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If a user posts several questions that get closed off it will trigger a 'Multiple closed question' flag that then gets reviewed by moderators. If the moderator chooses to let it slide and accept the flag with no action, when will that same flag get re-raised?

  • the very next closed question they ask?
  • if they start asking decent questions but then one more gets closed?
  • after 3 years of inactivity they post a question and it gets closed?

How can we keep track if a user is constantly getting their questions closed off? Does accepting the flag reset their behaviour back to zero, requiring a whole new batch of questions be closed in order to re-trigger that flag, or will the flag constantly get raised each time they ask a question that gets closed? (I would hope it's closer to the latter than the former).

My concern is that if I accept a MCQ flag and do nothing with it (perhaps because the user is new and is finding their feet, getting better but still not quite 'there' yet) that they could keep asking poor questions and I wouldn't know about it because I dismissed the first flag and no subsequent flags were raised until they've been posting significantly more poor-quality posts.

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  • Just curious: What do you do with those flags? Do you mod message the user? – rene Apr 28 '16 at 12:30
  • @rene: If there is a persistent pattern leading to the closure that has not prominently been remarked yet or stopped, I usually message the user. – Wrzlprmft Apr 28 '16 at 12:35
  • @rene Messaging the user directly is more of a last resort than standard practice. There are plenty of in-site options that are available (comments etc). We don't like to directly contact users unless it's really necessary. – JonW Apr 28 '16 at 12:36
  • OK, understood. It feels a bit as a weird flag. You're not handling behavior but content. and by either messaging/ commenting you guide an individual user on the content they post. – rene Apr 28 '16 at 12:51
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    @rene Often we don't really need to handle anything. Someone posts a question misunderstanding the scope of the site, then posts something a bit too broad, then posts a question that's perfectly OK but is a duplicate.. these closures all add up but aren't really serious offences. But they are worth monitoring incase they keep happening. – JonW Apr 28 '16 at 13:06
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    @JonW I'll pull some numbers in a little bit and take a look at the exact logic. – Taryn Apr 28 '16 at 13:12
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The consecutive questions closed flag is used as a signal to the mods that a user might be struggling and might need some help or direction.

The name of the flag pretty much describes what it does, if a user has multiple questions closed in a row, a flag will be automatically raised for a mod to review. The flag can be triggered multiple times for the same user, as long as they consecutively post questions that are closed.

Let's say you have a user who posts multiple questions in a row that are closed, the flag gets raised and validated, and the mod does nothing else at that time. Then the same user posts a good question that doesn't get closed, but then posts several more bad questions which do closed, you're going to see another flag for the user even though they had a good one in the middle.

If you do nothing on the first flag, it's entirely possible that you'll get another flag if the user consecutively posts questions that are closed.

I was curious to see how many users generating multiple flags for this across the network (excluding Stack Overflow). Over the past 180 days, these are the number of users who were flagged more than once for consecutive closed questions:

Users W/ Multi Flags   Site Name 
---------------------- --------- 
69                     Physics   
44                     English Language and Usage
21                     Mathematica
16                     Statistical Analysis
15                     MathOverflow
14                     Drupal Answers
12                     GIS     
11                     The Workplace
11                     Chemistry 
9                      Christianity
9                      IT Security
7                      Skeptics  
7                      Biology   
6                      Webmasters
6                      English Language Learners
5                      Role-playing Games
5                      Unix and Linux
5                      Jewish Life and Learning
5                      Aviation Stack Exchange
5                      Worldbuilding Stack Exchange
4                      WordPress 
4                      Gaming  
4                      Database Administrators
4                      Code Review
4                      Economics 
4                      History   
3                      Code Golf 
3                      Philosophy
3                      Science Fiction  
3                      Game Developers  
3                      Web Apps  
3                      Academia  
3                      Computer Science
3                      Anime and Manga
3                      Network Engineering Stack Exchange
3                      Magento   
2                      Photography
2                      Apple     
2                      Graphic Design
2                      Linguistics
2                      Islam     
2                      Salesforce
2                      User Experience
2                      Engineering Stack Exchange
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  • So if I understand this correctly; the metric judges the users history as a whole when determining whether a flag is raised, rather than behaviour since it was last flagged? Basically ignoring any flags raised for this criteria. (Hence explaining why @MonicaCellio had a situation with the same user having multiple MCQ flags at the same time). – JonW Apr 28 '16 at 15:34
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    @JonW It doesn't care about the last flag, it only cares about if a user has consecutive closed questions. If they have 3 closed questions in a row, a flag is raised, you clear it, but then they post a 4th question that also gets closed consecutively you're going to see another flag. The only thing that could ruin this is if they post a question that doesn't get closed. Make sense? – Taryn Apr 28 '16 at 15:37
  • You're excluding SO because the number is huge, as with every statistic you run, or is the flag non-existent there? – rene Apr 28 '16 at 16:04
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    @rene I'm excluding SO because the flag proved to be incredibly noisy there and we basically switched it off earlier this year. – Taryn Apr 28 '16 at 16:05
  • @bluefeet How about Mathematics? It is not in the list, and I don't think the number is that small. – wythagoras Apr 28 '16 at 16:47
  • @wythagoras In the last 6 months, Mathematics has had no users raising this flag more than once. – Taryn Apr 28 '16 at 16:56
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What I've seen on sites where I'm a mod is that it gets tripped for three (or more) consecutive closed questions. Age of the question doesn't matter; I've seen a sequence where three questions asked once a year tripped the flag. Handling the flag does not affect future flags. The flag doesn't reset the counter; if the person's next question is closed then a new flag is tripped.

I've also seen it trip when an old question gets closed, even though there are more-recent, open questions. I haven't figured out what the logic is in that case.

New closures trip this again, plus you'll see all the flags in a user's flag history, so in my experience, if there's a persistent problem you'll know. And that's not even counting flags saying things like "hey, can we cut this guy off or something?", which also happens. If somebody's questions are being closed so infrequently that nobody noticed any of that, then how much of a problem is it?

(I personally think the flag should consider age; if the user's last question was closed two years ago, I don't understand why I should care.)

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  • This is all more-or-less what causes the flag to trip for the first time. But what about subsequently? We may have suspicions about certain users posting poor questions that get closed off all the time, but I'm sure there are more 'stealth' situations where a user is posting things without being noticed. I'm hoping such users still trigger auto-flags so we would notice them that way. – JonW Apr 28 '16 at 14:57
  • @JonW I took "Handling the flag does not affect future flags" to imply that a further three consecutive closed questions will raise the flag again – Dan Hulme Apr 28 '16 at 15:05
  • @JonW past flags make no difference. I've even seen the same user with two such flags in the flag queue at the same time -- one was closed, tripping a flag, and he had another question closed (tripping a new flag) before we even saw the first. – Monica Cellio Apr 28 '16 at 15:11

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