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I just now happened to flag a question for moderator attention, for the reason that I felt it could be considered a duplicate of another question. I only wanted to bring it to a moderator's attention as a possible duplicate, and leave the final determination up to them; I didn't feel strongly enough that I wanted to vote to close it myself. However, it seems that when a 3000+ user flags for moderator attention, this doubles as a vote to close. I think these operations should be separate; there are many situations where I feel it might be worthwhile to ask a moderator to take a look at a controversial or borderline case, but withhold from taking action oneself.

Is it possible for a 3000+ user to flag a question for moderator attention without voting to close it?

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    $\begingroup$ What do you mean it doubles the vote to close? This certainly isn't true (I've voted and flagged questions several times and this never happened to me). I assume that this question is motivated by this closed question, where yunone was the second to vote after you and left a comment just 4 minutes after the question was asked. So it is safe to guess that the doubling actually was an update on the close count. $\endgroup$ – t.b. Apr 22 '11 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ On the other hand, you can of course flag without casting a close vote. $\endgroup$ – t.b. Apr 22 '11 at 21:51
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Flagging and "voting to close" are separate. You probably misinterpreted something.

Edit: Are you sure that you clicked the flag button instead of the close button? In the past week, you have not flagged for any possible duplicates. (There is no possible duplicate option when you flag: you have to manually enter it as for moderator attention.)

Edit 2: Let me also add that it is better practice to just vote to close as possible duplicates than to flag and "let moderator decide". The whole point of the community voting system is to make it such that the moderators are not the final arbitrator for everything. In fact, if the moderators were to decide to vote, the vote would be binding; so we will only vote in the most clear-cut cases. If you, as a user, have a doubt whether a question is a duplicate of a previous one, then more likely than not, unless the question already has 4 closure votes, the moderators won't do anything about the question. In this case it is better to vote for closure yourself and leave a comment to that effect so the community as a whole can judge.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Willie: I did before flag as duplicate as got to the voting dialog automatically. I do, however, enjoy voting for closure... so I don't mind ;-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Apr 22 '11 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf: there is no "flag as duplicate" option. When you "flag", the only options are (a) It needs moderator attention [as either low quality or other specific reason] (b) It doesn't belong here (c) It is spam (d) It is not welcome in our community. I don't know what you mean by "flag as duplicate". $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Apr 22 '11 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ (I just checked on two other SE sites. So the flag dialog is consistent between moderators, normal users with 3K+, and normal user with fewer than 3K. I really have no idea what you guys are seeing.) $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Apr 22 '11 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Willie: It might have been removed, I mean - I do drink a lot sometimes and my memory is mostly smog of reality, dreams and set theory; I still insist to remember this detail clearly. I do because I was at this very boring place and did that through my iPhone, and didn't understand why it redirects me to the other dialog. I am only left with the conclusion that it was removed recently. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Apr 22 '11 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Willie: Thanks very much for the clarification. I thought there was a specific flag as duplicate option too, but I'm not as sure as Asaf about what it is I did - it seems quite possible that my cursor was a bit off when I clicked, or perhaps there is a problem with the site where clicking the flag button sometimes brings up the vote-to-close dialog instead. $\endgroup$ – Zev Chonoles Apr 22 '11 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ Also, I agree with your remarks about it being better practice to vote to close; I don't know why I felt particularly cautious about this question (looking at it again it most certainly deserved to be closed). I suppose I am more accustomed to flagging for moderator attention without voting when I'm not sure about something on MO (hopefully this has not annoyed the moderators there too much...) - I guess I feel like I should be less cavalier about it there. $\endgroup$ – Zev Chonoles Apr 22 '11 at 22:39
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You're supposed to use your close votes, flagging as "does not belong here" is not meant as an alternative to voting to close. Flagging as "does not belong here" is meant for clear cases that need quick intervention or questions with limited visibility that aren't viewed by enough people to get the 5 votes. In both cases you should vote to close anyway before flagging. To enforce that, the following behaviour was introduced recently (see SE feature changes):

2011-03-23: If you flag a question as "does not belong" while you still have usable close votes, the flag will instead be converted into a vote to close.

So you did not flag at all, your flag was converted into a close vote.

You can still use the freeform "it needs ♦ moderator attention" flag to flag without voting, but that wouldn't really be a valid use in this case.

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