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I have had been going through the flag review queue when it pops up. Most of the flags I have seen in the review queue are for things that are blatantly wrong (e.g., spam). In a few cases, however, the flags seem questionable to me or truly incorrect. In 3 of these "questionable" cases, which is a larger percentage of the questionable cases I have reviewed, I have had my flags declined or disputed by a moderator. This leads me to my question of how am I supposed to review flags in a way that makes the moderator's job easier?

As an example, in the two cases that my flags were disputed the original flag that I was reviewing was clearly wrong. The original flag was "closed without comment" from the community user, but there was a comment to the question (potentially added after the flag was raised). I disagreed with the original flag and chose "invalid flag". Should I have skipped these flags?

In the other case the original flag was "not an answer". The answer has since been deleted with a score of -6 so it seems the flag was not unreasonable. Normally, I would not flag answers as not an answer and instead down vote and vote to delete. In reviewing flags I have the choice of agree, disagree, or skip. In this case I decided to agree, but I could imagine someone else disagreeing and flagging it as an invalid flag. I don't see how skipping the flag is useful.

If this is a user interface problem with the flag reviewing system (either on the high-rep user side or the mod side) can it be improved?

To help track down what is happening. The posts in question are

https://academia.stackexchange.com/questions/18769/getting-a-masters-in-psychology-after-a-bachelors-in-cs

How do Academic Journals protect against empirical results given by bugs?

https://academia.stackexchange.com/questions/17638/what-are-the-options-after-grad-school-besides-a-phd

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I'm the moderator who disputed the first and the third of the flags you mention. My intention was not to dispute your flag, but another one, asking to close the question (and I thought that it was the one you deemed invalid) in the first case, and indicating that the question was closed w/o comments (which was not true when I was reviewing the flag).

It might be a user interface problem: when I reviewed the flags, I chose "no further action is needed", and then there was a pop-up asking to rate the flag, without specifying which one. I didn't realise that yours was also a flag, and I thought I was rating the others. Looking at the logs, it seems that I've declined all the flags with the same reason ... So, my apologies, your flags were actually useful, and should not have been declined.

In general, I must say that I appreciate a lot the work of the high-rep users on the flags, and I don't think I have ever declined intentionally such a flag, it might just be that the interface is not always fully understandable. I agree that it might be a feature-request, to make the treatment of flags clearer.

Concerning the second flag, which was about a "not an answer flag", I'm not the one who declined it, so I can't say exactly why, but, looking at the logs, it appears as if you flagged it as "not an answer". Intuitively, I would have declined this flag, because moderator intervention was not needed: the post was down-voted and deleted by the community, as it should have been, but it wasn't spam nor a comment, it was just a bad answer.

EDIT

Chris Jaeger just sent the following information to moderators:

Individual Moderator Flag Handling

Moderators are now able to provide separate resolutions for flags on the same post. When viewing a post with several flags, you can click on the individual flags in order to generate a pop-up for handling that specific flag. This will allow you to deal with situations where some flags are valid and others not, or instances where different manners of guidance must be given. This will also enable you to handle disputed flags by directly marking the appropriate flags as helpful or declined. Flags can still be handled on a post-by-post basis using the regular UI. You can handle full posts when the flags are all aligned to each other, and can granularize things when the situation calls for it.

So I guess the interface was indeed sub-optimal, and they seem to have fixed. Either that was the fastest feature-request response ever, or it was just a very timely post!

  • Added the links to the questions to the question. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't making more work for you. If it is the interface maybe we should tag this as a feature request. – StrongBad Apr 1 '14 at 13:59
  • @StrongBad: Thanks, I've edited my answer accordingly. I'll add the tag to your question. – user102 Apr 1 '14 at 14:08
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    Having just read my email, I think this is probably status completed already. It sounds like they recently changed the system. – StrongBad Apr 1 '14 at 21:25
  • @StrongBad: Indeed, I updated the answer accordingly :) – user102 Apr 1 '14 at 21:34

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