I recently got automatically flag-banned on my Worldbuilding account. When I regained the ability to flag, I flagged another post that I had intended to flag but been unable to because of the ban. That flag was within 24 hours of the ban being lifted, probably within the hour because I was on the site at the time and happened to notice. The flag was accepted as helpful, but the system promptly banned me once again. Now that the ban has once again ended, I am hesitant to flag anything. Will I get banned once again? If so, how long do I have to wait?

I don't have anything specific in mind to flag, but it would help to know whether to leave anything I see as needing flagging to someone else so that I don't get banned again. Getting banned would be a lot less helpful than skipping one post and being able to flag more than one post later on.

The majority of my flags have been helpful, with almost all of the declined ones for off-topic or moderator attention. I do not try to spam the review queues and my flags are well intentioned and usually helpful. I am fairly sure that both bans were because of the system because I flagged more posts than normal in a short amount of time.

Here is a screenshot of my recent flag history. This is not a complete list. To the right, you will see my flag count: 13 post flags, 8 helpful, 5 declined; 3 comment flags, all 3 helpful.


Recently declined flags:

recently declined

  • The exact algorithm is here and it is possible that if you are on the edge that you flip a few times between banned/not banned. Waiting does help but more importantly is that you learn from the declined flags so you won't make that same mistake again.
    – rene
    Sep 15, 2018 at 22:14
  • 1
    1. Don't worry even on a flag ban! Except the rare case that someone intentionally mis-uses it, no one will see it and no mod will intervene because them against you. 2. Don't stop flagging, the system needs flags, the mods need flags to understand what is going on and what is the public opinion. 3. The system counts the ratio of the declined flags in the last X months (maybe 3 months or so). | But this ratio can change in any direction without your any action: flags can be old to leave this window, new flags can get a positive or negative setting and so on. The result is that sometimes
    – peterh
    Sep 15, 2018 at 22:19
  • you get a flag ban (or, at least a warning message), which becomes released, then acting again, maybe even multiple times, without you had released even a single flag. Don't worry on it, typically they don't last long, and continue your flagging activities from the spot from that you can. (This comment assumes you acted in good beliefs.)
    – peterh
    Sep 15, 2018 at 22:20
  • Well, and you can get a quick raise in the positively judged flags if you make reviews. And please, think a little bit, what oculd have caused that so many of your flags were declined, I am typically a lesser system-conform user here, but I can't remember when I've got my last flag ban.
    – peterh
    Sep 15, 2018 at 22:21
  • @peterh Not many of them were declined, I think it had to do with how often I flagged, which was a major uptick from the few I had done before.
    – John Locke
    Sep 15, 2018 at 22:53
  • @JohnLocke Give specific mod-intervention flags only if it requires a mod (or you want to say/suggest something to a mod). "Question should be asked on the Biology SE" doesn't require it, you should flag it with suggestion for closure (if it is offtopic on the WB. If it is ontopic on both sites, then the rules of the Biology SE are irrelevant and the question remains opened on the WB). If it is offtopic on the WB, but ontopic on the Biology SE, and has enough good quality, then suggest to the mod a migration, which preserves the content.
    – peterh
    Sep 15, 2018 at 23:10
  • @JohnLocke I can't understand your flag message, if it was an answer which replaced the content of a comment, then the comment may be deleted and not the answer! I also can't understand the mod, I hope he didn't killed an answer...
    – peterh
    Sep 15, 2018 at 23:12
  • @peterh it was off topic and had been closed on WB. When I pressed flag and went to the migration page, the only other site that appeared was WB meta, so I used the mod intervention flag.
    – John Locke
    Sep 15, 2018 at 23:15
  • @peterh An answer was posted as a comment, which is not allowed because comments are harder to regulate (no downvotes, can't be searched for, etc.)
    – John Locke
    Sep 15, 2018 at 23:17
  • @JohnLocke Yes but it is not a reason to delete the comment.
    – peterh
    Sep 15, 2018 at 23:21
  • I know that @kingdelion had a link to a post about why answers in comments should be deleted but, I couldn't find it in search or in my inbox.
    – John Locke
    Sep 16, 2018 at 1:56

1 Answer 1


Ah, yes, the flag ban formula is subject to a lot of unfortunate edge cases.

Basically, it considers the handling time of your flags, rather than the time you flagged. All post flags that were handled within the last seven days are considered for a potential ban.

That's not ideal to a user who wants to know about their progress towards a flag ban, as one's own flag history is sorted in order of flagging time, and there's no way to sort it in order of handling time. (If you're already banned from flagging, you can view flags that were declined in the last seven days, but that doesn't give you any information about those flags in proportion to your overall flags handled within the last 7 days.)

The flag ban algorithm works like this, and it's calculated instantly at any moment using your flags handled in the past seven days: if you have at least 10 post flags that were handled within that time, and 25% or more of those handled flags were dismissed as declined, you're banned. If fewer than 10 flags of yours were handled in the last seven days, you're not banned, regardless of the proportion of those which were declined.

What happened here is that you were banned because a large number of your past flags were marked declined, causing you to be banned. Then, you noticed that your ban was lifted because the handling time of one of your past flags became more than seven days ago, causing the number of your flags handled within the past seven days to drop to 9, lifting the ban. Then, you cast another flag, then as soon as that one was dismissed as helpful, it became 10 again, and since (your post flags declined in last 7 days) / (your post flags handled within the last 7 days) was still more than 25%, you were banned again.

To answer your question, if you want to prevent an immediate re-ban after being banned, caused by a helpful flag, I'd suggest waiting a couple more days for some of your past flags' handling time to become more than seven days ago. But if the proportion of your declined flags is so high, such that you risk getting re-banned for a helpful flag, I'd look into your flag history and make changes to your flagging patterns, because apparently you need to improve them.

  • 1
    I have included a screenshot of my recent flag history, is this an unreasonable amount of declined flags?
    – John Locke
    Sep 15, 2018 at 23:06
  • @JohnLocke You're banned, right? Isn't there a link to the list of flags declined in the last 7 days? Sep 15, 2018 at 23:07
  • No, the ban just lifted today.
    – John Locke
    Sep 15, 2018 at 23:07
  • @JohnLocke Can you please append ?showDeclined=true to the URL to your flag history, and post a screenshot of that? The link to that view isn't shown if you're not banned, but you can still see it by manually navigating to it. Sep 15, 2018 at 23:09
  • Done, but I don't know how that will help, the ban wouldn't have gone away if nothing had left the recently declined list.
    – John Locke
    Sep 15, 2018 at 23:22
  • @JohnLocke No, it may not have. In your case, the total number of handled flags in the last seven days was less than 10; the one that became old may have been a helpful one. Sep 15, 2018 at 23:24
  • Ok, thank you for the help. I wish the ban didn't apply to helpful flags.
    – John Locke
    Sep 15, 2018 at 23:27
  • 1
    If anyone wants to see all their decline posts in one view the append suggested by @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog no longer functions. You should now append: ?status=3
    – Luuklag
    Sep 13, 2019 at 10:24

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