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Here on Meta Stack Exchange, I've noticed that it can take over a month for my moderator flags to be handled, which is even longer than it takes on many beta sites.

I understand that this site has no community moderators, and is moderated entirely by Stack Exchange staff. I also understand that the staff members are usually very busy with quite a few things.

I've noticed that in many cases, the flags pile on and on until staff members eventually clear out the whole queue.

How long does it take on average for custom moderator flags to be handled here? Does it usually take that long for them to be handled, or am I just unlucky with my timing?

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    I often flag posts with time-sensitive issues, such as, for example, requesting that a user who keeps reposting the same off-topic question be suspended That is well an truly not a time sensitive issue that demands immediate CM attention. We have enough users capable of delete voting and flagging to suppress such behavior for as long as we see fit. – Magisch Sep 13 '18 at 6:11
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    flag and forget solves lots of problems, on both ends. – rene Sep 13 '18 at 6:22
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    I would hazard that it is because this isn't really about flag handling times in general but rather about getting flag banned and how many of these time sensitive issues are not. Granted - I feel very little on SE is massively time sensitive so... – Journeyman Geek Sep 13 '18 at 7:08
  • @JourneymanGeek Yeah, looking into my most recent flags, none of the issues were time-sensitive, but they did require moderator action (e.g. editing a locked question to remove a tag being removed as part of a community cleanup, etc.) – Sonic the Introverted Hedgehog Sep 13 '18 at 7:12
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    @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog If you accept the flags not being time sensitive, why does the time to handle matter at all? They never age away. – Magisch Sep 13 '18 at 7:13
  • @Magisch I was just asking a question for statistics. If you interpreted this as a rant about how SE's not handling time-sensitive issues in a timely manner, please edit to make this more clear. – Sonic the Introverted Hedgehog Sep 13 '18 at 7:15
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    @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog If you just wanted to know for statistics purposes, just ask that. Currently there's 3 questions in there, including a broader discussion. Your plea for stats has been answered by shog with a nice scatter plot even. – Magisch Sep 13 '18 at 7:17
  • @Magisch Edited. – Sonic the Introverted Hedgehog Sep 13 '18 at 7:20
  • @Ash The whole reason why that sentence existed is because there's an answer that uses quotes from that revision; I was just following Magisch's advice to remove it but didn't want to make that answer outdated. It's now unnecessary because there's now a note in that answer indicating that it's based on an older revision. – Sonic the Introverted Hedgehog Sep 13 '18 at 20:53
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For the past week, the average handling time for "other" flags raised here is about 2 days.

But, that varies a lot. Here's a scary-looking box plot for the past year:

A lot will depend on what you're asking for. We're very unlikely to suspend someone just because you asked nicely; believe it or not, it's faster to delete a whole pile of off-topic questions than it is to issue a suspension. We may, however, let such a flag sit around in case there's reason to suspend later.

Similarly, if someone were to raise multiple "Not an answer" flags on the same post, raising a new one after their last was declined, carefully working around the system-imposed restriction on that very activity by typing "not an answer" into that "other" field... Well, no one would be in any great hurry to handle them. They might very well let such flags sit around for months, and then decline them all at once.

  • Also note that if you look at my recent flag history (i.e. the recently dismissed flags by Tim Post), you won't see repeated flags, but rather many different flags about different issues. Many of those were weeks old but not handled until today. Why is that? – Sonic the Introverted Hedgehog Sep 13 '18 at 6:10
  • Finally, how often does a staff member check the flag queue? – Sonic the Introverted Hedgehog Sep 13 '18 at 6:25
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    I would assume whenever they found the free time. Which is incidentally the same frequency community mods do. And we often decide we don't want to handle a specific flag right now - so it may not necessarily reflect how long a flag takes to be handled – Journeyman Geek Sep 13 '18 at 6:49
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This answer is mainly focused on an older revision of the question. It quotes from and attempts to answer that.

