K, so I left a quick comment on this question to a user who didn't seem to understand how moderator flags worked.

Moderators are janitors. You flag us when someone throws up in the hallway. We are not professors, tasked with grading answers to questions. If someone provides an unsatisfactory answer, downvote them, leave a comment, or provide a better answer. Do not flag the answer as "unsatisfactory." There is nothing a moderator can (or should) do about a bad answer. Thanks.

This is what I usually do when I want to make an informal contact with a user for something trivial, as

Contact[ing] a user directly via private message [is reserved] to address serious behavior problems

Normally, the user replies in another comment directed @Will. If no more comments are needed, I delete both. If more are needed, I delete and leave a message requesting the user to ask a question here.

Anyhow, I checked back to see if there was any movement on the question when I saw my comment was deleted. Wondering if I had gotten flagged (and another mod had deleted my comment to save me from further beclowning myself), I checked to see who deleted it.

Who the hell is Joe?

Joe? Who the hell is Joe?

Joe is a brand new StackOverflow member who is about to celebrate the fifteenth (day) anniversary. A proud member with a stunning reputation of 28, he enjoys Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain with his buddy Sean. And, surprisingly enough, they not only share the same IP, but also 98% of the votes Joe has cast!

Okay, its obvious Joe is a sock for Sean. Fine. I'll leave the merge and suspension for a later date. But what I really wanna know is...

How the heck did Joe delete my comment?

  • 19
    I can only imagine one thing: more socks. (It would actually be interesting to know how many flags are needed to delete a comment without upvotes.) Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:26
  • 5
    lol @Bill the only thing worse than my admitting I know of that song is you admitting you know the correct lyrics.
    – user1228
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:31
  • 7
    I would suggest that nobody merge users until an answer has been found!
    – user1228
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:39
  • 2
    It's actually kind of hilarious to read all of Sean's questions, since he seems to have self-answered every one and taken exactly 2 upvotes for almost all of them.
    – JNK
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:44
  • 2
    Along with user john who oddly has what would look like much the same voting habits as Joe Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:47
  • 1
    So in real life Sean actually has like 100 rep?
    – JNK
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 14:57
  • 9
    @JNK: I bet he'd call the cops when somebody steals weed from him. And, yes, this is yet another reason why I dislike flag weight.
    – user1228
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:02
  • 1
    @won't - My coworkers are now looking at me askance because I appear to be laughing at a 15GB flat file on my other screen.
    – JNK
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:03
  • 3
    Mr Owl, how many flags does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:08
  • 1
    so...it's SOCKCEPTION? Instead of a dream within a dream, it's sockpuppets with sockpuppets...
    – tombull89
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:13
  • 1
    @Shog9 and just like in the commercial 1, 2, CRUNCH 3.... 3 Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:22
  • 4
    This also brings up the question of why the suspicious voting algorithm didn't catch this guys (these guy?) earlier.
    – Pops
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:28
  • 1
    @HendrikVogt 3+floor(upvotes/3) Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:44
  • 2
    @Hendrik. Grace knows all. Never question.
    – M. Tibbits
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:45
  • 12
    This post has a totally reasonable number of upvotes for a minor question about how comment deletion is represented Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:46

2 Answers 2


A sufficient number of flags (in proportion to the number of upvotes on the comment) will automatically delete a comment. The person listed in the "show deleted comments" tool as the deleter is simply the last person who flagged. Any other flaggers are not listed, which honestly I find to be a bit odd - honestly it should either be listed as "Community" so as to keep the otherwise maintained anonymity of comment flags, or it should list all such users. Listing just the last is rather awkward.

The conclusion, thusly, is that your comment got sufficient flags (3 flags were needed for your specific comment), the last of which came from Joe.

  • 48
    Mods being overwhelmed by sockpuppet gangs? Well, now I've seen everything.
    – Pops
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:27
  • 8
    Ninja Socks do exist. You've just never seen them.
    – M. Tibbits
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:44
  • 9
    "Ninja socks," @MTibbits? Come on, now. Don't be ridic This comment has been deleted by... its author.
    – Pops
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 16:00
  • Their fearless leader!
    – Mark C
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 2:49

The answer is that he had just enough socks to get it deleted w/o moderator involvement. We just tested this case on one of my comments on your question and it took exactly 3 flags for it to be autodeleted, and seeing as Sean seems to have 2 socks of Joe and John, it's fairly reasonable to assume that he could remove a comment that you made w/o any other user involvement.

ADDENDUM: Also, if what @grace is saying in the comment is the method (ie. linear) this would mean that it's some (x*number of votes + 3) for flags for the comment to be deleted.

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