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Can we get the moderators to agree on whether a flag should be declined or receive some follow-up?

My flag was declined, then a member vote and a mod vote put the question on hold for the flagged reason.

Question in question: https://money.stackexchange.com/questions/38767/real-time-quotation-on-android-smartphone

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  • Note: This isn't the first time it's happened, but the most recent – Noah Oct 15 '14 at 13:58
  • Congrats, you are over 3K rep. Please use your new powers for good, not evil. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 20 '14 at 3:23
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I cannot speak to any other mod, but I am guilty of clicking the wrong button in the SE user interface. (There aren't a lot of take backs. It is designed for speedily getting through the list I suppose.) I don't think there will be any meaningful harm to your rep or account. (But I understand the frustration you are expressing)

For the record; vote to close, don't flag unless the post is way off base. Just being wrong, or out of format isn't a good circumstance to flag.

The reasoning is that the community should more or less police itself, and closing and deleting are tasks the community is expected to achieve consensus on. By voting to close, that leaves the mods only to handle the truly bad or malicious stuff. The less the community relies on the mods to clean, the less the mods can run afoul of community opinion.

See here for more about when and what to flag

As with all of this stuff, it is pretty subjective. I don't want the OP to think I am defending the mods, we are fallible and have poor opinions too.

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  • Can't close vote until 3k – Noah Oct 14 '14 at 22:31
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    @noah - understood (I admit I forgot to check your rep) but the advice is the same. If you cant flag the right way, you can skip it. – MrChrister Oct 14 '14 at 22:38
  • Post was sub-par, off-topic, and not salvageable. Flagging is only available to those with non-voting privileges, so that's the only way to bring attention to it. Flag was rejected, then the question was put on hold nearly-unilaterally by another mod after 1 vote. The issue seems to be lack of consistency in reviewing posts. (We also have just 42 users with enough rep for close vote privileges, some of which are mods, so that throws a wrench in the "community will moderate itself" concept, here) (stats from A51) – Noah Oct 15 '14 at 0:01
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    @Noah Aside: The Area 51 stats are stale, i.e. a snapshot from when the site was launched. Notice the "At the end of beta, this site had..." text. We now have 50 users with 3000+ reputation (and 70 with 2000+). But, your point mostly stands -- those with the capability to vote-to-close should use it more often. – Chris W. Rea Oct 17 '14 at 23:18
  • @ChrisWRea Yeah, I saw that afterwards, and posted a comment on Joe's answer with links to data.se queries – Noah Oct 17 '14 at 23:49
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I suspect I was the guilty party.

I treat flags as having a sense of urgency. And toward that end, I welcome the flags for spam or for the rare cases of members starting verbal brawls. Bad questions should be handled via close votes (I know, the 3K issue) or Down Votes.

MrChrister's answer supports this view. Else, I'd invite him and John to discuss how to align our styles a bit better.

I'll share this - as a mod, I no longer have a "vote to close" option. My vote is a hard close. I tend to err on the side of caution, and would prefer not to be the first, and therefore only, vote closing. I also think the question you cited has a small window of time where a comment or answer might help the user before the question is closed.

In the end, I think my flag rejection was "useful" and the question was closed soon after.

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  • If it was you the declined the flag to begin with, then it's even more irksome. "Noah thinks this question is off-topic. JoeTaxpayer disagrees. Chris thinks this question is off-topic. JoeTaxpayer agrees and closes it". I'm aware that Mods can't vote, but I think mods should be aware that Spam/Offensive/Comment (all users?) flags should be treated separately from other post flags (sub-3k-users). – Noah Oct 15 '14 at 14:12
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    Until this thread I didn't realize there was a 3K requirement to vote to close. I see far more flags being used for this purpose than I am comfortable with. In the future, instead of rejecting the flag, I can ignore it. In my opinion, flags should be reserved for matters more urgent that this. (This may resolve itself once you hit 3K, which now seems to have 50 members in that group.) – JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 15 '14 at 16:01
  • Perhaps it is a flaw in the SE site configuration for lower-popularity sites, in that we don't have enough people who can vote to close. (See: data.stackexchange.com/money/query/235029/… and data.stackexchange.com/money/query/235030/…) I couldn't find out how to identify/filter moderators. Links are for rep distribution based on last-30-days access and total user count. – Noah Oct 15 '14 at 17:19
  • @Noah: I see your point, but I think the basic answer is that, as a user with less than 3k rep, you just have to accept that there may be some bad posts that you cannot personally do anything about. I agree with MrChrister and JoeTaxpayer that flags are overkill for issues like this. Just let the post go and build your rep until you can vote to close (which, based on your current rep, will probably not be long). – BrenBarn Oct 15 '14 at 22:29
  • @BrenBarn it's not an "only me" issue, though. Also, I'm waiting for Joe or anybody else to note what was salvageable of the question at the time of my flag that was deemed unsalvageable at the time of the close vote. It seems like mods are hiding behind "flags are for emergencies", despite site capabilities noting otherwise, simply to avoid the appearance of heavy handed unilateral moderation of posts (which is fine, just say that) – Noah Oct 15 '14 at 22:32
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    @Noah: The flaw (if any) is basically what the mods said, namely that the appropriate action (reject or ignore) is unclear in the case of an issue that is genuine but not flagworthy. I also agree that confusion can arise for the mods when minor and major problems are all thrown into the flag queue. The issue you describe (of inconsistent handling of early and late flags/votes) simply will not arise if you don't flag the post in the first place. It's not that horrible for a bad question to stay open for a while. – BrenBarn Oct 15 '14 at 22:44
  • @BrenBarn Then why does flagging exist in the first place? – Noah Oct 15 '14 at 22:45
  • Protip: At no point is "get more rep" an appropriate response to the poor handling of a situation in which a user with a record of contributions is attempting to further contribute to the betterment of the community – Noah Oct 15 '14 at 22:47
  • @Noah: For the reason already given by the mods, namely egregious/urgent violations. (I agree that the off-topic flag is less clear-cut in this regard.) As to your "protip", I quite disagree. The "record of contributions" you mention is measured in rep. There are many positive changes that could be made by low-rep users were it not for rep-based privileges (e.g., tiny but valid edits). The way to gain broader powers to make a positive difference is to get more rep. Whether that's a a perfect system is neither here nor there; it is fundamental to how StackExchange works. – BrenBarn Oct 15 '14 at 22:58
  • Noah is right - flagging a question is exactly what users w/ less than 3k rep are supposed to do. Moderators can and should take into account flags for closing - if multiple people flag a bad question, it totally appropriate for a mod to hammer it closed. – Ward - Reinstate Monica Oct 17 '14 at 20:34
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    @Ward in the spirit of the kinder, welcoming board, I'm not so quick to hammer anything shut. I myself am guilty of trying to sneak an answer in for a question I know is off-topic, but interesting to me. In the future, I'm best off not responding so quickly to the flag, and letting the close votes direct my actions. Noah is 100% right, by the way. It wasn't that the question was salvagable, only that I was dragging my feet to allow an answer to slip in. Just like I'd hope that questions that can be edited might be given 24 hrs to do, and not 'hammered shut.' – JTP - Apologise to Monica Oct 17 '14 at 22:08
  • In light of this, I'm moving forward with the following suggestion for sub-3k: Comment the reason that it's off-topic, wait for comment upvotes, then flag. Mod reviewing flag can then see reason / "votes", and proceed to hammer. – Noah Oct 18 '14 at 16:54

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