the now linked duplicate this is not the case. I've even learned the duplicate is an FAQ question which says that now this is handled strictly so what you suggest should not be the case. There probably is a difference between SO here and the other sites about the moderation guidelines.
    – hakre
    May 1, 2013 at 21:03

Without specific examples it's hard to say what's going on in your case, but the Stack Exchange engine has built-in responses, so why would you not expect moderators to use them? Your flag was declined, therefore not helpful, so why should mods be thankful that you raised them? Do keep flagging, but don't expect every flag to be valuable and try not to get upset when some of them are declined.

Also make sure you're using "very low quality" correctly. It's for things like link-only answers, non-answer comments, etc. It's not for "this is just wrong"; for issues of quality, use votes and comments. If you flag something you could have addressed through other means, that flag will almost certainly be declined.

  • As written, VLQ flags on these questions are largely accepted as helpful (and deleted). What I put here on meta is about the rel. very small fraction where I get the declines which seems to come in these small batches. I will compile a list of questions that were deemed helpful and also some of these declines to make this more transparent.
    – hakre
    May 1, 2013 at 19:08

There are only a handful of moderators on each site, and yet there are many, many regular users. There is way too many moderation actions that need to be taken for them to be handled entirely by the mods. The site was designed such that it could be primarily community moderated.

There are a handful of actions that simply can't be properly handled by regular users. It's not a lot, but it is some. This is precisely what flagging is for. It's for those problems that you simply can't handle on your own, or can't be handled by other non-moderator users.\

It's not a matter of being lazy. There simply aren't enough moderators for them to handle the workload if everyone just flags content that they're capable of handling on their own.

  • I am quite sure most of the case of VLQ flag declined is because the flag is on a post that is readable (ignoring the fact whether it has good quality or not) and not plain garbage.
    – nhahtdh
    May 1, 2013 at 19:07

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