I wish to make the site look better for everyone. So I vote to close some questions that deserve it. And I flag as very low quality when I'm out of close votes, hoping that the others would vote to close/delete it instead.

Recently almost all my flags were declined with the following comment:

declined - if you think a question should be closed, please use your votes

And sometimes, even when I flag a question with -5 votes as very low quality, I get this response:

declined - a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it

What evidence should I provide? Isn't the question itself the evidence? It looks off-topic and terrible. Also usually have negative score.

Update (30/5/16): I now have a gold Marshal badge, thanks to my improved flagging behaviour! Now I'm one among the 21 users so far to have ever received it on ELU. :)

  • And I'm banned from flagging now. It is discouraging to me. Makes me not want to flag at all. – NVZ Apr 17 '16 at 9:23
  • 1
    It happened to me a few times. If you run out of close-votes, it is best not to flag it as "low -quality" and just downvote it. ELU's quality has become worse than ELL recently and it is everybody's responsibility, not just yours. Keep up the good spirit and don't get so discouraged. Flags are used for low-quality questions or answers, not closable questions. – user140086 Apr 17 '16 at 9:44
  • @Rathony My flags are banned. I guess my account will be banned soon. I got 34 declined in a day, and counting. – NVZ Apr 17 '16 at 9:46
  • No worry. The ban will be lifted pretty soon. I have now 100% helpful flag rate and the reason is I don't flag anything unless it is really necessary. It will get better when you have more experience. – user140086 Apr 17 '16 at 9:48
  • 3
    @NVZ - It sounds like with the help of the mods, you've cleared up the confusion about the use of flags (especially with regards to questions.) Regarding 'another way to get around the close vote limit' per day, you might want to read this informative and upvoted post. – anongoodnurse Apr 17 '16 at 11:53
  • What do the down votes mean here? Is my question terribly written? I understand what down votes on meta answers mean. But this? – NVZ Apr 21 '16 at 9:56
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    Congrats!!! Well-done. – user140086 May 30 '16 at 18:41

Very low quality is not equivalent to a close vote. Note the description says:

This question has severe formatting or content problems. This question is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed.

In particular, a question that is salvageable but is inappropriate for the current site in its current state should be closed but should not be flagged as very low quality.

Thus, the flag decline reason:

declined - a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it

suggests that the moderator who reviewed your flag found that the post would have been salvageable, even if the question should have been closed or the answer deleted.

I would further point out that the decline reason:

declined - if you think a question should be closed, please use your votes

itself is quite clear. The system has enforced a limit on you for a reason; there is no need to attempt to circumvent it.

See also: Is the Very Low Quality flag too ambiguous?

  • Reading the see also part, I understand that VLQ actually calls for deletion and not closing. So why not avoid the ambiguity and rename it to mean just that "should be deleted"? – NVZ Apr 17 '16 at 9:33
  • Also now that I understand the real meaning behind VLQ, how may I pull back my flags? I seem to have flagged many, and may lead to ban on my account soon. – NVZ Apr 17 '16 at 9:35
  • Renaming flag reasons would be a change to the Stack Exchange engine and thus any proposal to do so would need to find its way to Meta Stack Exchange. Flags cannot be retracted; however, incorrect flagging will not lead to either a permanent flag ban or an account ban. – waiwai933 Apr 17 '16 at 9:52
  • That's a relief. So can you lift the ban for me? I won't make this mistake again. – NVZ Apr 17 '16 at 9:56
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    Sorry, the system enforces the flag ban automatically (it's algorithmic based on your ratio of helpful to declined flags). There's nothing I or any other mod can do about it. – waiwai933 Apr 17 '16 at 10:03
  • Just to clarify another point, Matt and I were going through the flag queue at the same time, so we both processed some of your flags. – waiwai933 Apr 17 '16 at 10:12
  • I see what you did there. – NVZ Apr 17 '16 at 10:13

You were flagging questions. You have the "Vote To Close" privilege. You do not need to flag questions when you want them closed, certainly none of the old ones you were flagging.

