1. How can I see which moderator accepted/declined my flags?

  2. I doubt this is possible now, but I wanted to ask. If not possible, then what's the reason for keeping this secret?

  3. In the end, how could we evaluate the activity of a moderator?

  • $\begingroup$ This question was suggested to me by the admins of the site after I've contacted them, asking clarifications about the flags policy. $\endgroup$ – user26857 Jan 7 '15 at 9:08
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    $\begingroup$ 1) So far as I know, it is not possible. 2) The mods are a unified entity: one moderator is like Q, but the mods collectively are like the Q-continuum. So it is a secret because it doesn't matter - I suppose, really, it is because they evaluate one another (precident). 3) See (2). $\endgroup$ – user1729 Jan 7 '15 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ Also, it sounds like you got a flag declined, and you believe it should not have been. When this happens to me I re-flag, with an explanation about why I think the flag should be accepted. However, remember that flagging is subtle - not all flags are seen by a moderator, while (if I recall correctly) if a flag to a comment is accepted then the comment is automatically deleted - and hence a moderator may agree with you, but they are forced to decline. Another course of action would be to bring the example to meta (but you should be wary of doing this-I'll see if I can find some good examples). $\endgroup$ – user1729 Jan 7 '15 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ Examples can be found here: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/… $\endgroup$ – user1729 Jan 7 '15 at 9:28
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    $\begingroup$ What would you do with that information? I'm 99% sure that the answer to this question answers your question 2. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Jan 7 '15 at 9:34
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    $\begingroup$ Looking at your recent flagging history, I'll make a couple notes. First of all, moderators cannot respond to comment flags: we either act on them (edit/delete flagged comment), or dismiss/decline the flag. This lack of communication isn't optimal. (Heck, we cannot even tell who is flagging a comment without making guesses.) Also, we have three new mods who are still learning the ropes. While we grizzled veterans are trying to help them out, its going to take some time for them to all settle into their new roles. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Jan 7 '15 at 9:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Arthur I think it's stupid that you can't use a free-form reply. I have filed a feature request on meta.SE. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Jan 7 '15 at 10:00
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    $\begingroup$ You can't see who declined, we can't see who flagged (in the case of a comment flag). It is highly likely that if your flag was wrongly declined, it was one of us new mods. In light of this it is also likely that it was me, because I held a different idea of which comments are obsolete and which are not. Anyway, the more experienced mods explained the common policy to me, so I fine-tuned my approach about two days ago. Have you still been getting in your opinion wrongfully declined flags? $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 7 '15 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ For example, during my first week as a mod it felt wrong to me to declare a comment "obsolete", if it had been there for less than a day or two. Many users may not have seen the post in question yet, and IMO a couple of such comments still help a new viewer in constructing the evolution of the post, and deciding whether a further helpful comment (or another answer even) is warranted. Also, I felt that the purpose of the "obsolete" flag is to get rid of excessive comments. So if the entire chain of comments consists of $<5$ comments, IMHO there is no pressing need to remove them. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 7 '15 at 10:45
  • $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen I've slowed down a little with the flagging when I've noticed that most of them were declined. (In my opinion 99% of the comments are useless; the non-mathematical (chat-like) comments should be deleted; the wrong mathematical comments should also be deleted.) $\endgroup$ – user26857 Jan 7 '15 at 11:04
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    $\begingroup$ (Re: «In my opinion 99% of the comments are useless») To me it looks like there are a lot of useful comments on Main (mathematical comments and references / links to relevant texts / questions, at least) and on Meta half of discussions are actually in comments rather than in posts. And all these recent posts asking moderators to delete more comments just make me feel... uneasy. $\endgroup$ – Grigory M Jan 7 '15 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ @GrigoryM I don't care about the comments in Meta. And if you have seen many comments on M.SE providing "references / links to relevant texts / questions", then we are living in parallel worlds. $\endgroup$ – user26857 Jan 7 '15 at 11:19
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    $\begingroup$ (Re: «we are living in parallel worlds») in fact, maybe we are (I'm actively trying to ignore the just-do-my-homework-for-me part of the site) $\endgroup$ – Grigory M Jan 7 '15 at 11:31
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    $\begingroup$ Dear user26857, I have no idea in which parts of site you're active — and have meant no offence — I've just admitted that I indeed see only a small (and in a sense... non-generic) part of Math.SE $\endgroup$ – Grigory M Jan 7 '15 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ It seems partially prejudgmental to assume that us the new mods are the ones messing up. Just because a user finds him or herself in disagreement with an action of a mod, this doesn't mean the moderator has faulted, in particular it shouldn't be common currency for users to think that finding a mod resolution unsatisfactory implies the action was taken by a new moderator. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Mod Jan 7 '15 at 17:14

You can't see that information, and I doubt SE will ever change that.

It is generally much better to focus on specific actions than focusing on people when complaining about the moderation on the site. When such discussions get personal, they tend to escalate and become far less constructive. Discussing the actual issue without assigning blame first can avoid that in most cases.

At first it doesn't matter which moderator exactly declined your flag, what matters is why they declined it and whether that action was correct or not.

A single declined flag is nothing to worry about, but if you get multiple flags of the same kind declined, either you're flagging wrong or the moderator is wrongly declining them.

So if you think that your flags are declined for the wrong reason, make a meta post about it and explain why you think they are valid flags. If you're right, the moderator will likely adapt their behaviour and avoid making the same mistake in the future, problem solved. If you're wrong, you'll know why you shouldn't flag that kind of post and will stop that, problem solved as well.

Now, there could be a case where a moderator makes consistently bad decisions on flags and is not willing to change. If users complain about specific flags on meta, that kind of behaviour won't go unnoticed by the other moderators and even SE at some point. The moderators and SE also have the full picture available, and they have the power to do something about the issue if the moderator can't be reasoned with.

  • $\begingroup$ Your suggestion is good, but usually such things are penalized on meta by the other users who probably think that you want to start a mini revolution. Anyway, I think all the comments under this question started from @Jyrki's comment are completely useless, but all my flags were declined. $\endgroup$ – user26857 Jan 7 '15 at 11:15
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    $\begingroup$ @user26857: Those comments are now fully served. But you flagged them 3 hours (!) after they were written. At that time they still served the purpose of explaining to any interested user what had happened. So I felt that whoever flagged them was a bit trigger happy. I'm fairly sure that I was the handling moderator on that occasion, as there were not many of us on duty. Whatever. Now I would react differently. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 7 '15 at 11:41
  • $\begingroup$ I can almost remember a time when you could see who handled the flag. Am I misremembering? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mod Jan 7 '15 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen I don't know what means "fully served", but I found them useless since the very moment when an answer was posted. (Who cares about a talk between you and another user about the possibility of posting an answer as long as an answer was posted and that user conceded that he had the same idea?) And if you "would react differently", then please consider I've flagged them once more and delete them. $\endgroup$ – user26857 Jan 7 '15 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm. I'm not sure that "fully served" is proper English. What I meant is a comment that in its youth served a useful role, but having fulfilled it can now, its job well done, retire from active duty. <tongue-in-cheek> Calling it "obsolete" and "deleting" it is so disrespectful. I prefer "fully served" and "retiring" or, if you like army lingo, "honorably discharged". </tongue-in-cheek> $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 7 '15 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ Let me state for the record that I would much prefer moderators erring on the side of leaving "useless" comments alone, than deleting them prematurely. $\endgroup$ – user7530 Jan 7 '15 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Jyrki I think "served its course" might be the phrase you were going for? $\endgroup$ – user1729 Jan 8 '15 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, @user1729. Perfect. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 8 '15 at 8:12

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