I was looking through my flags (mostly to gauge whether I'm flagging too aggressively), and I noticed

A - Playing Cards from Unhinged and Unglued
flagged as offensive declined - a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it

followed by an edit from a moderator removing the profanity from the post. If the flag was helpful, why was it declined?

Before someone asks, "Why didn't you just edit the profanity yourself?", I had recently gotten out of a heated discussion with the author and didn't want to risk another escalation. Flagging it seemed like the way to avoid conflict as well as get rid of the profanity.

  • You can always use a custom flag if you see something you think needs dealing with that you can't handle yourself. – Cascabel Sep 18 '14 at 5:03
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    @Jefromi Thanks. I hadn't considered that profanity might fall under a custom flag. – Rainbolt Sep 18 '14 at 13:14
  • I was suggesting using the custom flag for "really needs editing but for X reason I can't do it myself" - they're definitely for any situation you think needs mod attention. I wouldn't suggest it for profanity in general. (Either it's solely offensive, so you use the offensive flag, or it's bad enough to matter, and you can edit, or it's not, so no need to bother a mod.) – Cascabel Sep 18 '14 at 13:41

I'm the moderator in question, and I declined the flag. The following is taken from What are the spam and offensive flags and how do they work?:

Even if a post is a bad post for some reason or another, it is probably not offensive. The Offensive flag is meant to be used only in extreme cases, like hate speech, or abuse.

For example, if a user posts obscene images to the site, that should be flagged as offensive. But if someone says something bad about your favorite technology, that probably doesn't apply.

As a rule of thumb, if you can't justify something as being hate speech, or abuse, you shouldn't mark the post as offensive. Instead, you should down-vote the post.

When you decide to flag a post Offensive, you will get a warning dialog. Take this time to decide if the post is really offensive.

I think we can all agree this post doesn't merit this flag, according to the quoted definition.

Personally, I didn't find the poster's language offensive or profane at all. However, it was also unnecessary, and sensibilities vary widely across cultures. In the interests of a peaceful life for all, I removed any possibility of upset.

  • Also worth remembering is that if a few other users flag the same way, it'll be auto-deleted and hidden behind a click to keep people from seeing it. Personally I would avoid flagging things as offensive unless I was okay with that happening, should a few people decide to agree. This post was definitely not worth deleting. – Cascabel Sep 18 '14 at 5:02

As I understand it (I may be wrong!), flags are essentially requests for deletion. I'm assuming a single moderator did both actions and did so because the post, although it may have included profanity, was not otherwise worthy of straight up deletion.

  • Can you back this up? My intent was never to help the post get deleted. My intent was to improve a post that I didn't want to touch myself. I'm very surprised to find out that flags are essentially a vote to kill button. – Rainbolt Sep 18 '14 at 13:13
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    @Rainbolt It may not be 100% true, but it's a pretty good approximation. It's generally true for other flag types too. The "not an answer" flag definitely gets things deleted (or at least converted) if a mod agrees. The "low quality" flag actually says "unlikely to be salvageable through editing". I think in general given that we can edit, the expectation is that if that's all it took we would, so if we're flagging, saying that a mod needs to get involved, something more than a quick edit must be needed. – Cascabel Sep 18 '14 at 13:36
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    Oh, and also: a mod deleting a post automatically marks all the flags on it helpful, so the system explicitly regards deletion as agreeing with flags. – Cascabel Sep 18 '14 at 13:38
  • @Rainbolt Given your situation (not wanting to edit yourself because of previous interaction), I think you did alright, although maybe marking it as "other/needs moderator attention" with a quick explanation why you're unwilling to edit yourself might have sidestepped the question. – Circeus Sep 18 '14 at 13:41
  • @Jefromi Clarifying in the comments doesn't add value to this answer. But I agree with your logic. – Rainbolt Sep 18 '14 at 14:19
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    @Rainbolt As the placeholder text in the comment box says, "Use comments to ask for clarification or add more information." Given the choice between commenting and making a large edit that the original author might or might not agree with, I'm going to comment. If Circeus wants to edit anything in, that's fine. – Cascabel Sep 18 '14 at 15:28
  • @Jefromi Well, Ire has a more straightforward answer but if people think explaining how flags interact would make a good answer overall, I don't mind editing it all in. – Circeus Sep 18 '14 at 22:20

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