Typical scenario:

  1. I leave a comment on a post pointing out some issue or requesting some sort of clarification
  2. Someone comes along and addresses the issue or fixes the post, then leaves an @reply for me in a subsequent comment
  3. I return (because I got a notification in my inbox), see the issue is resolved, and delete my own comment
  4. I then flag the reply comment as "no longer needed" because, well, it isn't

Now I wait. How long will it be before the unnecessary comment is removed? Will the moderator who looks at it have enough context to realize that it's no longer needed? How many people will read an out-of-context comment and be annoyed and/or confused?

Wouldn't it be better if, at step 4, the comment was deleted as soon as I said it was no longer needed?

Potential for abuse:

Okay, I suppose if someone did an @reply to me for some other reason (they're questioning my edit, or are suggesting some of behavior is problematic and are trying to correct it), sure, I suppose I could use "no longer needed" to shortcut deletion of those comments to try to hide my activity. That won't really work, though, as things are all logged. And, if I'm doing such a thing, it's probably symptomatic of a larger issue and I may be getting my activity flagged, getting moderator messages, or worse. Even so, perhaps this could be limited to situations where it would only work if I have a comment on the same post.

  • Many times users don't use @reply at all, and it notifies anyway, since you're the only one commenting. What you suggest to do in those cases? Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 15:16
  • @shadow: I say keep it simple. Those should be treated as they are now.
    – ale
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 15:18
  • But I suspect they're the majority of the cases, new users simply are not aware of the ping, and it's removed anyway in those cases. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 15:27
  • 8
    One major problem here is that there are plenty of users who flag replies they just don't like thinking they can get it removed based on personal preference.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


As a moderator, I would love to have fewer comment flag that require me to figure out all the context. "No longer needed" flags don't tell me why it's no longer needed, so if it's not obvious, I have to review 37 comments and 6 edits (or whatever) to try to understand the situation. That's way too much work.

As a moderator I have, unfortunately, seen flags used offensively. People sometimes flag comments they simply disagree with as "no longer needed". In some cases people do this with comments from the person they're arguing with, hoping to get the moderators to suppress the other side for them. That's no good, and your proposal allows that to happen without any oversight.

This is why it would be better for "no longer needed" (obsolete) flags to notify the author of the comment instead. If the author agrees he can delete it; no mods needed. If he disagrees, the flag goes to the moderators as usual. Unfortunately, this would require extra plumbing; non-moderator users have no flag notification system now. (10k users used to.)

An alternative would be to make "no longer needed" flags public. When showing the comments, maybe if there is at least one such flag on a comment already, the flag control could light up somehow. If the author of the comment sees it and agrees then he can delete (done!). If other people see it and agree, if enough of them add their flags the comment gets deleted (done!). Maybe we make this a 10k privilege if we're concerned about showing it to everybody. I admit I'm a little unsure of making these flags public, but people use chat to coordinate flags and closures now and the sites haven't burned down, so maybe this is ok? Maybe we could A/B test it and see how (a) productive and (b) prone to abuse it is.

  • 1
    I agree with everyone except for making flags public, for the same potential for abuse as you lay out in your opening paragraphs. Only now auto removal can be absurd by a mob or clique rather than a single bully.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 21:22
  • 1
    @DanBron I'm definitely of mixed feelings about it, yes. Making it a 10k privilege seems like a reasonable compromise; those are the people who can delete questions, and comments are less important than questions. One could also argue 20k, which is when you can delete answers. And as with post deletions, comment deletions via flags require multiple users. Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 21:40

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