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Because comment flags were historically some of the worst / least appropriately used flag types, we made comment flags require a reason:

Comment flagging options

Requiring a reason definitely helped improve existing comment flags that we now see.

The current default comment flagging reasons are

  • rude or offensive
  • not constructive / off-topic
  • obsolete
  • too chatty
  • other (requires text)

Do these default reasons capture -- without getting into obsessive detail -- the most common, valid reasons to flag a comment?

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What constitutes "too chatty"? Aren't comments for, um, "chatting"? Are you referring to comments that might be better described as "unnecessary", "noise", "extraneous" (e.g., "+1 You're answer is awesome!", "I totally agree with you, dude!", etc.)? – raven Jun 5 '11 at 0:33
Wow, thanks for this. I'm actually going to visit the flags section of my mod tools again. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jun 5 '11 at 1:48
@raven, I love your username! – jball Jun 5 '11 at 3:25
@raven I think "too chatty" does capture something essential there; comments are not for people's amusement, they are for adding constructive meta-commentary on the post. – Jeff Atwood Jun 5 '11 at 4:55
It would be most interesting to know the actual effect of those flags. (I just flagged a comment as "obsolete", and it got deleted. How many flags are needed for this?) – Hendrik Vogt Jun 5 '11 at 18:31
@hendrik comment flag quality went from abysmal to quite useful. It's very striking how different the results are when you ask someone to explain why they are flagging something. See: moderator flag decline reasons... – Jeff Atwood Sep 13 '11 at 9:08
@Jeff: I do like the present flagging dialog a lot better then the old one. But I'm not sure what you're aiming to say with your comment - my previous comment was just a technical question: What exactly happens when I flag; will mods or 10k users see the flags, how many flags will delete a comment, do they have to be of the same reason to reach the limit for deletion, how are comment upvotes taken into account? – Hendrik Vogt Sep 22 '11 at 8:48
Woah, @Shog9 do Stack.imgur files die? Never seen a 404 image that was a stack.imgur before – Ben Brocka Jun 19 '12 at 2:14
@Ben: they shouldn't - I'm honestly not sure what happened here... If you check the revision history, there's a "fixed image link" entry that changes nothing. – Shog9 Jun 19 '12 at 2:43

8 Answers 8

Many times newbiews are adding code or crucial data in comments instead of editing the Question.

So flag of type "Should be added to the question" might be helpful especially if when approved it will automatically add the comment to the question maybe with some explanation, as done many times by ordinary members.

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Shouldn’t editing (or suggesting an edit and waiting for its approval) along with flagging the comment as obsolete be enough? – Palec Jan 18 '14 at 23:23
@Palec sure, my intention here is to simplify it a bit, skipping the need to edit. – Shadow Wizard Jan 18 '14 at 23:32
Automatic editing is generally a bad idea, IMO. The duplicate banner originally used to be inserted by Community and was made a special thing. It had problems such as interfering with suggested edits. Manually inserting comment contents is better as it can be improved and incorporated organically. I utterly hate the questions with several EDIT sections as the information is presented in chronological not logical order. – Palec Jan 19 '14 at 1:29

I don't like "too chatty". It sounds really childish. Why not rename it "off topic" or something similar?

share|improve this answer
I think "too chatty" does capture something essential there; comments are not for people's amusement, they are for adding constructive meta-commentary on the post. – Jeff Atwood Jun 5 '11 at 14:48
@JeffAtwood: I'd like to close the "Too chatty" option as subjective and argumentative – Won't Jun 6 '11 at 15:23

I would like to see the option "is not really a comment," for those comments that should have been posted as an answer.

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I like the idea, but I think it'd be tough/impossible for a moderator to act on that flag. – Adam Lear Jun 5 '11 at 0:10
@Anna Lear I know there isn't a way to convert a comment in an answer (if I remember well); what I was thinking is for the moderators to delete the comment. I noticed that suggesting to re-write the comment as answer doesn't always have the hoped effect; as consequence, the OP gets the answer for the problem s/he is having, and ignores that question. Flagging the comment as "not a comment," and deleting it, would hopefully force who wrote the comment to write it as answer. – kiamlaluno Jun 5 '11 at 0:18
@kiamlaluno I strongly disagree with that. Sure, it'd be nice for the comment to be posted as an answer, but depriving the asker of helpful information for essentially aesthetic reasons sounds like a poor practice. The poster of the comment likely wouldn't even notice their comment was gone, learning nothing. And if they did notice, it'd be even harder to convince them to repost it if they have to recall what they've said. And with all that aside, sometimes someone else can come along and expand a comment into a full answer. – Adam Lear Jun 5 '11 at 0:27
Rather than flagging such comments that are actually answers, I think it's fair game if you step in and turn it into an proper answer yourself. If you feel uneasy about that, make it community wiki. Oftentimes solutions in comments simply occur for debugging questions (where that would be the askers duty). And sometimes the answer is just a one-liner, which some people (me) strongly oppose to ever become an answer (but too lazy to invent some fill text). – mario Jun 5 '11 at 0:45
And, exactly, what the heck is a moderator supposed to do about that? We can't convert comments to questions. Instead of flagging, just add a comment like "Hey, you should answer with that!" – Won't Jun 6 '11 at 15:24
@Won't Such comments don't always work. If a comment would be flagged as not being a comment, and the same user keeps to get his comments flagged because they are really answers, then moderators would know that user didn't understand when to post a comment, and when to post an answer. It's up to the moderators to decide what to do. – kiamlaluno Jun 6 '11 at 15:35

Urgh, I realized that "not constructive" is always a major reason to flag a comment, so that's going in as well.

