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I have been a (pro-tem) moderator on cs.SE since the beginning, so I never had much of an opportunity to issue flags without mod powers behind them (which means they are automatically considered helpful). Yesterday, in the few seconds between the end of our first elections (during which I was reelected), I got awarded both the Deputy and Marshall badge.

I issued lots of flags during my time as moderator: mostly "obsolete" flags on comments, for the purpose of leaving a paper trail.

There are two conceiveable options here: either such flags -- cast as a moderator and therefore self-approved -- count towards said badges, or they do not. In the first case, I should have gotten the badges the moment I cast the last necessary flag¹ (which didn't happen). In the second case, I should never get the badges, at least until I stop being a moderator and issue the required numbers of flags which a moderator then deems helpful (which is also not what did happen).

I can not explain why I would get the badges during a brief period of not being a moderator, so my conclusion is that this is a bug.


By the way, the only definitive statement I could find here on Meta is

The Deputy and Marshal badges are only granted to registered users - not moderators.

This does not really say whether flags cast as mod should count later, but I think the implied spirit is that they should not.


  1. Or when the badge-awarding cronjob runs next, which should be at least once a day.
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    It's also been inconsistent. jmort253 was a re-elected pro-tem who did not get Deputy in 2014, but Hodofhod, a pro-tem who didn't continue, got his Deputy badge half an hour after the election ended in 2012 (and no he didn't go on a wild flagging spree at the time). – Monica Cellio Aug 19 '15 at 15:40
  • @MonicaCellio So the (non-)implementation of the badge criterion is based on wrong assumptions ("once a mod, always a mod") and poorly done (if the badge job runs during your mod break, you get the badge)? Oh dear. I call doublebug! – Raphael Aug 19 '15 at 16:10
  • Nota bene: this may be backlash for using the "just use flags" hack for moderator papertrails. If it where not for this single reason, mods would never use flags (except those that go up to staff). – Raphael Aug 21 '15 at 8:15
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    Well, it's more than just a paper trail; flags help me remember something much later when there's followup, plus sometimes using a flag produces a desired action. For instance, as a moderator I'll sometimes use an NAA flag to send an answer to the review queue, in a case where I'm not certain enough to just outright mod-delete it. And spam/offensive flags do things other than remove the post. But yes, that mods use flags for this kind of bookkeeping does mean that mods could "give ourselves" those badges, and that's dodgy. – Monica Cellio Aug 21 '15 at 13:01
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I don't think it's a bug.

The flags you cast as moderator are surely stored in the system, as can be seen in your profile:

Now the key point is, that the badges in Stack Exchange are not awarded when you complete an action (with one exception I know of, "informed" badge). Instead, there is scheduled task for each badge that runs every X minutes (X depends on which badge) and check all the users. If it finds a user that answers the badge criteria, the badge is awarded.

So this is the flow of events:

  1. Your diamond was taken away.
  2. The scheduled tasks for Deputy and Marshall badges run. You have been found eligible for the badges, and got them.
  3. Your diamond restored. (non-tag badges are never taken away)
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  • If self-approved flags count as helpful and towards these badges (which I'm not convinced they should), then why not award the badges also while the user is a moderator? (I assume that this badge-awarding cron job runs more than once every two years.) – Raphael Aug 19 '15 at 13:21
  • @Raphael they are not self approved. Instead, flag cast by moderator is always binding, you can say it's approved automatically by the system. As for why not award the badges to moderators, guess it's to keep the game fair because unlike ordinary users moderators don't have limit to the amount of flags they can cast per day. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Aug 19 '15 at 13:24
  • Exactly. So why did I get these badges for exactly those unfair flags after I stopped being a moderator (if only for a short time)? I still call bug. – Raphael Aug 19 '15 at 13:26
  • Well, you still cast those flags and helped the site become better. When not moderator anymore, it's fair to get those badges as kind of "thank you" token from the system. That said, feel free to start feature request asking to change this behavior. :) (still, it's not a bug) – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Aug 19 '15 at 13:28
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    It's a bug. The intent was that flags cast while being a moderator don't count. This was implemented incorrectly. Also, your guess of the system behavior is surely wrong: Raphael was only unmodded for a few seconds, it's unlikely that the flag badge checks were run during this narrow window. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Aug 19 '15 at 13:48
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    @Gilles I doubt there is a column that stores whether the user was moderator in the time of flagging in the Flags table. Flag is a flag. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Aug 19 '15 at 13:49
  • Then that's the bug. (Turning it around on you again: if a flag is a flag, why did I not get the Deputy badge two years ago?) – Raphael Aug 19 '15 at 13:55
  • Guess we'll have to agree to disagree @Raphael, at least until a dev comes by and clear the confusion and/or proving me wrong. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Aug 19 '15 at 13:56
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    Agreed. I think you are missing the point. We'll see what staff has to say, if anything. – Raphael Aug 19 '15 at 16:10

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