While working through some Close Votes, I've noticed that some "possible duplicate of" comments are not relevant. For example, in https://stackoverflow.com/questions/21311212/how-much-safe-is-knockout-from-script-injection, the OP asked about knockout.js, but the close as duplicate was How to secure EmberJS or any Javascript MVC framework?. The latter did not discuss knockout.js, and a Javascipt MCV did not apply.

I think I'm observing senior and voting folks being a tad bit lazy on their close reasons. In fairness to some of the folks, it can be very difficult to find the proper duplicate as @Robert Harvey showed when he tracked down the duplicate for The operator -> in c++ at C++: Using Arrow Member Operator.

I don't want to ignite a mini-flame-war on these comments, but I think the "lazy closer" should be addressed. I think it should be addressed for two reasons.

First, I think the practice sends a bad signal to users, especially the new users of the site. Its bad because the user is not getting useful feedback. Second, folks who close after the initial close vote sometimes "jump on the band wagon" and select the same non-relevant reason. I call this "hunting in packs".

In both cases, I think Could we please be a bit nicer to new users? discusses some of the concerns and surely applies for some of these questions.

Is it appropriate to flag the "possible duplicate of" comment that was created with the close vote?

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    Moderation should never require subject level knowledge. The correct thing to do is simply to not vote as a duplicate/find correct duplicate/vote to reopen (assuming sufficient rep) – Richard Tingle Jan 25 '14 at 15:10
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    Just as you shouldn't flag an answer as incorrect – Richard Tingle Jan 25 '14 at 15:15
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    Worth noting: How to secure EmberJS or any Javascript MVC framework? is an on-topic question, but how much safe is knockout from script injection? is not (it's both Too Broad and Primarily Opinion-Based). – Robert Harvey Jan 25 '14 at 17:01
  • Robert - agreed. If any action was taken, I think it should have been a close as off topic due to opinions or the like. That's the "lazy closer" observation, and the "hunting in packs" because a number of people jumped on the band wagon. How do 5 senior and voting members fail? Surely two or more of them could have made the minimal effort. – user173448 Jan 25 '14 at 17:06
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/a/217406 – Robert Harvey Jan 25 '14 at 17:07
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    Incorrect <> not constructive. If it were a custom close reason and the user typed in "what are you, stupid?" then I would agree with your flag. But just because the vote to close reason was wrong does not make it unconstructive. – Aaron Bertrand Jan 25 '14 at 18:58

So to answer your actual question:

Is it appropriate to flag comment as unconstructive when its part of a close reason?

In a very general sense, you can do anything you want. If you feel something is not constructive, you can flag it.

"Possible duplicate" comments are constructive by design. But with the ability to create custom close reasons, the possibility exists for someone to leave a very unconstructive auto-comment. I think it would be extremely unlikely that the comment would get deleted by the moderator because those comments are supposed to be helpful to the OP, so it will have to be extremely unconstructive for the mods to justify deleting it.

Now specifically for duplicates, as I mentioned, they are constructive by design, so it would be impossible for them to be anything else. I think you are confusing "unconstructive" with incorrect. They are not necessarily the same.

If a duplicate closure points to an incorrect duplicate, you can vote to close (or flag) it yourself with a more appropriate duplicate. And even better, you can leave a comment explaining why you disagree with the duplicate. The why is extremely important. Just stating "This is not a duplicate" is not a good comment. A much better way to handle it would be to write something like "I disagree with this duplicate. This question is talking about Fooing the Bar, whereas the proposed duplicate is asking about Fooing the Bat".

If the question gets closed for the wrong reason, then you can flag it and ask a moderator to change the reason. You'd have to provide the better duplicate and briefly explain why you think it is a better duplicate. If the moderator agrees, they can singlehandedly change the close reason by reopening and reclosing the question.

  • Thanks psubsee2003. "So to answer your actual question..." - yeah, I had to provide some context. Otherwise, this question would have been flamed and downvoted into the stone age. – user173448 Jan 25 '14 at 15:57
  • @RobertHarvey fair enough. That probably gets the point across better. – psubsee2003 Jan 25 '14 at 17:07
  • The thing is, replying that something isn't actually a duplicate when it's really obvious at a glance that it's not a duplicate doesn't help anybody; it just creates more unconstructive noise for future visitors to wade through. We're back to this problem; people don't have any non-harmful way of dealing with comments that are so obviously wrong or stupid as to not merit debate, which is probably the main reason why flags like these come in (I've cast a couple myself, and had them declined). – Mark Amery Jan 26 '14 at 10:42
  • @MarkAmery I don't see why you don't think it doesn't help anyone. When reviewing, I do look at all of the comments when trying to make my decision, so a good comment explaining why it is not a duplicate can be helpful. A comment that just says "you morons this is not a duplicate" is not a good explanation and is not constructive. – psubsee2003 Jan 26 '14 at 10:51

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