On the heels of a recent post regarding a user spamming "Thanks in advance is considered extremely rude" and starting arguments on several posts, I ended up sending in 3 detailed flags on posts where this occurred in the comments.

The first two were a couple days ago, both validated and all comments deleted, and the third, and worst one, was last night. The comments escalated into name-calling and mudslinging on a new user's second post. So, I flagged the post and brought attention to the comments instead of flagging each comment individually.

The comments were all deleted, and the user was even suspended. I had suggested "some kind of intervention beyond just deleting all the comments again" and it looks like the suggestion was honored.

So, bearing this in mind, what possible reason could my flag have been marked invalid?

Note: I've read the 2 answers from these posts:

...but they deal with a user complaining about an invalid flag when a question has been closed later by the community. The difference here is that the action was definitely handled by a moderator (comments deleted, user suspended), and not by the community, later - after a mod deemed the flag invalid. I assure you that there was nothing questionable about whether or not the 6 comments should have been deleted.

Did I do something wrong? I'm not sure what the policy is on disclosing flags, but I'd be happy to share more information if it helps clear up what my mistake could have been.

Was it rude of me to include the extra request? Was it proper to let the mod know that this was an ongoing problem, or should I have just flagged with the "bare minimum" details and let the mods figure it out? Perhaps I got too involved the business of moderators, and therefore the flag was deemed invalid.

The invalidation may very well have been a misclick as Cody Gray suggested in the comments, but I'd be interested in hearing whether or not I possibly stepped over the line.

marked as duplicate by Sonic the Anonymous WizHog, Robert Longson, Pierre.Vriens, Jenayah, Ward Jun 8 at 17:37

