I’m new to flagging questions and answers and maybe not familiar with the flagging on this site.

So, I reported the question last week Who is the feds, and I flagged with the reason "need details or clarify", but my flag was declined by the reason of

A moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it.

I’m a little bit not understanding why my flag was declined, the reason I flagged this question is because dictionaries have answers for this question. So I flagged “need details or clarify” to let the OP give more information for this question and edit the question to add info like the things OP is confused about.

My question is why my flag was declined, can the moderator explain?

1 Answer 1


I handled that flag, and I'm happy to explain a bit about flags and close votes in general, and in particular what happened in this instance.

First a slight clarification: the flag reason I received was "very low quality", not "Needs details or clarify". I don't believe there is a "Needs details or clarify" flag reason on this site, and you don't have access to the "Close" button, so I'm not sure what you saw.

Anyway... on to the fun stuff!

Close Votes are the normal way to handle questions that don't meet the standards of ELL. When five users with high enough reputation (3,000+) vote to close a question, that question's status changes to "closed", and nobody can post answers to it until the OP edits it and the same class of users vote to reopen it. Moderators normally have nothing to do with this process, which is how we want it.

Moderator Flags are only seen by the Moderator team, so are only used for issues that the community cannot handle on its own. For instance, users cannot delete a question on their own, and cannot manage users who violate the Code of Conduct, so it requires moderator attention, which means someone should flag it.

In the case of this question, there was no violation of the CoC and the question can be improved by the OP, so the correct response is to close vote with the reason:

Basic questions on spelling, meaning or pronunciation are off-topic as they should be answered using a dictionary

And thankfully, this is what has happened.

The CV reason "Needs details or clarify" doesn't apply to this question because the OP's problem is already clear: they don't know what the term "the feds" means in that context. Adding detail and clarifying won't fix the problem that it can be answered with a dictionary. The reason, "Needs details or clarify", applies when the question is so poorly written or lacks enough detail that the problem isn't clear enough to attempt to answer it.

While the question you linked to is not good enough for ELL, it is a legitimate question and can be improved by the OP. The moderator flag "very low quality" is only for things that cannot be fixed at all, like an answer that is really just a comment, or a question designed to start a general discussion, rather than solicit verifiable answers*. So when I received that flag, I dismissed it because the question was salvageable and didn't need to be deleted.

For users without enough rep to close vote, you can still comment on the question to indicate the problems.

*that rule is only for the main ELL site, not here on ELL Meta, where discussions are highly encouraged

  • 1
    Users who cannot vote to close can flag a question to close it (flag > Needs improvement). Then users can choose between Duplicate, A community-specific reason, Needs details or clarity, Needs more focus, and Opinion-based.) It seems user1176409 clicked on the wrong option, if you saw a low-quality flag.
    – apaderno
    Mar 11 at 14:27
  • 1
    Looks like I vote wrongly, I actually forgot which flag did I use, “Need details or clarify” or “Low quality post”. Mar 11 at 15:36
  • 1
    This is why you're a moderator! All excellently explained! Mar 13 at 19:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .