6

I found a related question What is the guidance for using "Standard Flags?" about using standard flags and custom moderator intervention flag. Using custom flag directly takes them to moderators instead of the review queue.

I have faced this situation recently on a site where I have a privilege of close voting. There was a question which was worth closing and I voted to close it. But it failed to receive one last vote for putting on hold. After a few days, close votes expired. Now, the only way is getting a mod to look at the question is flagging. So, I used custom flag and asked moderators to close the question. I can't use my close vote again because it is already used up a week ago. As usual, the flag got declined with the following reason:

Using standard flags helps us prioritize problems and resolve them faster. Please familiarize yourself with the list of standard flags: see What is Flagging?"

Now, if we think about it, what ways were left for me to make sure moderator looks at it and closes the question without using custom flag? (I have tried pinging other users in chat. Only one vote was needed).

The general procedure I heard if a question needs reopening is waiting for users to review it and if that is not successful, flag for moderators. Can this procedure be followed for closing also? If yes, wouldn't the moderator still decline the flag with above canned reason? (let's talk about performing asked action in flags later).

Also related : What do I do when I run out of flags? We can flag a question the next day when quota of flags are added the next day but this doesn't happen with the close vote. We can't use "Flagging" option because it only shows three options 1. Spam 2. Rude or Abusive 3. In the need of moderator intervention. which takes the problem again to the beginning of not using standard flags and declined with above response.

  • Do you know what you did put in the custom flag? Did the question go through the close-vote queue? What was the verdict of the reviewers in that queue? – Tinkeringbell Mar 25 at 9:46
  • @Tinkeringbell Yes, I asked the moderator to close the question based on site's policies and previous meta discussions. The review verdict was a mixed one. Two closes and two leave opens (this is second time). First time, it missed by one vote and there was same type of verdict. – Nog Shine Mar 25 at 9:50
  • In low traffic site I often see meta post or the chat to bring attention to bad content. I seen similar case for delete vote too, as often the voting take too long. – yagmoth555 Mar 25 at 14:15
  • What do you mean by "As usual, the flag got declined...." ? – Pandya Mar 30 at 11:14
  • @Pandya Custom flags raised to close questions get declined with above reason. I had a small suspicion in my mind that it may get declined. The moderators following the general process, they declined with above reason. – Nog Shine Mar 31 at 1:46
4

As usual, the flag got declined with the following reason:

Using standard flags helps us prioritize problems and resolve them faster. Please familiarize yourself with the list of standard flags: see What is Flagging?"

This is a sure sign that your flag message was not descriptive enough. In particular, it failed to explain to the moderator who processed it why you were using a custom flag in this instance, rather than simply using a standard flag.

As the decline reason says, standard flags are easier to process and prioritize for moderators. We use decline reasons like that one to educate users on the best way to flag, to make the site better for everyone.

However, you had a very good reason for raising a custom flag: you had previously raised a standard flag ("recommend closure"), but that flag had aged away just before reaching the threshold. You are still convinced that the question needs to be closed, and since this is an exceptional circumstance, you're asking a moderator to step in.

This is a perfectly valid reason to raise a moderator flag, and you should not be discouraged from doing so judiciously. (In other words, don't just raise moderator flags on every question you want to see closed. That would be an abuse of the facility, and a moderator would probably have a talk with you about it. Also, please don't do this because you've run out of close votes. In that case, just wait until tomorrow to flag.)

You just need to explain your reasons for flagging very clearly to the moderators. Although we can see the question's history, and it is possible for us to verify that you have, in fact, already cast a close vote, and that that close vote aged away, we honestly are not going to take the time to do that. It requires too many clicks, there are plenty of other flags, and most of the time we get flags like this, they should be declined. Treat moderators like very busy janitors: make your request clear, to the point, and give us all of the facts we need without assuming context.

Now, of course, it's also perfectly valid for a moderator to decline your flag because they disagree that the question should be closed. But that would be an altogether different decline reason than the one you got.

3

Now, the only way is getting a mod to look at the question is flagging. So, I used custom flag and asked moderators to close the question. I can't use my close vote again because it is already used up a week ago.

This is not entirely correct. Your close vote is actually only temporarily used up. 14 days after it expires you will be able to cast it again. As per Shog9's post about these changes:

Allow re-casting votes that've aged away after 14 days. That is, 14 days (use the same site-configurable value used in #1 here) after your vote has aged away, you're free to cast the same vote again.

The problem you are facing in your particular situation is described in that post as well, and it is one of the reasons why the change was made to enable recasting votes:

Some folks raise a flag when this happens, but moderators are often reluctant to intervene on topics they aren't personally familiar with unless the problem is truly egregious - they signed up to be exception-handlers after all, and a question no one cares about isn't all that exceptional. Others lean on the Very Low Quality flag to give questions a second shot at review - but strictly-speaking, this is an abuse of VLQ and will probably get harder as we continue to develop review.

Essentially, you can recast your close vote infinitely until it is actually effective. If a question fails to get closed after you repeatedly send it to the Close Queue then one of two conclusions is likely:

  1. The question is not actually closeworthy.
  2. A small minority of users are hogging the queue and kicking out the question before anyone else can see it and vote to close.

