4

I recently saw a "too many comments" auto flag on a post which had only two comments on it at the time I saw it. It turns out that a somewhat heated debate had occurred about 40 minutes before the flag was raised, and that debate resulted in 19 comments. Another moderator deleted all the comments before the 20th comment was posted within the 3 day window. Then, someone else posted a new comment within that window and that immediately triggered the auto flag -- despite the fact that there was only one comment on the post at the time that the flag was raised.

Why does the system immediately raise a flag when the 20th comment is posted even if that comment is the only one left on the post? Why doesn't the system wait until a post has accumulated 20 comments visible to regular users within 3 days before raising the flag? Is this by design or an edge case?

I can see why it might be useful to flag for a moderator in the case where several users are continuing their previous conversation that was already deleted. Even so, that conversation might be useful and there's likely nothing for a moderator to do for the flag with just a comment or two on the post. Furthermore, it seems highly likely that some other user might come along and post an unrelated comment only to trigger an unhelpful flag (which is what happened with the post I saw).

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It's very much by-design. The purpose of the flag is to flush out threads that are getting an unusual amount of comments. Because that often (though not always) corresponds with something problematic happening: people arguing, tangential discussions, someone trolling someone else by posting nagging comments on their posts...

...And some of these are still problematic even if the comments are removed. If I show up on one of your answers and post a long string of comments baiting you to respond, that's an issue even if I delete them, even if you flag them and someone else deletes them. If we get into a bitter argument and one of us realizes it's gone off the rails and deletes his half... The other half is still an issue. Etc.

If you don't see a problem when you check out the flag... Good. Dismiss & move on. The system saw an anomaly, not a guaranteed problem. (Actually, these flags will age away after a while if the comments stop, so you can afford to ignore them while there are higher priority items in the flag queue.)

  • The user who posted the 20th comment had never commented on that post, so it's unlikely the new commenter was involved in the deleted argument (and the system could pick up on that). It's not difficult to dismiss the flag (as I did), I just wonder if the system could be made a little smarter. – Null Jul 26 '16 at 21:35
  • It could be. Better mod tools for comments is a thing that's long overdue. Bluefeet made a few improvements to this particular flag a while back, but there's always room for more. That said, in the absence of a detailed statistical foundation for nuanced criteria, it's probably wise to err on the side of being a bit broad. – Shog9 Jul 26 '16 at 21:38
  • I just had the same feature request and came across this nearly a year later ... how about amending the proposal so that the "too many comments" flag is raised on posts with >20 non-mod-deleted comments? That would eliminate your points about half of an argument still remaining or whatever; if a mod has already seen and cleaned up the comments, one would assume they deleted everything that needed deleting, not just some subset. (cc @Null) – Rand al'Thor Mar 15 '17 at 11:23
  • My experience is perhaps skewed here, @rand... But I've often found that it's the questions where I've already had to clean up comments which are the most likely to require further attention if they continue attracting comments. – Shog9 Mar 15 '17 at 18:31
  • People really need to stop paving out comments. They add context and insight. – Matthew Whited Aug 9 '17 at 10:54

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