I see this a lot, an answer is posted which is a link-only one for instance, it is flagged up as such, but then someone edits the answer to include the information at the link (or similar) and then the flag is marked as "declined", the flagger who was doing the right thing at the time may even get banned from flagging because their flags keep getting "declined".

So I think that if a flag is no longer valid, but was valid when it was cast, then it should be 'declined', but not with the same harshness which means they may get banned for too many of them (something they would not be able to control unless they just stopped flagging, because how can you tell that someone will edit it and make it an invalid flag?), but instead 'declined' with a different status that doesn't have any impact on them (or at least, I don't think it should).

Perhaps call it "no longer valid", or something similar, but don't just "decline" it as if it was always wrong and the behaviour should be corrected (through banning).

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    I always mark NAA flags helpful if I notice the post has been edited into an answer since the flag was cast. There is no guarantee that it will be noticed every time however. – Seth Aug 8 '16 at 15:42
  • @Seth: Well, not all do this as there seems to be no set rule on it. And I just think that there should be a set way of marking it when it was, but is no longer, valid. – user364819 Aug 8 '16 at 15:46
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    @jokerdino I can provide you an example from my recent flagging history: I flagged askubuntu.com/posts/807997/revisions as NAA when it was at revision 1 (and left a comment to the OP that he should summarize the link content - not sure, seems to be deleted now). Then the OP made a great edit and turned it into a good answer before my flag got reviewed. It shows up as declined now in my history (askubuntu.com/users/flag-summary/367990?group=1&status=3). – Byte Commander Aug 8 '16 at 19:52

So you have a situation where someone (you don't specify if it's the original author or some passing editor) takes the time to follow the link, suss out whatever is relevant on the other side, and write up a description of it that transforms what was before no more than a placeholder into something useful...

...and you're upset that this trumps the three seconds of your time it took to flag?

Don't be myopic about this stuff. The sort of effort you describe is rare, but wonderful to see when it occurs. Rejoice in the outcome, and take satisfaction in knowing that you may have had some small hand in motivating it.

FWIW, there is a third flag outcome ("disputed") that is used in cases where the system believes that the community disagrees over the validity of the flag; this is mostly triggered by /review/low-quality-posts, so if you wanna see it used more then encourage folks to use /review.

locked by Shog9 Aug 10 '16 at 18:24

This post has been locked while disputes about its content are being resolved. For more info visit meta.


Yes, this is essentially what Shog9 said, with added emphasis, catering more to the string of now-deleted comments than the question as it stands.

High-quality answers are the most important thing here.

It's easy to forget that when you're dealing with lots of flags and lots of review decisions. A red mist descends and everything substandard gets a flag, or closed or deleted.

You expend all your flags. Job done, right? No.

It's fine if that happens occasionally, but you might need to step back, look at the big picture. Our goal here is not to flag, close and delete everything, rather we're here to foster good questions, and great answers and anybody doing something toward that end is a star.

So say we get a mediocre answer. Perhaps it's link only or is a little garbled, but there's something helpful there. Flagging to deleting that post isn't the best thing to do, resuscitating is is.

  • Edit to make posts make sense.
  • Edit to expand link-only posts into something that could work without the link.
  • Edit to keep older posts relevant for every release.

If you can do something like that, your contribution is worth infinitely more than anything that would have just destroyed that post. You've also just shown the original writer what we expect from their posts. So many birds with one stone.

But as Shog9 Says, it's disappointingly rare when somebody is selfless enough to go through that process. So rare that we really should celebrate the times when it does, not haggle over what happens to the flaggers.

Having a flag declined like this does also serve to show flaggers what they should have done. And if that happens a lot, perhaps a short flag ban —and they are short— is a useful device to make people step back and wonder what else they could do. Maybe some of that editing they keep avoiding?

Either-which-way, carrying a flag just because it used to apply is beyond stupid. I see your point about a third way out, but again, I think having the occasional flag actually declined serves to display that it wasn't the right decision and you could do better next time.

  • Regarding link only answers, the top voted answer here clearly says to mark them as NAA: meta.askubuntu.com/a/15921/271 Your answer seems to be of a different POV. Is one of the two answers to be considered more "official"? Thank you. – Andrea Lazzarotto Aug 18 '16 at 0:05
  • That post is about the basis for flagging. I've only said that upgrading a LOA is better for the site and [what I'm actually saying here is] ignoring effort to improve posts by carrying an original flag —and therefore deleting the post— is outright stupidity. I think you can hold all these views. It's not black and white. There's a colourful spectrum of options available to reviewers and some of these are better. Improving content is best though. – Oli Aug 18 '16 at 9:29
  • Ok, so as I understand it's not considered bad behavior to flag a LOA as NAA but you were referring to declining the flag after the A has been edited. Did I get it right? – Andrea Lazzarotto Aug 18 '16 at 9:37
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    That's what I mean. – Oli Aug 18 '16 at 10:11

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