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There's a question which should be closed as opinion based. Because I don't have enough reputation to cast close votes myself on Bicycles yet, the only way to deal with it is by flagging, but I've got confused if I should do that at all – @Batman already stated that he already voted to close in comment. So, what is preferred way out of these two?

  1. Flag it anyway for other people to cast their votes.
  2. Let it be, people are already aware of it.
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I think for someone without the "vote to close" privilege, you're doing exactly the right thing.

As someone who can vote to close, the two things have different meanings to me. Some observations:

  • Someone with my level of privileges will see the number if votes to close a question, and the reasons to close, but will not see any flags
  • Vote to Close is a good, semi-democratic way of working, in that it takes several of us to agree that a question is inappropriate. It is a pity that this process can be (and does get) abused by site admins, who appear to be able to unilaterally close a question. For a single person to have the power to do this is undemocratic, even if 9/10 times we might agree with them. I think this one of the flaws of SE in that it is not as community-powered as it could be
  • My perception is that the "flag" process will happen a lot more quickly than the ."vote to close" process. So if I feel that a question should be closed, and quickly, I will both Vote and Flag. From memory the only time this has happened is when some guy posted a medical question which made it sound like he was on the verge of a heart attack. My immediate thought was that the question should be closed asap, before someone could give this guy unqualified advice.
  • 1
    As someone who has vote to close privileges, you also have vote to reopen privileges. If you see a question that you think a mod has incorrectly closed, vote to reopen it. Users with lower rep can use flags similarly. It is highly unlikely that mods would override a community vote; the situation would have to be fairly serious. We also discuss many controversial questions between us. A vote to reopen a mod-closed question would likely spark such a discussion. – jimchristie Feb 15 '15 at 17:20
  • @jimirings my preference would be for a wrong not to happen at all, rather than for a bystander to have to step in to try to correct it. – PeteH Feb 15 '15 at 18:30
  • Also it seems strange that mods would have a behind-closed-doors discussion on whether one of them should close a question unilaterally, rather than them all just using the vote-to-close mechanism and being transparent about things – PeteH Feb 15 '15 at 19:03
  • The vote-to-close mechanism works differently for mods than it does for most users. As soon as we vote to close, the question is closed. This is the same across the entire SE network. We only vote to close something that we see as blatantly off topic, very low quality, etc. We try to do what we believe reflects guidelines set by the community. If we are mistaken in our interpretations of those guidelines, we will never know it unless we get community feedback. I agree that it would be better that a wrong not happen at all, but we are only human. – jimchristie Feb 15 '15 at 21:33
  • @PeteH If we have moderators, then they need to be able to talk among themselves, partly so that they don't over-react, partly for consistency, etc. A Theory of Moderation is a good read. Unfortunately an online community without guidance / moderation quickly descends to the lowest common denominator level (not that you or I would do that :-). I think the moderation on this site is around the best SE standard, and certainly better than most. – andy256 Feb 16 '15 at 2:37
  • Not disagreeing with you @andy256 but I think you're making different points to the ones I'm making. – PeteH Feb 16 '15 at 12:20
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If you don't have the reputation to vote to close, then use the flag to close.

When a moderator looks at the question in the queue, they'll see both votes and flags and flags may help them make their decision. Also, if there aren't close votes already, I believe a flag to close will get the question put into the queue where other users can vote to close the question.

  • A flag to close will get the question put into the queue where other users can vote to close the question - correct. On [ELU] (where there is lot more activity) for instance, I occasionally flag a post while processing one queue, and then it turns up when I'm processing the Close queue. One has to be careful, because the flag action can also trigger a comment to be posted. Any extra comment has to take that into consideration. – andy256 Feb 16 '15 at 2:20
  • On second thought, maybe that is rep-dependent. Drat! I'll check what's been said about this on [Meta]. Surely it's been explained somewhere, sometime. – andy256 Feb 16 '15 at 2:40
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    You're not supposed to use flag to close when you have vote to close available (stackoverflow.com/help/privileges/close-questions). (That being said, I still use flag to close out of habit). – Batman Feb 20 '15 at 17:24

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