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Earlier today I flagged this question using the following flag option:

Questions asking us to recommend or find a tool, library or favorite off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem and what has been done so far to solve it.

If you look at the edit history, shown below, I interpreted the original post's title and body to mean that they were asking for another utility, like SlowCheetah, which is why I flagged it with the rule I stated above. In addition, I try to do my best to also inform the user that their post does not meet the standards of the site by leaving a comment as you can see on the post. The poster acknowledged the feedback and updated their question, rendering my flag now invalid.

Ultimately, my flag was declined, which harms me because as we all know declined flags work against a SO user's total flag count:

Reference: Flag posts

How many flags do I have?

When you start out, you are allotted 10 flags per day. This number may increase to up to 100 flags per day:

You get one bonus flag per 2000 reputation. You are awarded additional bonus flags when you flag correctly - one bonus flag for every ten net helpful flags (helpful flags minus declined flags).

I only have 8 declined flags, and IIRC, 4 of those are because of situations just like this. So is it fair to negatively affect a member's total flag count, when the flag at the time of submission was accurate? As such, I propose a new flag status like "Inapplicable', which when used does not affect total flag count, or something similar to this, so that situations like this do not negatively affect a user's flag count. I understand I still have to have faith that a reviewer or moderator will see the post for what it was at the time the flag was submitted, but at least by adding this option, you provide reviewers and moderator's a means to take action in a fair manner.

I want to continue flagging questions and helping posters as much as I can, I just don't think it's fair to members that spend a lot of time flagging and helping members, to risk reducing their flag count just because of a shortfall of the system and because, let's be honest here, not all moderator's can act at the same level of objectivity, we all have differing viewpoints and interpretations. I suppose this bothers me more than other issues I've come across on the site because I flag posts to help keep the site focused and free of poor posts and yet receive no reputation for these types of efforts. The only positive thing you can reap are a few badges, <sarcasm>yay!</sarcasm> or a negatively impacted flag count. Just doesn't seem fair IMHO when my affects contribute to increasing the quality of posts which is just as important as contributing a quality answer IMO.

And to add, this isn't the first time this has happened to me and many other members of the site. And yet, nothing has been done about it. Perhaps as a community we start spending a little bit more time little details like this to help keep people feeling positive about their efforts, especially those that aren't measured by reputation.

Thank you for your time,

Cheers.

Edit History Current Post

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    Actually, your flag was automatically declined via the Close Votes review queue (as all close flags are dismissed through there, moderators never see them). So how does the system determine if the flag "was once correct" versus "was never correct"? Seems rather impossible. – animuson Feb 1 '14 at 2:52
  • @animuson, then the system's workflow has been flawed all along. If it doesn't give reviewers the ability to objectively review a flag based on a post's history and then allow them to render a proper choice based on that, how is it fair to decrease a flagger's flag count when their flag was technically correct at the time of submission? I understand the auto selection is difficult, but aren't reviewers either voting yay or nay? Why not another option for 'no longer applicable'? Just playing devil's advocate here as I think this is a workflow issue of the site that can be overcome. – Anil Natha Feb 1 '14 at 2:59
  • I agree that the system is slightly broken here, but this happens too rarely to be an issue, IMO. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Feb 1 '14 at 3:03
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    There's problems with that: 1) Users aren't reviewing flags in that queue, they're reviewing close votes. The vast majority of questions in that queue are not there because of a flag. 2) Users are not made aware of the fact that it is a flag that put it there. Even if they were, they wouldn't know what time the flag was cast, so browsing the revision history wouldn't really help in their decision. 3) I doubt many users would even care enough to investigate the revision history just to see if the flag was once valid. – animuson Feb 1 '14 at 3:05
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    A viable workaround that may or may not be too difficult to code: If reviewers have chosen to leave the question open and the question has been edited (by the OP only?) since the flag was cast, dismiss it as "disputed" causing no positive or negative effect on the casting user. – animuson Feb 1 '14 at 3:08
  • @animuson That would be a viable option, so long as the person could raise a flag again in case the poster adds information that is still worthy of flagging. As it stands now, even though my flag was declined, I can't raise a flag again for this question for the "It is a duplicate" or "it should be closed for another reason... " options even though the poster edited their question. I feel that these options should be reenabled once the question is edited and your flag is either declined or disputed. – Anil Natha Feb 1 '14 at 3:12
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    That is simply a measure to prevent abuse, and would not change. We don't want users consistently flagging something over and over with the same reason. If you really feel the question should still be closed, then you'll need to cast a custom flag and explain why (which also guarantees that a moderator will look at and dismiss it, so you'll get a response directly from them). – animuson Feb 1 '14 at 3:16
  • @animuson Ahhh ok, that makes perfect sense. – Anil Natha Feb 1 '14 at 3:19
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One option here would be to mark these flags as disputed rather than declined. This is what we do for Very Low Quality flags that are processed via /review rather than by a moderator, and for exactly this reason.

