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According to the accepted answer to this faq question: How do comment voting and flagging work?

Comment flagging is 100% automated and does not require any mod intervention.

I believe I saw a flag on a comment (in the 10k tools page) which I thought was offensive (and a mild personal attack, which could lead to a comment war) and I flagged it too. After some time, the flags were cleared (as I could see in the 10k tools page), but the comment remained and the answer (by the same person who made the comment) was downvoted.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that the flags on the comment were cleared by some moderator, perhaps under the mistaken impression that some idiot flagged the comment instead of downvoting the answer.

Note all this happened within the past 4 hours, so I don't think aging of the flags is the reason.

Why do we have moderators even looking at and clearing comment flags?

Apologies if there is a more recent thread or if I have somehow missed some feature and drawn the wrong conclusions.

I will not post a link to the relevant comment (so please avoid the 'data or it didn't happen' comments).

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On StackOverflow, comment flags can pretty much fill up the moderator flags page. So unless we clear them, it's just chaff that's hiding the wheat –  Robert Harvey Feb 18 '11 at 19:51
    
@Robert: I would claim that is a UI issue then :-) –  Aryabhatta Feb 18 '11 at 19:52
    
Probably, but until it gets fixed... –  Robert Harvey Feb 18 '11 at 19:54
    
@Robert: Even then, that is not a reason to clear the flags on comments which are IMO offensive. Even if one thinks it is not offensive, why not give the benefit of doubt to the flagger and let the community decide? The flags age away anyway. –  Aryabhatta Feb 18 '11 at 19:56
    
@Robert Aren't they sorted under post flags though? Or are they mixed? –  Michael Mrozek Feb 18 '11 at 19:58
    
@Moron Well, they age away after four days -- mods check the flag list dozens to hundreds of times in that span of time –  Michael Mrozek Feb 18 '11 at 19:59
    
@Michael I think they count as neutral priority, or are affected by your standard flag priority. I don't think they're automatically sorted to the bottom. On Gaming, at least at various points in time, they have been scrambled in there, but it's been quite a long time since then... –  Grace Note Feb 18 '11 at 20:00
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@Micheal: Sorry, a bad interface/habits is not an argument. It is an excuse. –  Aryabhatta Feb 18 '11 at 20:01
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@Moron: If I think a comment is offensive, I simply delete it, especially if it has two flags on it. I don't see any real reason for these kinds of comments to hang around any longer than is necessary. –  Robert Harvey Feb 18 '11 at 20:02
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@Moron It's both -- if a mod reviews a flag and agrees/disagrees with it, they're probably going to act on it, rather than let it languish in the queue for four days. It's maybe not the best situation, but you can't expect them to let hundreds of bad comment flags pile up that are going to eventually age away anyway –  Michael Mrozek Feb 18 '11 at 20:07
    
@Michael: Your argument is fine, if the action is to delete. But if the action is to clear, then you better have a very good reason to clear it, especially if there are at least a couple of votes already. We can afford to lose flagged, potentially non-offensive comments (by mod deletion), but we cannot afford to keep offensive comments around, just because a mod thinks it is non-offensive and keeps clearing up the flags. –  Aryabhatta Feb 18 '11 at 21:22
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It's worth noting that many of the comment links that show up in the moderator queue are perfectly ordinary, useful comments. It's almost as if the user slipped, and instead of upmodding the comment, flagged it as offensive by mistake. –  Robert Harvey Feb 18 '11 at 23:54
    
@Robert: It requires 5 users to flag a comment to be deleted right? Sorry, I forget. That seems like an unlikely occurrence. btw, feel free to add any arguments you have, to an anwser. I don't feel strongly one way or the other. I just found it odd (enough to start this question). If there are convincing and logical reasons I will accept that answer :-) Btw, the comment which prompted this thread seems to have been deleted... –  Aryabhatta Feb 18 '11 at 23:58
    
It takes 3 flags. –  Robert Harvey Feb 19 '11 at 0:48

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Do we ever need to clear comment flags? Yes. On smaller sites, rarely, but yes.

Generally, moderators don't really need to clear comment flags. But, for the same exceptional circumstances that lead to us stepping in to immediately delete a comment, we may see a scenario in which something is attracting a lot of incorrect comment flags. So in the same scenario that we may prevent a non-spam/offensive posts from being flagged into destruction, we may prevent a non-noise/spam/offensive comment from being flagged into destruction.

The need for real intervention, at least on smaller sites, happens exceptionally rarely, and on Gaming myself I haven't run into a single comment flag that I've had to handle in either direction. But, there is always the avenue for flag abuse, and we'd be terrible mods if we couldn't do anything to at least try to stop such.

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Mods do see comment flags basically involuntarily, because the new flagging interface shows all flags together (instead of putting mod flags, spam/offensive post flags, and comment flags on separate pages like it used to), but it's not necessarily the case that a mod cleared the flag. Comment flags age away after four days, so if the comment didn't get enough flags to kill it, eventually the existing flags would disappear

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I think this is the perfect behavior for something like this. –  Chris Lively Feb 18 '11 at 19:46
    
I should have mentioned the timeline... Edited. –  Aryabhatta Feb 18 '11 at 19:49

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