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When I flag an answer as "not an answer", if it should be a comment, I instead flag it as "other" and put in the box the post that it should be a comment on. When moderating on SQA, I know I wish I could have that feature, and I can only assume that the moderators on SO appreciate the time saver (particularly on questions where there's a lot of answers).

Now, it could be the benefit gained from this box is outweighed by how much the box detracts from the 'elegance' of the menu. I certainly don't want to get in the habit of cluttering up an interface with every possible feature.

So I suppose this is part support, part feature request.

When you identify that something should be a comment, is it really appropriate to have done so without also (as part of the analysis) identify what post the errant post should be a comment on? Assuming that it's not, is it then appropriate to use the 'other' box as a mechanism by which to send the attending moderator the appropriate post id to receive the errant post as a comment?

If it is appropriate to use the other box, then there's nothing to be done. But this might have an impact on your reporting by underestimating the number of errant questions flagged as should be comment (although I suppose the analysis could instead be run on number of questions actually converted, but that only reports actual moderator activity, not community feedback and the effectiveness of said feedback.)

If it is not appropriate, then I suggest a box be added (perhaps it would only appear if 'not an answer' was selected) for entering the post id that should receive the errant question as a comment.

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What would we do with that information? We can only convert answers to comments on the question. And we only use that rarely. – Won't Nov 28 '12 at 18:22
@Won't: Not true. If you paste the URL of an answer in the convert-to-comment dialog the comment will be added to that answer. (At least, that's how it used to work. I retired from my Moderator position some months ago.) – Al E. Nov 28 '12 at 18:25
@AlEverett egads. – Won't Nov 28 '12 at 18:48
@ÄlËverett No, this is different. That is on the moderator toolbox. I'm talking about doing this on the flag menu. – corsiKa Nov 28 '12 at 19:24
I see. In such cases I always copy the URL then use the "Other" field: Should be a comment on {pasted URL} – Al E. Nov 28 '12 at 19:40
So do I (as noted in the fourth paragraph). But it seems a bit odd to do so: I'm only using it because it happens to have the text box, not because it's truly a different category of flag. – corsiKa Nov 28 '12 at 19:45
That request has somehow died without reaching any point, that topic raises that once again:… – Danubian Sailor Jan 15 '14 at 9:08

What I do in this circumstance is comment on the answer "this should be a comment on the answer by Whoever" (the @ notation is pointless since Whoever won't be notified) or "this should be a comment on the question." I then typically leave the question open in my browser for 30 minutes or so in case the poster happens to be around to fix it themselves, or at least to give them a chance to read my comment, and then I flag it as not an answer. The moderator can, I presume, see the comment (I've been told so anyway) and can then convert-to-comment or destroy as they see fit.

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It's worth mentioning here that each individual answer, and the question, has a flag link on it. Therefore, there is absolutely no need to mention the post id at all when flagging.

Also, I'm not really sure how much time this actually saves. When you flag something as not an answer. 10K users in the flag queue can review the answer. If it's really not worth it being a comment, three 20K users can simply remove it. Or any 10K user can encourage the poster to repost it as a comment.

Thus, it's quite possible the issue could be resolved before it ever hits the desk of a diamond moderator.

However, when you flag as "Other" you take out the community moderation aspect of the site and force the post to be escalated only to a diamond moderator. Since, in most cases, it's better to just delete the comment, this actually puts more weight on the moderators' shoulders, not less. On sites like SQA, this isn't a big deal, but Stack Overflow can easily have 400 flags in the queue at any given moment.

With that said, Kate hit the nail on the head in her answer. Just leave a comment that doubles both as a message to the user as well as to any 10K+ or diamond moderator who handles the flag. This kills 2 birds with one stone, leaving both a message for flag handlers as well as giving the user the opportunity to fix the problem without needing to bug anyone else.

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