As a follow up to the answer I received to this question:

I started using the review beta tool for low-quality posts fairly heavily a few days ago (heavy compared to my previous usage, anyway). The review tool has the option of posting a helpful comment on the post to guide the original user to improve it. As a result, my name has been thrown about on many comments across many posts by other users. This is in and of itself just fine by me.

In turn, some of those users have begun to ask about and/or respond to those automated comments. For example:

My (automatic) comment:

While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes.

Their response:

Well, not exactly legal to copy copyrighted material into another web page. Besides, it is the Microsoft docs that are linked to here (and the link is still good even more than 2 years later)

In all of these cases so far, I've defended my position (though after going through the question linked above, I probably could have done without some specific comments) and I still stand by most of my review decisions.

In response, I thought it would be helpful to link to a related meta post to explain why the comment even appeared, as I get the feeling from the reactions that not everyone even knows this is going on:

Understood, but it is still more helpful to at least describe some of the processes (rather than copy the code outright) than just posting a link. Also, while the link may be good today, there's no guarantee it will forever be. For the record, the only reason I commented on this post was because I was prompted to by the low-quality review tool (due to its link-only content). See this Meta post for more details.

In some cases, there are Meta posts and/or FAQ pages that describe the error/deficiency of the post, and sometimes also how that relates to the beta review process.

When those pages exist, rather than go through this dialog each time to get the point across, can we include links to Meta posts/FAQ in the automated review comments? If there is not a page for one category or another already, can we create one (some) for this purpose? As an alternative to a link, we could also use a brief note about where the automatic comment is coming from.

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    Yeah, if only there were some kind of canonical reference wiki for What Stack Overflow Is Not that we could just link to. OH WAIT.
    – AakashM
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 14:47
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    @AakashM My understanding of that post is that it was a problem when people were simply dropping the link and possibly being snarky to boot. Since the automatic helpful comments are already being supplied, I don't see why it is a problem to back it up with a reference link (the link here being just a resource, while the comment is still the main content). That's especially pertinent to me when cases like I've outlined in the question occur.
    – Gaffi
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 15:00
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    related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/144624/…
    – SeanC
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 15:57
  • @SeanCheshire I also agree with that point. Either this, or that, or both would be good to me! I added the link to your suggestion to my own.
    – Gaffi
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 16:00

1 Answer 1


If we were gonna go that way, it would make more sense to set these up like we do close reasons: post notices displayed apart from the comments, and not attributed to one person.

But my hope is that the folks using this actually learn to defend that they're saying in the face of disagreement - perhaps using discussions here as part of that.

AakashM mentions WSOiN in the comments above, and that's apt: one of the big problems I saw there was a lack of understanding of the rationale behind each entry from some of the folks using them - it is a problem when you have someone commenting and flagging on dozens or hundreds of posts, causing confusion and completely unequipped to resolve it.

Directing folks here just passes the buck - if you can't explain why you posted a comment, then why post one at all?

  • In general, yes, it is definitely better to be able to back up your own (albeit automated) comment. I failed to do that on a few occasions because I probably should have left no comment. I've learned and will do that moving forward. However, with some of the cases I've had to work with so far, I have defended the comment (see above) with no response from the OP. I think some users, especially some of the more established, even >10k folks, are non-receptive and resistant to any sort of feedback, especially for older posts.
    – Gaffi
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 16:21
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    In one isolated incident (not a big deal to point out details - I flagged and a mod handled), the OP (>50k rep) actually decided to respond by lightly spamming one of my own answers with comments picking apart why my answer was bad (they were more or less right, and I even deleted the post). While the negative retaliation is minimal, I think it could be more prevented by implementing this.
    – Gaffi
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 16:22
  • @shog9, If You have to explain every single comment that the system puts there. why bother with commenting, and why should people have to learn why their answer may not be up to par? Not everyone looks at meta - the message I had that prompted my post was from someone with 50k+ rep, but only 200 on meta
    – SeanC
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 4:48
  • @Sean: I would say that if a particular comment constantly needs explaining, it's not a very good comment and should be replaced. However, a comment in the wrong context (as has happened repeatedly with the "should be a comment" comment) is naturally going to raise questions. No amount of meta explanation is going to fix the confusion when it arises from the person posting the comment - so the first priority here is to make sure the folks using review understand what they're doing, and then help them communicate that to the authors they're addressing.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:41
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    I can explain the comment, but when people get riled up about While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes then something needs to be done.
    – SeanC
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:47

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