I've noticed a trend with some flags that I've done where I'll flag a question for a perfectly legitimate reason, although while the question was closed, on hold, for the exact cited reason I flagged it for, my flag will get declined.

Is this done automatically by the system when a question reaches the threshold and is put on hold? Or is this just people who are reviewing the flag being...stupid? I don't know how else to put it.

I'll cite this ethernet question which I flagged for reason it was closed

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm pretty sure all declined flags are manually declined by a moderator. \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Jul 25 '14 at 19:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thats what I figured. Is there any reason they would decline the right flag then? Like it is just easier to press the button? I'm not at the level where I can review flags to find out myself. \$\endgroup\$ – Funkyguy Jul 25 '14 at 19:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why did you flag that question as "Other" instead of one of the close reasons? \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Jul 25 '14 at 19:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't believe I did although I may have not been able to find the option at the time. I usually try to flag with the most relevent option. Is this what is happening? I'm flagging to mods, and they are declining it because it isn't a big enough issue so I should have sent it to community mods? (how that for run-on sentence) \$\endgroup\$ – Funkyguy Jul 25 '14 at 19:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd say that for the case you linked to, you did flag it as "Other", and a reasonable reason for declining it is an incorrect use of that flag. Questions get closed all the time without direct moderator intervention (including that one). \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Jul 25 '14 at 19:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why are you flagging questions to be closed that are already closed? That just makes busywork for the mods without any advantage I can see. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jul 27 '14 at 14:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ It wasn't closed when I flagged it, thats why I flagged it \$\endgroup\$ – Funkyguy Jul 27 '14 at 23:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ In any case, it is busywork for mods. You can help close a question, so why do you not do this? \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Penguin Aug 6 '14 at 1:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @W5VO IIRC automatic declined flags are called "disputed," but I can't find the link now to back that up. \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Penguin Aug 6 '14 at 1:32

Are you seeing something like this? enter image description here

Which I flagged through this interface/pop up. enter image description here

You will notice that the "moderator attention" flagging is a separate line item. Which implies that the other flags don't.

Up until recently I would never have gotten this flag rejection, because I used the another mechanism that I can't find right now (without needlessly flagging something) . So what I suspect is that this dialog flags the mods regardless, not just the ones in that dialog that state explicitly that the mods will be alerted. The difference is that our old crusty Mods knew about this distinction and understood that there would be multiple flags on the same question etc. I think the newest mods don't know this and just assume that there is needless flagging going on.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yea, 3/4 most recent flags were this exact response. So its just a misunderstanding on the reviewers part? \$\endgroup\$ – Funkyguy Jul 25 '14 at 19:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ The handling of inappropriate answers is a completely separate issue from whether or not a question should be closed (or reopened). Moderators handle the former, while community reviewers handle the latter. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Jul 25 '14 at 19:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ IF SOMETHING IS "NOT AN ANSWER" IS AN INVALID FLAG, THEN THERE SHOULD NOT BE A FLAG OPTION FOR IT. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Jul 28 '14 at 23:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Passerby Read my answer. It explains why this might happen. \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Penguin Aug 6 '14 at 1:30

Probably who declined the flag didn't agree with closing the question. Perhaps I wouldn't have gone so far as declining, but the fact that the question was closed doesn't necessarily mean that the reviewer was wrong. (I'm not saying he was right either, please note).

Very often there is disagreement on whether we should set high quality standards or being more tolerant towards new users.

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    \$\begingroup\$ well thats annoying \$\endgroup\$ – Funkyguy Jul 25 '14 at 19:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShannonStrutz why do you find it annoying? I know you felt you were right, but even then someone might disagree. \$\endgroup\$ – clabacchio Jul 25 '14 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I find disagreement inherently annoying. \$\endgroup\$ – Funkyguy Jul 25 '14 at 19:23

You're not the only person who has been doing this.

The closing/reopening of questions is handled by community reviewers (i.e., anyone with sufficient reputation), not by moderators. If you think a question has been wrongly closed, nominate it for reopening and make your case in the comments associated with the question.

Moderators primarily handle other administrative issues, and step in on issues related to closing/reopening questions only when there has been an egregious misunderstanding or violation of the rules.

Whining to the moderators when you feel a question has been wrongly closed is not generally going to help unless we see that a general consensus has already formed among other community members. If we were to react on every single complaint, then we would be abusing our power.

This is why I have been declining such flags.

NOTE: Voting to close a question via the close button is a different operation from sending the mods a message via the flag button, even though the options listed are very similar in both cases.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Who's whining? I flagged it for closing and it was eventually closed, which is good. I'm just wondering why my flag got declined. \$\endgroup\$ – Funkyguy Jul 25 '14 at 19:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system! FFS a user, new or not, asking why something happened, is not whining. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Jul 28 '14 at 23:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Passe: But he's not. Anyone starting out with a conclusion when asking a question is definitely whining. There is a huge difference between "Flags wrongly declined?" and "Why were my flags declined?". If you really don't understand and want to learn, you can't have decided that anything was done wrongly. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jul 31 '14 at 20:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop He flagged for reason X. The Question was closed for same reason X. His flag was declined. Hence its logical to think the flagging was not done wrongly. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Jul 31 '14 at 22:24

For questions:

Let us do some math. There are slightly under 7.8 million questions on Stack Overflow, with only 17 moderators. Out of those questions, 347,109 of them are [at the time of posting] closed or on hold. If a moderator would handle each of these flags and close all of those questions, they wouldn't be doing anything productive. Moderators should only work on things that require their special tools to do.

For answers:

Most people think that this answer should be deleted:

You don't need a resistor for a LED. A paragraph of explanation...

Of course, that isn't true. However, incorrect answers do not get deleted. They get downvoted, edited, and commented on. If you flag an answer like that, then it should be declined as not needing moderator intervention because you can downvote it/comment/edit it.

The only time an answer should be deleted:

  • Spam
  • Low quality answers (not understandable, link only, etc.)
  • If the owner deletes it themselves

However, incorrect answers are not deleted. If you flagged one of those, then the reason above is most likely the reason they got declined.

Edit: this post explains this problem with stuff that doesn't need moderator intervention.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In that case, there shouldn't be ANY need for moderator flags, because enough downvotes (3) and users can vote to delete it too. So spam and "not understandable/link only" low quality answers can also be solely resolved with user interaction/downvoting/editing. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Aug 6 '14 at 4:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Passerby moderators can also convert to comment if that is needed. \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Penguin Aug 6 '14 at 12:12

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