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I kind of like flagging obsolete comments. I have infrastructure I've built around flagging obsolete comments. Like, 50,000 row MySQL db's and queues and things. I flag so much that I was the main reason behind this feature request.

It all is very, very good at finding the obsolete comments - but flagging them actually turns out to be rather difficult.

I'd like to make as big of an impact on the number of obsolete comments as I can. I've hit the 100/day max for flags, meaning I have 100 comment flags and 100 post flags each day. So I can potentially take out 200-400 obsolete comments each day.

Here's the hard part: every mod seems to want them flagged in a different way. Before going on a flag binge on a site, I drop into chat and ask a mod how they want comments flagged. I get an answer, generally something like this:

me: I have a fairly efficient way to find obsolete comments. Obsolete comments tend to come in groups. So, mods: Would you prefer all the obsolete comments below a post flagged, or one custom flag addressing all the comments? -

a ♦︎ moderator: @Undo Depends, if it's a long thread of comments with some obsolete ones, then flag them individually. If the comment thread is better off being purged completely, flag the post and indicate you want the whole thread purged. -

me: What about if there are two comments total, both obsolete?

the same mod: Eh, it doesn't really matter either way.

From this, I started flagging - flagging single comments where there are just one, alternating between single-comment flags and post flags for two and above, and using post flags where there are a whole bunch.

But then I invariably get cornered by a different mod in chat:

mod: It'd be better if you used individual comment flags instead of custom mod flags.

me: Ok - Would you prefer one per comment that's obsolete or one per comment thread?

mod: I'd prefer one comment flag on each comment that should be deleted.

me: Ok, I only have 100 comment flags I can use - what about when I'm out of those and I only have normal flags left?

mod: In that case, I'd either wait for the next day or try to find posts where all the comments are obsolete, and then use a custom flag.

paraphrased from here and here.

Of course, I'd rather not let my 100 custom flags just go to waste every day, but I do see how mods would prefer flags that work best in their workflow.

Could we have some consensus on how to go about this?

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"I kind of like flagging obsolete comments." You need a hobby. ;} –  Yannis Nov 19 '13 at 1:40
I'm coming to Programmers next ;) –  Undo the Snowman Nov 19 '13 at 1:40
Perhaps making a daily meta list of them so we can flag them all? –  Qantas 94 Heavy Nov 19 '13 at 2:00
@Qantas94Heavy That would be more vigilante justice, no? 6 flags nukes a comment without mod intervention, IIRC. So my system would have to be spot on. –  Undo the Snowman Nov 19 '13 at 2:11
Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo comments 'cause they be flaggin' errybody out here. –  Jamal Nov 19 '13 at 3:01
If you're serious about coming to Programmers next, please drop into chat (The Whiteboard) and let us know. You'll find a number of like-minded users who would be happy to review, flag, and help clear out stale comments. –  GlenH7 Nov 25 '13 at 19:27
Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/199302/… –  Jim G. Nov 30 '13 at 4:23

2 Answers 2

up vote 20 down vote accepted

My preference would be:

  • Use a custom flag when all comments on a post are obsolete. If all comments can be deleted, you might as well save your flags by only using one. We have a tool to purge all comments in a couple of clicks from the post.

  • Use individual comment flags otherwise. Individual flags are preferred because they're much easier to process directly from the moderator queue without visiting the post (literally one click each).

If you can make all comments on a post obsolete by editing them into the post, that would be ideal.

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So flag all of the obsolete comments on a post, one-by-one? –  Undo the Snowman Nov 19 '13 at 3:24
@Undo Yes, unless we can just purge all of the comments at once, then you can flag the post once for all comments, as you have been doing. –  Bill the Lizard Nov 19 '13 at 3:26
When you say a custom flag, do you mean a post flag or a custom comment flag? Or does it not matter? –  Josh Caswell Nov 19 '13 at 8:36
@JoshCaswell It doesn't matter. We can get to the post from either a custom post flag or a comment flag, then purge all comments. –  Bill the Lizard Nov 19 '13 at 13:21

I want to hear more about this comment-finding system of yours!

To answer your actual question though... I think you've already answered it. Everyone has different workflows and is going to prefer things one way or another. When it's only a handful of flags, this doesn't matter much; if you're looking at 3 obsolete comments, a mod probably won't even bat an eye whether it's 1 flag on the post or 3 flags (one on each comment).

What I'm getting from your post is that you do this a lot. And I'm not saying this is a bad thing (though I think mods on smaller sites like mine might go into shock if they saw 200 flags at once!!). But when you see something en masse, you're more likely to notice it, and if this many flags are being cast in the way a certain mod doesn't prefer, that's probably when they'd poke you in chat and let you know (as you also mentioned in your question, where one moderator told you to just wait until the next day if you had more than 100 to flag!).

Personally it doesn't matter to me either way if it's a comment flag or a post flag... I go read the entire comment thread before I take any action on flags regarding comments. (Because I think that taking 1 comment out of context can sometimes be misleading, and perhaps the comment isn't obsolete/offensive/whatever it's been flagged as.) But I also have the luxury of doing this, because I moderate a small site that doesn't have high flag volume. Not every moderator is going to approach things the same way, so there isn't likely to be a consensus.

So I really think that you should just keep doing what you're already doing. You're trying to find out the preferred flagging method ahead of time, and using that until (if!) a moderator takes note of all the flags and tells you they'd prefer it be handled another way. That sounds like a good plan to me, especially since no two people think exactly alike... So even on the same site, different moderators might prefer it a different way. When it comes right down to it, I honestly don't think it matters which way it's flagged, as long as it gets put in the queue for attention. But if the flags are being done in a way that is against a certain mod's workflow, it just might be that the high volume of flags you're casting is exacerbating the problem in their mind.

(You might also consider that, going by the rule that comments are "second-class citizens" on SE, they might not be important enough to merit 100+ flags per day on a single site. But I'll leave that up to you and the moderators of the sites you flag on! :)).

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