There is a question I think is off, or an answer I don't think really answers my question the way I like, or a comment I disagree with. Should I just flag that for a moderator and move on?
In general, no.
This site is intended to be moderated by the community by and large. The few full mods that get your flags are disinclined to take action unless it's something real bad - spam, abuse, things that would get something deleted for cause.
If you flag to tell us something that you should be telling them - "I don't like your answer to my question" for example - you're wasting our time. We're volunteers with lives at least as rich as yours - I'm personally disinclined to play the telegraph game.
If you flag something and haven't commented on it, the mods will usually do one of three things.
- Up and delete whatever it is if it's really egregious
- Dismiss your flag if it's not and likely take no further action
- Dismiss your flag as unhelpful if you're getting on our nerves
2 is by far the most common. 1 - well, we do get a number of convert-to-comments, but about half of those even are less "not an answer" and more "a brief answer I don't like," which we leave alone.
You really should comment even if you downvote - if you are flagging something, you really should. It is everyone's job to help guide users old and new - our mod technique is to be very hands off in general, and people seem to like that, so help that along by giving constructive criticism yourself and not just asking Mom to do it chronically.
Flagging should be encouraged If there is some reason a moderator should be notified of the content.
Flags should be used for the following purpose.
Notify moderators of spam/offensive content (use the "spam"/"not welcome in our community" flags).
You want to notify a moderator of something specific about the post (use the custom flag reason).
You want to vote to close the post, but don't have the requisite 3000 reputation to do so.
The post is low quality and should be deleted. This should probably be accompanied by a downvote, or even an edit, but it's not necessary.
When you should not flag:
The answer is incorrect. This is a misuse of a flag, and a downvote or comment should be left instead.
When you disagree with an answer. Again, this is a misuse, a downvote or comment will suffice.
Comments are a different animal entirely. Flag obsolete comments, flag chatty comments, flag comments that derail from the topic of the question.
These are basic guidelines and are far from exhaustive, but I felt a more constructive instruction on when and how to flag was merited.