This describes flag weight
https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/80170/what-is-flag-weight (10k+ link)

There is a link to an answer (from Marc Gravell) from another question
Are the new moderator flag limits sufficiently high?

My question (or request):

We have a reputation audit now, /reputation
Can we have a flag audit, /flag or some such?

  • "If your flag weight is low you can quickly recover it simply by flagging sensibly" (link2)
  • "you should pay close attention to whether or not you are using flags correctly" (link1)

Sure, sure - but can you tell me where I went wrong?

I don't believe I flag all that often (subjective), but I'm sitting on 25 and can't figure out why.

Where are the rules or guidelines for "good flagging"? Somewhere in the FAQ it says (paraphrasing*), "if you think a moderator should look at it, flag it". Okay sure, let's to that if it may be offensive (e.g. politically incorrect word used), tangential to question (private off-topic or off-color debate) etc.

Are flag weights decreased just because ♦'s have looked at it and click on some button/link to say - ignore/delete? Wouldn't most things simply get ignored?

Okay I checked the FAQ

What if I see bad things happening?

Please use our flagging system to let us know about it. Each comment has a small flag icon, and every post has a flag menu at the bottom. Take advantage of it! We actively moderate our community, but we need your help to do so. Anything that is getting consistently flagged by our community members will be investigated and followed up on. And of course you can always email us directly if you feel the matter is urgent.


Well recently I came across someone who seemed to be asking questions for the sake of asking only; that, or the questions would be as a series, low quality. Is it clear cut? No. Do I suspect it - yes. So I flagged 2 very close variations of the same question among at least 4. So my interpretation of what jinguy is saying below is - don't flag it, which reduces flags from everyone, which... wait. Why are we flagging again? I thought that was the reason for this clause in the FAQ "getting consistently flagged by our community members" - let the count(flag) against a post indicate the validity.

I understand the positive reinforcement of astute flaggers, but negative weights? Not all people are created equally, not all moderators are created equally. To reach 25 from default 100 within a couple of days of introduction (or is this retrospective?) would require

  • 5 post flags marked as "invalid"
  • + 5 comment flags marked as "invalid"

Or some such combination leading up to -75. I cannot remember flagging at least 8 post/comments. From this comment
Moderators may mark a flag as "valid" without taking any action on it. – mmyers
, all my flags would have to have been "invalid" , not just "valid" but no action.

  • Moderators may mark a flag as "valid" without taking any action on it.
    – mmyers
    Commented Feb 22, 2011 at 21:13
  • 1
    It's retroactive, the flagger rating has been in place for around a month or two. I haven't even flagged since the rating was made public, and I've got a visible score.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Feb 22, 2011 at 21:46
  • @Grace it's not visible to me, so it is private or did you just break even? Commented Feb 22, 2011 at 21:50
  • 1
    It's private, and only visible if you're not in the average range. Diamonds can also see any user's flag rating if it's not in the average range. So, if it's visible, that means I have a high or low rating, and since I haven't cast flags since the publicizing of the rating, that means that it is retroactive.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Feb 22, 2011 at 21:53
  • I'm declining the feature request part of this now since flag weight doesn't exist anymore in the same form as described here.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Dec 27, 2012 at 17:52

3 Answers 3


It sounds like you may be flagging things that are questionable:

Okay sure, let's [d]o that if it may be offensive (e.g. politically incorrect word used), tangential to question (private off-topic or off-color debate) etc.

Whether or not that sort of thing gets cleared as valid or invalid may depend on which moderator processes your flag. I see that you're from New Zealand, so what's politically incorrect, offensive, or off-color to you might seem completely reasonable to me. (I know that's unfortunate, but it's a result of trying to moderate a global community.) If something is really offensive to you, but it might not be offensive to English speakers in other countries, you might have to explain to us why it's offensive.

