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I recently flagged this question as an exact duplicate of this one.

A little later, in my flagging summary I got the message

declined - flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention

According to this question, I should flag questions that are exact duplicates, but according to the mod who declined my flag, I shouldn't.

Also, if we're not meant to flag them, then why is that even an option in the flagging screen?

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    A good question -- does seem to encourage behavior that is not meant to be encouraged. You can can pop into chat and mention questionable questions. Those are usually seen by other users with close powers. You can also just comment on the question itself. – belacqua Oct 28 '11 at 20:45
  • The first question you link to says it no longer exists because it was removed by its author. – Christopher Kyle Horton Oct 29 '11 at 2:43
  • @WarriorIng64 Ah, well I guess this particular situation resolved itself then. I'm still vaguely annoyed by these mixed messages about flagging though. – Kris Harper Oct 29 '11 at 2:48
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    I always flag because since 11.10 came out we've been so busy that it's hard to get 5 people who happen to be around to close a duplicate, so I usually almost always flag if it's an obvious dupe. – Jorge Castro Oct 29 '11 at 19:38
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We (here meaning SE as a whole, not just Ask Ubuntu) discourage flagging of things that users already have the tools to deal with, except in egregious cases like v14gr@ spam and the like.

Users with 3k or more reputation can vote to close such posts as duplicates; they really don't need moderator attention. Flagging them detracts attention from things that do need quick responses from moderators: spam, trolling, etc.

It's up to the moderators of each individual site to decide how they will deal with these superfluous flags. Mods tend to be more tolerant of these flags when there aren't enough of them to impact moderator workflow, and more likely to decline them when they are showing up before things that are in greater need of attention.

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    Why do I need 3000 rep to flag something as duplicate? Everybody can observe duplicates. – user unknown Jan 20 '12 at 16:43
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    @userunknown Users don't need 3000 rep to flag as a duplicate. Users need 3000 rep to vote to close a question. Users without sufficient reputation to vote to close questions may flag to close questions. Users with enough reputation to vote to close cannot flag to close questions (attempting to do so results in simply voting to close). What the OP here did was to raise a custom flag, which in effect is a way to circumvent the usual process by which 3k+ rep users signal questions as meriting closure. Sometimes such circumvention is appropriate but usually it is unnecessary. – Eliah Kagan Jan 15 '14 at 5:31

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