I understand that this site has no community moderators

On the other hand, this is probably where the most engaged, smart, SE-savvy users hang out. We can meta-moderate pretty well. There's not that much difference between a 10k-er and a mod in terms of a lot of the powers we have, and a 10k-er actually has the advantage of not actually having to use a closehammer to close things or a one-shot delete.

If we did, I'm not entirely sure the actual problem you're facing might change, depending on their schedules.

Also, I ran into a situation where enough of my past flags, which were cast many weeks apart, were eventually handled and declined, and since the algorithm considers the handling time instead of the flagging time, I got banned from flagging because enough of my recently handled flags were declined. There was no advance warning of a ban because the flags were cast a long time ago and were handled at once.

It's worth remembering that a good way to deal with flags is, well, fire and forget. If a flag's not been handled yet, it's clearly not a priority. In addition, I do believe words were had before about flagging the same thing more than once. This might magnify the effects of your declined flags. Considering a past username of yours, this is kind of an antipattern that might have persisted over time, so... it might be worth reconsidering your flagging patterns.

If getting flag-banned is an issue, rather than blaming the time to handle, it might be worth relooking what you're flagging and why.

Or better yet, see if you can get sufficient reputation (cause I swear a lot of annoyances people have are with "shortcuts") and see if you can downvote and vote to delete instead.

I've thus resorted to pinging staff members in chat to get these time-sensitive issues handled quicker, but this has caused a lot of consternation among the community.

Few of these issues were truly time sensitive, IMO, and others and I attempted to feed this back many times. Folks were upset because the Tavern was one of the few places where we could hang out and talk with staff and your behaviour made that a lot more difficult. This was specifically pointed out, and ignored.

It's good to see you realise that folks were unhappy, and hope to see positive changes in your behaviour in the future.

There's other issues, but I feel that this isn't the place for them.

If something is truly time sensitive, and somehow there's no way to mitigate the issue with community meta-moderation, then pinging a CM might work. That said, even mods tend to ping specific users extremely rarely, preferring to find someone we know is on and free, or pretty much following the traditional flagging technique.

Pinging specific users makes demands of their time (which they may prefer to use in other ways) and makes chat a much less pleasant place.

requesting that a user who keeps reposting the same off-topic question be suspended

ehhh. Our current system, of requesting close votes and then delete votes on chat, is a suitable workaround. Almost tempted to see how much faster it is, but I personally feel Shog has many better things to do.

  • FYI, regarding the "request suspension" thing, the first time I cast such a flag here, it was quickly deemed helpful and the user was suspended. I guess that was the exception, not the rule? – Sonic the Introverted Hedgehog Sep 13 '18 at 7:16
  • Or the specific mod handling that felt it was needed or had a bad day, or Tim Post misplaced his Brolly.... – Journeyman Geek Sep 13 '18 at 7:18
  • Also note that in the most recent case of the user reposting the same off-topic question, not only did I cast a custom moderator flag, but I also took things into my own hands by reporting the post to SmokeDetector for abuse flagging. – Sonic the Introverted Hedgehog Sep 13 '18 at 7:22
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    We're back to 'but I did this' over 'these specific issues might need addressing'. You can throw those over in the tavern and people happily handle it. I'd rather smokey purely handles spam and that hardly counts as time sensitive – Journeyman Geek Sep 13 '18 at 7:25
  • Sorry about the localized spelling change, again. I use an automated spell checker when editing posts, and it flags British-spelled words as "incorrectly spelled", and so when I correct all spelling errors, those get "corrected" too. Also, it's worth mentioning that unlike others' reading patterns (their brain just sees words as a whole), I tend to get tripped up by such spellings quite a bit (e.g. "realisssse? oh, he means realize"). Anyway, thanks for considering my edits as a whole, and not simply rolling back the entire edit just because you didn't like a couple small aspects of it. – Sonic the Introverted Hedgehog Sep 13 '18 at 21:20

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