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Recently I raised a flag on an answer:

Clearly this user is a crankpot; just see the deleted answers by him and the currently accepted answer also by him, and the comments he made saying that this proves Fermat's last theorem. Somehow, some other users have also been upvoting his nonsense every now and then. But at least it is undeniable that his answer is utterly useless and ought to be deleted... – user21820 13 hours ago

It was declined with the following note: "Wrong answers need not be deleted. Even utter failures of answers. Esp. by moderators. Downvoted: of course!"

But this reason is completely inconsistent with the fact that both the previous two answers of his had been deleted by moderators unilaterally!

Furthermore, my flag was wrongly declined! Read the answer again and tell me how it answers the question! I don't want to raise a flag again just for it to be disputed or declined, but I don't wish to have to pinpoint the user in question. Moderators can easily find the flag I mentioned, right?

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  • $\begingroup$ That's no point to ask here right? There's nothing for us to discuss. Just flag again. $\endgroup$ – user99914 Sep 15 '16 at 3:20
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    $\begingroup$ I think the word you are looking for is "crackpot". $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Sep 15 '16 at 3:31
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnMa: Obviously, I'm asking the moderators. Did you even read my question? There is no point for me to flag again just for it to get declined or disputed. I'm forced to include the discussion tag by the system, not that I want to. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 15 '16 at 4:08
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson: I must have mixed up "crank" and "crackpot" hahaha.. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 15 '16 at 4:08
  • $\begingroup$ If you are asking the moderators, you should flag the related question (and that's the quickest way to get to a moderator) Note if all four of the required tags are not applicable, very likely your question is off topic. (And having one or two declined flags mean nothing, there's no consequences at all). @user21820 $\endgroup$ – user99914 Sep 15 '16 at 4:48
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnMa: Do you have a reference that says that there are no consequences? I try my best to clean up junk from this site when I see them, so I get a couple of declined or disputed flags. Sometimes it gives a warning that my previous flags were declined or disputed and asks me to review them. Ultimately, how do I know whether to flag junk or not? $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 15 '16 at 4:52
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    $\begingroup$ There are consequences (I do not have a reference) if lots of your flags get declined. I mean if one or two flags are declined there is no consequence. I think most users can confirm that by personal experience with flagging. @user21820 $\endgroup$ – user99914 Sep 15 '16 at 4:55
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnMa: So far nothing has happened to me, but I don't like gambling. I feel more and more that this site is too lax with quality of mathematics. I can understand that the broader SE model is crowd-driven, but you know very well how well the math-untrained crowd is able to judge quality here. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 15 '16 at 4:57
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnMa: Just for numbers, I have 133 post flags, split into 98 helpful, 10 declined, 25 disputed. Am I close to the cliff edge? In contrast, I have no problem with the criteria for comment/spam/rude flags; all 29 of them were accepted. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 15 '16 at 5:02
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    $\begingroup$ Found $\endgroup$ – user99914 Sep 15 '16 at 5:05
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnMa: Wow thanks for that. In the past week I have 6 accepted and 2 declined and 1 disputed, so I have exceeded the 25% and am 1 flag away from being blocked from flagging junk for up to a week. So sad. =( I'll just go and wait in a corner until a week is over. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 15 '16 at 5:13
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    $\begingroup$ This is not about the same problem, but at least related: Is it in the Moderator's Job Description to patrol for correctness? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 15 '16 at 5:58
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak: Yes I fully understand that we do not want to have strict censorship, but ultimately we're going to have to draw the line somewhere between good and bad faith in posts. arjafi mentioned that deletion by moderators locks the post, which I was not aware of and can partly explain the dismissal of my flags. I actually prefer if the low quality flag was always available and that the low quality review queue actually works well. Never mind; people here obviously don't share my viewpoint on average. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 15 '16 at 6:10
  • $\begingroup$ @user21820 I have left a few comments in chat. (I do not want to add too many comments here which would only create additional noise. Moreover, your question seems to be be addressed mainly to mods.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 15 '16 at 8:54
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    $\begingroup$ @hardmath: As of now I'm still the only one who voted to delete the post. The delete queue seems very stagnant. As I stated in a comment on arjafi's answer, I view moderator action as being representative of the whole community since we have as a whole elected them, and it carries more weight than a handful of random 20k users' delete votes. The issue is that normal users cannot veto a moderator action, which I did not realize, and which I agree is a severe drawback to moderator deletion. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 16 '16 at 2:00
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In addition to Pedro's answer, I would like to point out that moderators should be very circumspect with their delete votes. This is because, unlike deletions by regular users, when a moderator deletes a post that post is automatically locked, meaning that no further changes can be made to it until undeleted, which can only be done by a moderator. (Moderators can edit locked posts, but then again moderators can edit basically anything in any state.) In particular, the original author cannot improve a mod-deleted post, so a mod-deleted post should be something really unsuitable for the site. only moderators can even vote to undelete it, so community moderation is entirely short circuited. In general, if a post could reasonably be improved into something of value, a moderator delete vote is too big a hammer for the job.

There is a canned decline-flag reason expressing this point

flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer

I'm happy to delete spam (well, flag spam to heck), absolute gibberish, and expositions on the olfactory characteristics of the expirations of one's domesticated feline. But moderators, in their capacity as moderators, should not be expected to judge correctness of an answer, or really even fitness of an answer. As long as an answer appears to be a honest attempt to answer the question, user votes (up and down) should be employed to judge its correctness/usefulness. And simply receiving enough down-votes can place a user into post-bans, so we're not talking about a toothless alternative.

