I recently flagged an off-topic (implementation) question that was posted here with sole purpose to circumvent "problem" title block at Stack Overflow. I described the issue in "need of moderator intervention" kind of flag and got it declined with suggestion to "just vote to close".

I would like to better understand how to decide on whether to flag or not in cases like that.


  • User isn't q-banned or rate-limited on Stack Overflow; in fact, user has never posted anything there.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 21:52
  • @Shog9 did the system recorded a blocked attempt to ask at SO? (blocked, because question has word "problem" in the title)
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 22:12
  • What's question block / problem title block? Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 1:28
  • 1
    @ErikHumphrey these are Stack Overflow features, you can find more details on these here, here and here
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 6:00

3 Answers 3


I declined the flag. I simply didn't see what was so urgent about a question that may or may not have been posted here to bypass the title filter in Stack Overflow. To me, it was a typical off topic question and I saw no reason to intervene.

The NPR days are long behind us, we have a lot more than a handful active close voters now. If you are out of close votes for the day, I'm sure someone else will jump in and help take out the trash.


I didn't decline that flag, but here's my take on it.

If you have the tools to do something as a user, you should be using those tools. There's nothing that I, as a moderator can do that you as a user cannot do. Therefore, don't put it into my flag queue. As an example, the right thing to do in this case would be to edit the topic title (along with the post and tags) to get it ready for migration, then vote to close as off-topic.

I disagree with Tim Post's suggestion of flagging if they are unable to ask questions on one site. You don't have that information, and even as a moderator, I can't see a user's status on another site. If the question is of sufficient quality to migrate and you can vote to migrate it to the right site, please vote to migrate to that site (the system will prevent questions from being migrated if they are banned from a site). If it's not of sufficient quality, it's highly likely that one of the other reasons will be a valid close reason, so vote for that or write a custom close reason. Of course, if it's a high quality question and you can't vote to migrate to the best site, please do flag it in that case.

Going back to the mod flag and putting it in my queue, if the mod flag queue is small that gives me more time to either answer questions or go through the review queue. Sending things to the review queue is preferable to sending them to the mod queue because there are far more people who can do things in the review queue than the mod queue. Save mod flags for things that are either extremely urgent or must be handled by a moderator.

  • as a moderator, unlimited supply of close votes is one example of a thing that moderator has that a regular user don't. If I had more votes (as discussed in question answered by Tim Post), I'd sure vote instead of flagging. Anyway thanks, I will consider spending votes on questions that look migrate-worthy, even if these might slow-down closing of other troublesome questions
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 13:23
  • @gnat The system isn't optimal, but there are Meta.SE proposals to address it. I don't know what the status of those are, but if you have hard data or can point to data that the SE team can look at to help evaluate the basis for these ideas, that would help them.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 13:25
  • needed data is hardly available to anyone else besides SE dev team, as it sure includes lots of deleted posts (deleted by roomba or by 10K voting or by moderators or by askers themselves)
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 13:29
  • @gnat That's likely true. But let's say your using mod flags and moderators are using their unlimited votes and the rest of the users aren't going through their votes, there's no reason to look at the way the system deals with votes to close or delete. But if you can point to a time where many users started to run out of votes and the queues started getting bigger, then there's a reason to make a change to the system. Just keep the mod queues for mod only things.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 13:31

Like Thomas I didn't handle the flag; but, like the moderator who did, I would have declined it too.

Moderators are here to do the things you can't. You shouldn't be using us as your proxy.

As Thomas said either edit the question into shape and vote to migrate or just vote to close in place. If the user is question blocked the migration will be automatically rejected by the system and everyone (well almost everyone) is happy. Unfortunately the word "problem" in the title doesn't prevent migration. I discovered this the other day when a migration I was expecting to fail went through.

If you are running out of close votes, then that's a sign you might want to go and do something else for a few hours. That's what the limits are there for.

  • one thing a regular user sure can't is to cast more than 24 close votes a day. With amount of crap that is coming at us from stackoverflow, it's a real limitation. I wouldn't want to vote this down for suggestion of flag decline because I believe this is a fault of Stack Exchange team, not moderators, but this particular decline justification looks really weak
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 19:36

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