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I have looked at a few similar questions, but none seemed to address the reasoning behind the limiting of the number of comment flags.

I can see how people endlessly raising comment flags would be annoying, but couldn't they just have their ability to do that banned through some sort of internal detection process? It seems that flagging a potentially offensive/spammish comment is something that we would always want a user to be able to do.

Yes, if a user has a lot of good comment flags, this could also help with another badge or two, but it seems worth it to keep the site clean. I'm probably missing something. Does anyone have some insight?

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  • @ColeJohnson Perhaps that partially answers the question. What about the comment flags?
    – Steve P.
    Aug 2, 2013 at 22:37
  • Wait!? There's a comment flag limit?
    – Cole Tobin
    Aug 2, 2013 at 22:42
  • @ColeJohnson Yes, see here.
    – Steve P.
    Aug 2, 2013 at 22:44
  • Please read the entire post, this is not a duplicate. Yes, the other post addresses why there is a limit to upvoting questions, and perhaps that applies to this, but it does not address why comment flags are limited.
    – Steve P.
    Aug 2, 2013 at 22:46
  • I think its to maintain their value, or else everything would end up upvoted and then nothing is Aug 2, 2013 at 22:56
  • @RichardTingle Perhaps. My major issue is with the limitation on comment flags. I doubt that I will ever go over the limit, but nonetheless, I still can't figure out why there is one to begin with.
    – Steve P.
    Aug 2, 2013 at 22:57
  • 1
    Beware posting two related things in one question. I did that once and people obsessed over the one I didnt really care about Aug 2, 2013 at 22:59
  • @RichardTingle Thanks for the advice. I edited my question.
    – Steve P.
    Aug 2, 2013 at 23:00

1 Answer 1

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This phenomenon is not limited to comment flags. All types of flags are limited in number, including question, answer, comment and chat message flags.

In fact, pretty much everything is rate-limited here. It just doesn't make sense to do otherwise. Anything that is not rate-limited is vulnerable to attack and/or exploitation; if the opportunity is there, it is just a matter of time. So why even leave that door open?

Rate limiting is not a serious usability problem as long as the chosen limits are sufficiently high to enable normal use, while preventing exploitation of limited, shared resources. One of the site's founders, Jeff Atwood, blogged about the importance of rate limiting here.

Note that, as mentioned in the FAQ you linked, the number of flags increases over time. It is tied to several different variables, including reputation and how many of your flags have been marked "declined" (as opposed to "helpful"). The exact algorithm is intentionally unpublicized, but the point is to allow users most likely to be raising correct flags a little extra leeway to do what they do well.

But we still have to be careful not to remove the limits altogether, even for these "proven" users. Just because you're not a bot today doesn't mean you can't be one tomorrow if your account gets compromised. And unfortunately, a high reputation doesn't prevent someone from going on a rampage after having one too many of their questions closed.

Do you really find yourself running out of comment flags frequently? If so, that is a sign of one of two things. Either:

  • you are spending way too much time on the site and need to get out more, or
  • the baseline limit is set too low, and we need to consider raising it.
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  • No, I've never run out of flags, I was just wondering why there was a limit. Thanks for the explanation.
    – Steve P.
    Aug 3, 2013 at 7:07
  • "Everything is rate-limited here. Not because it actually solves any particular problem, but just because we thought it might theoretically prevent an unspecified future attack. Yes, this does inconvenience 100% of legitimate users 100% of the time, but that's a small price to pay for safety, isn't it?"
    – endolith
    Oct 11, 2013 at 20:55

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