I do not yet have the Vote to Close privilege. As a result, whenever I come across a question that I would VTC, I have to flag it for moderator attention. What actually happens when my flag is accepted as useful? I've been assuming that it is only addressed by moderators; is that the case? When a moderator accepts the flag as useful, does the system then apply a close vote to the post?
If we act on your flag (actually on any flag on that question at the same time) it is automatically accepted as helpful. We can also decline to do anything but nonetheless mark it helpful because we approve of your bringing the situation to our attention and want you to continue flagging in that way.
So, sometimes nothing happens except that one or more of us looked at the post you flagged.
If we mark a flag as unhelpful we have to provide a comment (either from a list or custom). These comments are available in the flag list you can from your profile.
Just click the number after "Helpful flags:"
No, this isn't the case. For vote to close flags, if any 3k+ user votes to close, it gets marked as helpful. Otherwise, mods may manually mark as helpful (even if we take no action -- there are cases where we agree that the question is "iffy" but don't think it should be closed). If a post is closed/deleted (by a moderator or otherwise), all flags on it get auto marked as "helpful".
Note that flagging to close will push the flag to the close vote review queues (and we have at least 3 regulars there), so it generally accumulates a fair amount of close votes (and the flag is marked as helpful in the process).
If we decline a flag, we'll leave a message as mentioned in dmckee's post.
Here's the flow for various flag types. Note that only mods can see who flagged what; 10k users only see the flag. Mods see all flags in their queue:
- Custom moderator flags: Only mods can see these in the main mod flag queue
- VLQ/NAA flags: These go to the 10k queue as well as the mod queue. 10k users can see these flags, and vote to delete, counterflag as invalid, and/or counterflag with another flag of the same type or a custom flag or a spam flag. If three 10k users vote to delete (they can only do so on closed questions and downvoted answers), it gets marked as helpful. Counterflagging will push it up in priority in the mod queue (doesn't matter much, the mod queue is usually quite small). If a flag is counterflagged as invalid, it gets marked as "disputed", and mods may make the final call on the post (however, we cannot mark these as helpful or declined)
- Flag to close: These are pushed to the 10k queue and the close vote queue, and 10k users can counterflag/mark as invalid/vote to close in the 10k queue. A single vote to close will mark these as helpful, however this will not remove them from the close vote queue.
- Spam/offensive: These go to the 10k queue, where users can counterflag as well as vote to delete. In addition, 3 spam flags banish a question from the main page). 6 spam flags (on a question or answer) lock the post, delete it, and give the user a hefty rep penalty (100 or 500, I forgot which). These are marked as helpful only when the post is deleted or a mod decides to mark them as helpful.