Please help me understand: Why did a Moderator respond this way after declining my flag?

Background and facts

Because of my continual perceived unpleasant and negative interactions1 with @Ward, I thought of a way perhaps the interaction might be improved. Therefore I viewed his profile and his posts and reviewed this answer of his.

I decided to edit his answer and hinted to him in my comments what "might improve" his answer - please note that would mean a complete rewrite of his answer - and I then upvoted.

What I had hoped to achieve was not accomplished because @Ward rollbacked his post to a previous position. I then downvoted and flagged the answer it is very low quality, selecting from the 5 choices available to me.

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A moderator declined my flag.

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Repeating their response:

declined - flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention

The issues

I am confused.

  1. If it is very low quality is one of the options to select when flagging an answer, why would a moderator respond in this manner because it left me with the impression I shouldn't have?
  2. And why wouldn't they intervene in an answer that has been flagged low quality and even a cursory view of the answer - reads like an opinion - shows that it is of very low quality?

Please help me understand. I am thinking that the one who needs to answer here is the Moderator who took the action.

cf. @Ward's answer: But if you actually read the text of the flag you cast (his emphasis).

Summary Church teaching and therefore answer

Advances in technology have now made it possible to procreate apart from sexual relations through the meeting in vitro of the germ-cells previously taken from the man and the woman. But what is technically possible is not for that very reason morally admissible. - cf. My answer.

  • Please note this other Moderator response after subsequently flagging it is not an answer: not an answer – FMS 10 hours ago declined - flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer - From Church teaching and because @Ward gave his opinion/understanding, I believe with a very high degree of certainty that his answer is wrong.
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 18:13
  • Update: Notice added | @DavidStratton: Citation needed
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 18:44
  • 1
    It's right there in the text you quoted in your comment: "flags should not be used to indicate ... an altogether wrong answer" And as I said in my answer, that text is not something a moderator chose to type, that's the system's canned response when the flag is declined. Jan 22, 2015 at 23:53
  • 1
    @Ward Let's switch places and your answer is my answer, please share with me the steps you could have taken if any.
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 23:57
  • 1
    I have discovered a truly remarkable answer to your comment, but this margin is too small to contain it. :) (maybe later) Jan 23, 2015 at 0:49

3 Answers 3


Ward has since edited the answer. It at least has a source, though I remain unconvinced that his answer is any good or even correct. However, that is not why I championed its deletion earlier. I no longer think it should be deleted.

The following is my original meta post.

I did downvote it myself. I did not flag it because I think I first saw it recently in the review queue.

The post is very low quality. And if not low quality, it's not an answer, being that it is just an impression the OP holds. It would pass as a comment, but not an answer. We regularly delete answers exactly like this.

If I were a mod, I'd probably have deleted it by now. It's pretty clear that Ward has no intention of self-deleting nor improving it. Especially in light of the fact that FMS basically gave him the answer in his post, but then he rolls it back.

So, yeah. I agree. It should be removed because:

  1. It is low quality.
  2. It is over a year old.
  3. The OP has shown no effort to improve it.
  4. The OP has refused obvious improvement with a rollback.
  5. The OP has obstinately declined to recognize that it is a low quality post and should be self-deleted at this point.

So why are we spending so much time talking about the flags and how to use them and all that nonsense when clearly the point of your meta post is that the answer is crap and should be deleted, but the mods have chosen not to do so?

  • Thank you! So why are we spending so much time talking about the flags and how to use them and all that nonsense when clearly the point of your meta post is that the answer is crap and should be deleted - previously when I have gone straight to the point (see two prior posts to this one) there is always you could have done this or that, your are argumentative, you are not following the direction given, + other it's your fault, etc., I purposefully chose to jump through as many hoops as previously pointed to me. End result, the same.
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 19:16
  • It is over a year old. - Wow!
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 19:23
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    @FMS I can see why you are getting frustrated. I think the way you present meta issues is confusing to most people and that's why you get weird responses. I think the first thing I'd work on to improve the way you write meta posts is to keep it simple. In this case, I would have simply said, "I think this post should be deleted because (the points I gave above) but a mod declined my flag. What does the community think about this?" I would have left it as simple as that.
    – user3961
    Jan 22, 2015 at 19:50
  • Like I said, there is always one more thing ... I think the way you present meta issues is confusing to most people and that's why you get weird responses - please add this to my list above. This post follows suggestion from Ward in my previous post. Perhaps better approach is for others to try to see where the poster is coming from and not respond in very aggressive ways that make people defensive.
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 20:43
  • PS Just review the voting on my post, your post, Ward's and curiousdannii's. The latter three cannot be pinned on me. After having experienced what I have gone through, that could have also be done to me if that were possible. Why is it so difficult for a person/people to say I believe a mistake was made here and we are sorry and this is what we suggest doing going forward Right now no Mod. has taken ownership for the responses.
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 20:59
  • After I have presented Background and facts what is lacking in the confusion I have and I have raised under The issues section? That ought to be the first step, let the user try as best as they can raise they issues as they see them and the others ought to assist but not point fingers put posts on hold or respond as I have indicated above. PS Please see immediate past posts and I doing all that was asked for me - post still unresolved. Leaves me thinking that there is more than meets the eye.
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 21:40
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    @fredsbend I wouldn't say that he rolled back an obvious improvement, as the quote FMS added was making a very different point. Ward was saying that IVF was akin to playing God. FMS' quote said that somehow IVF means the child doesn't have a father and that it betrays the spouses. Ward has now added his own reference which does seem to support his argument that doctors don't have the authority to do IVF.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jan 23, 2015 at 0:08
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    @curiousdannii I've see the updated answer and have likewise updated this meta post.
    – user3961
    Jan 23, 2015 at 5:14

It's not clear what you think the problem with the answer is - buried in this question you seem to hint that the answer is too much of an opinion. Fair enough, if you don't think it's a good answer, a downvote is appropriate.

