Given that the flag mechanism has been expanded and improved for both questions and answers and taking into consideration these two questions that ended up more or less with a 'you should flag more' answer.

I think comment flags should be revamped. I suggest changing the tooltip to remove the "hate speech" part of it:

"Flag this comment as noise, offensive or spam"

This because I think that having both offensive and hate speech as flag reasons bias people towards a stronger definition of offensive than they would otherwise have, as illustrated by the sample comments that follow.

Remember offensive is a superset of hate speech, so it's not really necessary (hate speech is by definition offensive.)

Some relevant quotes:

One concern I have is inundating you with nitpicky stuff. Send me a note if you 
feel that's happening. I think -- based on the feedback here -- that I feel a 
little more free to flag comments that are simply rude but not patently 
– tvanfosson Aug 18 at 15:39
I think I've avoided flagging because I assumed it was reserved for personal 
attacks and specific malicious language (racist/sexist views, calling someone 
stupid, or offensive language in excess). But now that I know that it's meant 
to curb exactly what my email was about, I'll be sure to use the flag option 
for those situations. 
– Anthony 14 hours ago

I certainly cannot prove that these ideas are due to the biasing hate speech part of the tooltip provokes, but it certainly does give that impression to me. And there is nothing to lose from removing it. It's not as if our community needed a reminder to flag hate speech when it happens.


Noise was recently added as a reason to flag.

When you flag a comment, it doesn't bug a moderator, it just works on its own. Plus, when you read it with commas and the OR, it's like a menu, you decide what you want to be flagging the comment for:

noise | offensive | spam | hate speech

Is there a dilemma when you spot a pointless add-nothing comment like, "+1 Good answer", but because it's not offensive or spammy, you won't flag?

If you can't decide, order a burger and just don't flag.

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  • I think I've nailed my main (possibly wrong) idea: Having both offensive and hate speech bias people towards a stronger definition of offensive, as illustrated by the sample comments I've gotten from this site. – Vinko Vrsalovic Aug 27 '09 at 1:16
  • And flagged comments surface to moderators, according to the blog. – Vinko Vrsalovic Aug 27 '09 at 1:43
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    @random: +1 for saying the same basic thing I did, and not getting DVed into the negatives. – GEOCHET Aug 27 '09 at 11:56

I think it should be left alone. A moderator is not going to be reviewing the comment because you flagged it, that is not how comment flags work.

When you flag a comment, you are voting it to be deleted. Currently, I see "noise, offensive, spam or hate speech". I think that sums it up very well. This should not be taken lightly and I believe most of the people who use StackOverflow are capable of grokking logic like 'or'.

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  • The moderator part is not the relevant idea. – Vinko Vrsalovic Aug 27 '09 at 0:07
  • @Vinko: But it shows a fundamental flaw in your understanding of the topic at hand. – GEOCHET Aug 27 '09 at 0:08
  • Still hate speech is way too strong, I've read many times: "Well, I wanted to flag this comment but it's not that offensive" (which I'd attribute to the hate speech part of the tooltip) – Vinko Vrsalovic Aug 27 '09 at 0:08
  • I see "noise, offensive, spam or hate speech". I think that sums it up very well. This should not be taken lightly. – GEOCHET Aug 27 '09 at 0:11
  • If anything, offensive is a superset of hate speech. "noise, offensive or spam" would be just as good at the seriousness part, but without turning people off. – Vinko Vrsalovic Aug 27 '09 at 0:13
  • @Vinko: I have more faith that our community understands simple logic like 'or'. – GEOCHET Aug 27 '09 at 0:14
  • @Rich B: Good for you – Vinko Vrsalovic Aug 27 '09 at 0:27
  • @Vinko: So you honestly believe that the developers on SO.com are not capable of understanding simple logic? I find that a bit insulting. – GEOCHET Aug 27 '09 at 0:29
  • @Rich: No. I honestly believe that newbies might get confused by the tooltip. – Vinko Vrsalovic Aug 27 '09 at 0:32
  • @Vinko: At what harm? A comment that was borderline wouldn't get deleted as quickly or at all? – GEOCHET Aug 27 '09 at 0:33
  • I would imagine that comments just wouldn't get deleted at all, given that both a relatively new SO user and an expert SO user both got the impression that flags are for far more serious things than for what they really are (see the questions where those comments appeared: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/17612/… and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/15143/…) – Vinko Vrsalovic Aug 27 '09 at 0:39
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    @Vinko: They are pretty serious. You are voting to delete another person's contributions. If you have reservations about whether a comment is seriously offensive enough to delete based on the tooltip, you should not be flagging it. – GEOCHET Aug 27 '09 at 0:41
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    And by the way, it seems to me that the one who isn't understanding the topic at hand is you: "If a comment is flagged by enough users it will be auto-soft-deleted. There is no penalty for this.. yet. Flagged comments will be surfaced to moderators, so if you have a problem with a comment, flag it." blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/04/… – Vinko Vrsalovic Aug 27 '09 at 0:43
  • @Vinko: I understand it just fine. But it needs enough votes, that is not the same as being visible to a moderator when you flag it, nor does it mean a moderator definitely will review it. It just means the mods will be able to go back and investigate a pattern of abuse if it is reported. Hard deleted or soft deleted, you are deleting someone's content. That is a serious responsibility. – GEOCHET Aug 27 '09 at 0:46
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    @Vinko: 'noise' does not confuse me when or'ed with 'hate speech'. I also don't believe our community is incapable of reading a comment thread. Discussion is what was requested, and is what was delivered. – GEOCHET Aug 27 '09 at 1:05

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