I flagged this question using the "Other (needs moderator attention)" option, and in the textbox I put

User seems to be posting answers to quizzes in a place where other
students can easily access it.

And that's exactly what it looked like. It was just a paste of several quizzes' questions with their answers filled out. My guess is that the user was putting it there so some of his classmates could quickly copy it and use the answers for themselves. So not only was it not a question in any form, but it was (in my mind) cheating, and clearly needed to be deleted rather than just put on hold. Even the title, "Disregard this post", sounds like the user knew he was doing something wrong and didn't want undue attention. And in fact, this question was removed from Stack Overflow for reasons of moderation.

However, my flag was declined with the reason

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

I believe that the post required moderator attention, so I'm unsure of why the flag was declined. The post was removed very shortly after I flagged it, as in just a few seconds, so it is possible that it was declined because the post had already been dealt with by the time a moderator got to my flag? Or was there simply a different flag that was better suited for the situation? Maybe I misunderstand some of the flags' reasons, but I didn't see any that really fit in this case, so if there was a better choice I would appreciate being told so that I can get better at flagging correctly.

  • why the hell does one need to have mod-tools for every frigging meta-link? this makes participating a bit difficult for <10k Users – Vogel612's Shadow Dec 18 '13 at 18:34
  • @UndotheSnowman, thanks for that link. The answers in there actually do help to answer my question. – jonhopkins Dec 18 '13 at 18:37
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    "textbox" (flag message) could be written better, I would fill it like "please take a look, it is not a question in any form: it's just a paste of several quizzes' questions with their answers filled out. My guess is that the user put it there so some of his classmates could quickly copy it and use the answers for themselves." But still, it feels like moderator who declined was utterly wrong, or clicked the wrong button by mistake – gnat Dec 18 '13 at 18:37
  • @gnat, yea, that does sound like a better description. I'll keep that in mind from now on. – jonhopkins Dec 18 '13 at 18:38
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    @Vogel612 Part of the problem is that we talk mostly about posts with problems here. Posts with problems tend to get deleted. (I'm <10k on SO too, and it is annoying.) – Undo Dec 18 '13 at 18:40
  • @Vogel612 You don't really need to see the post to answer the question. There is more than enough information in the meta post to answer it. – Servy Dec 18 '13 at 18:49

I'm sure this was just a mistake. You didn't actually cast your flag until about 40 seconds after the post had already been deleted by a moderator. Normally, flags calling for actions that have already been taken would be declined (as they're useless) unless we determine that you were already in the process of flagging when the action was taking place.

You probably were still typing, but it was a different moderator that declined your flag versus deleted the question itself, so he probably just didn't think to check the timestamps.

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    Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's what happened here, or an errant misclick. All of the existing flags on that were marked as helpful the instant it was deleted, and this one should have been in that grouping, but the timing must have been a hair off. Anything would have been a valid flag on that question, because it was pure gibberish. I usually validate flags that come in slightly after deletion for reasons like this. We often see this with spam, too, given how quickly the community can flag and destroy that. – Brad Larson Dec 18 '13 at 18:52

The reason you provided is not a valid reason for a moderator to act on a question.

If someone is posting great questions that just happen to be questions used on a quiz then, from SO's perspective, it's just a good question.

That someone is using SO to cheat on a quiz doesn't make the question inappropriate for SO in any way. Sure, it's a bad idea, and sure I despise the concept of someone getting help cheating here, but fundamentally you aren't even going to know that someone is doing this in many cases.

If the question is a very low quality question (as is the case here) and should be deleted due to its poor quality and due to not actually being a question then flag it for that reason. If you had flagged the question for that reason then it would have been appropriate, and the flag would have almost certainly been marked as helpful. Flagging a question for a reason that doesn't apply should be declined, even if the post should be deleted for some other unrelated reason.

