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I heard a suggestion that, as a mod, if I come across posts or comments that should be deleted, I should do it via flagging instead of just acting directly. The benefit is that this creates an audit trail; I can record that this was deleted because it was obsolete, for example, or because it didn't answer the question (at that point in time). Anybody else trying to figure out what happened (or me six months later :-) ) will have the information.

This makes a lot of sense to me. The only reason not to do this would be if being flagged -- for the benign reasons, I mean, not spam/offensive -- causes any sort of damage to the user being flagged. Does it? Is "number of times this user was flagged" used for anything that affects site function (beyond making the data available to mods)?

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It doesn't count how many times a user has been comment-flagged anyway, just answer/question flags – Ben Brocka Jan 30 '13 at 15:49
up vote 6 down vote accepted

No, flagging comments as a moderator will not hurt the user - with the exception of the spam flag that carries an immediate -100 rep penalty (assuming the user had any rep in the first place) and immediately deletes the post. I usually kill comments by flagging them, exactly for the reasons you describe.

That said, this is more of an exception, moderators should avoid flagging in general.

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Can I flag this? – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jan 30 '13 at 15:33
Yeah, this is for non-controversial decisions like removing now-obsolete comments asking for clarification after a post was updated to address them. On larger communities someone else would probably flag pretty quickly, but on smaller ones that flag might never come, so if I'm right there looking at it it seems better to just go ahead and do the clean-up. – Monica Cellio Jan 30 '13 at 15:36
@MonicaCellio One weird edge case that you might not know about: If you custom flag a comment (the "other" option), the comment will be instantly deleted. Someone tried to custom flag a comment recently to ask their fellow mods to take a look at the comment, didn't really work as they thought it would ;) – Yannis Jan 30 '13 at 15:43
Yikes. Thanks for the heads-up. – Monica Cellio Jan 30 '13 at 15:48

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