Unfriendly comments, although often understandable, are still a major blight on Stack Overflow, making the community look super rude and unfriendly. I don't know what the numbers are like (perhaps the "summer of love" helped somewhat) but I still frequently see comments that would turn me off visiting the place if I were an outsider.

Would creating a review queue specifically for flagged comments - or perhaps a subset of flags, like "not constructive" and "rude or offensive" - make sense?

There is some potential for abuse, of course, seeing as sometimes even 2 votes can annihilate a comment. Perhaps this queue should not count towards any badges.

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    "There is some potential for abuse, of course, seeing as sometimes even 2 votes can annihilate a comment." I like to believe this is why only we are able to see comment flags in the first place. Dec 26 '13 at 4:45
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    Well, I guess it will be time to say goodbye to my sarcastic comments... :c
    – user230564
    Jan 16 '15 at 2:55

Would creating a review queue specifically for flagged comments - or perhaps a subset of flags, like "not constructive" and "rude or offensive" - make sense?

The biggest problem is normally there are other comments surrounding the flagged one which also need deletion.

Rarely is it the case that exclusively the flagged comment is deleted.

A queue where only comments explicitly flagged could be deleted would be problematic.

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    That makes sense, but wouldn't the queue just link to the page, and if the comment is flagged to be deleted the reviewer deletes the necessary comments as well? Thanks for answering! Aug 3 '16 at 23:52
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    @heather that work well in theory, but in practice it would break down I think. A few reasons - many people have, ah, wrong impressions for appropriateness of comments. As a moderator on Workplace I see this often. People often people flag comments that are "against" them too, which is not great for a system like this.
    – enderland
    Aug 4 '16 at 2:00
  • I understand what you're saying, but that's why you have multiple people review it, right? Also, wouldn't a comment flagged by a user not show up in their comment review queue? I think that removes at least some of the bias. Finally, in terms of appropriate-ness, these would be 15k or higher users, with lots of experience in the site, and there would be guidelines like there are for all review queues at the top. I'm not sure, but I think that resolves some of the issues, at least.And, I guess I should say, it doesn't have to include the rude/offensive flags. Aug 4 '16 at 2:21
  • @heather I guess I'm not sure what to say. My experience moderating comments on a site a little (smaller than Physics SE) leads me to strongly believe that this would not be a good idea. The problem isn't "could some comments be community moderated?" which is a yes, but the problem is, "could you automatically know which comments need to be manually moderated vs community moderated?" and that answer I'm fairly sure is a "no."
    – enderland
    Aug 4 '16 at 13:12
  • I see. That makes sense. Last question (again, thanks for all your help): would it be possible to add a flag that moderators could handle, as described in my answer - an "answer in comment" flag? Aug 4 '16 at 14:09
  • @heather "too chatty" is normally good for that, though I think each site has its own "tolerance" for this sort of comment.
    – enderland
    Aug 4 '16 at 14:11
  • I see. I was specifically requesting that flag as there have been many comment-answers on physics.SE recently, to the point where there's a whole meta discussion. Well, I'll award you the bounty now, it seems like no part of my idea is feasible. Aug 4 '16 at 14:12

This is just a clarification of the original post for anyone who answers the bounty.

If there could be a review queue on physics.SE, specifically for non-moderators (say, 15k+ users) for all comment flags, that would help reduce some of the moderator workload and provide an extra incentive for users to reach 15k rep.

Specifically, it would be preferable if an extra flag could be added as well for "answer in a comment". This could also be reviewed by the same 15k+ review queue. This was originally posted here, but it was closed as a duplicate of this question.

Here's another link that's worth citing. This has already been heavily upvoted and asked for, but not implemented.


I do not think we need a flag for "answer in comment" because such comments are not causing any actual problem with the operation of the site. Although officially disapproved of, this practice is not counter-productive. The only unhelpful comments which I see are protracted disagreements, which can be dealt with - if necessary - using existing flags ("offensive", "too chatty" or "not constructive").

Whether or not Moderators are overworked is a matter for them to decide. So I think that the suggestion of extending the privilege of reviewing comments to those with 15k+ rep should come from them.

If this privilege is to be extended downwards, I would expect the reviewers to be held to the same code of standards as (should) apply to Moderators - viz. minimum intervention, and only under strict guidelines.

