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Since a few days I am over 10K reputation, meaning that I have access to the review tools. Up to now I saw 4 cases of "not an answer" flag there, which didn't make sense to me. The last one affected this answer of our moderator robjohn, which clearly is an answer to me. So I flagged it as "invalid flag".

In all 4 cases my flag was disputed. In the case of the answer of robjohn, he disputed it himself (EDIT: it was in fact disputed by the moderator Arthur Fischer, see his answer below) with the comment "a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it". However, his answer is still there. Strange.

After searching on meta, I found a few discussions indicating that the "invalid flag" flagging reason doesn't work as expected. Now i wonder why I should flag anything as "invalid flag" at all, when in the end it always is disputed counts on the negative side of the helpful flags.

So my question to the >10K users is: Is it possible that an "invalid flag" counts as being helpful in the end? Do you use the "invalid flag" flagging reason at all?

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    $\begingroup$ This is a long-standing issue with the flagging system (only being able to choose one option for all flags simultaneously). It definitely keeps me from disputing flags. Paradoxically, an "invalid" flag may turn up helpful when the original "not an answer" flag is taken to be helpful -- i.e. when it was actually not helpful. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Nov 25 '13 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin: Thanks! If I get you right, the "helpful" value of an "invalid flag" is just the negation of the real value. Wouldn't be hard to fix that. I guess I will stay away from them in the future. Would you mind making an answer out of your comment? $\endgroup$ – azimut Nov 25 '13 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ Just a note on the wording: "In all 4 cases my flag was disputed" is not how it is, you disputed the other flag. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Nov 25 '13 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ @DanielFischer: Well, in all 4 cases my flagging report tells me that my flag was disputed, and also in the statistics they are counted as disputed. $\endgroup$ – azimut Nov 25 '13 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ No. Your flagging report tells you (in this case) that you disputed four other flags with these. "disputed" is what automatically happens when somebody casts an "invalid" flag, both to the original flagger - whose flag is disputed - and to the "invalid" flagger - who disputed the flag. By clicking on "invalid flag", you automatically generated the "disputed" status for both flags, yours, and the one you deemed invalid. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Nov 25 '13 at 14:28
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The short answer is that there is currently no way handle multiple active flags on the same post separately (to the great annoyance of myself, and likely the other moderators, too). The »a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it« message you received was intended for the original "not an answer" flag.1 (For more about disputed flags see MSO and again; of particular importance is that disputed flags are neither helpful nor declined, so even once upon a time when "flag weight" actually meant something, disputed flags had no effect.)

The dev team is currently working on a redesign of the way flags are handled by the moderators. In the future helpful invalid flag flags will (hopefully) be considered helpful, as opposed to the unhelpful invalid flag flags which are now deemed helpful.

As Mad Scientist says, continue to flag flags you deem to be invalid as invalid. It helps the moderators a lot in some borderline cases where our opinions may differ from those of the original flagger, but don't yet have enough certainty to act on them. (The fact that all of your "invalid flag" flags have been "disputed" is, paradoxically, a good thing, and generally means that you should continue to flag.)

1I know this because I was the moderator who handled these flags, not robjohn.

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    $\begingroup$ Am I the only one to find it a bit strange that such an important request took two years to reach "status-planned", while they did find time to redesign the top bar, without anyone asking? $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Nov 25 '13 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for this enlightening answer. The line "by robjohn" in my flagging report made me think that he has handled the flag, but of course, it refers to him as the author of the answer. $\endgroup$ – azimut Nov 25 '13 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin: I agree it's been a loonnngggg time coming. (But changing the top bar is probably a lot easier to do, and will be noticed by more users.) $\endgroup$ – user642796 Nov 25 '13 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ @azimut: I know that it is a little confusing when moderators are flagged (and in general the flag reports could be easier to wade through). I doubt any moderator would act on a flag on their posts, even if this fact is hidden from the flaggers. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Nov 25 '13 at 13:06
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Disputed flags also don't hurt you at all, there are no consequences to having your flags being disputed. There is no penalty at all for disputed flags.

While I think the current behaviour regarding flag dispution is a mess, it shouldn't stop you from disputing flags. You're still providing feedback to the moderators and/or other users handling that flag. You're not gaining any increase in your helpful flag count or any badges, but you're helping moderating the site.

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