It's been many hours since I raised a flag on Why is this inequality true in this proof?. Any guesses why it's still showing "active"?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Moderators catching up on their shut-eye? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 3 '13 at 5:32
  • $\begingroup$ Agree with Gerry. Happened to me once that I had to wait for, gasp, a full 24 hours. I guess that the moderator team may also have other rules of thumb such as: if one of them handled a flag, the same moderator will handle a related follow up flag. Or whatever. They are doing a good job, and can sort out such things themselves without having to give us the minutes :-) $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Nov 3 '13 at 6:54
  • $\begingroup$ In less clear cut situations that are not very pressing, we might leave a flag for longer so thatother moderatr can see them. This was such a case. The flag should be cleared now. I will expand on this in an answer. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Nov 3 '13 at 8:49
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know what you mean with many hours but it's common for me to wait for a full day and sometimes a bit more. $\endgroup$ – Git Gud Nov 3 '13 at 11:30
  • $\begingroup$ Keep in mind that this flag wasn't particularly urgent or serious. Clear-cut flags that require immediate attention are dealt with first. Things like this may require us to investigate the behavior in various ways and discuss how to deal with the user between ourselves. In general, I wouldn't expect a lightning-fast response to flags unless they require one. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Gruber Nov 3 '13 at 20:18

As Mad Scientist pointed out in his answer, there are many reasons why flags are not handled on immediately. In addition, flags that point to some behavior of a user we should watch out for will usually not be cleared very soon, if we agree that the behavior is worth watching out for but does not yet call for immediate action.

The average flag takes much more time to handle than the median flag. Things like proper insults, spam etc will usually be killed off very fast.

  • $\begingroup$ In this particular case it seemed clear to me that the user in question was well-intentioned but inexperienced—I had figured a gentle email would be sent and the flag cleared, but I can see how the mods may have wanted to wait to see if the situation improved. $\endgroup$ – dfeuer Nov 3 '13 at 14:58

There are a few reasons why flag handling might take a bit longer:

  • No moderator is online currently. This is a rather big factor on sites with fewer mods and with a heavy timezone bias. Moderators don't handle flags when they are sleeping.

  • There are a lot of flags in the queue and relatively few moderators online at the time. MSE has a rather high question volume now, I wouldn't be surprised if the flag queue reached triple digits (though I don't have any internal data).

  • A moderator or several looked at the flag, but were not sure what to do about it.

  • A moderator looked at it, but dealing with the issue requires more time and the flag is left as a reminder. For example, if you flag a case of suspected vote fraud it might take a bit longer to deal with.

Then there are also flags that don't go through the moderators, specifically close flags which are handled by the community in the review queue now.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Never once have I actually seen the flag queue reach triple digits. At any given time there seems to always be a moderator who is really doing more than his fair share of work (though this seems to rotate on an irregular schedule between mods). Having our large army of mods also helps. :-) $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Nov 4 '13 at 9:10

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