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I was looking into my flagging history, and discovered that:

  1. Several of my recent flags were marked as "helpful"

    This includes 4 questions that I flagged as "not notable", none of which were closed (though one gained a link showing possible notability after a moderator's edit, which presumably may have been as a reaction to the flag).

  2. Yet, most of the posts that I flagged were not actually affected by what I would have expected an action be (closures, VTROs when the flag was to protest a VTC, moderator notice on answer that needs one), though the flag was actually considered valid.

Is there some way to understand what exactly the effect of a helpful flag is? Guidelines?

Sometimes I see actual comments that are responses to a flag (e.g. once I was explicitly told that the flag was correct but question was so old as to make any actions unwarranted, which explains the lack of action on that one flag explicitly). But most flags lack such a comment so I can't tell what the reasoning is.

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I see two questions here.

What is the "effect" of a Helpful flag?

I'm going to be a bit vague here, because I am not sure.

It used to be incorporated into a "Flag Weight". That figure is no longer displayed. I am unsure whether it still used behind the scenes.

It believe it was used to try to filter out people who flagged inappropriately. I assume Stack Exchange still have some filter system, but I am talking out of my hat here.

What is the "significance" of a Helpful flag?

I personally treat it as a quick poll on "am I happy for this sort of feedback to continue to be provided?"

I don't have the statistics, but I take some action on almost all manually-raised flags that I deal with, and I mark as Helpful an even higher proportion - I like the idea of the community members caring enough to identify problems, even if I don't always agree action is warranted.

When I do mark a flag as Unhelpful, a key reason for me is because I can then feedback about my reason for taking no action. I prefer the transparency on my decisions so I can be taken to task for inappropriate ones.

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    We don't use flag weight at all, I don't think it's even calculated. – Sklivvz Oct 24 '16 at 8:44
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The flag handling dialog looks like this

enter image description here

I think that explains the intent of moderators, they give feedback based on that guidance.

Regarding why do not see the actions you'd expect, there might be times where the appropriate action is not what you'd expect. Sometimes, the appropriate action is... waiting it out. Other times there might be conflicting flags, all of which see some problem, but do not imply the same solution. Finally, it might be that while your comment has merit, we disagree that the situation is so clear cut that moderator action is needed in the particular case.

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