Here are a few types of posts that you can flag to increase your "helpful" flags:

  • Answers that are nothing more than "Thanks" or "I have the same problem." If they don't offer any new information whatsoever, I'll delete them and dismiss the flag as valid every time. (Also, the older the better. If it's a brand new user and the "answer" is only an hour old I'll usually leave them a comment. If it's a month old I just delete it.)
  • Questions that are an exact duplicate. Include a link to the original. I'm even more likely to dismiss the flag as valid if the question was a duplicate by the same user.
  • Questions posted as answers.
  • Comments posted as answers.
  • Posts by users who do nothing but spam.

Since we're getting a lot of flags that are invalid lately, here are a few ways people are flagging incorrectly:

  • not an answer should be used for "thanks" and "I have the same problem" answers. If an answer is simply low quality, please just downvote it instead of flagging.
  • low quality is more appropriate for questions than for answers, from what I've been seeing. See the discussion on Can we prevent some of the low-quality questions from entering our system? for guidelines on what types of questions to flag as low quality. Again, answers that are of low quality (but are still actual answers) should just be downvoted.
  • If you flag something as spam or offensive that is not actually spam or offensive, your flag will be dismissed as invalid.
  • Thanks Bill. I got the hang of it now. Just one question on point 4 - new users cannot comment, so the only way to enter a question is via answers, even just to clarify - are these valid as flag [not-an-answer] targets? Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 11:52
  • @Richard: Yes, if you can tell which post they were trying to comment on, go ahead and let us know. Moderators can turn an answer into a comment if we know where to move it to. Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 12:04
  • 3
    I think this whole issue is somewhat contradictory with the "essence" of this post: blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/01/improved-flagging where the team ask for more active participation (though of course you should only flag when appropriate) but all this might make users "scared" or too conscious while considering flagging.
    – Trufa
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 23:40
  • @Bill: bill is there a way to know if someone flagged your post/comments? Maybe you can learn something if you can read you flagged errors
    – dynamic
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 22:24
  • @yes123: I don't think so, but you should ask that as a new question just to be sure. Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 22:37
  • @Bill: can't I am permantly banned here XD. Thanks for the reply anyway
    – dynamic
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 22:38

Here's how I dismiss flags:

  1. If I take the requested action on a flag, I always dismiss it as valid.
  2. If I don't take the requested action, but the flag was used properly, I still dismiss it as valid.
  3. If it's a judgment call or an edge case, I generally dismiss it as valid.
  4. If the flag was clearly used improperly, I dismiss it as invalid.

Some of the things I consider improper use of flags:

  1. Flagging as Low Quality because you didn't like the question. Use "Not a Real Question" if you believe the question is too simple or too broad. Use your downvotes if you don't like the question. "Low Quality" is for things like serious formatting problems.

  2. Flagging as Not an Answer because you didn't like the answer, or disagree with the answer, or think the answer is wrong. The "Not an Answer" flag is for comments or questions that are improperly posted as answers. No matter how bad a real answer is, it's still an answer; use your downvotes.

  3. Flagging a post as spam, when it doesn't meet this definition of spam.

  4. Flagging because you want your question deleted, without providing an actionable reason.

If you see something wrong, flag it. Chances are good that your flag is valid, unless you're deliberately abusing the system.

Use the descriptions provided in the flagging dialog for guidance. For example, the "Low Quality" flag reason displays the caption "This question has serious formatting or content issues and might not be salvageable."

  • Is this documented somewhere in the super secret moderator training manual? Or is this just your approach? Is there a set of "best practices for dismissing flags"? Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 21:46
  • @Daniel: It is informal guidance, based on a number of conversations I had with other moderators in the super secret moderator chat room. :)
    – user102937
    Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 21:48
  • 2
    The super secret moderator training manual was written before flag weight existed, so it would be no help here. If it actually exists, which I can neither confirm nor deny.
    – mmyers
    Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 22:13

My rule of thumb. Only flag if you are sure.

"Oh! That's so simple!!!" - NOT. How can you be sure?

Just look at all of the flag reasons that appear when you choose to flag a post. If you feel that the post fits perfectly into one of the buckets you are presented with, then flag. Otherwise, don't.

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