I voted for this question to be reopened because the duplicate does not help in answering the question.

I also flagged for moderator attention with the following comment:

This is closed as a duplicate and it probably is a duplicate to some question somewhere but not to the question chosen as duplicate here.

The person declining the flag was kind enough to add a comment or rather a question as a decline reason.

declined - care to suggest a better duplicate instead then?

How would I go about responding to the moderator's custom flag message if care to find a duplicate or not?

Update: The linked question is now deleted and I can only assume that the reason is that I brought attention to it here. It was not a particularly good question but I don't believe deletion was the correct action to take.

When should I delete questions?

Closed questions that are of no lasting value whatsoever should be flagged and deleted.

Before voting to delete, please check that there are no good answers; if so, then the question should be flagged for moderator attention as a potential merge candidate. We don't like to lose great answers!

Also, be cautious when deleting questions closed as duplicates; they can serve as a signpost, directing users to useful answers on another question.

  • 22
    Three down votes, really, on a support question from an engaged user that just isn't familiar with how we work, and wants to contribute something. Seriously?
    – user50049
    Feb 4, 2014 at 12:11
  • 3
    moderator messages like this confuse flaggers instead of guiding them. "care to suggest a better duplicate instead then?" makes totally wrong impression that flags are like for chatting. Decline message should instead instruct flagger on how they could do better "If you believe there is another duplicate, point it out in flag message or in comments under the question"
    – gnat
    Feb 4, 2014 at 12:19
  • 4
    It's a mixed message - basically "declined but give us more" ... second time it's come up today in fact. I have to go research the reason why we didn't want to allow custom feedback for both validating and declining something.
    – user50049
    Feb 4, 2014 at 12:33
  • 6
    @TimPost In a word: Jeff Feb 4, 2014 at 12:45
  • 3
    ` Three down votes, really, on a support question from an engaged user that just isn't familiar with how we work, and wants to contribute something. Seriously? – Tim Post♦ 2 hours ago .... @TimPost: I know how you feel. Sadly, I am beginning to form an opinion that most of the users in meta are hardly bothered in reading the question completely. All they want to do is DownVote,DownVote,DownVote,DownVote... it's like a mad race. And I am not only referring to the last question that I asked but some others as well.... It's really pathetic :( Feb 4, 2014 at 14:14
  • @MikaelEriksson: + 1 What I would do normally in this case is to flag it again with the information asked. Feb 4, 2014 at 14:14
  • 3
    @SiddharthRout That's a decent part of the motivation behind splitting Meta SE from Meta SO.
    – user50049
    Feb 4, 2014 at 14:46

2 Answers 2


As the mod who declined it hopefully I can explain my reasoning a bit better here:

When I saw the flag in the my interpretation of the flag was that you wanted me to reopen and then reclose the question as a duplicate. The problem however was that the discussion as to what the new duplicate should be was conspicuously absent, which essentially left me wondering quite what you expected me to actually do.

I didn't want to leave something that clearly was a duplicate of something open. (At least 6 people were giving clear signs they thought it should be closed as a duplicate). I know virtually nothing of that subject area and even if it was a topic I was familiar with I'm not enthusiastic about picking a dupe and unilaterally closing.

In terms of my message I'm sorry it wasn't more clear. The kind of thing that would be more helpful is a pointer to a new duplicate, either in the flag, or a "see comments" note in the flag if there's already a suitable candidate there instead.

  • Thanks for taking your time to comment here. I meant for the Q to be reopened and after that the community could go find another question that is a better match as a close dupe. I provided an answer and doing that instead of finding a duplicate requires a lot less effort on my part ( subject for another discussion). Regardless of what other say I mean that the dupe as is now is of no help at all to the OP. Feb 4, 2014 at 17:51

When you vote to reopen a post, it goes into the reopen queue so the rest of the community can make the decision. It is also usually best to leave a comment explaining why you don't think it is a duplicate to help inform the rest of the community why you think it should be reopened. What likely happen is the vote went into the reopen queue and enough users did not think the post should have been reopened, so they clicked "Leave Closed", and eventually caused your reopen vote to expire.

If you flagged after this, it is understandable, but a moderator who responded to the flag might not have known this and responded with a somewhat rhetorical reponse and probably trying to point out in a less than obvious way that you shouldn't have flagged.

You can't respond directly to the moderator, but if you want to "respond", the only way to do it is to do exactly what the mod said and find a better duplicate and flag the post again. You can't expect the moderators to go looking for a duplicate, they have enough to do, so if you want to take the time to flag to say "there is probably a better duplicate", you should take the time to find the better duplicate.

The only time a user with >3K rep needs to flag to close or reopen is when the action is something you can't do on your own:

  • Vote to close as a duplicate as a post without an upvoted answer (very rare that this would need done, but I've done it before)
  • Change the close reason or the duplicate target on a post.
  • Questions asked in low view tags sometimes need some extra help to get closed as Joshua suggests since you don't get enough active users who can close questions as quickly as some questions need to be closed.

When you want to change the duplicate, then you can flag and give the mod a better duplicate, and briefly explain why.

  • when a vote to reopen expire? what happens when it gets rejected? +1 to you but i'd like to see some explanation instead of assumption that the OP didn't vote to reopen.
    – user221081
    Feb 4, 2014 at 11:23
  • 1
    @mehow, seems very likely since the OP appeared to post the response to a flag "declined - care to suggest a better duplicate instead then?"
    – OGHaza
    Feb 4, 2014 at 11:25
  • 1
    +1 @OGHaza You're totally right I haven't noticed that at first.
    – user221081
    Feb 4, 2014 at 11:27
  • @mehow The number if reopen votes is displayed-if there are any. Feb 4, 2014 at 11:57
  • @DaveNewton yep, I just wasn't sure if there was an interval for expiration or if they zero-out for any other reason, but I it's not the case here as it was a flag not an actual vote.
    – user221081
    Feb 4, 2014 at 12:08
  • This was some time ago so my memory may be failing me but I believe I did both Flag and vote to reopen. I have updated the question. Feb 4, 2014 at 12:08
  • @MikaelEriksson if it was some time ago, it could have caused the reopen vote to expire (I had assumed it was a very recent vote), but I still don't think flagging was not necessary. If the duplicate is wrong and their is no better dup, you vote to reopen, it goes into the reopen queue and you let the community handle it. If the dup is wrong and there is a better duplicate, then you can flag and ask a mod to change it. Feb 4, 2014 at 12:38
  • I flagged it at Dec 31 '13 at 23:18 and the flag was declined on Jan 23 21:04. I cast the reopen vote before I flagged and I believe the reason for the flag was that the reopen vote was expired. Feb 4, 2014 at 12:44
  • @MikaelEriksson ok, that makes sense... I updated my answer a little, but the general point is the mods have enough to do, they don't have time to go hunting for duplicates, if you think there is a better one, then you need to find it. Feb 4, 2014 at 12:46
  • "The only time a user with >3K rep needs to flag to close or reopen is when the action is something you can't do on your own" I'd add that it's also useful in low-view tags where close don't accumulate fast enough to keep things clean. Feb 4, 2014 at 18:07
  • @JoshuaTaylor that sounds reasonable, but since I don't participate in a lot of low-view tags, it is not something that I've personally experienced. Feb 4, 2014 at 19:24
  • @psubsee2003 Yeah, I don't know how many people it affects, but the tags I'm in are fairly low view (e.g., 449 views in 3 years for one I quickly found, but ~1 or 2 a day when new is not uncommon), and flagging for moderator attention helps clean out some of the obvious close-ables (particularly library requests). Feb 4, 2014 at 19:28

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