That said, disputed flags can be as irritating as declined, so while this might be worth doing for consistency's sake, I don't know that it would help folks like yourself feel any better about the results of your efforts.

There's another perspective you could take on this: if the question was fixed so easily, perhaps you should've just edited it yourself rather than flagging it. This is a judgement call, of course: many questions like this aren't worth fixing, or would require entirely too much effort to do so. But if the fix is obvious, then perhaps just do it and save the flag for one less likely to be salvageable.

  • I'm personally ok with it being disputed rather than being declined. It wouldn't bother me much, but I can see others may be. However, no matter which way you look at it, being disputed is better than declined as a disputed flag shouldn't count against your flag count. As for editing the post, I'm careful about changing the post too drastically which is what would have happened in this case, which is why I simply commented with the guideline the post should stay away from, and sure enough, the poster acknowledged it and improved the question and it's still open. Thanks! – Anil Natha Feb 1 '14 at 3:52
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    Good work with the comment then, @Sly - I think we can all agree that, regardless of the flag's disposition, this is an ideal outcome! – Shog9 Feb 1 '14 at 3:56
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    I can agree to that, I don't flag to simply increase my flag count, I flag and comment to help posters get the most of the site, while also helping to eliminate posts that others then wouldn't have to filter through if they are low-quality. Again, just frustrating that there are no reputation awards for behavior of this nature because this does directly impact the quality of posts on the site, just as much as quality answers do. Cheers. – Anil Natha Feb 1 '14 at 3:58
  • Has there been any further thought to labeling these flags as disputed rather than declined? It's obviously not the biggest problem, but this seems like a decent solution. – Alex Dec 27 '18 at 5:25
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Declined flags just don't matter that much, and this situation is sufficiently infrequent as to not be worth the requested feature.

There is no flag weight. It was removed as a site feature quite some time ago. Flag status are nothing more than feedback for you to help you understand if you are flagging correctly. If you know that your flag was correct, having it technically marked as declined isn't a problem.

  • I don't think it is as infrequent as you make it to be as I have read other's comments complaining about the issue as well. And as far as "flag weight" goes, there is one, unless my terminology is incorrect on what this is called. Reference: How many flags do I have?, "You are awarded additional bonus flags when you flag correctly - one bonus flag for every ten net helpful flags (helpful flags minus declined flags).", hence declined flags do affect "flag weight", or whatever this is called, perhaps 'flag count'? – Anil Natha Feb 1 '14 at 2:51
  • @SlyRaskal The term "flag weight" refers to a number between 0 and 750 that indicated a user's flagging abilities. It no longer exists on the site, and you will only confuse older users who were aware of it by using the term now. – animuson Feb 1 '14 at 2:54
  • @animuson, thank you for that clarification. I will update my post so as to avoid confusing members. Cheers. – Anil Natha Feb 1 '14 at 2:55

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