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Today, I was visiting a question that asked for a comparison between two techniques. Then, a new answer appeared and said "you can also use this third technique". I immediately flagged as not an answer. Within the grace period, though, the author proceeded to add a line addressing the issue. It still wasn't a good answer (he clearly gave an opinion with no explanation) but it wasn't clearly a comment anymore.

I would have liked to leave a comment for the moderator to explain the issue.

The idea is that you can leave comments on a flag you raised but has not been handled yet. This can be useful if the flagged content is edited (as above), but also when you later realize that something about your flag was wrong/incomplete. It could also be used when you just feel your flag needs a little explanation.

The goal of these comments would be to decrease the amount of work handling the flag is for the moderator. It might seem counter-productive to add text to a flag to decrease its handling time, but if that text means the moderator can more easily figure out why a post was flagged, it will save time in the end.

An added bonus is that it may become easier to handle hard flags easier. For example, imagine a flag of "not an answer" on an answer that basically says something the question said too, but in other domain-specific terms. Domain-specific knowledge is required to handle the flag properly, moderators without that knowledge will either not handle the flag, or accidentally handle the flag incorrectly. An extra comment of a single line from the flagger might in fact give the moderator the knowledge to handle the flag properly.

There is a potential for abuse. This would come in two forms, people abusing the system on purpose and those who use the system in good faith, but do add comments in such a way that it doesn't decrease the handling time, but increases it. I think both of these problems could be mitigated through setting a reputation threshold for using this functionality and a (relatively low) maximum number of character being available in this system.

Related questions

  • Allow editing or deletion of moderator flag comment
    This would be unnecessary if this commenting is possible. Just tell your change in the comments.
  • Can we have a way to undo a flag? (or Cancel misclicked flags) A simple comment of "sorry, misclick", or "post edited, flag now invalid` would allow a mod to handle the flag without even looking at the post in question. It doesn't solve the problem people not wanting invalid flags, but it does solve the problem of moderators getting more work than necessary, which I feel is the only real issue of the two.
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  • I was just about to say after reading this question that it seems like to me the better solution would be to simply allow people to cancel their own flags. But then I see you've already suggested that. So I'm curious: other than "ignore that flag; circumstances changed", what else would you use comments for? Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 14:55
  • Can you flag a post as “other” while your first flag is still active? I can’t remember.
    – Ry-
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 14:59
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    @minitech you can't. It let's you write the thing as if you can, but it than fails to submit it.
    – Jasper
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 15:03
  • @CodyGray There's two in the question (the edit question (which has deletion in the title, but isn't really about deletion - that was just an edit to it by the OP) and the added bonus). In the end, it's just a more flexible system that can handle almost anything, rather than the yes/no system of deletion. On top of that, it leaves the final call with the moderator and is more focused on helping moderators than on not wanting your flags no to be made invalid.
    – Jasper
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 15:13

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