After reading this answer to my previous question, I feel there is a lack of understanding for new users concerning the use of the moderator flag. Thus, I think it is necessary to add a warning upon flagging for moderator intervention, something like:

Warning: This flag should only be used for issues that cannot be solved by the 
rest of the StackOverflow community.

Or make it available only at 50+ reputation since it otherwise appears as just an alternative to the offensive or spam flags.

  • 56
    Would new users really understand what issues that cannot be solved by the rest of the StackOverflow community means? Would they read that warning in the first place? – Frédéric Hamidi Sep 8 '16 at 10:22
  • 1
    As a new user, the list of privileges is pretty much the first thing I looked into, so I believe most users would know what is or isn't solvable by the community. However, the simple fact that some flags are unavailable until 50 rep is only told as a detail in the flags info page (had to actually look for it to see it). – Adalcar Sep 8 '16 at 10:31
  • 6
    It's a fair question, but OTOH, my personal experience is that I found my reputation mostly had passed the required minima before I considered stuff like commenting, flagging, and so on. So I was familiar enough with the global 'culture' before trying to moderate. – Rad Lexus Sep 8 '16 at 10:32
  • 4
    (There was a lovely comment on a similar question a couple of days ago, which came down to "you just barged in and you're already telling us how the site must be fixed". I laughed at that (rolling on the floor etc.) but it was actually borderline rude. However, that one really was from a 3-days member – or something like that –, and you have been around for a good year and done a fair share of asking and answering.) – Rad Lexus Sep 8 '16 at 10:36
  • @FrédéricHamidi one way to find out. Some will do! – gsamaras Sep 8 '16 at 22:05

As of this morning, we've loosened some of the restrictions for users with flag privileges but not enough rep to comment. This change specifically targets users with rep >= 15 and < 50.

Users falling in this range of reputation will now be able to flag posts as "should be closed" on the flagging dialog; this includes duplicates. Previously, this was restricted because users did not have the ability to comment. We've have made it possible for users to create the auto-comment, if the flagging option creates one (i.e. duplicates), but since the user does not have the ability to comment they will not be able to edit the comment until they've gained that privilege.

This should alleviate some of the confusion for lower rep users flagging things for moderator attention, when they should use standard flag/close options.

| improve this answer | |
  • Awesome - my main concern was that if a comment was generated it may be editable (as per comment here...) good job team! – Jon Clements Oct 12 '16 at 17:17
  • is this network wide or only at Stack Overflow? I assume the former but it doesn't hurt to check – gnat Oct 13 '16 at 20:41
  • 2
    @gnat It is a network wide change. – Taryn Oct 13 '16 at 20:41

The real solution to this is to simply expand the ability to cast standard close flags down to the reputation level where you can start flagging.

It's my understanding that the reason for the 50-rep threshold is that at least one of the close reasons requires you to leave a comment, and 50-rep users cannot do this. Therefore, anyone under 50 rep is locked out of flagging for closure until they can comment.

This seems like a case where the system could make an exception and allow comments that are provided via the close flag system.

I believe the potential for abuse (spam, trolling) in this is pretty low. Brand-new accounts still can't flag, you'd only be able to comment via the flag interface, and only in those categories, and all flagged questions are subject to review. Even if someone had a terrible idea of what was or was not appropriate for the site, a number of other people would have a chance to indicate in review that they were wrong.

