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If I flag a post or comment, and my flag is declined, but I think that declining it was the wrong decision, what should I do?

Before today, whenever this has happened, one of the following has applied:

1) I realise, after reading the flag rejection reason, that my flag was misguided. I walk away feeling slightly foolish, but having learned something.

2) I'd used one of the generic flagging reasons, but it was a slightly non-obvious case. I reflag with a custom reason explaining the problem in detail, and second time around my flag gets acted upon and considered helpful.

I'm pretty sure that my actions in case #2 are reasonable; plainly I shouldn't just reflag over and over until my flag succeeds, but if I've given a generic flag in a complicated case and it gets declined, reflagging once with a more verbose and explanatory description of the problem is (I would think) plainly the right thing to do. However, I've just come across the following scenario:

3) I flag with a custom reason explaining in detail why a post should be deleted, and my flag is rejected, but I feel certain that the wrong decision has been made by the moderator and their rejection reason doesn't make sense.

What should I do now? I have no idea what flagging history, if any, the mods see in their moderation tools; can I reflag with a reply to the moderator explaining why their rejection reason was a mistake, or if I want to reraise the issue, do I need to reflag as though the flag is completely new? Should I reflag at all, or is the right response to having a flag declined to accept that you can't win them all and walk away?

  • Can we have a link to the post in question? – apaul Jul 31 '13 at 19:20
  • I think if you feel strongly about it ask on meta and see what the community thinks. Repeatedly reflagging as "replies" is unlikely to go down well – Richard Tingle Jul 31 '13 at 19:21
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    You can always create a post here on meta about the question and tag it as a discussion so that we can give our opinions. – lnafziger Jul 31 '13 at 19:21
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    Mods are human and make mistakes, and there are a few meta posts where the mod has actually said "I was going to mark it as helpful but I clicked the wrong button". But generally, when they reject it, there is a good reason for it, so if you really disagree, asking why on meta is appropriate. – psubsee2003 Jul 31 '13 at 19:21
  • @apaul34208 I'd like this question to be a general discussion about what to do when you disagree with how your flag has been handled. I don't think this case matters enough to create a dedicated thread for the particular case, either, so I'll let the details lie. – Mark Amery Jul 31 '13 at 19:25
  • Since you say you want an answer regarding what to do in such a case, I'll ask before I post if you are interested in any analysis of some of your flags that were declined. Also, flags are supposed to be confidential, so I couldn't post that publicly without your consent. But if that's not what you want this to be about, I'll refrain. – Andrew Barber Jul 31 '13 at 19:33
  • @AndrewBarber Feel free to post anything you like about my past flags - I'm happy to discard any confidentiality I'm supposed to be entitled to - if you have access to that information and think it's relevant to this question. Also, since it sounds like you can see 'em: the flag I'm interested in is my most recently declined flag - if you feel it'd be worthwhile for me to post a question about that particular flag, I'll do so. If you feel it'd be a waste of people's time, I won't. What do you think? – Mark Amery Jul 31 '13 at 19:36
  • I'll post it here as a CW and perhaps delete it if it gets too many votes anyway. (and yes; mods can see your flagging history; pretty much the same as you see your own) – Andrew Barber Jul 31 '13 at 19:38
  • About the obsolete flags (borrowing from some of the answers below where they are described), they can often better be handled through comments and/or new answers. Not to toot my own horn, but this is an example of how that can be done: stackoverflow.com/questions/5112757/… (in fact, comment + answer may actually be more than necessary there, it's just that I commented before I took it upon me to do the proper research for a complete answer) – Jasper Jul 31 '13 at 21:22
  • @Jasper As noted in my replies to the answers below, with the exception of the one case at the start of Andrew's answer, I've never flagged a question or answer as obsolete. Robert and Andrew are misunderstanding the flagging history, and incorrectly thinking that my 'obsolete' flags on comments were actually on posts. I only flag comments as 'obsolete' when their content has been moved into a question or answer. Yours is a great example of how to deal with an obsolete answer (although 1. that's not where I've been flagging, and 2. your approach wouldn't work if the old one had 200 score.) – Mark Amery Jul 31 '13 at 21:25
  • Comments can be handled in the exact same way. You can't post an alternative answer, but neither would you need to. As for the 200 score answer, I'd comment. If the comment gets some upvotes, it might be clear enough by itself. Additionally, the author gets a message of this and can edit the answer (such answers often have authors that are active on the site, but you can always check "last seen" on their profile). If they don't respond or agree but don't edit, I might edit the answer myself it find the issue pressing enough. In short: there are better options than flagging. – Jasper Jul 31 '13 at 21:36
  • (and to clarify, it's not a good idea to change their answer to say something completely different, but adding a message about how the answer is not necessary anymore since version [x] is quite acceptable) – Jasper Jul 31 '13 at 21:37
  • @Jasper You're still misunderstanding. I don't flag comments as obsolete because their technical content is outdated. I flag them because they are requesting edits or additional information that have since been made/added to the parent post, or because they have been made irrelevant by edits to the parent post. There is no reason to reply to the comment in this case - indeed that would be harmful. All that there is to do is to flag it for removal. This is the entire purpose of obsolete flags - see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/156127/… – Mark Amery Aug 2 '13 at 22:26
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Don't keep flagging. Enough declined flags and you'll be suspended from flagging altogether.

Did you do all of the things you can do?

  • Did you leave a comment explaining what you think is wrong or ask for clarification?
  • Did you downvote?
  • If it's salvageable, did you edit the post to make it better?

Have you considered that maybe it wasn't your flag at all? Moderators cannot (at this time) handle multiple flags on the same post in different ways. From what I've seen they'd rather decline a valid flag than to accept an invalid one, no matter how many other valid flags there are.

If it's an egregious issue, a specific discussion on the appropriate site Meta is not out of bounds. Just keep to the facts and be ready to accept that the community doesn't agree with you either.

I suggest once you've cast that flag (if you decide that's what you need to do), it's time to just let it go. Move on to other (more worthy) posts.

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    1. I didn't leave a comment, but one already existed explaining what was wrong. 2. Yes, I downvoted. 3. It wasn't salvageable. Also... it was an old question, so I doubt somebody else had already flagged. I think I was clearly right, but it was also a pretty unimportant case - definitely not egregious (had to Google define that :) ). You're probably right that the correct response to a bad mod decision is either to post on meta or move on. – Mark Amery Jul 31 '13 at 19:29

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