I flagged this post for obvious spam link inserted in the end when posted in Charcoal HQ. Check the first version here.

After looking at the user's profile and the link in the end, I flagged it as spam. I also posted a comment asking the user to state any affiliation to the site. In reply to that comment, he said that he was not affiliated with the site. Since his profile description and his statement contradicted each other, it attracted more flags.

He later deleted his post. And I got the flag declined notice with the following message:

declined - a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it

This declined reason is ambiguous. I guess the evidence is all there in the revision history. Though I don't have any issue with the declined flag, I would like to get clarification about it. Thanks.

3 Answers 3


I declined it as it was obvious that the user was not intending to only spam their site. At the point which i saw it the user was attempting to meet the wishes of the commenters.

Accepting the spam flag would have unduly penalised someone who (at that point) was simply trying to be helpful and had apparently accepted they were in the wrong and had engaged corrective actions.

To accept the spam flag would have had other effects:

  • 6 flags (spam or offensive): post is locked, deleted, and the first revision owner loses 100 reputation.
  • Each flag carries an implicit downvote for calculating the post's score (it does not affect the caster's reputation).

They would have been unable to correct their post, as asked, and would also have been blocked from further posts by the spam filter.

As it stands due to the number of downvotes they may well already be limited by other mechanisms such as the low quality post ban.

I considered their behaviour and the fact that they were, if not contrite, were at least willing to accept community standards and remove their unnecessary links. I didn't feel that they had come here to only spam their blog, they actually wanted to help.

  • 2
    Those downvotes are actually from spam flags. They're not retracted when flag gets declined, do they?
    – A J
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 12:30
  • 1
    One more thing. I guess I couldn't have retracted my flag since the post was deleted and I don't have privileges to see deleted posts.
    – A J
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 12:36
  • 1
    Spam flag downvotes should be removed immediately upon flag rejection. I'm certain this is the behaviour I have seen so far. I cannot clearly remember the votes I saw but I'm sure that it was still at -3 until a few moments ago.
    – Mokubai Mod
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 12:37
  • 1
    Strangely the downvote on his other post was removed upon my checking the up/down ratio. Perhaps there is a bug where the flag downvote is not immediately recalculated...
    – Mokubai Mod
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 12:38
  • 1
    If you remember, was the post deleted when flag was declined?
    – A J
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 12:40
  • 1
    Can you dispute the flag as the post was deleted before it went to a good state where the flags could be retracted?
    – iBug
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 12:48
  • 1
    @AJ Looking at the history the post had been deleted by its owner when I declined the flag, but I do not remember seeing it having been deleted when I did so as I was going back and forth between posts and the history at the time. A single declined flag isn't a massive problem though and there isn't anything that can be done to alter a flag after it has been declined or accepted.
    – Mokubai Mod
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 12:53
  • 1
    @Mokubai No. I am not worried about a single declined flag. I was just curious when you said about a possible bug where flag downvote is not immediately recalculated.
    – A J
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 12:54
  • 1
    @AJ seems to be unrelated, the same happened on his other answer and there's no deletion history on it. I'm am perplexed but will keep an eye out for it in future.
    – Mokubai Mod
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 12:59
  • 1
    @Mokubai Oh, cool! Thanks. :)
    – A J
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 13:03
  • "One more thing. I guess I couldn't have retracted my flag since the post was deleted and I don't have privileges to see deleted posts"... Untested, but I stumbled upon this today: stackapps.com/questions/7033/… Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 1:58
  • I don't think "it was obvious that the user was not intending to only spam their site" is obvious at all. There is a whole pattern of blog/forum spam which involves spending about two minutes googling up something that looks like a relevant link and posting something that seems on topic along with the spam link. It seems in retrospect with the followup comments to not be the case, but it sure smells like that nonetheless.
    – mattdm
    Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 10:05

Agreeing with Mokubai, I'd like to note that flags are used to keep the sites clean, not to punish anyone.

I was also among the people who flagged that as spam, but after I saw the effort to avoid being spammish that the OP had spent, I retracted the flag.

We don't want to spam-nuke anything potentially useful. We are only nuking honest spam with flags.

  • I'm liking the description... honest spam, presumably as opposed to the dishonest variety ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 18:00
  • @Tetsujin uh, one just safely think by "honest" I meant "absolutely deliberate or intentional".
    – iBug
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 4:32

Well, while removal of spam is a valuable thing - in some situations its nice to have a certain degree of flexibility...

And well, this is one situation where the human touch works better than automation.

We have a user who doesn't know any better. There's a failure in educating him that what he did was bad. He's answer banned after, well he knew what was wrong.

A comment might have worked - considering the rest of his answers seemed ok. We could have edited and commented (which is often done). We've basically piled on votes on someone new to the system and he didn't know why he was wrong until it was too late for him. I'm seeing comments on some later posts.

Now, this is a broad situation - and I suppose its possibly considered to be a true positive. That said, we might want to be a bit careful when maximising paperclips.

I do wonder if we can get smokey and company to deal with these differently though. Maybe semi-auto comments before piling on the flags in this specific scenario?

  • We, though, were flexible in the beginning. I posted a comment asking the OP to state the affiliation with the site, but, as I said in my question, he declined to have any affiliation yet his profile said something different. So, that answer got flags. He later deleted that answer and posted it again as a new answer, so I left a comment asking him to improve old one rather than reposting. Since, both posts were deleted, I had no way to retract my flag or do any action.
    – A J
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 7:14
  • Feels like there's a bit of lost-in-translationness on the original post, but eh, there's that. The rejection, looking at everything though seems fair to me.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 7:20
  • No flags were automatically placed on the post (metasmoke record). The post wasn't even remotely close to being a candidate for automatic flagging. Every flag placed on this post was the act of a human, who individually chose to cast the flag. I agree that things could have been handled better. I'm just saying that this isn't an automation issue (i.e. it's not a maximising paperclips issue, or, at least, it's already been chosen that this is not the type of situation which should be automated, precisely because it does need the human touch).
    – Makyen
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 7:58
  • 1
    Perhaps the humans who chose to place all the flags were lacking "the human touch", but this issue isn't automation, it's getting humans to act more humanly, which is a much harder problem :-(.
    – Makyen
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 7:59
  • If you're done with that paperclip, could I have it? >:)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 18:06

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