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I accidentally flagged a question twice (for a different thing the second time) because I thought the first one had been declined when in fact it had been marked as helpful. Can the moderators delete the second flag without deeming it helpful or unhelpful?

To clarify, both reasons I flagged it for were (in my opinion) valid, but I just thought it was redundant to flag a question twice.

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  • $\begingroup$ It seems like they were both marked helpful. The question still stands as a general issue, I suppose. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Jan 19 '13 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ Curious. I caught one of your flags and marked it helpful (since I agree the thread is a mess) but there is only one close vote on your question. If the other flag was deemed helpful, it wasn't by a close vote. So now I'm confused as to what "helpful" means. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Jan 19 '13 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ I think moderators can manually mark a question helpful without performing any action on it, but choosing to close-vote a question would automatically mark the flag as helpful, since action came of it. I can't be sure, though, since I'm not a moderator myself. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Jan 19 '13 at 22:46
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When we as moderators see a flag, we can do one of those things:

  • Act on the flag – by closing, deleting, editing, ... a question. Then the system automatically marks your flag as helpful.

  • Mark the flag as helpful, but don't do anything about it. We are meant to do this when we think the flagger did the right thing by flagging (i.e. flagging such things is not generally bad for some reason), but there is not a actual necessity for a moderator to step in.

  • Dismiss the flag as not helpful. Then we select one of several reasons or provide a custom reason, which the flagger then can see at his flag overview (e.g. https://crypto.stackexchange.com/users/flag-summary/4572 for Joe – replace your own user ID, or click the number on your user page – the page is only visible for the user himself and for moderators.)

  • Don't do anything – this leaves the flag for another moderator to review.

In your case, both flags were marked as "helpful". The first one (a flag with a custom reason, only visible to ♦ moderators) was marked as helpful by a community moderator.

The second one (with "not a real question", and visible to users > 2000 rep) was marked as helpful by Community, a dummy user used to attribute stuff that happens automatically. I suppose this came from the close vote mentioned by Thomas.

To answer your question:

No, we (moderators) can't delete flags without marking them as either helpful nor non-helpful.

I suppose the developers can do something like that (if necessary by directly manipulating the database), but there is not much point in it, since the number of "helpful" and "not helpful" flags is not that important.


Looking at the question again, I now decided to close it. I'm unwilling to delete it, to not punish anyone who did put some work into trying to answer it.

Feel free to construct one or more better questions from it.

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  • $\begingroup$ "I'm unwilling to delete it, to not punish anyone who did put some work into trying to answer it." Would this mean that the closed question no longer serves any purpose but for preservation of reputation (in which case it would be safe for me to replace the question content with an explanation that the question was extremely confusing and not useful to the site)? $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Jan 20 '13 at 2:28
  • $\begingroup$ I'm just somewhat concerned that there might be a misconception that the paper I wrote is obligated to formally attribute part of its content to the Stack Exchange when in fact no new content from the site was actually used. (I have provided informal attribution to the people who helped me, though.) $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Jan 20 '13 at 2:37
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeZeng Moderators and users with 2000+ rep (higher on non-beta SE websites) can see deleted questions, they are still on the site, just hidden. Posts also have a full permanent revision history. But in any case, anything you post on Stack Exchange is licensed under the Creative Commons license (see FAQ) which, I believe, simply requires you to acknowledge the source of original content (perhaps a permalink to said question) in your references. That said, I doubt researchers formally credit every thread they lay eyes on. IANAL, though. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Jan 20 '13 at 4:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Thomas I don't mind that the content (including the question I posted) is still stored and licensed. I just don't want people thinking that I actually used content from the Stack Exchange site, just because I also posted the question here before writing the paper. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Jan 20 '13 at 4:38

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