  • I have the privilege. But limited no. of votes. Is it absolutely wrong that I flag them as low quality? – NVZ Apr 17 '16 at 9:29
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    When you see a question from 2013 with a lot of downvotes, there isn't cause to flag it. We have a large active community of people with close votes, so please don't worry about questions that need closing, enough people will see it. – Matt E. Эллен Mod Apr 17 '16 at 9:40
  • Well, apparently I just got 34 declined in a day! Wow. I'm never flagging again – NVZ Apr 17 '16 at 9:40
  • More importantly, why are moderators getting into this? I thought my VLQ flags would just appear in the review queue for other users. – NVZ Apr 17 '16 at 9:44
  • I just had to declined 34 flags, but I'm still going to be a moderator. I guess I'm a loser, eh? – Matt E. Эллен Mod Apr 17 '16 at 9:44
  • Flags go to our queue :) – Matt E. Эллен Mod Apr 17 '16 at 9:45
  • You're not a loser. I am. I have failed to understand how flags work, apparently. – NVZ Apr 17 '16 at 9:45
  • Just curious. Did you actually go through each of them carefully? – NVZ Apr 17 '16 at 9:54
  • I think the flags go to the non-mod queue, but after 15 minutes of not being handled they come into the mod queue. Don't worry about the flag ban, think of it as time off! Yes, I went through each flag. – Matt E. Эллен Mod Apr 17 '16 at 9:59
  • So you're saying all 34 of my declined flags waited those 15 minutes in queue and no one batted an eye? I would've wanted the non-mod queue to review it. Many minds, democratic process, you know, instead of the totalitarian power used by mods. – NVZ Apr 17 '16 at 10:02

I noticed there was a sudden increase in the number of low-quality questions in a review a few hours ago and I now understand you flagged them. I think two moderators answered your question well. Now, if you run out of close-votes and want to close questions (mostly old questions), you can write up a Meta post with links to those questions.

Actually many of the questions you flagged were close-voted by myself and some of them were closed with a moderator's single close-vote.

The reason I posted this suggestion, Shall we make a list of Low-Quality-Questions regularly on Meta? was to make sure closable questions could and should be closed.

You can make a similar post with links and I will close-vote them if they seem closable hoping other members do the same.

  • Thank you, Rathony. I'm okay with getting flags declined naturally from queue. Some turn out helpful, too. What upset me actually was that a single mod decided to decline every flag in one go. See Matt's comment: "I just had to declined 34 flags, but I'm still going to be a moderator. I guess I'm a loser, eh?" – NVZ Apr 17 '16 at 10:10
  • @NVZ I would have done the same thing if I had been a moderator and you would do the same thing if you are in the future. It happened just because you don't have enough experience. But I really liked your flags and that's what this community needs desperately to clean up all those craps. Just flags don't work that way. I was also frustrated when my flags were declined but what the hell. I got used to it and have no issue with it now. – user140086 Apr 17 '16 at 10:13
  • I'm not sure I agree completely. If I was a mod, I wouldn't decline flags which didn't call for my attention in the first place. I'd let the non-mod users vote on it in their VLQ review queue. I'd let the community decide, instead of assuming total power over every flag ever made by a user. – NVZ Apr 18 '16 at 4:42
  • Also, some of those flagged posts are now closed or deleted by mods. So why decline my flags in the first place! It's like rejecting a suggested edit and then doing the same edits yourself. – NVZ Apr 18 '16 at 4:44
  • @NVZ I just said that because the same thing happened to me before and now I fully understand the reason why my flags were declined. If all of your flagged questions were closed by mods, your analogy to a suggested edit would work, but not all of them have been closed. I use flags only for spams, answers that don't answer questions, and some other issues that need moderators' attention. – user140086 Apr 18 '16 at 14:04

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