I recently came across an answer that consisted entirely of the text

yeah apply the poweder okay>

This is obviously not an answer, but I also think the answer was posted in bad faith, as I mentioned in the custom flag I raised

From the non-answer, the username, the spam links in the comments, and now deleted rude comment, I don't think this answer was posted in good faith.

The flag was declined with the reason that I should have raised a standard flag

declined - Using standard flags helps us prioritize problems and resolve them faster. Please familiarize yourself with the list of standard flags: see What is Flagging?

The issue is that from what I understand, standard flags are meant to be used when the content being flagged obviously falls into one of the flag categories. The only flag that fits this case is NAA, but I think a harsher penalty was warranted (for reasons I explained in my flag) than just the answer being deleted. Of course, I would raise a R/A flag to indicate something like that, but based only on the answer, I don't think it's rude or abusive. Perhaps this answer is considered R/A on English Language & Usage?

The key point here is the word obvious. My understanding of the mod tooling is that comments (deleted or otherwise) are not shown automatically, which means the spam links and rudeness in the comments might have gone unnoticed. The advice I've been given is that in cases where it might not be obvious to the moderator what the issue is, a custom flag is preferable. However, this advice was given by moderators on Stack Overflow, where they deal with considerably more flags than on other sites (from what I've heard), and so they tend not to look at all the information they have access to when dealing with any particular flag. Perhaps it works differently on English Language & Usage?

What did I do wrong here, and what should I have done instead?

  • I sympathize with you; our system is not perfect, but standard VTC reasons should have covered this. Also, I am having problems understanding the issue here. Imposing "harsher" penalties should be based on a history, and not a single user's objection. Comments are ephemeral, and should not be included as a reason for closing the OP. If you see a comment that is objectionable and demonstrates what you consider a pattern of abuse, do what I do: Take screen-shots and come back the next day to see if you are still of the same mind. In cases like this you need to build an argument... Apr 14, 2021 at 19:53
  • @Cascabel What penalties should be imposed is up to the moderators. My flag was simply to get a moderators attention to an issue that I couldn't bring to their attention via a standard flag. Also, comments are definitely evidence that a moderator would use to judge what penalties should be imposed. I'm confident that the comments I saw should have been brought to a moderator's attention. However, the declined flag message I got suggests (IIUC) that I should have raised a standard flag, presumably R/A in this case. Which is basically my question, would a R/A flag have been accepted here?
    – cigien
    Apr 14, 2021 at 20:01
  • @Cascabel Also, VTC means "Vote to close" right? What do you mean exactly by "standard VTC reasons"? There's nothing to close here.
    – cigien
    Apr 14, 2021 at 20:04
  • @Cascabel Yes, I meant the main site as well. What's there to close? The question was fine, and answers can't be closed, so I'm not sure what you mean (perhaps you meant deleted instead?). Regarding whether mods are over-worked, I don't doubt that at all, but that's precisely why I thought a standard flag would be appropriate. If mods had a lot of free time, I would expect them to look at all available context (deleted comments, user's history, etc). If they're busy, it seems reasonable that they shouldn't have to repeat the same work that I did.
    – cigien
    Apr 14, 2021 at 20:12
  • You need a little more rep, but soon enough you’ll be able to cast votes to delete. For such bad answers, usually the score is already negative, or if it’s sitting at zero your DV for being a bad answer will make it negative. At which point you can vote to delete, which will raise it to other high-rep users’ attention and they can complete the process. The answer will disappear. If the user goes on to make a habit of it, then I’ll usually flag with a summary and links to other problematic posts. This overall process is pretty effective in my experience.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 14, 2021 at 20:19
  • As far as I remember, it is 3K users participating on the review queues who are shouldering the burden of moderation activities. Complaining about "mod actions" is probably useless. Apr 14, 2021 at 20:26
  • @DanBron I don't follow. It's not that this question was just bad or wrong, but that it's R/A. Posts that are R/A or spam shouldn't be downvoted/deleted anyway, since that prevents it from getting the Red flag penalty that's applied when a post gets sufficient red flags.
    – cigien
    Apr 14, 2021 at 20:47
  • @cigien the text of the answer you quote in your meta-Q here does not appear to be R/A to me. If it was spam, as you say was indicated by the comments, I’d have flagged as spam (standard flag) and let the community weigh in.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 14, 2021 at 21:15
  • @DanBron But that's the issue. It's R/A/Spam "as indicated by the comments". From what I've heard, mods don't necessarily look at the comments on a post when handling a flag. I know that's the case on Stack Overflow, so maybe it's different on ELU?
    – cigien
    Apr 14, 2021 at 22:33
  • @cigien If the issue was really the comment, maybe flag the comment at the time. If it’s gone by the time you think of flagging, then I’d deal with the remaining visible content. Meaning, there might have been no additional reason for the flag.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 15, 2021 at 0:00
  • @DanBron No, I don't think the issue was the comment alone. There were in fact 2 comments, and the username was inappropriate IMO (I won't mention it here). Basically, there was enough evidence around that answer that I wanted the post to be red flagged or for a moderator to take a look it. For the reasons I mentioned, a custom flag seemed the best way to effect that.
    – cigien
    Apr 15, 2021 at 0:05
  • @cigien If you think you made the best decision you could, so be it. Was just trying to lay out my processes to see if they’re helpful. They’ve worked for me.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 15, 2021 at 0:06
  • @DanBron Of course. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the feedback, and I'm just responding with why I think those options you suggested don't seem appropriate to me in this case. Clearly I didn't make the best decision (assuming it wasn't a mod misclick), and so I posted this Meta question.
    – cigien
    Apr 15, 2021 at 0:11

1 Answer 1


Sorry for causing confusion.

The appropriate flag for content that is just nonsense is "rude or abusive" because posting nonsense is rude (deliberately unhelpful).

Flagging it as "rude or abusive" also helps get it deleted automatically, the same as a spam flag.

If you are unsure if someone is either deliberately posting nonsense or trying but failing to be helpful, the low quality flag is the way to go.

  • 1
    Thanks for the clarification. I'm used to an answer like the one I flagged not being considered R/A, but I'll be sure to keep that in mind for ELU.
    – cigien
    Apr 15, 2021 at 15:06

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