Currently, spam flags and rude/abusive flags age away in 2 days if not acted upon. This doesn't really happen on active sites, but it does happen elsewhere. (For example, I have four aged-away spam flags on Chinese Language and three on 3D Printing. And had a bunch on Русский язык before leaving that site.)

I don't think this aging does any good at all.

  • If a flag is invalid, it should be declined.
  • If a flag is valid but moderators are offline over a weekend (which is understandable), the flag should wait until they come back.
  • If a site doesn't have any active moderators, aging away flags is solving the wrong problem.
  • Offtopic, but I wonder if such happen a lot, maybe a mod can give us stat, as for me its maybe a sign those sites should elect more moderator, as I wouldnt want a abusing/rude stuff staying online too long
    – yagmoth555
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 12:28
  • 2
    I'll support extending the period, e.g. 5 or even 7 days, but not totally removing it. It exists for a reason. Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 12:37
  • 14
    The timeout was probably put in for a reason, but is that reason still valid? Would it be better for the sites if the flags were around for a lot longer?
    – tripleee
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 12:53
  • 1
    Longer or not, if no mod act, should we just escalate those flag (abuse/spam) to mse staff when they ageaway?
    – yagmoth555
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 12:55
  • 8
    Old spam on a site is a "broken window". It'll signal to new spammers that these sites will leave their spam online. Similar for rude/abusive posts. So, spam and rude/abusive content should always be removed. Better late than never. Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 14:39
  • 3
    @S.L.Barth it's also a signal it's time for new moderators, but guess that's a different issue. Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 18:49

2 Answers 2


Before making any changes, I did a bit of looking in the database to see how often these flags age away. While it doesn't happen very often, it is enough on some of the smaller sites that we don't want spam/offensive posts slipping through the cracks.

We went ahead and updated the setting to age away these flags across all sites after 4 days, instead of 2. This will leave them active long enough to cover weekends or extended holiday weekends when moderators might be unavailable.

  • 4
    Could you comment on the purpose of the age-away mechanism? The question seemed to make a good point that it'd make sense for the stronger flags to either be acted on or declined; it's not obvious why a flag should be forgotten.
    – Nat
    Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 7:47
  • 1
    @Nat Those flags have always aged away, similar to close voting. This is most likely due to the fact that a post could continue to receive flags until its deleted even though most people viewing it don't find a problem with it. If the community isn't finding the post spam/offensive, then there isn't a reason to keep the flag on it, so we age it away.
    – Taryn
    Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 20:24
  • 1
    @Taryn If you're aging them away to prevent a low percentage of visiting users from deleting a post, shouldn't that be based on the number of people who have visited the post since the flag was raised, rather than just time? Note that in such case, counting question visits doesn't actually mean that each person has seen a low-score answer. Yeah, it's more complex, but, frankly, aging away these flags is just masking the issue that the moderators are not handling them. IMO, if moderators are not handling them, then it's time for more/different moderators, & SE should be notified.
    – Makyen
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 19:11
  • 1
    IMO, the better solution would be to not age away, delete if enough accumulate, but keep the flags active and show the mods the deleted posts so the mods can confirm the action. Perhaps only show them to mods if it took > N time to accumulate flags, or > Q visits.
    – Makyen
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 19:12
  • @Makyen If you think the process should be changed, then feel free to propose a new feature-request with your reasons as well as the possible benefits for it.
    – Taryn
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 13:35

On 15 June 2022 we removed the four-day aging out for all spam and rude/abusive flags. We had a recent case were some spam went unhandled and unnoticed on a smaller site so we decided to revisit this request. In doing so, we checked the number of flags that have aged away over the last year and, on most sites, there were none.

Even on the sites where there were some that aged away, the flags were on a tiny number of posts that happened to get multiple flags but not enough to get deleted by users - but the flags were valid.

When talking internally, the only reason we could imagine that we would want to age these out is to avoid a post getting a slow trickle of votes over months (or years) and eventually getting deleted but that wouldn't happen because the mods would handle the flags and if they declined them, the red flags would be cleared. So the only way this would happen is if the mods ignored the flags forever - which isn't happening - or marked the flags as helpful without deleting the post and clearing the flags... which seems really unlikely.

As such, we've decided that there's no harm in removing this setting network-wide. Individual sites have the option to reinstate this but I can't actually imagine why they would... because I'm honestly not sure why we would age out these flags at all.

  • 4
    A similar aging period also exists for "harassment, bigotry, or abuse" flags on comments - was that also removed? Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 21:54
  • 2
  • 1
    FYI: IIRC, red flags which are marked helpful don't count towards deleting the post. They do still apply the auto-downvote. On a few occasions, I've encountered a post which had > 6 helpful + active red flags, but which was not deleted by the community user. So, while red flags which trickle in and are marked helpful could cause the post to accumulate downvotes over time, they won't cause the post to be deleted as spam/R/A.
    – Makyen
    Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 14:48
  • I experimented to double-check if what I was remembering was correct. I mostly encounter seeing > 6 spam or R/A flags on a post, with some already marked helpful, when undeleting a post to report it to SmokeDetector in order to have a record of it to make detecting future spam/R/A posts easier. This question had been closed and deleted by three 20k delete-votes, which marked the existing 4 spam flags as helpful. After undeleting and reporting to SmokeDetector, it required an additional 6 unhandled spam flags to be deleted as spam (10 spam flags total).
    – Makyen
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 18:23

You must log in to answer this question.