Just got a "Your last flag was declined - please review it before flagging this post!" caution while flagging this as not-an-answer, which then led me to the flag-summary page, where I found a couple older declined not-an-answer flags with the note "flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention".

FWIW I have a lot more not-an-answer flags marked as helpful, so it doesn't sound like I completely misunderstood the purpose of the not-an-answer flag, yet I am puzzled by these declined cases, as well as the reference to moderator intervention.

Related questions were asked before, for example «Not an answer» / «very low quality» flags, but I didn't find a definitive answer to when is it (in?)appropriate to exercise the not-an-answer flag, or what the difference is vs. VLQ in terms of moderator involvement/overhead.

• You can vote to delete those answers, though, right? So I guess that's what the mod message means: you have the privilege to take action yourself, no need for a mod. – Andrew Li Mar 16 '18 at 5:00
• You can vote to delete those answers, though, right? No, the delete option was not available yet at the time I flagged any of those. Besides, the point of a not-an-answer flag (as opposed to, say, just a downvote) is precisely to get others to weigh in on it, too, via the review queue. – dxiv Mar 16 '18 at 5:15
• The flag goes to mods once there are multiple people flagging the post or it's been in the LQP queue more than once, so I guess more people started flagging it/downvoting it so it became eligible for deletion after you had raised the initial flag, but before the mods reviewed it, so when the mod came across the flag, the mod message was left. – Andrew Li Mar 16 '18 at 5:22
• Thanks for posting this. The older/linked Question goes back to 2012, and it was ripe for revisiting if for no other reason than the comparatively few "trusted users" back then able to vote-to-delete. – hardmath Mar 16 '18 at 16:32

I looked through your list of flags, and it seems to me that you've got the right idea. It appears that you've only ever had a handful of flags declined, and I would suggest that you should feel comfortable using whatever criteria you currently have for flagging.

With respect to the particular declined flag in your post --- I'm not sure what the moderator who handled that flag was thinking when declining the flag. I think it was a good flag, and perhaps in a slightly different mindset the handling moderator would have accepted the flag and deleted the answer. But sometimes mods clear very many flags in a short period of time, and a small amount of variation should be expected.

Concerning when to use VLQ vs NaA flags, I think «Not an answer» / «very low quality» flags holds up pretty well.

NaA should be used when the answer truly doesn't add anything to the question. Sometimes NaA flags are raised when the answer is merely poor, or incorrect, or essentially similar in flavor to another answer. I decline all of these when I see them, as these do not fall in NaA.

VLQ flags are a bit more subjective. But what it should signal to others is that the flagger considers the post to be bad enough to be beyond saving. I would expect a user who raises a VLQ flag to also downvote, and to perhaps vote to delete or close the post.

• "NaA should be used when the answer truly doesn't add anything to the question." I do not agree with this description. A main use-case for NaA is for comment-like content posted in answer posts. They should be flagged as NaA, while they might actually add something. They are just not an answer. – quid Mar 16 '18 at 19:20
• @quid excellent point. I agree. – davidlowryduda Mar 16 '18 at 22:33
• @mixedmath Thank you. I'll take those declined flags as outliers then, just like the recent downvotes on both my question and your answer ;-) – dxiv Mar 16 '18 at 22:57