5

I've found myself flagging a lot of comments with reasoning fairly well given per this post.

A lot of times these are comments which are either in response to a comment I made (and subsequently deleted) and therefore no longer relevant or otherwise obsolete.

Normally these are not comments which are "MUST BE REMOVED" levels of terribleness or offensiveness.

Two questions on this:

  1. How much are others flagging? I know there is an autodelete if a comment receives enough flags, and so if I know others are approaching comments similarly then I'll keep doing it :)
  2. Is this something the active moderators support? I suspect you all deal with this and seeing the flags for what might seem to be trivial things. Your perspective would be good too.
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  • I generally flag only in extreme cases where it gets rude or offensive. Any other and i feel like i'm just nagging at users – Rhys Apr 13 '13 at 18:47
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In my opinion, here are the following comments that should be nuked:

  • Spam/offensive stuff: duh
  • +1 great question/answer: Yes, we can see the votes. These are only okay if the comment otherwise has substance. If it's useless without the +1 it's still useless with it (same for -1)
  • Fix X! Okay, I fixed X!: Obsolete comments have done their work and should go out to pasture
  • Long discussions on tangents: new questions should be questions, long one-on-one discussions should go to chat.
  • Questions asked, then answered in comments: Edit the information into the post, then flag the comments for removal. If it was important enough ask what industry Bob is in, that information is probably important enough to be in the question, not behind a "10 more comments" fence.

Any post with over 5 comments almost certainly could use some comment pruning. There are very very many posts with over 5 comments.

Remember that deleting comments from the mod queue is very easy, and it's usually easy enough to delete/not delete on sight given the flag contents and the contents of the comment, so comment flags are very easy to handle. I would personally encourage a lot more comment flagging, given the low volume of comment flags I saw as a moderator.

If a whole discussion needs to be purged (like a 20 message long back and forth) just flag one comment in the thread with a custom flag saying "these should all be burned because of X (except for Y comment because Z)" which makes burning multiple comments much easier. Mods actually get a button to purge all comments on a post instantly, so if that's exactly what needs to be done, just say that.

Bottom line there are way more comments than are needed in many questions and comment flags are the main way to set that right. Often I'd see a "more than 20 comments in X days" auto-flag before I'd actually get individual "too chatty" "obsolete" "off topic" flags, and the automatic flag is much less helpful for pruning useless comments.

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  • I agree with all these except sometimes the +1 comments. Depending on how many total comments are on the post, and what else the +1 comment contains, I would consider leaving them for reasons explained here. They can be useful :) – Rachel Apr 10 '13 at 18:03
6

I personally don't see a lot of comment flags (or a lot of flags in general; the flag queue is usually pretty empty). I can't say for sure if this is because people don't flag a lot of comments or because the flagged comments get auto-deleted.

As far as support: comments are not meant to be permanent; I have no problem clearing them out once they've served their purpose. If I get a rude/offensive flag on a comment, unless it's blatantly wrong, I delete. Too chatty/not constructive (again, unless it's blatantly wrong), I delete. I've dismissed very few, and edited only one comment (most of the comment was useful, but had a small bit of rude/notconstructive/offensive statement tacked on).

I encourage you to flag comments as you think is needed; they are meant to improve the post and not intended to be permanent. Once they've done that, or if they don't try to do that, there's not much point in keeping them around (with some exceptions, of course).

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2

When it comes to comments, whether or not I delete or dismiss the flags depends on several factors.

In What "comments" are not . . ., Robert Cartaino clarifies that the purpose of comments are to either improve a post or to seek clarification from an asker. Comments that attempt to answer the question or that don't further one of the aforementioned goals are subject to removal.

I generally only remove comment threads when they're auto-flagged by the Community bot or when it's clear that the comments may further degrade a borderline not-constructive question into extended discussion. Otherwise, if there are only a few comments, I may leave them.

As for comments flagged as rude/offensive, I may edit them, delete them, or dismiss them depending on my interpretation of what is rude based on discussions here in meta. Sometimes I edit if it's clear the commenter was trying to be helpful but may be misinterpreted, and I'll do this if there's been no follow up, just to help prevent any trouble resulting from the comment.

If someone is clearly trolling or trying to be offensive, I'll generally remove the comment.

As far as how many people are flagging, that's tough to answer. I don't always get to see who flagged. Comment flags aren't generally as critical as flags on posts, so I believe it only shows the flagged comment and the reason.

Finally, I encourage you to continue flagging. It's a way to draw attention to trouble-spots on the site. We should check MSO to see if dismissed comment flags affect the elusive flag weight. I don't think they do, but we should check.

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  • I've asked about this here – enderland Apr 14 '13 at 16:51
  • To summarize the answer from enderland's question. Comment flags that are declined do not negatively affect your ability to continue flagging. – jmort253 Apr 14 '13 at 20:50

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