I disagree that comments on Physics SE are becoming more rude and abusive. I don't think they should be labelled as such unless they are overtly so. Terseness or brusqueness might be seen as being "unfriendly" but that is in the eye of the beholder. It is not overt rudeness and should not be dealt with as such. Good practice should be encouraged by example, not coercion and censorship.

  • While I respect your views, I have to disagree on almost all points of your answer. First, it isn't necessarily about the rude/abusive flag; I'm simply suggesting that all comment flags can be incorporated into a single queue for non moderators. Second, of course the reviewers should be held to the same code of standards; that is why in a discussion with other physics.SE users about this topic 15k users were suggested as appropriate. Finally, there is a whole physics meta discussion about answers in comments! I've seen them a lot, and it's technically against the policy. Jul 30 '16 at 12:06
  • @heather : Yes, I took part in the meta discussion on answers-in-comments. Of course it is contrary to policy. The issue is : What harm is it actually doing? Asking the developers to implement a solution to something which is not actually a problem is a waste of their time. Jul 30 '16 at 12:24
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    Please trust me when I say I have seen wrong answers that seemed to have confused the OP. I don't want to give the examples because I don't want to name names. And definitely, wrong answers in comments can cause harm, because there is no established system like there is for answers! As for right answers in comments, while those may not cause as much harm, it is still better to have them in answers: it makes the site more orderly, and easier for others looking from google. Jul 30 '16 at 12:26
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    @heather Even on Stack Overflow (which I'll take a guess has the largest amount of comment flags normally raised) it's not really a drain on moderators to handle them (in fact - they're normally the easiest). They are also a sign that "something else" may be going on which may actually require moderator intervention in some way such as clearing up other comments that haven't been flagged or warning a user about abusive behaviour. Bearing in mind that only moderators can see deleted comments and it's been assumed given the content of some of them that'd always be the case... Jul 30 '16 at 13:17
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    .. then reviewers will be missing potentially important context. Also, comments can only currently be undeleted by mods, so they'd be no way for reviewers to identify potentially bad reviews and reverse the action. In fact, I can see this potentially open for abuse as comments aren't audited as much as posts, and if that were to happen, then in fact it'd actually end up more work for mods restoring comments and then having to deal with bad reviewers... I don't think there's a problem here that the current system can't handle, and certainly not one that needs an additional review queue. Jul 30 '16 at 13:19
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    @heather : I agree that it is better to have answers - whether correct or incorrect - as official Answers which can be voted on. Incorrect comments could cause harm, but what evidence is there that they are actually causing harm? If the commentator has not posted an Answer, there is no reason for anyone to take the comment as anything more than a throwaway suggestion. If comments like Answers are to be judged on their correctness, then like Answers they should not be deleted simply because they are incorrect. Jul 30 '16 at 13:42
  • @sammygerbil, right, that's why I'm suggesting the queue would put them into answer form to let the system take care of it via down or up votes! It is others who are suggesting comment-answers should be deleted. Jul 30 '16 at 16:04
  • @heather : Ah, I see. Yes, that changes the situation if reviewers cannot delete comments and only have the option of translating comments into Answers. But there's nothing to prevent the flagger from posting the comment as his/her own answer and reaping the rep - or posting it as a Community Wiki if squeamish about plagiarism. The only advantage is having this process automated - not only for 15k+ reviewers but for everyone. I think the details of your proposal need to be clarified and debated back in Physics Meta. Jul 30 '16 at 16:23
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    The issue with that is that you're effectively putting words into a person's mouth. If they want to post it as an answer they can do so. There's been numerous requests before related to this (one of them allowing moderators to convert comments to answers instead of just answers to comments) but that's been an absolute no (both from staff, mods and users) along the same line as allowing moderators to assign/change the accepted answer. A review queue being able to convert a comment into an answer against a user's wishes that can then potentially attract downvotes is... terrifying... cc @heather Jul 30 '16 at 16:30
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    @JonClements : You're over-doing the "terror" but I agree it's not right to over-ride the commentator's wishes. And if the commentator has the right to delete the Answer then it's all getting rather pointless. Jul 30 '16 at 16:42
  • @sammygerbil indeed... and at that point a potentially confused OP and a community that's wondering why on earth the OP posted what they did as an answer, the potential diminishing of the OPs reputation (and I don't mean as in imaginary internet points) and if the answer gets deleted you've lost a potential comment that could be used as a base to build answers. Maybe I'm missing a point, but all I can see is confusion, hard feelings and information loss. Jul 30 '16 at 17:20

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