What is a declined flag?
"Declined" means that a moderator (or other trusted members of the site) declined to act on a flag that you've raised in response to a problem that you observed.
Why might one of my flags be declined?
There are numerous reasons why a flag might be declined:
- Others might disagree that the problem you identified exists at all (e.g., you suggested that a question should be closed as Off Topic, but the question concerns one of the official topics for the site).
- The problem may have been one that you could've easily handled yourself (e.g., you flagged an incorrect answer that you could've signaled by downvoting or corrected by editing).
- The problem may have already been corrected by the time your flag was reviewed (e.g., the author edited it after you raised the flag).
- The problem may be subtle, and those reviewing the flagged content simply missed seeing it (e.g., you flagged a comment as abusive for attempting to rickroll, but the moderator handling the flag neglected to click the link).
Often moderators will provide a specific reason for declining a flag. You can view these by visiting your flagging history.
What should I do when one of my flags is declined?
You don't need to do anything, but if the problem still exists you may want to. So with that in mind...
- Try to determine why the flag was declined (see above). Perhaps the folks handling it missed something... Or perhaps you did, and this is an opportunity to learn from it.
- Then visit the post or comment that you flagged and see if the problem remains. If the issue has been resolved or if it no longer seems important, you can move on to something else.
If the problem still remains, think about ways in which you could solve it yourself:
- Would downvoting the post be enough to warn others away from it?
- Are you able to edit the post to correct the problem while still respecting the intentions of the author?
When you can resolve the problem yourself, then there's no need to flag - just fix it!
If the problem is not something that you can fix on your own, and you suspect it was simply overlooked then you can raise an "in need of moderator intervention" flag and explain the problem in detail: this allows you to be much more precise in your description, and to point out any subtle issues that may not have been seen by those handling your first flag.
In cases where your flag was declined because of a disagreement between yourself and those handling it, you may raise the issue on meta: this gives you a chance to argue your case before the entire community, and possibly persuade them to change the rules for what is allowed and appropriate. Take your time writing such a proposal, and be sure to provide examples of how the changes you wish to see would improve the site for everyone.
What happens if too many of my flags are declined?
If a few of your flags were declined, you may see a warning advising you to visit your flag history page and review them. This gives you an opportunity to put the advice above into action.
If at least a quarter of 10 or more flags were declined during the past 7 days, you will be temporarily banned from raising new flags. This ban lasts up to 7 days, after which you'll be able to raise flags again; our hope is that you take this time to review your past flags along with the guidance above, and come back better informed. Remember, it's folks like you who make this whole thing work - so the better we are at working together to solve problems, the better Ask Patents works for everyone!