The canonical question on how a flag can be declined even though the action it suggests is still taken has this to say on what happens to off-topic flags that go through a review queue:

  • If your flag was a recommend closure flag, if it receives three "do not close" responses in the Close Votes queue without a single close vote, it will be declined. When you flagged, this is what happened, but later others decided that the question was worthy of closure and therefore closed it.

I suspect this is not quite correct, and that at least one reviewer needs to agree on the flag on the closure reason as well. I would like confirmation of this interpretation before editing the faq answer.

More specifically, consider this example, where

  • User A flagged a post as a duplicate.
  • The first two reviewers voted to close.
  • Three reviewers then voted to leave open.
  • Three additional users saw the question and voted to close, presumably not through the review queue.
  • The last close-voter reports that there were four close votes as off-topic (i.e. not as a duplicate) before they voted to close.
  • User A reports a declined flag.

By the standards in the faq question, the flag should have been marked as helpful, unless I'm missing something. On the other hand, the declined flag is explained well if the review close votes also need to match the closing reason. (Alternatively, the review close votes might instead only need to match on whether the question is "off topic" in general, vs marking as a duplicate.)

Can a team member, or someone with detailed evidence, confirm this interpretation?


You can read more about it here. Particularly, your recommend closure flag can only be marked as helpful if the question gets completely closed or someone casts a vote to close for the same reason as you (this doesn't even have to happen through review, any vote to close from anywhere will mark it helpful, as long as it's the same reason you chose).

If no one ever used the same reason as you, then your flag will have still been pending and it would have been declined when reviewers determined to leave it open.

  • Thanks for this. The timeline details are a bit unclear then. Suppose a duplicate flag goes into review and gets three Leave Open votes, and after that five people see the question and vote to close, with only the last voter agreeing on the reason. Is the flag declined or marked as helpful? I.e. at which point is the tally taken? My guess would be that it would be on the third Leave Open vote (i.e. if there's a close vote that agrees on the reason when the task leaves the queue then the flag is marked as helpful), is that right?
    – E.P.
    Jan 14 '16 at 20:18
  • Also, to what level of detail must the reasons agree? If I flag as off topic > can no longer be reproduced and someone else votes as off topic > pertains only to a specific site, is my flag marked as helpful?
    – E.P.
    Jan 14 '16 at 20:21
  • @EP It only looks at the top-level reason. So all off-topic reasons are considered "off-topic" and which duplicate you chose doesn't matter.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jan 14 '16 at 20:27
  • my understanding is that the three leave opens without any agreeing votes to close (from review or otherwise) would result in your flag being handed. Then, as it says in the FAQ, some other folks took independent action that lead to what you want to happen (the closure) happening. The only issue here is whether the votes from the first two reviewers were agreeing votes to close or not. Once you've got three Leave Open with no agreeing, your flag is over. I think. Jan 14 '16 at 20:27

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