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Recently one of my flags was rejected, but the rejection message didn't match the flag intention. I was expecting that the moderators reviewed if the post had issues, but the rejection message was about informing downvotes.


Recently, given the existing flag reasons didn't seem appropriate to me, I flagged this answer for moderator intervention, hoping it would be sent for review, since I am not knowledgeable enough to know if the downvote indicated an issue with the answer (therefore needing a fix) or if it was OK and I just happened to encounter a pass-by downvote.

The flag was declined with the reason:

Please don't inform us about downvotes. People are free to vote however they want and we don't need to be informed of each vote.

Which indicated to me there was likely a miscommunication and that I probably should be handling this case differently. My intention was not to inform or dispute the downvote, but to see if there was an issue that needed fixing.

What should I do in cases like this? What would you do?

To be clear, this situation doesn't apply only to Stack Overflow. In the event that I encounter this situation on any Stack Exchange site, what should I do?

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    You should not flag answers just because they have downvotes. This is a terrible waste of the mods time. Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 12:11
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    "the existing flag reasons didn't seem appropriate to me" - because there is no need to flag a downvoted answer. A downvote means somebody didn't find it useful or clear.
    – Adinia
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 12:11
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    @ShadowWizardChasingStars it wasn't for the downvote but the downvote informed me it could be an issue with the answer and that's where I wanted to put the focus. I thought having possibly problematic answers reported to be reviewed was welcomed. I thought I was doing something useful giving a part of my time for the community. You could have some empathy towards other users.
    – user324738
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 12:36
  • @Adinia If somebody didn't find it useful or clear doesn't that mean it has issues and could be improved? That's what I'm trying to convey to all of you. I don't know why the focus is on the downvote itself.
    – user324738
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 12:36
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    @gw0 people who want empathy have other places to go, hopefully. Stack Exchange is place for professional questions and answers, and that is it. Harsh, perhaps, but that's how it works. Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 12:39
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    We (here) don't need to know about this, you can use the comments on your question or answer to ask for suggestions for improvement. --- You can read the FAQs and Help files along with their meta (which is not here) to find out how things work.
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 12:44
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    @ShadowWizardChasingStars You can be professional without being rude/mean/unpleasant. Doing so creates resentment among many things and a tense environment. But I guess this isn't the place for me to contribute as you say.
    – user324738
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 12:46
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    Well, you make a very common and a very sad mistake that great many people make, with low rep and with high rep. You think that downvotes are toxic, rude, mean, and source of all evil. However, they are not. I won't go into what they are but I can assure you, nothing here, or with downvotes on SO, is personal. Nobody is against you or hate you, and I'm sorry you feel this way. Really. Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 12:52
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    A moderator isn't necessarily going to be able to understand why someone didn't find the answer useful, never mind do anything about it. A down-vote just means someone has an opinion about the answer. It doesn't mean their opinion is accurate (they could be down-voting the avatar or code formatting or could just be having a bad day), and it doesn't mean there is anything you have to do about it, either.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 14:04
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    No idea why people closed this as specific to one site. Voted to reopen. Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 14:59
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    @Rob no to all. Big no to leaving closed just because there is answer, and none of the links you gave is duplicate, or even close to it. Some got nothing to do with this question. Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 17:50
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    @ShadowWizardChasingStars No, I didn't miss it. That comment was in response to you saying, "...people who want empathy have other places to go...", which they understood as you telling them to leave. "But I guess this isn't the place for me to contribute as you say."
    – BSMP
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 18:32
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    As for "I thought having possibly problematic answers reported to be reviewed was welcomed", that's what the 'not an answer' and 'very low quality' flags are for: they put bad answers in a queue for review, autocomments, more appropriate votes and deletion if the answer isn't improved. It still does not require a moderator to do so.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 19:03
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    @philipxy, searching for the text you quoted turns up this staff post which opposes what you wrote in your comment. --- If you don't tell her, no need to tell me.
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 6:19

2 Answers 2

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If you want to know what's wrong with a question/answer/post, leave a comment on the post. Don't use a flag. Flags are not meant for that. That's what the moderator tells you in the reply.

The community can handle how to respond to your comment. It does not need a moderator's attention.

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    Thank you. This was the answer I was looking for. Even though I'm not sure I will keep contributing I hope it's useful for other people.
    – user324738
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 12:47
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    @gw0 do not let the discussion here put you off. My reading is that you were trying to be helpful but mis-understood.
    – mdewey
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 14:56
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    @Mast Do note that this goes contrary to old, established guidance on the subject of leaving comments asking for an explanation of downvotes. Many of them are still flagged and deleted as 'no longer needed'.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 14:58
  • @Tinkeringbell This advice, even older, but approved by Jeff himself, very established, referenced in a FAQ, no longer holds. Old meta posts can be confusing.
    – Mast
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 15:59
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    @Mast fair enough, if you don't have the reputation to comment you can flag. Then a mod can go and comment for you then delete their own comment because it is not what comments are for... Or just decline the flag and save everyone some time. I will also go and entertain the SO mods with some flags asking them to downvotes posts for me now, as I don't have that privilege there either... I doubt that particular answer is the soundest advice out there, and I heavily recommend against using flags just to circumvent system restrictions like lacking privileges.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 17:54
  • @Tinkeringbell I'd recommend against using that answer as advice too, but it isn't marked as obsolete.
    – Mast
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 19:10
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    Please don't suggest doing that or do that, it is not an appropriate comment reason, everybody wants feedback & everybody who can comment knows they can comment. Valid is commenting to ask for clarification of another comment.
    – philipxy
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 5:12
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Tl;Dr If you are not sure if a post has issues, don't flag it for moderator review.


If you need clarification about, including asking if there is something wrong with a third-party post, first try posting a comment directly under that post. You might also find helpful to follow that post as some authors edit theirs posts to make them clearer, improve / fix them, but don't leave a comment or don't mention the user who left the comment asking for clarification.

If the post is not clarified / fixed in a reasonable time, you might post a follow-up question after spending some time trying to figure it out by yourself if really there is something wrong with the post.

If you have enough reputation you might post a bounty to get attention to the question and perhaps asking for better answers. Unfortunately there isn’t any way to set a bounty to get attention to specific answers.

Please never ask for explanations about a single vote, no matter if it's upvote, downvote, a close vote, or a delete vote. This has already discussed in the past and mentioned in the question comments.

More specifically, never flag a post for asking moderators clarification on something done by a third party. You might flag your own posts that have being affected by a moderator action, like deletion or closing, asking why they took that action explaining why you require a specific explanation beyond what is already said in the linked help articles / FAQ in the notice.

Flagging a post for moderator review never should be done to ask moderators to review a post regarding its technical correctness, accuracy, language grammar, and spelling. While they are familiar with the site, please bear in mind that it's not required that they be top notch experts on everything that is on-topic on the site.

If you will regularly reviewing posts, please also check out the corresponding per-site Meta as there might be special requests and guidance about how to handle emerging situations.

Note: While it's possible to make questions about specific posts in Meta, please bear in mind that doing this might trigger the meta effect

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