This answer is just worthless. Why was the flag declined?

  • 5
    Well, what kind of flag was it? It's definitely "not an answer", but if you flagged it as "spam" or "offensive", I could understand the flag being declined.
    – TARS
    Oct 10, 2016 at 11:35
  • 3
    Your flag on that answer was marked helpful...
    – Null Mod
    Oct 10, 2016 at 14:09
  • What's interesting is that it was deleted by a programmer (@Oded) rather than by an SFF:SE site moderator; scifi.stackexchange.com/posts/142704/timeline. Most unusual. Presumably this is because it popped a spam flag.
    – Valorum
    Oct 10, 2016 at 14:37
  • 1
    If you read the description of the "spam" flag option, it says "Exists only to promote a product or service, does not disclose the author's affiliation." On Stack Exchange, this is what "spam" is used to mean.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Oct 10, 2016 at 18:02
  • Well, you live and learn. My understanding of spam was that it is unwanted, not specifically plugging your own web site. This states that it is (lowercase) Digital Technology. disruptive online messages, especially commercial messages posted on a computer network or sent as email. dictionary.com/browse/spam
    – KyloRen
    Oct 11, 2016 at 3:33

1 Answer 1


The post you linked to had 11 flags on it: 7 not an answer, 2 spam, 1 very low quality, and an auto-flag for very low quality. All those flags were marked helpful.

You are probably thinking of a "spam" flag you raised on a different post a few hours before. I handled that one and declined it. It was an older answer (from 2013) which was very low quality and had two delete votes cast on it. I deleted the post but declined your spam flag because "spam" is not the appropriate flagging reason for answers which are simply very low quality.

Moderators are generally advised to mark flags has helpful if they lead the moderator to taking action, even if the flag reason is incorrect. However, the spam flag has a specific meaning and use:

What makes something spam and when should I flag it?

A post should be marked as spam ONLY when it contains an unsolicited advertisement.

It should NOT be marked as spam when:

  • The answer contains no useful information, such as an answer that says “I don't care about your problem”. Flag an answer as not an answer instead; if you find a weird non-question, then flag it for moderator attention with a custom explanation.

  • It contains only gibberish, such as “fsdguejgkfdlk”. Use the rude or abusive flag for these cases, or flag for moderator attention with a custom explanation if it requires more detail.


How does the spam flag differ from the rude or abusive flag?

In terms of getting the post deleted, there is no functional difference aside from separate counts – 3/6 of either will be sufficient to hide/delete. However, spam flags provide data for spam-filtering, while rude or abusive flags provide data for anti-trolling measures instead.

What effects do these flags have on a post?

These types of flags receive an extremely high priority in the moderation queue. It should be used only when the content of the post you are flagging meets the criteria defined above, or it will likely be declined.

The spam flag is designed to eliminate posts with no relevant content and to penalize the authors:

  • 3 flags on a question (spam or rude or abusive): question is banished from the front page and all question lists except search results.
  • 6 flags (spam or rude or abusive): post is locked, deleted, and the author loses 100 reputation.
  • 1 flag from a moderator has the same effect as 6 flags from normal users: instant destruction.
  • Contents of an answer that was deleted, and got at least one valid spam or rude or abusive flag, will be hidden.
  • Because a question with 6 flags is locked and deleted by the Community user, a 10 k reputation user cannot undelete it.
  • Each flag carries an implicit downvote for calculating the post’s score; it does not affect the caster’s reputation, however.

What are the “spam” and “rude or abusive” (offensive) flags, and how do they work?

I declined your spam flag since such flags are used for data-filtering and apply an additional penalty of 100 reputation on the post author, neither of which would have been appropriate. If you hunt around on main meta you'll see cases where moderators have declined a spam flag yet deleted a very low quality post (see, e.g. this post by a Stack Overflow moderator).

The correct flag reason would have been "very low quality" or "not an answer". I would have marked such a flag helpful.

I can't speak for the moderator who marked your spam flag on the linked answer as helpful, but it may have been marked helpful only because there were so many other flags on the post and it did need to be deleted.

Please take care to flag for the appropriate reason.

Also, your comment

@Valorum , please delete this answer.

on the linked post was both unnecessary and inappropriate. It was unnecessary since flagging the post had already brought it to the attention of the moderators via the moderator queue, and it was inappropriate since @Valorum is no longer one of the site moderators.

  • Purely apropos of nothing, you might want to mention that marking it as "spam" seems to have attracted the attention of an off-site CM. You might also want to mention that KyloRen's comment asking me to assist with the deletion wasn't appropriate given that I'm not a site moderator.
    – Valorum
    Oct 10, 2016 at 14:41
  • @Valorum I've been hunting around on main meta to see if the SE employees are notified of spam flags across the network -- I'm still trying to confirm. I added a note about the comment written to you.
    – Null Mod
    Oct 10, 2016 at 14:56
  • I see no other good reason why a programmer would have been nosing around on SFF:SE.
    – Valorum
    Oct 10, 2016 at 14:58
  • @Valorum It wasn't the flag that attracted Oded's attention, it was a now-deleted post on main meta.
    – Null Mod
    Oct 10, 2016 at 15:25
  • @Valorum I found a reference to it in Mos Eisley. I don't have enough rep on MSE to see the content of the post but you can see the title of the MSE post...which also explains why it was deleted.
    – Null Mod
    Oct 10, 2016 at 16:13
  • Ah, it was KyloRen who posted the meta question, not Gorge. That makes more sense.
    – Valorum
    Oct 10, 2016 at 16:15
  • @Null, I though Valorum was a mod? And was me who deleted the post MSE, I just get so frustrated with this site sometimes. It has a quite a bit of regulations I just can't wrap my head around.
    – KyloRen
    Oct 11, 2016 at 3:14
  • @Valorum, I posted on main meta b/c no one here was taking any action. My understanding was that there is a mod around 24/7.
    – KyloRen
    Oct 11, 2016 at 3:15
  • 2
    @KyloRen Valorum was a mod. Not anymore. And even if he was one of the current mods it'd be pointless to try to ping in a comment since the purpose of the flag is to notify the moderators.
    – Null Mod
    Oct 11, 2016 at 4:30
  • @KyloRen For future reference, you can identify mods by the diamonds next to their usernames. E.g. Valorum doesn't have one but Null and I do.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Oct 14, 2016 at 22:03
  • @Randal'Thor, how do you contact a moderator?
    – KyloRen
    Oct 16, 2016 at 0:26
  • @KyloRen As Null said, raising a flag notifies the moderators.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Oct 16, 2016 at 0:33
  • @Randal'Thor, what about for issues other than answers or questions?
    – KyloRen
    Oct 16, 2016 at 6:20
  • @KyloRen You can raise a custom flag on any post to let us know about an issue even if it doesn't relate to a specific question or answer. Alternatively you can ping one of us in chat; we're all in Mos Eisley at least occasionally. If it's an issue that needs to be dealt with privately, we have the ability to open up private chatrooms.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Oct 16, 2016 at 19:15

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