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Every once in a while, I notice an alert when I log onto the Stack Exchange:

we have flagged posts

Wanting to be a good Stack Exchange citizen, I'll often click on that highlighted number, and see what's going on. Sometimes, I'll learn that one of the posts in question has been flagged several times already:

flagged four times in less than one hour!

Wow! Four flags in just 42 minutes! At this point, I've found myself wondering: Is there really a need to flag it again?

On one hand, I can see where a moderator might appreciate more flags. After all, when more flags exist, that indicates a fairly solid consensus that the answer has some serious problems.

On the other hand, I've wondered when enough is enough, and there is no need for an additional flag – particularly when there are already more than three.

Lastly, I've wondered if something might happen automatically once the number of flags exceeds a certain threshold. Maybe a fifth flag would auto-delete an answer or something? (If so, I might weigh my decision to flag more carefully, if I know I'm about to cast a "deciding vote," so to speak – perhaps the answer could or should be edited and salvaged instead.)

I was just wondering if there are any preferred practices or considerations or I should know about when doing this kind of housekeeping for the site.

closed as off-topic by PolyGeo, Robert Longson, Pierre.Vriens, GDPR, Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Jun 15 at 7:05

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    So 10k users can in fact see how many times a post has been flagged? Interesting. I originally asked this with the empathy that the people who flagged that post might not have had any idea that there were so many flags on it already. But apparently that's just not the case. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 20 '13 at 10:25
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn - I only see that information when I go through that link on the bar (the one depicted with the yellow-highlighted 4 in my screen shot – remember, that "4" means there were four different flagged answers, not four flags on one answer). If I'm browsing the site and looking at an answer for the first time, I have no idea how many times an answer has been flagged, or even whether an answer has already been flagged or not. – J.R. Dec 20 '13 at 14:15
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    Yeah, I was referring to the 10k queue. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 20 '13 at 14:51
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    The UI was giving me the impression that like with closevoting, we were supposed to pile on here? If that's not the case, then the UI needs to change. – Pëkka Dec 20 '13 at 16:26
  • Aren't some (ie, not an answer) handled automatically once a certain number of flags are raised and no disputed flags? – Joe Dec 20 '13 at 17:57
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Lastly, I've wondered if something might happen automatically once the number of flags exceeds a certain threshold. Maybe a fifth flag would auto-delete an answer or something? (If so, I might weigh my decision to flag more carefully, if I know I'm about to cast a "deciding vote," so to speak – perhaps the answer could or should be edited and salvaged instead.)

This would be problematic. I've seen plenty of answers flagged as non-answers by a large number of users that were in fact real answers that they all misread. This would elevate these kinds of flags to the level of spam or offensive flags, but we treat the latter much more seriously. Also, SE hid spam and offensive flags from 10k users after incidents of piling-on that hurt legitimate users.

What you're seeing now is the piling on of flags since Winterbash started. The easiest way for a 10k user to obtain the hat related to flagging is to go into the 10k tools and add a flag to everything that's already been flagged there. On Stack Overflow, we've had three answers rack up over 40 flags each on them in the last three days, with many more getting 8+ flags on them from 10k users indiscriminately flagging things.

Despite the large number of flags, a good fraction of these were flagged incorrectly. I just declined 8 flags on one answer, which while short was indeed an answer to the question asked. If these answers were auto-deleted, this person would have been punished because of the poor judgment of 10k users gaming that hat.

This flagging behavior will go away once Winterbash is over (and probably only return at the next moderator election when people try to cheese their way past the badge requirements). It's mostly harmless.

However, if we thought it was a real problem, we could remove items from the 10k flag display once they had a certain number of flags on them (3? 4?). At that point they've been elevated high enough on the moderator flag queue. To be honest, I don't use number of flags on a post as a metric for how quickly I should act on something, so one flag on something is good enough for me.

  • Just to be clear, the posts that I saw with multiple flags were very "flagworthy" and not necessarily part of a hat quest. I wasn't really trying to point out a recent problem so much as ask a question I've always wondered about. I appreciate your insights in this matter. – J.R. Dec 20 '13 at 21:32
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Wow! Four flags in just 42 minutes! At this point, I've found myself wondering: Is there really a need to flag it again?

If you agree with the flag then yes flagging it gives the moderators of the site more impetus to take action. The flags are the communities vote that something beyond the norm needs to be done to this post. Whether it be direction of the mod to suggest/demand a fix, or deletion of the post entirely.

  • Of course, anyone who can comment can suggest a fix, not just a moderator. – J.R. Dec 20 '13 at 21:33
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    @J.R. - Its different on SO than many of the other SE sites. Mod "suggestions" elsewhere generally carry more weight than regular users. I have seen comments from several users saying the same thing a mod says ignored or attacked but when the mod steps in it changes the tone and often the willingness to comply. – Chad Dec 21 '13 at 8:00

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