Earlier today, on Stack Overflow, I flagged a question as off-topic for not describing a specific problem or including valid code to reproduce it.

When viewing my flags it was active for a good 5 hours. I later find that my flag was declined as the original question was later updated to include relevant code, which described the problem.

Is this the intended process?

Shouldn't some flags be dropped if there is a change made to the original version of the flagged post? In most cases an update would likely render the flag as irrelevant.

Rather than dropping a flag altogether, it would be most effective to drop it after attention has been brought to the post. The flag would then be "dropped" in the sense that it is no longer being marked as accepted or declined.

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    I agree with you. The simplest solution would be the moderator see when you flagged the post, and the situation the post has when you flagged. This way it can consider it valid or not. And yes, having flags declined change your flag-weight, that's not good, contrary to what @WendiKidd said. – Diego C Nascimento Sep 18 '13 at 16:23
  • @DiegoCNascimento Flag weight no longer exists, so this is not a problem. Your solution is not simple; it gives the moderator more work, which means each flag takes more time, which means each moderator can deal with less flags in the same amount of time (so flags go unhandled longer.) The flagger did the right thing, the post was improved, no harm done. – WendiKidd Sep 19 '13 at 1:10
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    so what @JanDvorak said is not true? I don't agree with it being a complex solution, it could be even made pragmatically, showing for the moderator if the post has edited after the flag, and with more effort showing the edit version when it has flagged and the actual revision. – Diego C Nascimento Sep 19 '13 at 1:21

If every flag was dropped when a change was made to the original post, all anyone posting bad content would have to do is edit every once in a while to clear the flags out. (Obviously that stops being effective for reputation gain if you edit 10 times and it auto-converts to Community Wiki, but I don't think it would be necessary to edit that often.)

If you flagged a post as not containing specific code and later the OP updated to add specific code, just be glad that part of the system is working and the OP improved the post. It doesn't really hurt anything to have your flag declined. You were trying to help, and the post you were concerned with did get fixed; in an even better way than you'd hoped, even. (Editing to make bad content good is way better than deleting bad content!)

So I'd just mark this one as a win and call it a day. :)


In this specific case there is no mod looking at the post. Because you flagged it for closure the post was added to the close vote queue. In that queue if any one of the reviewers votes to close the post, your flag is marked as "helpful". If five people vote that the question should stay open without any close votes it's marked as "declined".

If it was a single moderator viewing the post (which was the case up until a few months ago) it would possibly have been marked as helpful, but with no action taken, since they mod would tell that the flag was made in good faith.

In this case here, there isn't even any indication to the reviewers that you flagged the post, when you flagged it, etc. They're just voting based on whether the post should be closed based on it's current state, so there really isn't any particularly good way of adjusting this workflow to try to have an edit affect the designation of the flag.

Having said that, it's also not really an issue. There isn't really any penalty to having a handful of declined flags. You know that your flag was appropriate, and that's pretty much enough.

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    does not this change your "flag-weight" that will change the queue order of flags? I remember reading that users with less declined flags / more helpfull have more priority on the flags queue. – Diego C Nascimento Sep 18 '13 at 16:52
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    @DiegoCNascimento the flag mechanism has been / will be revamped recently. NOw the mechanism is that you won't be able to flag if you have (IIRC) at least 10 flags and at least 25% declined in the past week (sliding window). – John Dvorak Sep 18 '13 at 17:08

Might not be your case, I haven't seen the question (either the original one or the edited version), but more often than not leaving a comment asking the OP to improve his/her question will be more effective than raising a flag. By commenting, you don't add work to the moderator's queue, and the OP has the feeling the community is helping him/her, especially for new users.

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    In this specific instance, I did comment, asking the OP to provide relevant coding. That's why they ended up doing so - resulting in my flag being declined.. But yea, flagging should probably be avoided initially. – Josh Crozier Sep 18 '13 at 21:11
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    You shouldn't avoid closing a question that meets the close criteria. The point of closing a question is to give the author and the community time to improve the content without people trying to answer a question that isn't yet ready to be answered. If the post is then improved to address the problems that caused it to be closed (which is the goal of closing it) then it can be reopened. If it's not, then answers will be prevented until that happens. While commenting as well as flagging/voting to close is great, not flagging/voting to close would be harmful, not helpful. – Servy Sep 19 '13 at 13:49

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