I am a moderator on Academia.SE. I just dismissed a comment flag that looked familiar. On closer inspection, I saw that I had previously dismissed that exact flag twice, and it had also been dismissed previously by two other moderators. All 5 flags were raised by the same user, who appears to have a pattern of raising multiple flags on comments. Nothing about the context of this particular comment changed during this period, i.e. there is no reason a user might think that a previously declined flag wasn't valid before, but is now.

To moderators, this behavior is problematic because we can't usually tell if a comment was flagged by several different users, or several times by the same user. It also wastes moderator time (I do not appreciate having to dismiss the same comment flag three times, from the same user).

What is the etiquette, in general, on re-raising comment flags that have been declined? Under what conditions should users re-raise comment flags?

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    Just out of interest: How do you know it was the same user who raised all this flags? – Wrzlprmft Dec 29 '14 at 10:11
  • As as moderator on UX I have this exact issue as well. Althtough I am more interested in what the correct Moderation action is for such situations. If you know who is repeatedly flagging a comment, what should we do? – JonW Dec 29 '14 at 10:11
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    @Wrzlprmft The moderators' flag handling UI doesn't show who raised a comment flag, but if I have a suspicion about a particular user, moderators can see the flag history page in the user profile – ff524 Dec 29 '14 at 10:19
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    I've had a user on PPCG do this — fortunately, it stopped after the fourth flag. The consensus was "just ignore it." (If you're a mod, you can see a short conversation about that here.) – Doorknob Dec 29 '14 at 15:29

The only reason to re-raise a flag on a comment would be if you believe that the flag was dismissed in error and the comment is clearly inappropriate. So if e.g. I flagged a comment that directly insults another user and the flag was declined, I might flag again. I'd do that a single time at most, and if the second flag was declined I would either take it to meta, contact SE or ask the mods directly about it.

For anything else I'd simply accept that the moderators haven't found sufficient reason to remove the comment. Reflagging obsolete/chatty comments is a waste of moderator time, they are simply not damaging enough even if I think they should be removed to spend any significant amount of time arguing about it.

I can only remember one situation where I considered to reflag (or maybe even did reflag, I don't remember exactly), and in the end I simply contacted SE privately. That wasn't a single comment, but the same rationale applies here. The moderators didn't act on what I considered to be a rather problematic situation, I considered that decisions to be harmful and got SE involved to resolve the issue. So while such situations happen, they are extremely rare and if you're regularly reflagging comments, you're probably doing it wrong.

If your flags are declined, and you consider that decision to be wrong and harmful, flagging again is unlikely to solve the underlying issue (unless a mod declined by accident). A meta post would be a good idea if there is a broader issue that deserves discussion. In cases where you want to avoid more drama, contacting SE is the quieter option.

So while there is a rare reason to reflag, in most cases I still wouldn't do it and would consider other means to resolve the issue. In almost all cases, reflagging is a misuse of the flagging system and just produces more noise and might mislead moderators.

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    How would you respond to this complaint: "There's no indication when you raise a flag that you've previously raised the same flag, the only way to know is to check your flag history. It's too hard to do that for every flag." – ff524 Jan 6 '15 at 10:45
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    SE should either prohibit repeated flagging, or add indicators for mods and users that this comment was already flagged. Still, accidentally reflagging should be rare, unless you flag a large amount of comments and revisit the same questions multiple times. – Mad Scientist Jan 6 '15 at 11:01
  • Personally, I consider contacting SE to be more dramatic than asking a (non-confrontational) question on meta. – ff524 Jan 8 '15 at 6:44

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