In the first instance, asking moderators to close the question would probably not work. If the community doesn't want a question closed (as evidenced from the repeated failures in the queue) then it is not a moderator's job to override that (unless there is a specific policy being explicitly violated).

In the second instance, the particular question is merely a symptom of a larger issue with the site not functioning properly. If you address that issue then the issue of particular questions not getting closed will end up resolving on its own.

So in sum, if your close vote fails you should keep trying. It may be frustrating to have to wait a few weeks between each recast, but on the bright site yo can keep track of the votes you need to recast in the Closure tab in the Votes section of your Activity page.

  • I don't think the 14 day time is correct. I have voted to close a question 18 days ago. I still can't see the option to vote to close. – Nog Shine Apr 1 at 20:36
  • @NogShine It's 14 days from when your original vote ages away. The time it takes for your vote to age away can vary (for most posts, votes age away at a rate of one per day beginning four days after the last vote is cast(see here). Thus, if there are three days between each vote and your's is the first of four votes, the 14 days won't start until 9 days after you originally voted. So the total time you have to wait before recasting can end up as significantly more than 14 days. – Alex Apr 1 at 20:43
1

I think a moderator did look at the question before declining the flag but didn't close it (like you wanted). Don't depend on moderators too much to close questions you personally feel should be closed. In general, if close-votes expire and this is not due to very low site traffic, I wouldn't recommend flagging for a moderator. As you said in your comment:

Yes, I asked the moderator to close the question based on site's policies and previous meta discussions. The review verdict was a mixed one. Two closes and two leave opens (this is second time). First time, it missed by one vote and there was same type of verdict

This means enough people saw the question to get it closed if it needed closing. It would be a different thing if there's your close-vote, and three from the queue, and then the votes expired because of low site traffic, but in this case, at least two people saw the question and didn't think it needed to be closed.

From your link:

Using a custom flag to close a question is bypassing the standard procedure that requires five users.

If a question gets 4 close-votes that expire, raising a flag is just as much bypassing this standard procedure as immediate flagging it for a moderator seconds after it was posted or you casted your own close-vote. Thus, it's likely that a moderator did look at the question, but didn't close it.

For a higher chance of closure, I would personally have taken this discussion to the site's meta instead of flagging for a moderator. There, you can set out the policies of the site, argument why you feel this question doesn't meet said policies and ask people for their opinions. Discussing specific questions is one of the reasons each site has a meta site. If the question should be closed, it would likely gain a few more close-votes, and if there seems to be a consensus on meta that this specific question does need closing, you can then use that in a moderator flag, pointing towards the expired 4 close-votes and the meta, and that makes it easier for a moderator to decide to close the question anyway.

Of course, you're free to ask a moderator to take a look right away, but as I said, I personally would only close a question if votes expired due to extremely low activity and the close-vote queue had voted unanimously on closing the question. For such a flag though, it helps to explain that you already voted to close but the votes expired and that the review queue so far was unanimous in their verdict to delete as well.

All of this is always going to be dependent on whatever site you're on though. Your best bet might just be to get a hold of a moderator in a site chatroom or ask on the site's meta what they prefer to see happen with such questions/cases. Do they want a meta discussion first? Would they accept custom moderator flags in case there are new close votes? Was there a reason they didn't intervene in this specific case? I can't look into their heads, so perhaps asking the site's team might help a lot there too.

  • I'm looking for a general answer which applies for all the SE sites rather than that specific question. Hendce, I chose to post it here. (I may post on site's meta latter) We can't flag for mod intervention for closing but there is only that flag available to make the mods look at it. So, taking to meta is the only way to notify the moderators and users? To speak of specific case, there are policies on the site already and not much is left to discuss. Yes, mods did look at my flag the same day before it was declined. – Nog Shine Mar 25 at 10:48
  • @NogShine I'm not going to dictate a policy for all SE sites here, I'm always hesitant to do so. Perhaps there will be a site where the right thing to do is to flag for a moderator, but in general, moderators will decline flags asking to close a question. I guess what I'm saying is that the second part of your wish, about having the moderator actually close the question once you brought it to their attention in any way, might be impossible to achieve if the question doesn't actually need closing. – Tinkeringbell Mar 25 at 10:55
  • So you could use a flag (and have it declined) or start a meta (which notifies moderators as well) before flagging again if that doesn't result in the desired amount of close votes. That's pretty general advice, that will go for most sites, most likely. You can flag for moderator attention as much as you like, but in the cases you described you probably won't have much luck unless there's a site-specific policy saying this is okay. – Tinkeringbell Mar 25 at 10:56
  • "I think a moderator did look at the question before declining the flag but didn't close it (like you wanted)." Then they should have given a different reason for declining. Something that indicates they actually considered the flag in the appropriate context, but disagreed with it, and were declining on that basis. Given the decline message quoted in the question, that does not appear to have been the case. Instead, it looks like the moderator failed to notice that the normal channels had already been exhausted. – Cody Gray Mar 25 at 22:38
  • @CodyGray so even if your verdict after looking at the question would be 'this can be handled by casting a close vote (again)' (which is like using a standard flag) you wouldn't decline the flag with that reason? Guess here's where personal preference comes in... – Tinkeringbell Mar 26 at 7:41

You must log in to answer this question.

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