Simple enough:

  • The OP is the best judge of whether the comment is obsolete, and has no particular incentive to be unscrupulous in leaving an old comment - and even if they did, chances are this feature will lead to more obsolete comments being cleaned up than status quo in my estimation

  • Right now there's no real way for two users to jointly clean up an obsolete comment thread. If I delete mine, I need to let the conversation partner know they can cleanup their half... but then my "notification" comment remains, and there's in general no way out of this loop

  • If OP doesn't take action in, say, 2 days, can notify mods anyway

  • It proselytizes itself: if 100 people on meta see this thread, when they flag other comments as obsolete, they are educating the rest of the user base that it's okay to flag comments as obsolete. Plus there is already some badge-incentive regarding flags to help encourage people

  • It solves the problem we have that it's impossible for an OP to notify a downvoter (who comments) or commenter that the improvement has been made with no weight added to our UI

So yep, sounds like an easy enough win to me.

  • 2
    I don't know that I agree with your first bullet. I can envision plenty of cases where the OP may think that a comment/question has been addressed but the other person does not. I talked about this here, but you complained that I wrote too much. :-\
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Commented Jun 10, 2013 at 1:18
  • 5
    Your bullet points don't state explicitly the obvious win that it also helps reduce the moderator workload. And so should be welcomed per the thread here. I imagine most regulars would happily clean up their own obsolete comments if notified of them which could cause a significant reduction in amount going through for moderator handling. Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 15:44
  • I just deleted my question which was a dupe of this. Has there been any progress on this front? It would be great if the community was allowed to self-moderate - having some high-rep users with extra privileges is not the community self moderating.
    – Loduwijk
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 21:55
  • Why only obsolete comment flags? Why not all flags, including question or answer flags?
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 17, 2019 at 13:19
  • Concerning the last bullet about notifying downvoters-who-comment, there is this feature request: "Allow an edit to notify downvoters".
    – starball
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 1:21
  • Related to the endless joint-cleanup loop, there is this discussion: "Should we get notified of deleted comments we've replied to?", and a related feature request: "Automatic deletion of 'reply' comments". Note: I'm not trying to shoot this post down (it's the opposite). I'm all for comment cleanup, so I'm trying to link the related posts together.
    – starball
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 1:29
  • I'm currently thinking about the aspect of this problem that has to do with edits that make comments outdated. One possible suggestion that could be made here is that the edit interface give a friendly nudge to the editor to check if any comments can be flagged as no-longer-needed.
    – starball
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 3:02

1 Answer 1


As a moderator I would find it very helpful if comment owners could validate obsolete flags on their own comments, but I'm not comfortable with users being able to decline them, for two reasons:

  1. Sometimes users misuse flags, consistently. It's all well and good for an upstanding user to decline noisy flags, but this does nothing to let moderators know there's a problem. We can and do try to educate users about site features that they're misusing. But we can only do that if we know.

  2. Some user are way too attached to their own comments, even obsolete ones, and will decline flags on comments that really have passed their use-by dates.

Comment owners should be told about obsolete flags so they can delete the comments if they agree. Depending on what the UI considerations are, I'd like comment owners to be able to register a disagreement -- but that should then go to the moderators for handling. ("Owner disagreed" is a signal to the mods to take a closer look.) People shouldn't be able to silently dismiss flags against their own content.

Moderators can dismiss flags against their own content, though it's highly discouraged, but this isn't silent.


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