I recently submitted to a journal a manuscript that raises issues about a previous paper published before by the same journal. My submission got rejected but made no mention of our concerns about the previous paper. So I wrote to the editor to suggest that maybe they had overlooked that aspect of our paper and to ask what their policy was when claims like ours are made about a previous paper in their journal. A few days later I received an e-mail saying that an appeal had been filed and that my manuscript would be reconsidered in two weeks.
To begin with, I did not explicitly ask for an appeal to be filed (I had even prepared a submission to another journal already). What I really wanted was an acknowledgment of the issues we raised about the previous paper, and either they would look into them in more detail or they weren't convinced that our concerns are legitimate. But every e-mail I received from them was just a canned response that made no mention of the previous paper, including the one about the appeal.
So what does it mean that they filed an appeal? Is it just an automatic procedure triggered by my e-mail, with little chance of success? Or is it possible that they realized that our paper deserves a more thorough evaluation? Their generic evasive responses are driving me crazy.
Update: The journal editors discussed our manuscript and told us they would ask an external expert to evaluate it. The appeal was not just an automatic procedure.