Sorry if this has already been asked, I could not find an appropriate answer and I want to make sure that I understand these features.

Question: what's the most correct way to use flags and down-votes?

Or, what makes less harm: an incorrect flag or an incorrect vote down + comment? Should I do nothing if I doubt or should I try to participate?


I am one of those users without enough reputation to vote for closing but I can try to help the site by voting up good questions (which I try to use much more often) and flagging or voting down those which I believe not to be suitable. My question is about what to do in theSo, the question is, if you doubt between what to do latter case.

First, this what the FAQ says about flagging vs answering low-quality posts:

Most importantly, don't feed the trolls! Replying to abusive, off-topic, or inappropriate content only encourages it – whereas flagging allows removal without providing undue attention. Post related to: conventions on downvoting. Which suggest that flagging is the best thing to do when you thing a post does not match the standards we expect. However, declined flags get a preventive remark: Flag declined - flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention.

Which suggests that flagging may flood moderators. Then I thought, maybe it is better that users control content by voting up/down. But whenever you vote down you see a pop-up:

Please consider adding a comment if you think this post can be improved.

Or in other words, try to make constructive suggestions. But then you can be "feeding trolls"...

Related posts: conventions on downvoting.

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    $\begingroup$ Just a short remark as a moderator. If you think the question should be closed, vote for closure rather than flagging it to be closed. This makes the closing of questions more of a community effort, rather than pushing it to the moderators. Of course, this first requires that you get enough reputation. $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke Mar 7 '12 at 16:06
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. My concern is more like, how should users under 3000 points participate?. That's the requirement to cast close votes. $\endgroup$ – Juan Bermejo Vega Mar 7 '12 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ Just a small clarification: There are different kinds of flags, and AFAIR, what FAQ describes is not "needs moderator intervention" or "it doesn't belong here" flags but the other two: "spam" and "not-welcome/offensive". If a post is flagged as such by 5 users the system automatically takes care of it without any need for mod intervention. But you should not use them when the post is not spam/offensive. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Mar 7 '12 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ The [FAQ discusses this][1]. [1]: meta.cstheory.stackexchange.com/questions/225/… $\endgroup$ – Radu GRIGore Mar 21 '12 at 19:16

In general, till you have the reputation to issue close votes, it's best to vote things down. A flag is a direct line to the mods, and should be used for things that are egregious and require immediate attention (like explicitly offensive behaviour). Otherwise, posts that deserve to be closed eventually do get closed by community voting - it might not happen as fast as one would like, but it's a community call.

Note that voting down a post is (eventually) as effective as closing. Once a post reaches -3 or lower, it drops off the main page of questions. So if you're trying to eliminate a question, voting down will eventually get it there.

p.s and thanks for asking :)

  • $\begingroup$ You are welcome, that's a great answer. Btw, let me know if the format of the question is improvable. $\endgroup$ – Juan Bermejo Vega Mar 7 '12 at 16:27
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    $\begingroup$ Minor correction: The threshold for hiding from the top page is −4. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Mar 7 '12 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ I am not sure if quick downvoting is the best solution. This might lead to a large number of low-quality posts that will be hanging around without being closed. Posts disappear from the main page, and nobody notices them any more. $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Mar 7 '12 at 18:16
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    $\begingroup$ Closing is the best option, but that requires people to issue close votes. Flagging shifts the burden of action back to the mods, which I think is inappropriate in this particular case. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Mar 7 '12 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ Downvoted questions will presumably eventually come to the attention of the moderators, who will close them. If they hang around for a little while first, that isn't a disaster. $\endgroup$ – Peter Shor Mar 11 '12 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ It would be also nice if other high-rep users check the review page from time to time, particularly this one. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Mar 13 '12 at 4:50

We had a discussion earlier on downvoting conventions:

Conventions on downvoting

In particular, in that post I outline my convention for down-voting and ask if it is too harsh (since I am one of the most frequent down-voters on the site). Donwvotes don't hurt the user all that much in terms of reputation so I don't feel too bad about using them liberally.

Another potential avenue: if you believe a question should be closed, but you don't think it is being noticed but people with close-vote-abilities, consider mentioning it in chat. We really need to start using chat, more!

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    $\begingroup$ amen on using chat more. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Mar 8 '12 at 4:06

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