Let's say I mod flag an off-topic bounty question for closure shortly after the bounty is added. The question is not answered, the bounty expires, and the user deletes the question. Deleting the question would not invalidate the mod flag, and at some point a mod would come along, see my flag, see that the question had been self-removed by the OP, and mark the flag as handled (usually "helpful").

Now that we have the ability to retract flags, I was reviewing my open flags and saw that a mod flag was still pending on a deleted bounty question. Since the question had been deleted, I retracted the flag since it was no longer necessary.

Should I be keeping track of my pending flags and retracting any that are no longer valid? Will I be penalized (with a declined flag) if I don't retract any of my obsolete flags?

I understand that this is kind of a specific example, and I also understand that any flags on borderline link-only answers that are edited into shape outside of the review queue will likely be declined.


If you notice that a flag you raised is no longer applicable, retracting it makes things easier on the mods. On the sites I'm familiar with, though, if it looks like the flag was reasonable at the time it was raised, mods usually just mark them helpful and move on. As a moderator I haven't seen any guidance that we should be doing things differently or encouraging retraction.

You asked if you'd be penalized with a declined flag. A stray declined flag here and there isn't really a penalty. Flag weight is long gone, and unless you have several flags declined within a small time window you won't see warnings or be temporarily blocked from flagging. Think of declined flags as learning opportunities (read the responses), not penalties. If you have further questions about a declined flag after reading the moderator response to it, you can ask about it in your site's chat or raise it on your meta.

  • Yes I'm familiar with follow up on meta about declined flags. I use "penalized" in the lightest sense, think a mark in red pen on your flag summary page. :)
    – JAL
    Oct 11 '16 at 16:06
  • Your comment is interesting about not seeing any guidance on encouraging retraction. I wonder if this is the same across all SE sites. Thanks for your insight.
    – JAL
    Oct 11 '16 at 16:06
  • 3
    On SO, I also mark flags helpful if I notice they were valid at the time of casting. It's still better to retract on your own if you can; sometimes I won't notice.
    – Undo
    Oct 11 '16 at 16:09
  • That comment was shorthand for "nothing's been pushed to us in mod newsletters or that I've seen in TL". I suspect the question just hasn't come up; retraction is still somewhat new and mods probably aren't seeing a lot of "c'mon, couldn't you have retracted that and saved us work?" action. Oct 11 '16 at 16:09
  • 3
    «unless you have several declined flags within a small time window you won't see warnings or be temporarily blocked from flagging» True, but the way this works is slightly misleading, because the flag ban calculation uses the date of handling, not the date of casting. A few flags cast across a month led me to a ban because they all happened to be handled within a few days of each other.
    – jscs
    Oct 11 '16 at 16:30
  • @JoshCaswell wow, did not know that. Thanks; fixed. Oct 11 '16 at 16:31
  • 3
    I guess to phrase it better I should say that the system is misleading.
    – jscs
    Oct 11 '16 at 16:32

Today I received my first mod message on a flag to remind me to check and retract any outdated flags:

Helpful Flag

I think it's safe to say that moderators are encouraging users to revisit their flags and retract any obsolete ones.

The flag was a not an answer flag on an answer on Stack Overflow.

I do not believe this approach is sustainable, especially for power users who max out (or come close to maxing out) their daily flag allowance (which I will admit, is a very small percentage of users).

  • 11
    This doesn't make any sense to me at all. I don't get notified when a post I flagged is edited, so that means I have to go over all my flags to see what's happening?
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Nov 28 '16 at 15:26
  • @Glorfindel I guess so. It appears that we should be checking our flags every so often and retracting ones that are no longer necessary, helping the mods.
    – JAL
    Nov 28 '16 at 15:27
  • 3
    I agree that makes no sense, you can't expect everyone to constantly monitor every post they've flagged.
    – Cai
    Nov 28 '16 at 15:27
  • 2
    Hmm, interesting. I've never seen or sent a message like that. I guess I would if I happened to notice that the flagger had participated on the post since the flag became obsolete -- e.g. if he commented well after his flag, and in the meantime whatever he was flagging about was fixed. In that case I think I'd point out retraction. But there are 150+ sites and ~500 moderators, so I'm not surprised there's some variation. If you think this is an issue, you should consider bringing it up on that site's meta. Nov 28 '16 at 16:27
  • 4
    Indeed this is senseless. Unless and until flaggers are notified of edits or deletions of posts flagged - and are then given a sensible length of time to respond, spending time checking the state of your flags prevents you from looking for other posts to flag.
    – Chenmunka
    Nov 28 '16 at 19:14

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