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    $\begingroup$ I see; I was not aware of the locking that moderator deletion comes with, so thanks for that. But I'm not sure the flagged post in question can be defended to be an honest attempt to answer the question... just as other posts of that user. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 15 '16 at 5:59
  • $\begingroup$ @user21820 It seems to make points related to the question, so I would say that it at least appears to be an honest attempt. (Maybe I should emphasize that word in my answer, too?) Completely misguided and ill-informed, perhaps. But, again, mod-deletions are pretty big hammers that should be wielded sparingly. (This is actually one of the downsides of the diamond, as almost every other action can be undone by enough regular users.) $\endgroup$ – user642796 Sep 15 '16 at 6:15
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    $\begingroup$ Yes perhaps it would be better if every moderator action can be undone by enough users of sufficient reputation, but that's a different question now. I can see that I am going to have to rely on delete votes though it seems no more than a handful of users look at the delete queue. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 15 '16 at 6:36
  • $\begingroup$ @user21820 Just checking. By delete queue you mean list of recent delete votes, which is available in the tools? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 15 '16 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak: Yes, it's painfully slow. I flag mainly because delete votes don't work, and it feels like deletion by regular users do not send the right message to crackpots. The reason is that moderators by virtue of being elected stand for the whole community but if a handful of normal users deleted a post it may seem arbitrary. (But I had also voted for deletion.) $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 16 '16 at 1:57
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think that you're right about locking the post after a moderator deletion. It might be an option, but I just noticed on MO some question that the final deleting vote was cast by a moderator, and it was just edited by the OP. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Sep 25 '16 at 6:08
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    $\begingroup$ @user21820 I must be getting old since I completely misremembered the side-effects of mod delete votes: they don't lock the post, but only prevent non-moderators from voting to undelete. (Thank-you, Asaf.) Even this is a pretty serious thing, as it cuts off community moderation which is one of the cornerstones of the SE philosophy. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Sep 25 '16 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: Thanks for your comment! To arjafi: Yes I understand that reason, even if I slightly disagree as per my earlier comment. =) $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 25 '16 at 7:02
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It is not clear to me what your question is. At any rate, the team of moderators is comprised of various people from very different parts of the world with different views on how moderation is to be carried out. In particular, we do not have an agreement on deletion. In particular, some moderators avoid deleting answers even if they are completely wrong, and this is acceptable.

Sometimes it might be hard to determine if a user is being a "crank" or there is just a big, very big, misunderstanding of a concept, making the posted answer useless.

We moderators like to let the community act, too: if there is an answer that is manifestly incorrect, we hope users will downvote accordingly: eventually, with a low enough score, the answer will be greyed out and people will stop paying attention to it.

As a personal recommendation regarding flags (and perhaps tangential to the post): do not expect moderators to do your bidding. Sometimes users command moderators to carry out certain tasks with flags "delete this post", "edit this comment": this is not what flags are for.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well you're one of the moderators who deleted one of his prior answers; you can see the two deleted answers right? If you're saying that it's a third moderator who declined my flag, and it is because the guidelines are not clear enough, then I suggest it be made clearer, otherwise how am I supposed to avoid flagging obvious nonsense of certain types? Also, I only flag when I am certain that it is a crank; in this case just looking through his past posts shows that he is clearly obsessed with publicizing his fake proof of FLT. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 15 '16 at 4:45
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    $\begingroup$ @user21820 You can flag any nonsense you want, just don't expect your flag to be accepted because you are sure about something somebody else might not. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Sep 15 '16 at 4:49
  • $\begingroup$ If there are absolutely no consequences for declined or disputed flags, I would not have asked this question. Is it really so? If not, then I feel that it is unreasonable to expect users to read the mind of the moderator who would handle the flag in the future to avoid disagreement on the flag. No? $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 15 '16 at 4:55
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    $\begingroup$ @user21820 The consequences of declined flags are (1) you might get a pop-up the next time you flag asking you to check your flag history, and (2) with many recent declined flags you might actually be prevented from flagging for up to one week. (See Meta Stack Exchange: Allow recovery from flag hellban.) I guess if you waste the moderators' time with many inane flags we could suspend your account, but I'm not even certain if this has ever happened here. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Sep 15 '16 at 5:14
  • $\begingroup$ @arjafi: Thanks for that! John Ma also pointed me to the same page. I'm at least grateful that it isn't a permanent ban. And I can invite any moderator to view my flagging history to see that nearly all the posts I flagged have either been accepted, downvoted below zero, or deleted, so I'm not a crazy flagger or something. =) $\endgroup$ – user21820 Sep 15 '16 at 5:17
  • $\begingroup$ This is only tangential, but since you mentioned "edit this comment" flags in the last paragraph, I will point out that for comments where incorrect MathJax is breaking layout of the page, flagging was recommended by one of the moderators as a reasonable possibility. See the end of this conversation. (Although I did not find such a recommendation on meta, only in chat.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 15 '16 at 10:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin Yes, if course. What I mean is request to delete based on a more subjective opinion. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Sep 15 '16 at 16:19

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