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • @CodyGray: The difference here is that the action taken was most certainly by a moderator, and not by the community. The first link is very helpful, thanks. – user159834 Jul 15 '11 at 12:11
  • Is it possible that the situation was already dealt with when you flagged the last answer? I didn't process the flag in question, but I often dismiss flags as invalid when they come way late. Barring that, it's possible that one moderator cleaned up the comments without dismissing the flag on the post itself, then another moderator came in later and dismissed the flag when there was nothing apparently wrong in the post. – Bill the Lizard Jul 15 '11 at 12:36
  • @BilltheLizard: It took 2 hours to process the flag. I flagged an hour after the question was posted (not sure when the comments were posted) because one of the offenders brought my attention to it in the comments of the other meta post. Maybe my flag fell behind someone else's in queue you're suggesting? Should I post the content of my flag note here? I'm mostly concerned that I was out of line, but still interested in hearing if there was a more mundane explanation. – user159834 Jul 15 '11 at 12:45
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    @Wesley: Yes, it seems likely that the post just got cleaned up before your flag was processed, leaving nothing to see. Moderators can see your old flags, so there's no reason to repost it here. I looked at it and I don't see anything out of line. You definitely left enough information to let us know that this was a pattern of behavior and not just one incident. I think the flag was probably dismissed as invalid due to a misunderstanding. – Bill the Lizard Jul 15 '11 at 12:48
  • @BilltheLizard: Happy to accept that as an answer if you care to post it. I think it would shed some light on how the system works and pacify other users who feel confused about an invalid flag. – user159834 Jul 15 '11 at 12:48
  • I'll wait and see if anyone else has anything else to add. I didn't process that flag, so I'm only speculating. – Bill the Lizard Jul 15 '11 at 12:50
  • Funny you consider it "spamming" when it is only in response to 1 specific comment people write at the end of their posts. If no one wrote it, there would be no comment because no one would be offended! Responding to a specific instance is not spamming. – GBa Jul 15 '11 at 13:23
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    @Greg: I have seen your profile before the original meta post regarding your accusations, and that comment was most definitely close to a third of your total comments. "Spamming" here meaning "doing something over and over without regards to the effect it has". You still have not seemed to take the hint that it's getting old, and people are getting upset with you. I advised you to suggest an edit instead, you did (which is good, those comments are pointless), but you continue to leave those comments calling people out for "extreme rudeness", and they continue to cause arguments and get deleted – user159834 Jul 15 '11 at 13:27
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    @Greg: I can't actually see what happened, but it looks like to me when I try to piece it together after the fact that you removed "thanks in advance" from the bottom of a question and left a comment asking him not to include that in the future. While noble, I'd say the comment is unnecessary. It's too likely to incite argument and conflict. Just make (or suggest) the edit, and go on with your life. You're doing the right thing by cleaning up posts, but not by starting unnecessary conflicts. – Cody Gray Jul 15 '11 at 13:30
  • @CodyGray: There's not much to see because the comments are always deleted of course, but it almost always ends up entangling 3 or more users in a childish argument, with other users in complete disbelief of the "extreme rudeness" accusation, spanning several comments, with plenty of +1s on Greg's "opponents". I've definitely seen it myself on at least 7 recent posts. As mentioned, it's good that he's decided to try to clean up the posts now instead of only causing disruption. I just think enough is enough, people are getting pissed off and this is a waste of our time. – user159834 Jul 15 '11 at 13:35
  • I don't mind just editing the posts but if users don't pay any attention to the edits they will keep doing the same thing over and over- that's my only point. I guess clearly no one agrees with me, which baffles me because asking other people I know, they certainly frown upon people using that phrase (commanding someone to help them). – GBa Jul 15 '11 at 13:38
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    @Greg: I don't mind just flagging your argumentative comments but if you don't pay any attention, you will keep doing the same thing over and over - that's my only point. BTW: Those comments that say "Thanks in advanced" are not directed at you, but are a mild attempt at politeness to people who may put effort into helping them. You were well aware that people were getting upset/don't agree, so please don't be coy about it. – user159834 Jul 15 '11 at 13:44
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    @Greg: Just so you know, I don't have a vendetta against you, but your behavior has been wasting my time this week (as well as many other users). I would have been happy if the mods simply emailed you, but I think they realized you weren't taking the hint. The suspension is only for a couple weeks. I sincerely hope we don't need to bring this up again. (btw I did witness one user trolling you for it, and I don't condone that either) – user159834 Jul 15 '11 at 13:53
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    @Greg - You are the only one who thinks that "Thanks in advance" is rude (noise, yes; rude, no). You've been told this multiple times. Continuing your behavior is abusive, and I have no problems with continuing to suspend you (for an ever increasing length of time) if you again show abusive behavior when your suspension ends. – Dori Jul 16 '11 at 6:57

As the mod who marked your flag invalid (and suspended the troublemaker), here's my take:

The problem I had with the flag was that it was on this question by TheOnoy123.

I had no problems with flags on Greg—in my opinion, he deserved at least as many he received.

TheOnoy123, otoh, was just a user asking his second-ever question—and the next thing he knew, he was in the middle of a fistfight. I saw no reason to validate the flag against him when he was already getting the impression that SO was an unfriendly and unpleasant place to be.

One of my main problems with Greg's behavior is that it chases away new users, and in particular, new users whose first language is not English. When someone gets that kind of hazing, then whatever can be done to make their entry here even the tiniest bit less frustrating is, imo, worth doing.

There was nothing personal about the rejection of the flag on my end, and I certainly hope that you don't take it personally, either. If you have any more questions about this, please ask!

