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You flag a question for moderator attention. You provide information to support your request.

  1. Within what time period is the request handled?
  2. Will the moderators inform you by email about their decision?
  3. What are your options if the moderators decide not to take action, and also choose not to inform you about this, thus leaving you in limbo?
  4. What does it mean when the flag is marked as "helpful" by a moderator? What course of action does this initiate?
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    $\begingroup$ This is about a custom flag? $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jul 13 '15 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ The OP writes in a Comment on the Answer below: "Recently I decide to post it on MS..., yet it was poorly received and put on hold as off-topic. I wrote an EDIT in which I defended my post, then flagged it for moderator attention. Nothing much happened. The post was closed. I didn't want to leave my puzzle in limbo, deleted the main text. My flag was deemed helpful." It remains unclear what you would like a moderator (or the Community) to do with your flag. In terms of the Comment I left on the specifc Question, you could add that this was your puzzle and say if you planned to Answer it. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Jul 15 '15 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ @hardmath It is clear to me that this website is not trustworthy. Therefore I have suspended my activities as volunteer (answering student's questions) with immediate effect. $\endgroup$ – M. Wind Jul 15 '15 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ @M.Wind To you last comment: thank you. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Jul 15 '15 at 22:21
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  1. Within what time period is the request handled?

It depends. The average is several hours, I think it was about 3 hours last time this was discussed. But there is quite some variance. Also recall all moderators are volunteers.

  1. Will the moderators inform you by email about their decision?

Normally, not. However, the fate of your flags can be seen here https://math.stackexchange.com/users/flag-summary/30735 (only works for OP)

You can navigate there by clicking 'helpful flags' on your 'activity page,' too.

There is "pending" (not handled), and "helpful" or "declined" (and "disputed") for handled ones; and possibly custom additional details as information about the flag.

  1. What are your options if the moderators decide not to take action, and also choose not to inform you about this, thus leaving you in limbo?

It is quite rare that flags are not handles for an extended period of time. It is not rare that no action is taken for one reason or another. This is usually knowable from the link I gave above.

A thing you can do is ask in the Math Mods' office

In severe case, you can also follow the "contact us" link at the bottom of the page. But this will rather get you in touch with SE staff not per-site moderators.

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    $\begingroup$ I didn't believe the 3 hour statistic, so I looked it up. It turns out that you're right! I find our 3 hour average (which still holds) remarkable, as we do sometimes keep some flags open for extremely large periods of time if there are long necessary observation periods (like when we flag to reopen a contest problem after a month, say). What this really means is that the heavy flag handlers do an exceptional job. $\endgroup$ – davidlowryduda Jul 13 '15 at 23:43
  • $\begingroup$ What does it mean that a flagged post is deemed "helpful"? $\endgroup$ – M. Wind Jul 13 '15 at 23:49
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    $\begingroup$ @M.Wind the status refers to the flag not the post. A flag can be marked as "helpful" either by the moderators explicitly marking it as such, or by a moderator (or the community) taking some action in line with the flag. There can be some unusual situations; to get an idea see meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/4328/… though some details might have changed since. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 13 '15 at 23:53
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, but here my English fails me.... The post is flagged by the OP, and the flag is given the status "helpful" by a moderator. Okay. Yet apparently this does not mean that any real action is taken. So after a while the post [which was put On Hold] is automatically closed. This makes you wonder: what has the flagging and the status "helpful" actually achieved? $\endgroup$ – M. Wind Jul 14 '15 at 0:21
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: Some details? Most details. I should delete that question. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 14 '15 at 3:52
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    $\begingroup$ Some up-to-date information on flagging is here. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Jul 14 '15 at 4:14
  • $\begingroup$ @M.Wind it is a bit difficult to discuss this in abstract. What was the flag about? Also what type of flag did you use? Anyway, "helpful" means that the information you conveyed with the flag was considered as "helpful" in some sense. But there are plenty of possibilities. Without knowing more details there is little more to say. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 14 '15 at 11:19
  • $\begingroup$ Around 1980 my father told me a math puzzle. It was similar to the "two professors" puzzle. I immediately liked it. Over the decades I have often thought about it, and created my own (more complex) variation. Recently I decide to post it on MSE. It looked nice and elegant enough (compared to similar posts at MSE), yet it was poorly received and put on hold as off-topic. I wrote an EDIT in which I defended my post, then flagged it for moderator attention. Nothing much happened. The post was closed. I didn't want to leave my puzzle in limbo, deleted the main text. My flag was deemed helpful. $\endgroup$ – M. Wind Jul 14 '15 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ @M.Wind why did you flag it for moderators attention? Just reopening closed posts is usually not a task for moderators. If you did this it is indeed slightly surprising the flag was deemed helpful. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 14 '15 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ I flagged it because I felt my post was unfairly put on hold and the comments ("you must post your own solution", "looks like homework", "puzzles are not allowed") were ludicrous. $\endgroup$ – M. Wind Jul 14 '15 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ @M.Wind thanks for the info. Signaling inappropriate comments can be a valid use. Anyway, I think if you want to know what happened to you flag, you might ask in the chat room I linked. (Mention the post to simplify things.) $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 14 '15 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ Do you realize that everything in the Help and Meta pages but also in this thread is just formal, theoretical, hypothetical, rhetorical, convoluted stuff which can be perceived as elusive and evasive? A smoke-screen to hide that asking a moderator for help usually has no effect ? $\endgroup$ – M. Wind Jul 14 '15 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ @M.Wind: If your post was put on hold, and you later edited it, you should NOT appeal to the moderators. Such matters are first and foremost COMMUNITY MODERATED. It is much better to plead your case in this thread. Then you have a chance to get explanations from the users who put your question on hold in the first place. Moderators read that thread regularly, and will act if they can do so without going against the community consensus. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 14 '15 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ @M.Wind the content of my answer is necessarily general as you were and are not really forthcoming with details. (Besides I cannot know for a fact why a moderator decided some way.) Anyway, I recommended you to ask in a certain chat room about it. You did not. There is only that much one can do, if the other side is not willing to follow recommendations. :-/ $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 14 '15 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ @M.Wind: If your gripe is about this question you will see that it already as two reopen votes. These things take time. I'm not sure whether I mark such requests as helpful or not (probably I do), but I never grant such a wish. Instead I have started referring askers to that thread. The site norm is to post there. If others find the request reasonable, they will quickly act to reopen it. If they find the request unfounded, you will quickly learn about that, too. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 14 '15 at 19:05

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