share|improve this answer
How is that not covered by existing reasons? Isn't a "not constructive" comment either "too chatty" or "rude/offensive"? – Adam Lear Jun 4 '11 at 23:08
@anna it hews the line between "this isn't rude" and "this isn't really helping move the post forward" .. it's kind of like derailing a post with marginally related comments – Jeff Atwood Jun 4 '11 at 23:13
@Jeff That sounds very vague/subjective. I must be misunderstanding what it's about, cause I can't think of a comment that I'd flag like that. – Adam Lear Jun 4 '11 at 23:58
Aren't all of the listed reasons "not constructive"? If you're gonna add a catch-all, might as well put it back like it was. Sounds like you're after "off-topic"... – Shog9 Jun 5 '11 at 1:24
@anna well, I can: meta.math.stackexchange.com/q/1990 -- the comments in the question blockquote are neither too chatty nor overtly offensive (depending on how you look at it), but they are absolutely unconstructive. – Jeff Atwood Jun 5 '11 at 3:08
@Jeff: It's funny, once you said that the formulation of those example comments was off, and you implied that the content (at least the 2nd comment) was constructive. – Hendrik Vogt Jun 5 '11 at 17:32
@hendrik meaningless semantics, though I think offensive is not an inaccurate interpretation in that case. To be clear, I truly wasn't offended by the comments, I just saw them as a massive derailment of the topic placed in a very intentionally passive-aggressive way as a comment instead of an answer. In the long run, it's better if the folks who are more attached to the drama (or spiritual idealized concepts of perfection, pick your poison) than the content leave. – Jeff Atwood Jun 5 '11 at 17:44
@Jeff: I can't say I understand what you're saying in your comment, but in an attempt to say something constructive: Maybe put a reason like "derailment", "formulation is off" or "verbal lapses"? (I guess this is overkill; I'm really struggling for a good term here.) – Hendrik Vogt Jun 5 '11 at 17:53
@hendrik I think "not constructive" covers it, and allows me to (correctly) say that I did not find the comments offensive, and (correctly) say that the comment was ostensibly on topic. If this kind of hair splitting seems strange to you, well then I suppose you haven't spent enough time on math.se yet... – Jeff Atwood Jun 5 '11 at 18:44
@Jeff: OK, maybe I do agree after all. If you say "not constructive", you can also mean the tone (and not the content) of the comment. (You can of course also mean both the tone and the content ...) Is this a valid interpretation of "not constructive"? – Hendrik Vogt Jun 5 '11 at 18:53
@Jeff Ah, okay. I see what you're getting at. Thanks. Follow-up question: how do you envision this kind of flag getting handled by a moderator? Deletion, edit, a comment? – Adam Lear Jun 5 '11 at 23:22
@anna I envision an interminably long series of meta discussions, then a moderator resigning, then general ennui for everyone involved. But seriously! It's such an edge case that it just depends; use your judgments. – Jeff Atwood Jun 6 '11 at 3:48

Maybe I should open a new for this, but shouldn't the dialog open right next to the flag you clicked as opposed to centered on the screen? It feels a bit counter-productive having to drag my mouse all over there, you know ;-)

share|improve this answer
Feature request rather than bug, but it's commonly accepted and expected that dialog boxes show up in the center of the screen, so I don't expect that such a change will be made. – Dukeling May 15 at 10:41

I have, just a couple of times, flagged comments as spam. I'm not sure needs to be an extra category, but its the biggest potential omission that I can see.

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How should this be handled now? Custom reason? – Palec Jan 18 '14 at 23:33
@Palec I'd say "not constructive". Custom reasons generally take longer to get reviewed. – Dukeling May 15 at 10:37

Personally, I'd love to see a reason for whining about down-votes... Or really, mentioning voting at all. It's common, and I don't really see that it's ever relevant to the content of the post.

Along those same lines, I assume "too chatty" is meant to cover comments that are addressed at the author of the post but don't actually concern the post... If so, how 'bout "too chatty / off-topic" for a description.

share|improve this answer
Whining is a bit rude isn't it? – random Jun 4 '11 at 23:09
Wouldn't that fall under 'too chatty' ? – Tim Post Jun 4 '11 at 23:37
@Shog9: Since when do comments need to be about the content of the post? – Billy ONeal Jun 5 '11 at 1:00
Also, most of the time people don't understand why there post is being voted down into oblivion. Usually most people down vote and run, a comment asking why at least makes some people say why – TheLQ Jun 5 '11 at 1:06
@TheLQ: it doesn't make people do anything, and certainly not the people who've down-voted then moved on. And what's wrong with just asking, "what's wrong with my post?" if you really care? – Shog9 Jun 5 '11 at 3:52
@Shog: I always assumed "Why the downvotes?" = "Whats wrong with my post?" – TheLQ Jun 5 '11 at 15:17
@thelq: I've made that mistake as well. – Shog9 Jun 5 '11 at 15:22

I haven't yet wanted to flag a comment that didn't fit neatly into one of those categories.

But, something specific for whining about accept rate might be nice.

(73, ooh, that's some flag weight. :)

share|improve this answer
I believe chatty / off-topic should cover this case – Jeff Atwood Jun 4 '11 at 23:06
@Jeff, that is the one I currently use :) but I for one would like to know if I'm the only one who finds those comments annoying with data :) – sarnold Jun 4 '11 at 23:07
those comments always get upvoted. – bkaid Jun 4 '11 at 23:21
I'd think complaining about accept rate would fall more under "rude" than "chatty" – Kip Jun 6 '11 at 17:30

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