Silly question? I don't think so...

Referring to the question What is the flag option for, and the accepted answer provided, I should be contributing by flagging obvious spam as such, which I believe I'm adhering to.

Three times I've done so, in each case the post was closed and deleted, yet I now end up with flag weight 90. That's counter intuitive to say the least.

Needless to say I'm reluctant to continue as I'm apparently doing something that doesn't meet the approval of the mods - so what's the current correct answer?

  • Do you tend to flag a lot of comments as spam/offensive/unconstructive in addition to the three posts mentioned in your flag weight audit?
    – user8
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 16:44
  • @Mark Well it's three flags in total as relatively I'm new around here - which makes for a pretty poor hit rate - hence the question. I'm using same criteria as I do over on OnStartups where it's doing fine.
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 0:16
  • see my answer for reasons why your flag weight might've gone down even though you were flagging correctly. Based on your flag history and assuming you didn't flag any comments (which we can't audit), you've been flagging correctly, your flags were valid, and either were dismissed automatically when a mod took action or were dismissed as valid. Also keep in mind your flag weight starts at 100.
    – user8
    Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 1:26

3 Answers 3


Please don't obsess over flag weight.

Please do keep flagging. Spam flags tend to be handled automatically by the system - if there's enough the post is auto deleted - so there is no moderator involvement here.

There will be some inconsistency to the way flags are handled - we're human beings after all.

My policy is to dismiss a flag as valid if the post had to be "dealt with" in some way even if the flag didn't match the eventual disposition. So you see you don't have to be 100% accurate all the time.

I've just checked the posts you flagged and I'd consider them all valid. I don't know why two of them were dismissed as invalid - a slip of the mouse perhaps?

  • I'm not sure how spam-flagging works exactly. I have a slight suspicion that if we delete the post outright instead of flagging it as well and letting the automated system take care of it, the flag will get dismissed as invalid, but I have nothing to back that up.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 15:23
  • @Anna - that could be the case. Mark deleted the spam posts that Matt flagged so it's clear he agreed with the flag.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 15:24
  • @ChrisF And I deleted the other one. It was a long time ago, though, so I don't remember what I did, exactly.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 15:25
  • @Chris Its your policy, Some on the other hand seem to deem it fit to reward flags with dismiss as invalid causing a decrease in flag weight.
    – Aditya P
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 15:39
  • 2
    @Aditya - as I said we're only human so there will be differences and mistakes which is why I said you shouldn't obsess over the actual number.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 15:42
  • 1
    @Aditya In addition to what ChrisF said, some flags are actually invalid. It happens. I generally dismiss as valid if the flag makes sense even if I don't take any action on it right away.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 15:46
  • @Anna the topic " Will learning a language like PHP ,limit my creativity in learning a new language such as C#? " was deleted but it has different and good answers from a lot of people. The answers and the question will be Correct when merged. Considering others might raise similar question and if the answers in the earlier post are not sufficient.
    – Aditya P
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 16:20
  • @Aditya I felt the answers on the duplicate question were better and merging wasn't necessary. If you disagree, please open another meta post to discuss it. For what it's worth, your flag on that post was dismissed as valid.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 17:05
  • :( thanks i only noticed the details about it today and secretly hoped it was my shot at a necromancer badge o_O.
    – Aditya P
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 17:37
  • Ok, that's nice and clear, thanks. It was more a case of I'm flagging using same criteria as I do over on OnStartups - there I seem to be fine, here it appeared to be telling me I'm doing it wrong. Oh, that and reading something happening if you happen to get flag weight to 0. I have noticed OnStartups seems more likely for the community to flag, and here down vote - I have no idea why the difference, or what results from down voting - do enough down votes have same effect as a flag?
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 0:21
  • @Matt - no down-votes and flags are different. Down-votes for posts that are unclear or wrong etc. Flags for stuff that shouldn't have been posted in the first place.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 10:11

Two of your posts were for the same unregistered user, who was going around spamming a giant wall of text. I deleted the user, which deleted the posts and cleared the flags on those posts automatically. I assumed the flags were automatically dismissed as valid, but this appears this might not have been the case.

However, one possible way to lose flag weight without realizing it (or having moderators know what happened) is to lose it on comment flags. When you flag a comment, moderators have four options:

  • Delete the comment outright
  • Edit the comment to remove the offending bits
  • Dismiss the comment
  • Take no action and/or leave another comment addressing the first commenter (e.g. "Be nice")

Only the first two options awards an increase of 5 flag weight outright. The third will decrease your flag weight automatically, and the last will decrease your flag weight if four other people don't also flag the comment (a common occurrence, especially if a moderator steps in via comments).

And, unlike flagged posts, these won't show up on your flag weight audit. You'll just see the change in flag weight.

Discussion on Meta Stack Overflow: Can a flag that attracts moderator action be treated as invalid?

But as Chris said, please don't put too much weight into flag...weight, especially on Programmers.SE. We don't get so many flags per day that having a low flag weight actually matters: we act on everything, even if that action is to take no action right away.

  • Editing shouldn't decrease flag-weight; that should actually increase it (automatically). The assumption is you edited it for the reason that it was flagged. Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 9:51
  • Also; deleting users won't record anything as invalid; it automatically validates mod flags; I'm tweaking it now to consider spam/offensive flags Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 9:56
  • @Marc thanks for the clarification, incorporated that back into the answer. Any idea what happened in this case?
    – user8
    Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 10:29
  • (added as an answer) Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 10:40

The most likely thing if probably on of the votes (only) was marked "invalid", perhaps in error. Mark reports deleting the users, and I have now beefed up this process to ensure that spam/offensive flags are correctly attributed.

Your flags were good; keep at it ;p In this case, it just appears to have been a combination of circumstances that made it report badly. Sorry about that.

  • No problem, thanks for the responses, and rapid refactoring :)
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 21:20

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