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User A has provided an answer to user B's question. User B (the OP) responded to the answer:

No, you CANNOT [do that thing suggested in your answer]. If you do [your suggested aproach] -- well guess what? IT WILL NOT [DO WHAT I WANT]. INSTEAD, it will try [loading a different resource] WHICH OF COURSE DOES NOT EXIST. So, your answer is WRONG and USELESS.

User A's answer seems to be technically sound and very comprehensive. The OP, on the other hand, is quite a novice and has quite likely misunderstood the answer.

Obviously, the comment is necessary for User A to learn that User B still doesn't understand what to do, so it probably shouldn't be removed. It's not, strictly speaking, "offensive"; instead, it merely seems to be an extremely aggressive and vitriolic attempt at clarification. (This is not a first-time behavior; at least one of his other comments has prompted a comment from a moderator not to insult people trying to help him.)

I flagged the question as "rude or offensive", since I think that its current phrasing is begging for an argument to break out, but I understand that the OP has stopped short of lobbing proper insults. The flag is listed as "declined", but the comment has just now been edited by a moderator to a few neutral words asking for clarification.

Is there a better flag to use in this case? Should I have flagged it at all? Was my flag "declined" only as a procedural quirk, because the comment was edited, rather than deleted? The fact that a moderator acted on my flag suggests I did the right thing, but the "declined" response (combined with the general grey-area of "rudeness") leaves me wanting for a little more clarification.

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you might use Other and explain your point of view. –  bummi Aug 29 '13 at 23:50
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' It's not, strictly speaking, "offensive" ' - but it's certainly rude, and that's what you (rightly) flagged it as, right? –  AakashM Aug 30 '13 at 7:55

2 Answers 2

up vote 21 down vote accepted

That was me. I looked at that one for a bit.

While rude, deleting that comment would leave a constructive reply by the answerer hanging by itself. I thought there was more value in preserving the conversation than removing the rudeness.

The problem we have is that there are usually only two actions we can take on a comment flag: delete the comment, or decline the flag. While I edit answers and questions all the time, I'm a little more hesitant to edit comments because of the lack of the same visible edit history. I feel like I'm putting words in someone's mouth.

If a rude comment stands on its own, or all others that respond to it don't add anything constructive, that's easy to remove when flagged. Where it gets tricky is a rude or unconstructive comment that triggers responses with good or clarifying information, like happened here. Even edits in those cases can make the following comments seem odd.

When comment flags didn't count for anything, stats-wise, I had no problem with declining correct flags to preserve content. Since the recent flag change where they now show as helpful / declined, I feel bad declining correct flags like yours to preserve a conversation. Beyond edits, I would love to have a third option of marking a comment flag as helpful without deleting the comment, like we can for normal flags.

I probably should have edited this, so that it was marked as helpful, but I chose to decline and keep the original comment. Sorry about the declined flag, because you were right that this was rude (and I have had a conversation with this user about this before).

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"I would love to have a third option of marking a comment flag as helpful without deleting the comment, like we can for normal flags." That would be nice yes. :) –  Alenanno Aug 30 '13 at 14:04

When comment flags are dismissed without deletion, the system always marks them as declined. The only way that a mod can dismiss a comment flag as helpful without deleting the comment outright is to delete the comment, and then undelete it.

In this particular case, the moderator apparently decided to edit the comment, rather than delete it, and dismissed the flag, thereby causing the system to mark it as "declined."

I wouldn't worry about it. I get comment flags declined all the time on sites where I am not a mod. In those cases where I really think the comment should go, I explain why, rather than using one of the canned flags (my "too chatty" flags are almost always declined).

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[feature-request]: edit and approve? –  Doorknob 冰 Aug 30 '13 at 0:38
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Doesn't editing automatically dismiss it as helpful? I'm pretty sure when I've edited comments the flag disappeared on its own. I'd hope I haven't been declining them. o.o –  animuson Aug 30 '13 at 0:41
    
Editing does usually dismiss it as helpful, yep. –  U2744 SNOWFLAKE Aug 30 '13 at 0:57
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Then how did that one get declined? I guess the mod dismissed and then edited. –  Robert Harvey Aug 30 '13 at 2:50

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