First of all, I've searched and could not find a similar question, but it seems strange since, it seems to be a common problem. If somebody already asked this, let me know and I will delete/close this.

Is there a recommended way to deal with comments that may lead the asker to a wrong and dangerous direction ?

I remember flagging them but my flags got denied, as the moderator considered the issue a matter of opinion. Also, just adding a comment doesn't seem like enough.

When I'm talking about dangerous I mean really dangerous, like suggestions that will result data lost, unusable disk and so on. And by incorrect, I don't mean it's questionable, I mean it's demonstrably wrong, really wrong.


If you have sufficient expertise on the subject, you can post an answer which begins by explaining why a particular approach mentioned in the comments is wrong:

Some have suggested using [wrong/dangerous approach], but this is a bad idea...

Then go on to explain why the approach is wrong. If it's "demonstrably wrong" then you should demonstrate why it's wrong (assuming you can do so without harming yourself).1 Finally, to complete your answer you need to explain what you think is the right approach. The explanation of the right approach may be as simple as linking to another answer which already explains it. (Alternatively, you can begin your answer with the right approach and end it with an explanation of what not to do.)

Then you can reply to the commenter who suggested the wrong approach and ask him to review your answer which explains why that is a bad idea.

If you can't provide an answer then you can at least reply to the commenter who suggested the wrong approach and say that you think the approach is wrong (and, briefly, why you think so). You can also comment on the question and tell the asker that the approach suggested in one of the comments should be avoided. A comment on the question ensures that the asker is notified of your concerns.

Flagging the comment is definitely not the recommended response since moderators aren't necessarily experts in the subject matter and may not be able to judge whether or not the suggested approach is wrong/dangerous. Even if the moderator deleted the comment, what's to stop someone from suggesting the wrong/dangerous approach again? It's better for the comment to remain so that members of the community can discuss the pros and cons of the approach, either in the comments or in answers.

1Stack Overflow Meta has some useful guidelines on how to post malicious code.

  • I ran /bin/rm -rf / but <signal lost> – DVK Jul 3 '17 at 19:29
  • I would agree with the "It's better for the comment to remain so that members of the community can discuss the pros and cons of the approach, either in the comments or in answers.", if comments would be created equal, but that's not true. Depending on several factors, some comments might not be visible, creating the strange situation where the comment that warns against the problem, is not visible. – Sorin Jul 3 '17 at 19:57
  • While I don't really like this approach, I'm going to accept that this is the correct answer. – Sorin Jul 3 '17 at 20:02
  • @Sorin If you're concerned that a comment isn't visible (e.g. it's buried in a long list of other comments) then you can quote it and link to it in your answer. Alternatively, you can describe the dangerous approach in general terms without referencing a specific comment (which is what I showed in the example answer intro "Some have suggested using [wrong/dangerous approach]"). – Null Jul 3 '17 at 20:39

If you are concerned about something you see on the site, or you would like clarification about an action taken through moderation, the best place to address the issue is a meta post.

You can ask how to deal with that specific information, or ask for a bit of clarification about why this particular flag might have been denied. But be respectful. Community-based moderation means everyone handling these issues is a volunteer — and sometimes comments simply don't prioritize high among the activities that need a lot of scrutiny.

  • The question was not about why flags were denied. -1 – Sorin Jul 3 '17 at 20:01
  • @Sorin You said you already flagged the post (step 1), so I was describing the next course of action from there. – Robert Cartaino Jul 5 '17 at 14:02

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