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Background

As per the FAQ on disputed flags:

A disputed flag is a flag that was issued on a post that then received an "invalid flag" flag from a user with access to moderator tools. Both the original flag and the flag used to mark it as invalid will be listed as "disputed" in the respective user's flagging summary. Once a flag has been disputed, its state will not be changed by any additional action on the post.

This means a disputed flag is more of a technical detail, as a disputed flag can still be acted upon or not acted upon. However, many of our more consciences users are worried by their disputed flags and come to meta to ask on what details of their flag was inappropriate. A recent example, and the example that prompted this feature request is Why was the flag I raised disputed?. This restores my faith in the stack overflow community, but the answer that is usually given is "don't worry, a disputed flag just means 1 person disagreed, in this case everyone else agreed and you flagged appropriately".

All this brings the question, what is the point of telling users their flag is disputed, as it simply worries them, seemingly without any positive effects. Which brings me to my either-or feature request.

Feature request

Either:

Only mark a flag as disputed if 2+ users mark it as invalid, this will avoid the case where flags in which the vast majority agree the flag was appropriate or the case where a 10k user simply "fat fingered" it. This would give disputed the meaning of "not necessarily wrong, but certainly controversial”

Or:

Stop marking things as disputed at all, to the non stack-exchange ear disputed and declined both sound like "no". Wait till the final outcome of the flag is decided and mark the flag helpful/declined according to that. If neither of these are ultimately appropriate mark it with something neutral such as "handled".

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    Well, once moderators finally get the ability to mark flags as helpful/declined separately, I'm hoping this won't even be a problem anymore. But it'd make more sense to just mark the "invalid flags" as the opposite of the result for the actual flag result automatically. – animuson Jan 31 '14 at 18:27
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    Thank you for posting this feature request. For the record, just so others are aware, I posted my question about the disputed flag to improve my understanding of why and when I should raise flags. I have no problem with accepting that my flag was disputed. We all make mistakes and we should learn from them. – Anil Natha Jan 31 '14 at 18:31
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    Another take on this could be that, instead of 2+ disputed, why not a percentage of users that disagree yields a disputed flag? Reason being what if 2 people start off by disputing, but then 7 others come in and then agree with the flag. I suppose either way it looks the same at the beginning, but I feel a critical point must first be reached in either case before handing out flag judgement. – Anil Natha Jan 31 '14 at 18:32
  • "handled" may be construed to some as 'completed'; instead, until the first person votes, say nothing, but once one person votes state, "In Process" and then only update when the final outcome of the flag is determined to be "declined" or "helpful". I feel that putting a status down gives assurance to people that a flag is being looked at rather than saying nothing at all which may lead newcomers to thinking that nothing is being done when they raise a flag. – Anil Natha Jan 31 '14 at 18:39
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    @SlyRaskal The flag doesn't actually get marked as disputed the moment someone disputes it, it gets marked that way when a moderator dismisses the flags, regardless of what action they took. – animuson Jan 31 '14 at 18:43
  • Ahhh, thanks for the clarification @animuson. – Anil Natha Jan 31 '14 at 18:55

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