Related: Allow recovery from flag hellban

Note: I am not requesting different action in my case; but thought the behavior was worth bringing up.

I had 3 declined flags in row recently (it was a bad day). Because I hadn't flagged much recently, nothing happened. Then I flagged a few more posts in the subsequent days, all but one of which were "helpful" (one disputed).

Once I cast my 10th flag for the week, I hit the flag-ban (because I suddenly met the criteria). This made me realize that in this kind of scenario (3 declined flags after low activity), your 10th flag will automatically trigger the ban, no matter how good the other 7 are.

Granted, the ban will only be a couple days, so its probably not worth fixing, but I think it sends the wrong message to users: "You flagged some stuff well! Oh, but you also had some declined flags a few days ago, so you are now banned".

Is there a way to fix this?

1 Answer 1


Sure - we could only run the check when a flag is declined. That would fix the problem of getting off to a bad start and then improving only to find yourself banned. You'd still hit the threshold eligible for a ban, but you wouldn't actually get banned until/unless you raised another bad flag.

But that has other problems. For starters, there's no requirement that moderators process your flags in order - if your lousy flags were processed last, you'd still end up flag-banned. So while it might help in some cases, it'd be hard to predict.

Realistically, I'm not sure this is worth optimizing for. Because the week is a sliding window, folks who raise a few helpful flags every day are very unlikely to hit the ban unless they go completely off the rails. And folks who rarely flag are only vulnerable to this if they start flagging more frequently - and badly. In fact, just last night I lowered the threshold on Stack Overflow from 10/week to 6/week, so as to kick in faster when someone gets it in their head to try flagging all of their homework questions before the end of the semester - I did some sanity-checks on that first, and didn't see a lot of false-positives.

  • Well, I'm not sure about the "7 days": on Jan 21st I had 3 declines (2 questions out of the 3 got eventually closed btw!) and since then I had 6 helpful flags. Alas, now it's the 29th and I still can't raise a flag... I think that it would be nice to include two other parameters: percent of helpful flags (out of the total number of flags that were raised), and add a "check" to the declined flags: after a few days check if the question got closed. I think that questions that eventually got closed (though the flag was declined) show that the moderator was wrong (since 5 other people agreed!).
    – Nir Alfasi
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 8:06
  • 1
    Your last flag was declined on January 23rd, @alfasin. Your ban lifts in 21 hours. For future reference, any time you find yourself selecting "other" in the flag dialog, consider whether it's a problem you can handle yourself or one that only moderators can respond to. If a moderator sees a custom flag on a post that the flagger has already dealt with (closed...), they're probably not going to do anything.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 17:55
  • 1
    @Shog9 I can deal with any question by voting to close it. I flag questions only when they're really poor and I don't see that the OP is responding to the comments. I'm doing so because poor questions are also usually not tagged well which exposes them to a smaller audience - which means it'll take time to get it closed. But maybe this approach is wrong and I should flag only "spam" and "offensive" questions. What bothers me about this approach is, that people like me that are trying to contribute to the community by reviewing tickets in the different queues are getting treated like trolls..
    – Nir Alfasi
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 23:42
  • 4
    The problem, @alfasin, is that your last flag wasn't even seen until two days after the question was closed. I suspect the same was true for a number of other flags. You're effectively flagging preemptively, because you don't think voting to close is enough - that's a waste of time for moderators who have as much as they can do to keep up with problems that can't be handled by folks like yourself.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 23:52
  • I was serial downvoted 18 times on Math SE yesterday. I raised 12 flags(to the max limit). The downvotes were reversed today. Four of the 12 flags were helpful, 8 flags were declined. So, I am banned from flagging on Math SE. It seems to me this ban penalizes the victims, not the offenders.
    – Nobody
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 4:27
  • 1
    I don't know why you raised 12 flags, @scaaahu; one would be sufficient. I've removed the extraneous flags; you'll be warned the next time you raise a flag, but will not be banned.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 4:28
  • 2
    Thanks. I was never serial downvoted for so many posts at once. I was angry and panic, It's natural to react that way. I am not a newbie on SE. (I have over 1400 helpful flags on Academia SE). I still would do this. Please think for those who don't have much experience as I do. This is merely my personal opinion. You have much larger picture than I have.
    – Nobody
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 5:29

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