Speaking as a user: meh.
Speaking as a moderator: oh please no!
comment flags still suck
if we can trim down the list of flags to a set of clearly distinct problems, we might have something we can build on.
I'm not convinced that this is really on the critical path, but ok.
Re-word the "rude or offensive" flag to read,
“rude or abusive: this comment violates our "Be Nice" policy.”
By all means, do add guidance to the dialog.
Remove the "not constructive", "obsolete" and "too chatty" flags.
Add a new comment flag:
”no longer needed: this comment is obsolete, chatty or otherwise unnecessary”
No! This goes in the wrong direction altogether.
An obsolete comment is a completely different problem from a comment that is too chatty. As a moderator who feels that I'm spending too much time on comment flags, I really, really dislike that you're proposing that I spend even more time by puzzling out reason for the flag instead of having it in the flag text. Please do not make moderator's life harder. Moderators reviewing comment flags need to determine what action to take. This involves two steps:
Determine whether the flag is warranted.
- A comment is obsolete if there is a reply indicating that it is no longer useful or if there has been an edit incorporating the meat of the comment.
- A comment is too chatty if it isn't on the path to improving the post that it's on, e.g. it's a digression, an unrelated question, etc.
- I have no idea what makes a comment “otherwise unnecessary.”
Take the requisite action.
- An obsolete comment needs to be deleted.
- A comment that is too chatty — or rather a series of such comments — may either be deleted or moved to chat.
Conflating obsolete and too-chatty also makes future evolution harder. The best person to determine whether a comment is obsolete is its author; I hope that one day comment authors will get a chance to review obsolete flags on their comments. This does not hold for too-chatty flags, because many commenters believe that their comments are oh so important and totally not off-topic and they won't stand for the censorship of moving comments to chat.
Do not merge “obsolete” with “too chatty”.
Re-word the "other..." flag:
“in need of moderator attention”
Ok. From a moderator's perspective there isn't that much difference between “rude and offensive” and that — in both cases, a moderator needs to evaluate the context, delete the comment if the flag is warranted and possibly take further action (e.g. mod message). But from flaggers' perspective it's nice to have the “be nice” remember in there.
I would prefer to keep the 4 existing comment flags:
- obsolete — was a good comment, no longer is
- too chatty — is a good chat message but not a good comment
- not constructive — weak form of not desirable anywhere
- rude or offensive — strong form of not desirable anywhere
Arguably “rude or offensive” should be merged with “not constructive”, but there are comments that don't reach the threshold of violating the “be nice” rule, but are nonetheless “not constructive” because they're provocative or otherwise driving towards conflict, typically a sign of escalation in a comment thread. Moderators do need to be aware of such cases, ideally before they reach the “rude or offensive” threshold, so the flagging dialog should make it clear that flagging such situations is encouraged. (Note: this paragraph is written with my understanding of “not constructive” in mind. The phrase “not constructive” is so vague and non-consensual that it loses a lot of efficacy, which is one reason why it might be a good idea to remove this middle ground. It's useful, but only if people agree what it means, which is not always the case.)