28

By helping the site by flagging successfully (and therefore gaining higher flag weight), you typically inform that you are able to understand the system and be helpful.

Similarly, when you are helpful by editing posts (not necessarily even understanding anything, just making it better), you gain 2 points for each edit. Good flagging may require even more understanding; while editing just fixing spelling and/or formatting gives reputation points. You don't have to understand whether question (or answer) is on-topic, or even meaningful.

So, why there isn't for example 2 points for each flag that was acted on, in the same way flag weight increase is determined?

  • 4
    Flags can be dismissed valid and trigger an increase in flag weight without having to be acted on. – badp Feb 27 '11 at 11:34
  • 3
    Same way your edit can be accepted, and then overwritten by another edit almost immediately. I don't see the difference. Also, if your flag is dismissed as valid without being acted on, maybe you shouldn't get reputation at all? – Olli Feb 27 '11 at 12:29
38

As a side note, there are 2 different badges (one silver) for flagging.

I strongly suspect that if we has rep for flagging, we would immediately be drowning in flags, where previously a downvote may have been the most appropriate action. In many ways flagging is orthogonal to "normal" site activity; we fully encourage appropriate flagging, but we genuinely hope this isn't too high in scale.

Some users choose to be more active in their flagging, and (so long as the flags are valid) we support that - especially with the new silver.

For reputation, though - just keep providing great questions, answers and edits.

  • 2
    Good point, that in case of gaining reputation for flags, flagging is much tempting than downvote. – Olli Feb 27 '11 at 16:52
  • 1
    @Olli You could fix that by having flags cost 1 rep, but that'd discourage flagging. Big no no. – badp Feb 27 '11 at 17:39
  • @badp: obviously, that's why I didn't even suggest it. – Olli Feb 27 '11 at 17:49
10

I agree that flagging does help the site, but I'm not sure if it should be rewarded with reputation. The true meaning of reputation is already fairly confused with all the different ways you can get it. It is supposed to be a measure of your expertise and how much the community trusts you.

Awarding rep for things that help the community but don't actually require quality programming knowledge, like flagging, is controversial. Yes, you are helping the community, and you should be rewarded. But reputation is first and foremost what you know, and moving it away from that would hurt its significance for the careers site and dilute its purpose of measurement.

I believe the reasoning editing is being rewarded with rep is to encourage lower rep users to take new steps and become more active members in the community. Encouraging editing aspires them to gain greater privileges and continue to improve content. If a user submits an edit that is deemed unhelpful, it will not be approved, and no damage will be done. Unsuccessful flaggings are slightly more consequential as they will dilute the value of flags in general and just make it harder for the mods to find the posts that really need to be acted on. The only reason I could see for justifying flagging incentives is if low-quality posts weren't getting acted on, and to my knowledge there isn't any evidence to support this. A rush of flags for any post that might deserve it by users trying to gain reputation from it will not help anyone when the post already gets flagged by a few users as it is.

Extra edits on the other hand will not dilute the value of existing edits at all, and if anything will motivate more users to increase the quality of posts, resulting a win-win situation for everyone. I agree that edits often do not require any expertise to make, but adding incentives for edits will only increase quality, while adding incentives for flagging could potentially do more harm than good.


@Olli I do believe you have some good points and I agree with them; I'm just arguing the other side for the sake of understanding all the different sides of the issue. Feel more than free to attack or debate any arguments I've made. :D

  • 2
    You have good points, but with same argumentation it's bad to give out reputation for editing. – Olli Feb 27 '11 at 15:51
  • @Olli answer edited. :) – Gordon Gustafson Feb 27 '11 at 16:39
  • definitely good edit. However, I am not fully convinced with argument that more flagging is bad thing: flag weight is handling exactly that - if you flag badly multiple times, your flags lose value. I assume that if your flag weight drops enough, it's not handled anymore, but you can gain weight if others flag it too in the same way (or if that's not happening now, it can be changed). Also, if multiple users flag same post (before any actions against it), it's not worse than single flag, quite an oppose. I support debating over attacking; hopefully this is former. – Olli Feb 27 '11 at 16:51
  • 2
    remember that rep from suggested edits is capped at 1,000 and you can't suggest edits any more once you have 2k rep. – Jeff Atwood Feb 27 '11 at 22:07
4

Flagging is about informing moderators that there is a potential problem requiring immediate attention.

Editing questions and answers is designed to improve the question and answer. The edits generally require acceptance by the original poster, and should directly benefit the people who view those questions and answers.

Making a good edit requires much more thought and skill than simply clicking a flag button, and contributes more value to the site itself.

Even without you flagging, a moderator may eventually see a rogue post, but not everyone is capable of making the same edits.

  • 3
    In my opinion, many edits (including some of those done by me on other sites) do not require anything special. For example adding code block (four spaces) to code sample is perfectly valid edit, but do not require any knowledge on that specific post. Same goes for spelling fixes. On the other hand, when flagging something, you have to understand whether it's on-topic or off-topic, for example. – Olli Feb 27 '11 at 12:13
3
+50

For the most part, reputation comes from contributing content. Moderation tasks -- flagging, seeking clarification in comments, reviewing, closing, reopening, deleting -- make the site better but not by contributing content. If we were to award rep for flagging, we'd also see calls to award rep for all those other things -- so if you want to go down that path, we should have a conversation about rep for site curation, not just flagging.

As a moderator, I would object to rep for flags. If we award rep, people will go hunting for things to flag, much of which will be either borderline or spurious. This adds to the moderators' workload without helping the site. Further, when handling flags I already have to be mindful sometimes of flag badges, but they're just badges so I usually say "eh" and do the expedient thing rather than the strictly-correct thing when handling flags. This is especially significant with comment flags:

If a comment is flagged and a mod deletes the comment, the flag is automatically marked as helpful. Some people go through and flag bunches of individual comments instead of flagging the post (and we'll see more of this with rep on the line); if I move the comments to chat all those flags get validated unless I specifically decline them first. But if I chose to relocate it rather than nuke it, it was probably ok content. (Actual rude comments get deleted before I move the rest to chat; those flags would be valid.)

There are some cases where, if it's important, mods need to remember to decline a flag on a post before taking some other action (like closing a question or deleting an answer). But if we forget, the worst that happens is somebody gets an extra point toward Deputy or Marshal. With rep involved, though, you'll be asking us to expend the extra effort and attention while also getting more flags overall. And then we'll probably need to develop a "cancel flag rep" thing, like we have if the author of a post rolls back your suggested edit, which will require design and development...

Even if the change didn't hurt moderation, it still wouldn't be worth it because of the can of worms it opens. With the change adding to moderator workload without a clear benefit to the site, this sounds like a harmful change. The gold Marshal badge ought to be enough.

-2

This is a good idea, but 2 reputation per flag is a little high. As mentioned in other answers, flagging takes much less effort than editing does. I still do think flagging should be rewarded, though, because it's important to bring bad content to the attention of the moderators, and there isn't much incentive right now.

I think it would be best to reward 2 reputation per 10 helpful flags and deduct 2 reputation per 10 declined flags. Doing this would add another small incentive to flag helpfully while at the same time making sure they're thinking about what they're flagging first and preventing abuse.

  • 1
    You can deduct all the reputation you want but if the user does not have more then 1 reputation there isn’t anything that prevents bad flags. It takes no effort to flag something. – Ramhound Jan 2 at 9:23
  • You can't flag with just 1 reputation. – Pika the Wizard of the Whales Feb 4 at 23:02

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