It's absolutely possible, perhaps even likely. The point is, without any transparency, we don't know. People have a fairly reliable tendency to assume the worst option - the simple cure for that is transparency.
I'm gonna play the devil's advocate here. Obscurity might actually be a good thing for this community.
> The point is, without any transparency, we don't know.
But either way we are told to use flagging functionality, so we should continue doing it. Just because you or I, think that an article should be flagged and therefore taken off the site, doesn't mean it should. We cast our vote and move on. I'm curious as to what your expectations are of the people on the site when more transparency is involved? That to me is the glaring question - how do we create an environment where the behavior of the community is consistently following the rules?
My increasing frustration with HN has nothing to do with the technology or the moderation, but more so about the other 20% of the people whose contribution adds zero value (whether that be they are upvoting terrible comments, submitting unrelated material, or not following guidelines). I believe you and I are in the same boat - we are extremely passionate about seeing HN succeed. Our environment dictates that if we continue to follow the guidelines and promoting the same values, the community will thrive. If everyone does this, then the community succeeds, regardless of whether moderation exists. Perhaps we should be focusing more on educating bad actors on why they shouldn't act out of line, rather than question the good actors (mods) intentions?