But if you actually read the text of the flag you cast, it says:

  • this answer has severe formatting ... problems - doesn't seem to apply, there isn't really any formatting.
  • answer has severe ... content problems - not being supported with references isn't considered a content problem, so this doesn't apply
  • answer is unlikely to be salvageable through editing - apparently even you think this doesn't apply because you thought a reference would be an improvement

So none of the three examples of what "very low quality" means apply, therefore the flag was declined - with boilerplate text explaining why. As the canned message says, flags are for dealing with things that can't be dealt with by high-rep users.

  • This is exactly right. Jan 22, 2015 at 12:48
  • @FMS - See this post on what "low quality" is supposed to mean. Jan 22, 2015 at 12:59
  • 1) Do the 5 choices reference this? 2) Check if the post can be improved. If you can raise its quality above the threshold of acceptability, Edit it. Keep in mind that editing within the queue will be a unilateral Looks OK vote, so be careful with edits that just make minor improvements (“repainting the titanic as it sinks”) - could this have been done to his answer? My post says a complete rewrite was required.
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 16:56
  • (cont.) To me BOTH the first and second review steps here apply to @Ward's answer. That being the case, a Moderator failed on at least three accounts.
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 17:25
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    @FMS Have you seen A Theory of Moderation, which outlines what the role of moderators is supposed to be? You seem to expect the moderators to do an awful lot that should, in reality, be done by community members such as yourself. It's not good to have us be too heavy-handed. The more unilateral decisions you ask us to make, the more you make it "Caleb's site" or "David Stratton's Site" (and so on for the rest of the moderators.) The community should be handling these issues, not the moderators. Jan 22, 2015 at 19:58
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    Ideally, mods should step in only when the community has failed to act, or if there's a serious issue. I'd really like to see that happen, but if every little thing results in a flag or a meta post asking for moderator explanations or intervention, I don't see much opportunity for that to happen. We especially can't be put in the position where we are determining if a post is "the right answer". Jan 22, 2015 at 19:59
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    @DavidStratton I'm unclear on how the community deletes posts. I know there are delete votes for 10K+ rep users and the "recommend deletion" button on low quality reviews, but that's about all I know. Is there an MSE post that describes the process? The post, which I think should be deleted, is over a year old, so, yes, I do actually think the community failed to step in.
    – user3961
    Jan 22, 2015 at 20:01
  • @fredsbend - I think I need to regroup and re-evaluate. My main issue here is that even though I think it's low quality, and misses the boat, I don't think it's a wild tangent answer, and it does attempt to answer the question IMO. My opinion may be off. Jan 22, 2015 at 20:07
  • Yes I have @DavidStratton during my "time away." Please recall the steps I took before flagging. We especially can't be put in the position where we are determining if a post is "the right answer" - that wasn't in any flag that I raised.
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 20:47
  • PS regards "the right answer" - the mods had a tool available in @AndrewLeach's answer. Please note that it is in our recent memory that one of my answers was given heat for much less. The issue I raised is still pending.
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 20:56
  • PPS ... which is selected ...
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 21:35
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    @FMS "Please note that it is in our recent memory that one of my answers was given heat for much less." Since you've been looking for feedback on your presentation in meta, here's one suggestion: leave out comparisons to how your own posts have been handled/flagged in the past. Other users may know what specific post you're referring to, but I for one don't and I don't see how it's constructive to raise an issue like that. It just looks petty. Jan 23, 2015 at 16:48

To be perfectly frank, it's not really a great answer, and I don't really think Ward would disagree.

The main problem is that it's only expressing his personal understanding. It needs references.

What you could've done was to comment asking for some references for his claims. You could potentially even have flagged and asked for the needs-sources note to be added to the answer, but that's really a measure of last resort, and I'd usually only do that for new users who don't look like they're coming back.

  • 1
    Thank you for your input here. It is appreciated.
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 10:05
  • What you could've done - Say this perhaps after weighing in on the steps I have already taken? The general impression I continually get is that there is always one more thing that I could have done ...
    – user13992
    Jan 22, 2015 at 16:52
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    @FMS The steps you took were 1) an edit, and 2) a VLQ flag. curiousdannii's comment on fredsbend's answer above explains his qualm with your edit, and Ward himself explained the problem with the flag. So in this answer it says, "The main problem is that it's only expressing his personal understanding. It needs references." What's normally done in such circumstances is to just downvote and/or comment, and move on. The point of this answer is that if you wanted to do more than that -- as your edit and flag indicate -- then you could've flagged to ask for the needs-sources note to be added. Jan 23, 2015 at 20:52

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