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    FWIW, the question itself was a list of about 50 questions with the answers next to them. They appear to be about Astronomy. Kind of hard to say that's anything useful. – animuson Dec 18 '13 at 18:47
  • @animuson Yes, I looked at it. That doesn't make this answer any less applicable. Flagging a post for a reason that doesn't apply should be declined. That a post is utter garbage and should be deleted for some unrelated reason doesn't make it an appropriate flag. – Servy Dec 18 '13 at 18:48
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    I don't see anything wrong with a user describing the problem they're seeing rather than just casting some canonical flag. – animuson Dec 18 '13 at 18:52
  • @animuson But the problem that they're seeing isn't a problem. It is not a violation of the rules to post quiz questions/answers. That's not a reason for a moderator to delete a post. Marking such a flag as helpful would give the impression that posting quiz questions is a violation of the rules, despite the fact that it is not. – Servy Dec 18 '13 at 18:55
  • I can see what you're saying about using the low-quality flag instead. I usually just think of that flag as being used for something that's actually trying to ask a question but is completely unreadable. But after reading the description for it a few times, I can see that it would have applied here. – jonhopkins Dec 18 '13 at 18:56
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    I'd be interested to see a question composed of just a list of questions and answers that was on-topic for the site and shouldn't be deleted. I doubt anyone could create one. – animuson Dec 18 '13 at 18:58
  • @jonhopkins A custom flag would have been fine too, so long as the problem being described was actually grounds for deleting a post, i.e. "the question is a list of about 50 questions with the answers next to them. They appear to be about Astronomy." would be a perfectly fine flag text. – Servy Dec 18 '13 at 18:58
  • @animuson First off, the flag text didn't say anything about there being a ton of different questions, although as a rule having multilevel questions doesn't mean they have to be bad, but even if they're good they should be separated into different questions, and obviously answers in questions should be moved to answers, rather than being in the question. Both are problems with a post, but neither are grounds for deletion, just editing. It is the crap quality of these questions that makes the whole post garbage. – Servy Dec 18 '13 at 19:00
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    I think you're just analyzing too much into the flag text. We've all concluded that this was just a mistake on the part of the moderator, there's no need to try and think of an excuse for why he might have declined it. Honestly, if this had been the only flag on the post, I still would have delete it and marked it helpful. It may not have been the most descriptive flag, but it brought moderator attention to a question that definitely needed it. As long as the flag isn't absurd like "This promotes Hitler" I don't see a problem. – animuson Dec 18 '13 at 19:01
  • I understand. The description I gave in the flag made sense to me, but I was also looking at the question as I wrote it. It didn't occur to me at the time that it doesn't exactly describe the problem in a way that a mod wouldn't have to look at the question itself to know something was wrong. It also doesn't help that I honestly didn't know posting answers to tests is actually allowed. – jonhopkins Dec 18 '13 at 19:03
  • @animuson The problem, as I described, would be that if the flag is marked as helpful the flagger would have their confirmation that asking quiz/homework questions on SO is a violation of the rules. As he has said, he was under that impression, and had the flag been marked helpful he would then continue to flag quiz/homework questions that aren't garbage, only to be confused and upset when they're declined. I don't consider this answer an excuse, or a way to explain the behavior. I honestly feel it is the appropriate action. I would consider marking this flag helpful the wrong action. – Servy Dec 18 '13 at 19:06
  • To be clear, I don't mind homework or quiz questions (when there is an attempt), and I know that those are allowed. I just thought that it would make sense for it to be against the rules to just post answers to tests for others to read, as in not asking a question but just putting the answers out there, which is what this is. – jonhopkins Dec 18 '13 at 19:11
  • @jonhopkins That would not be a violation of the rules. It would obviously need to be a quality question that conforms to all of the site's rules, which these don't, but there are plenty of classes that have quiz questions that are actually quality questions. If someone posts one and then posts their answer as an answer, that's in no way a violation of the site rules. And even if the questions aren't great, in most cases it would be grounds for downvotes or possibly closure, but not mod deletion. – Servy Dec 18 '13 at 19:13
  • Ok. I'll keep that in mind. Thank you for taking the time to clarify all this for me, by the way. – jonhopkins Dec 18 '13 at 19:24

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