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Presently the only ways to point out an error in a post are adding a comment and editing the post. However comments are not very visible in particular if a post has already many of them. Editing the post does not have this drawback, but it still may not be what one really wants, in particular if one does not know how to correct the error.

Therefore I propose to make it possible to set an "error flag" if one finds an error in a post. --

  • Such an error flag may show up as a warning sign on the left margin below the voting arrows.

  • A description of the error could be displayed when clicking on or moving the mouse above that sign.

  • I suggest to make an error flag bump the post like an edit, and also generate notifications to the same people as an edit (plus the OP of the question, if an answer is flagged).

  • I suggest that error flags could be removed when editing the flagged post.

  • It should be possible to search posts with error flags.

This feature request is motivated by the thread Dealing with possible incorrectness. I originally posted it as a proposal here, and turned it into a formal feature request following a suggestion by Francois G. Dorais.

Update: Proposal withdrawn due to rejection by community -- see poll below.

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    $\begingroup$ Should it be visible which user flagged? [IMO, yes.] $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 3 '14 at 23:07
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    $\begingroup$ How many points would you suggest as the minimum for the privilege of setting error flags? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jan 3 '14 at 23:57
  • $\begingroup$ @quid: Obviously yes. $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Jan 4 '14 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry: Good question. -- On the one hand one could argue to treat it like the other flags (anyone with at least 15 points can flag), and on the other one could argue to treat it like an edit (>= 2000 points to perform it immediately, anyone can make a suggestion subject to approval). $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Jan 4 '14 at 0:21
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    $\begingroup$ Apart from the bumping, this isn't really more useful than commenting. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Jan 4 '14 at 1:52
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker: Isn't bumping one of the main points? $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Jan 4 '14 at 2:04
  • $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG.Dorais I'm not sure. But MO doesn't really suffer from overly long, boring comment threads AFAIK. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Jan 4 '14 at 9:02
  • $\begingroup$ The voting on the original proposal here and on this post differs significantly. -- Is there any difference between the posts which explains this? $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Jan 4 '14 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker this proposal originated in a discussion how to draw attention to potential errors. The problem to be solve (in some people's opinion at least) is that on an old post a new comment will not be seen much, except by OP who gets notified. Typically this should also be sufficient, but if OP is for example unrespeonsive one might want to draw other's attention to the situation so that it can be evaluated which claim seems to be right. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 4 '14 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ @quid Sure, but it is not clear why many people should see such a comment. There is a risk that some people saw an old answer, "learned" something wrong in it and never revisited the question, so they will take their confusion to the grave. I doubt this is a big issue. The other thread was among other things about reduced visibility because the wrong answer was upvoted too much, something that should not be a problem. In a place for professional mathematics, people can be assumed to consume the material carefully. IMHO $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Jan 4 '14 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker the main reason why I think having visibilty is relevant is so that more people can opine which of the contradictory claims is correct. In the other thread I gave a reason why it can even be relevant to highlight an actual correction. But if somebody claims there is an error somewhere, and the person having supposedly commited the error does not acknowledge this (or even contradicts it) then I think in most cases it is in the best interest of both to get extra opinions. Even when being careful it can be difficult for some reader to decide on their own. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 4 '14 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ @quid I'm sure there are situations where this is an issue. But the changes to the system are not small ones and I'm not sure it is worth the effort. I would be very, very surprised if this would actually be implemented. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Jan 4 '14 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker Put differently the main use of this flag in my mind is not to highlight cases of 'clear' errors but for cases where somebody is convinced there is an error but there is no straightforward way to prove it/convince everybody, and the claim might also be incorrect. I think of it more like a flag to "challenge a claim" than to "mark an error". If one wants a more positive spin one could also consider it as an "urgent request for clarification." $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 4 '14 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker sorry for yet another comment, the second was written before seeing you reply. I'd guess technically it is rather simple to get something like this using existing things. Also socially (ie the idea how the site should work) it seems to follow the main idea for evaluation. Evaluation is done via opinion of others (via votes). In some cornercases voting might not work anymore, thus some mechanism for another round of opinion/voting. That being said: IMO, the idea is good but it is not very important to have this either. Chances are it will not be implemented, but who knows. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 4 '14 at 19:18
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    $\begingroup$ @quid I largely agree, I just think it is more productive to try to find a way to archive this with the existing capabilities. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Jan 4 '14 at 19:46
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Vote here if you disagree with introducing error flags, and think the proposal should be withdrawn.

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    $\begingroup$ I downvoted this as I am in favor of the proposal. In principle it would be better if one only upvoted in such poll situations (and on meta.math.SE this is always done like this or at least it is directly suggested to do so). Yet since others already downvoted other answers it seems necessary to also do so not to have a biased voting due to different 'voting rules.' [More generally, while I know where it comes from and was well intentioned, I think in this case offering the answers for voting did more harm than good.] $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 5 '14 at 18:44
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Vote here if you agree with introducing error flags as such, but not in the proposed form.

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    $\begingroup$ @the first voter: So, a negative vote here means that you either agree with error flags in the proposed form, or you don’t agree with error flags at all, but you are not sure which of the two? $\endgroup$ – Emil Jeřábek supports Monica Jan 5 '14 at 17:59
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Vote here if you agree with the suggestion as posted by OP.

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