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Note: This question is asking the moderators to explain why my flag was declined. I don't want people answering to guess why it may have been declined but the actual reason.


Recently a user had some struggles coming to terms with how the site works, after multiple attempts at trying to reach them by me and other users they still seemed to struggle. To cut a long story short I eventually flagged for a moderator to have a word with the user to help them out. I did this because:

  1. All the normal users attempts had all but failed.
  2. Most of the usual avenues to reach the user were no longer viable (posts deleted, don't want too long of a discussion in comments etc.).
  3. I didn't want the user to feel attacked, i.e. constantly commenting to them.
  4. At the point it got to it seemed to warrant a mod stepping in to take action.

To give some context my flag was:

Might be worth a mod messaging the OP here as they appear to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the site and are close, if not already hit, the answer ban.

However, this flag was declined. The reason states:

we are already aware of this user's struggle with the site due to all the other flags (including multiple from you on this question)

Eh? So, my flag was declined because the mods were already aware of the problem? How was I supposed to know that? You may look at the reason and see I flagged multiple times, this is true. However, looking at what those flags are the decline still doesn't make much sense.

Flags from recently

Looking at these flags we see that they contain, 7 No Longer Needed comment flags that I used as and when comments on the main post were no longer needed. There was also 1 mod flag used to clean up the comments that were no longer needed once discussion died down.

There were also other flags from me on their posts that you can see but of course these were Not An Answer flags on separate posts that weren't answers.

For full context a while back they also had another post that was Not An Answer and had some obsolete comments on it that I deleted.

Flags from a while back

Nowhere have I previously flagged asking the mods to potentially have a word with the user here. Therefore, I'm not sure why my flag was declined because I would have no idea that the mods were already aware of the problem or that other users had already flagged.

Why was my flag here declined?

  • 4
    Presumably what they're saying is that they've already got eyes on the question (and its answers) due to your comment flags – Valorum Nov 22 '18 at 10:34
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    @Valorum Which whilst probably true isn't a reason to decline a flag, I had no idea they were in fact watching the post/use. – TheLethalCarrot Nov 22 '18 at 10:39
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    It's Thanksgiving so I won't have time to write a proper answer until later on, but the gist of it is that you'd already alerted us via your mod flag to clean up the comments in which you and others were trying to help the new user. It would be impossible for a mod to clean up those comments and not notice the new user's struggle with the site, therefore your additional flag offered no new information. You knew the last flag offered no new information, especially since you could see that a mod had already cleaned up the comments by the time you raised the flag I declined. – Null Nov 23 '18 at 2:10
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    And why didn't you suggest a mod message in your first mod flag asking to clean up the comments? The new user hadn't done anything else in the time between the mod flag to clean up the comments and the mod-message suggestion flag. – Null Nov 23 '18 at 2:11
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    @Null Well those first flags were all about obsolete comments and I know flag comments don't show full context initially so it isn't out of the realms of possibility you wouldn't have noticed. Seeing as the new flag did add new information... the fact there was a struggle not just obsolete comments I raised it. – TheLethalCarrot Nov 23 '18 at 8:59
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    @Null In the first flag because that was just about that post and they appeared to have learnt and taken the feedback on. The user then posted another NaA which was flagged and deleted. I would have mod flagged off of that one but the system wouldn't let me. – TheLethalCarrot Nov 23 '18 at 9:00
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    @TheLethalCarrot: Why do you care whether your flag is accepted or declined? Who cares? – ThePopMachine Dec 4 '18 at 18:46
  • @ThePopMachine I care because I have a very high interest in moderation of the site and I want to know if I was correct on my actions. That’s not for everyone I agree but it’s something I like. I have no interest in Star Trek but I don’t ask “why do you care about Star Trek?” – TheLethalCarrot Dec 4 '18 at 18:49
9

Let's start with a summary of the events, with everything listed in order:

  1. You flagged 7 comments as no longer needed. Some of these comments were by the new user struggling to use the site correctly, and some were by more experienced users trying to help the new user.
  2. I saw the comment flags and deleted the comments.
  3. The commentary between the still-struggling new user and the experienced users eventually died down so you raised a flag for a moderator requesting a comment clean-up. This was a flag on the post, not on individual comments, so the only way for a moderator to handle this flag is to actually look at all the comments on the post and choose which ones to delete.
  4. I saw the moderator flag, cleaned up the remaining commentary by the struggling new user, and marked the flag as helpful.
  5. You raised another flag (on the same post) for a moderator suggesting a mod message be sent to the new user.
  6. I declined the new moderator flag.

I declined the second moderator flag because the two moderator flags were for essentially the same issue: a lot of comments had been generated between a struggling new user and more experienced users who were trying to help. Any moderator handling your first mod flag (or even simply your first batch of comment flags) would inevitably see this new user's struggle in the course of deleting the comments on the question and could decide what (if anything) to do to help the new user. The second moderator flag simply recommended a particular course of action but provided no new information. If you wanted to suggest that we send a mod message you could have just as easily (and should have) made that suggestion as part of the first mod flag. Hence the second mod flag was unnecessary.

The new user did make one new post after your first mod flag (and which ended up being deleted). I don't know if that's why you raised a second mod flag but if so you should have linked to it or at least mentioned it in the flag text -- especially since you flagged the same post twice rather than flagging that newest post which caused you to raise a new flag.

In general I mark flags like your mod message suggestion as helpful even if I don't end up taking any action on them (I cannot reveal whether or not a mod message was sent in this case since mod messages are private). I encourage all users to raise a mod flag if you are concerned that the moderators need to be made aware about something that a moderator can handle. The issue with this specific declined flag is that you had already made the mods aware of the new user's struggle with your first mod flag. Mod flags never go away until a moderator marks them as helpful or declined so you knew the moment that you raised the first one (to clean up the comments) that you'd made us aware of the situation. Moreover, in this case it should have been apparent to you that a moderator had seen all the comments you'd flagged since you could see at the time you raised your second mod flag that those comments had already been deleted. If any other user had raised your second mod flag I would have marked it helpful since another user would not be aware that you'd already raised a mod flag.

Duplicate mod flags are at best a nuisance if a single moderator handles both of them and at worst cause duplicate work if two different moderators see them. If I had gone offline after handling your first mod flag (and deciding what to do about the struggling new user) then a second moderator would end up duplicating my work when he saw your second mod flag. Such a duplicate mod flag is, in the words of the flag handling dialog box, "unhelpful" and "noise":

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  • 2
    Thanks for the explanation but I feel like the two flags were about separate issues. I also wanted to flag the new post that was deleted but the system wouldn’t let me for some reason stating I couldn’t flag it cos the post was recently deleted and I needed to refresh the page etc. – TheLethalCarrot Nov 26 '18 at 18:45

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