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    'other' flags if validated count against the user who owns the post that was flagged in a negative way? – Tim Post Jul 16 '11 at 7:16
  • Amazing that you actually saw this post, and more so that you took the time to address it - I really appreciate it! ~ No - I don't take anything personally unless it's clearly meant to be personal. The 'invalid' flag just gave the signal that I did something out of protocol. As I understand, the issue was that I flagged the post itself where the abuse occurred instead of...? I can't find the link currently, but there was a meta post, answered by I believe Robert Harvey that advised to flag the post and leave a note if there are several abusive comments that need addressing. – user159834 Jul 16 '11 at 15:00
  • I assume that invalidating the flag was to avoid "negative" flags against the undeserving OP? This was my fourth detailed flag on the user (using "Other"), and he doesn't post very often so it was always a flag on other user's posts. All were validated until this point. I would have liked to make it more clear in the flag note that I wasn't flagging the OP, but I ran out of room quickly and was already shaving characters, and besides I thought it was obvious from the childish comments. What would have been the proper way to do it? Flag a random post by Greg and link the other one? – user159834 Jul 16 '11 at 15:04
  • Aside, I did try to educate Greg first that editing the post instead of making accusations and starting arguments was win-win. He edited a few posts but was back to the old habits quickly. Almost always on new users' posts. I can't stand seeing arguments, name calling, etc. on new users posts. Not only does it make the community look bad - but it gives the user the impression that this is just like every other crappy place on the internet, and it's OK to be a total jerk. Thanks for handling it. – user159834 Jul 16 '11 at 15:15
  • I'm looking at comment flags, there is an "other" flag with a text input for details which seems more appropriate(?), I could have just flagged one comment and addressed the others in the note. But - what happens if the flagged comment is deleted before the flag is processed? Does the flag disappear too? In this case, I wanted to ensure that my message was read regardless of if the comments were cleaned up before mod intervention. – user159834 Jul 16 '11 at 16:23

This was somewhat addressed in the question: Flag marked invalid even though question was closed for same reason: can I challenge? by a comment to Won't's response.

The only problem is the fact that flagging and the response to flagging is subjective in its nature, and therefore imperfect.

Essentially, it is entirely possible (although I'm not saying this is the case here) that moderator one dismissed your flag as invalid and moderator 2 cleaned it up as a result of a different flag.

Decisions are down to the moderator that responds to your flag and their view of the situation as it appears.

Personally, from what you have stated, I believe you made the right call in flagging, although I would have probably simply stated that this had happened before, rather than asking the moderator to do something more than deleting. It is, however, difficult to judge now that the comments are gone.

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    Flag weight === who cares, but I'm wondering what I did wrong, if anything. Could it have been that the mod was offended by my extra request? The comments were definitely bad enough that any sober person would have deleted them. It also took several hours to process, so I don't think many mods saw it, but of course I have no idea how the flag system works behind the curtain. – user159834 Jul 15 '11 at 12:07
  • @WesleyMurch: It could be as simple as the mod slipped up and hit the wrong button... You're agreed that the appropriate action was taken, so I'm not really sure where the question lies. – Cody Gray Jul 15 '11 at 12:08
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    @CodyGray: The question I have is why the flag was marked invalid, specifically if it was due to some misunderstanding I have about how/when to flag. Hopefully it helps someone besides me learn something about the flagging system. If we are to just flag without regards to the guidelines/etiquette/consequences, because it's only the mods concern, then so be it. – user159834 Jul 15 '11 at 12:14
  • Accepting this answer to effectively close the question. I have learned that the suspension was supposedly unrelated. I suppose there's no gain for anyone in inquiring about a flag, as the reasons for invalidation are never disclosed, and are the will of the moderator that handles it. The important thing is that the situation (flag in question) is resolved. I will admit that it still isn't very clear to me, but there's bigger fish to fry and it's the weekend. If anyone else wants to drop their 2 cents in, that's great - but I can't see this going anywhere constructive. – user159834 Jul 15 '11 at 20:58
  • In addition, I flagged an important FAQ post this morning on meta for obsolete comment cleanup which was marked invalid, however half the comments were removed, as requested. Either it's a mod being moody/ironic or I should have let the comments gather flags instead of flagging the post. Still, I'm really not sure why it was invalid, but it seems the whole issue of inquiring about specific flags for education on future flagging is not very useful or welcome. Understandable, as I can see the problems with it if that door is opened. – user159834 Jul 15 '11 at 21:15