| improve this answer | |
  • You could also just not show that one close reason that requires comments, but show the rest. I don't which would be easier. – Heretic Monkey Sep 8 '16 at 14:50
  • 5
    I suppose one thing to consider is whether the system checks whether someone has 50 rep before allowing them to edit their own comment or whether being the owner of a comment trumps the rep requirement (maybe with the assumption that at one point they may have had the rep to post a comment). It'd admittedly be a rather hard and limited way for 15-49 rep users to potentially "comment" on questions if so. – Jon Clements Sep 8 '16 at 14:52
  • 7
    Considering the system already considers only internal-link-only answers to be "trivial" enough to automatically post as comments instead, this suggestion is a no-brainer. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Sep 8 '16 at 16:15
  • 1
    and all flagged questions are subject to review ... I don't know that we need a review queue to review the flagging thoughts of new users. I think SE dev time is better spent forcing new users to go to the tour, enter some captcha phrases, and do a Where's Waldo word search in a paragraph. May get them to read a few paragraphs before the flood of questions begin. Oh they create a new account. Back to the Tour. – Drew Sep 9 '16 at 20:46
  • 1
    @MikeMcCaughan This includes the most useful reason, duplicates, though. They generate a comment (Possible duplicate ...)… and you can edit that comment after that then. [But as BoltClock says… there's really no issue…] – bwoebi Sep 10 '16 at 10:02
  • 2
    The free-form close reason, actually, is hidden from close flaggers. Unless that's changed recently (which IMO should be done)? – John Dvorak Sep 10 '16 at 10:10
  • 2
    @Jan Yes, they see "blatantly off-topic". It's actually duplicate flagging that needs to leave the "possible duplicate" comment. – Jeffrey Bosboom Sep 10 '16 at 20:09
  • 1
    And if it actually became a problem that low-rep users would flag to generate a comment and then edit it with spam, how much time would it take to lock them out of editing until they reach 50 rep? And if they posted questions with spammy titles and used those as dupe targets in order to try and spread their spam, their spam "question" will only get nuked faster. So when it comes down to it, those users can really be prevented of gaining anything from abusing comments, in every case. – Siguza Sep 10 '16 at 20:47
  • To me, a new user should not generate something that they can edit in a comment. If a user under 50 rep has a few well received questions or answers, and under 50 rep, I could see an exception of course. We have enough tricks and gimmicks around here to clean up and we don't need more. – Drew Sep 10 '16 at 21:02

This and your previous question raise issues that some users (myself included) are concerned at some point. The homework questions are among the common generators of those concerns. For sometime I really thought that homework questions must simply be deleted, as time passes, I understood that there is really no need to delete them. They have success because there are people who ask them and people who answer them. And since S.O. is a Q&A website, it should really not be a concern. Minded people simply ignore them, non mined people consider them. For your previous question, Cody Gray gave an answer that I have nothing to add. However, I will add some development about low reputation flagging.

First, it clearly seems that adding a warning is a no go as suggested by the appreciation in comments. Now, when you look at the number of members of S.O as of September 12, 2016 you see 6,016,276 (more than 6 million). That is the number of S.O. subscribers. When you look at the number of members with 200+ reps, you see 312,891 (three hundred thounsand), that is about 5% of the total number of members. That is also about the number of people that make S.O. what it is.

When you consider all of that, you can ask yourself, shall S.O. let the 5% that make S.O. what it is decide what it shall be? or shall S.O. extend it to whoever subscribes?

When I consider how easy it is to get reputations on S.O, I am actually tempted to suggest to raise the number of reputation to get access to some tools like flagging to close. However, I will not suggest it because I think there was a clear reason behind the number. If a member is not able to ask few good question, how will S.O. know that he/she is able to recognize good or bad questions/answers? If a member is not able to give few good answers, how will S.O. know that he/she is able to recognize good or bad questions/answers? Those are possibly the only metrics that S.O. has to judge the quality of a member.

As I already stressed, there is already 300+ thousand dedicated people out there who will do the job before you notice it.

When you consider all of that, you understand that S.O. is certainly not perfect, however, S.O. is among the best in his category.

And when you also look at the trend out there, S.O. is now a recruiting tool. It means that some recruiters are recruiting based on credibility on S.O.? People being lazy by nature, they try to play the system to sound credible on S.O. and nail their interview.

Shall S.O. lower the standard of becoming credible on S.O. Given that people are already playing the system, I think that any flexibility in rules shall carefully be analyzed before moving forward. That is the role of some people on S.O. and I think that they are doing their best. For the special case of this flagging issue, I think it is best not lowering the number of reputation required. However, if it is easy, I recommend S.O. to not give the possibility to low reputations to flag.

That was my 2 cents, not really an answer to the question, but too long to be a comment

| improve this answer | |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .