Many sites have issues with users abusing comments to violate the be nice policy. Currently other than the occasional warning or suspension there is no real deterrent. The lack of any noticeable penalty, I suspect, fuels the willingness of these users to engage in the disruptive behavior that Mods are forced to deal with.

If a comment is removed for being rude or abusive, a penalty of 25 rep being applied would be a good reminder that this behavior is not acceptable, and provide a tangible penalty for misbehavior. In addition if these changes were visible to other users, they might choose not to engage in comment banter with someone who has a track record of disruptive comments. In the end both of these results are a win for both moderators and the community.

This would also have a positive effect for Hot Network Questions where users not normally engaged with the community, have the ability to comment snark and engage in disruptive comment behavior. Just a few instances of misbehavior in this manner would see their ability to comment revoked until such time as they provide a positive contribution to the community.

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    This is a genius level idea – Neo Oct 12 '17 at 17:35
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    I support this, only if a rep penalty is also applied to users that get such flags declined repeatedly. Rude/Abuse does not mean "this person told me my answer was wrong and explained why" – Andy Oct 12 '17 at 18:10
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    Too much of those comment from a user lead to a ban, I can give you some username to give an example, but I dont know how they keep the record for that – yagmoth555 Oct 12 '17 at 18:12
  • @Andy - There is already a mechinism to handle abuse of the flags. – Chad Oct 12 '17 at 18:16
  • @yagmoth555 - I understand and am not saying this should replace that. Just that this could augment that process in a way that has more immediate pain for those that violate the rules, than waiting until they have been bad enough to warrant a warning or suspension – Chad Oct 12 '17 at 18:17
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    @Chad - Flags on comments don't readily identify who flagged (unlike flags on posts). As an SO mod, I see a lot of comments getting flagged. I just declined two that read: "Can you explain this answer?" and "What does not work?" These were flagged as abusive. Neither is abusive. Both were obsolete, as the question and answer had been updated. They were removed, but not as rude. – Andy Oct 12 '17 at 18:23
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    @Andy - And thats why you decline them... the system knows and you can get flag bans. – Chad Oct 12 '17 at 18:52
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    This question was already asked before here also suggesting a 25 rep penalty. Some things have changed since 2011, when it was asked, but I think some of the criticism is still valid. – Laurel Oct 12 '17 at 18:54
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    The only way I could support this would be if the penalty was higher (much higher 100+), and with each offense, the penalty should increase. – Ramhound Oct 12 '17 at 18:55
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    @Ramhound the only way I would support this is a gradually rising penalty (25 first penalty, 50 second, 100 third, autoban for fourth). 100 straight up is evil, and even though I'm a Chaotic Neutral/Evil person, 100 for first offense is just... too evil. – Thomas Ward Oct 12 '17 at 19:02
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    I'd be down to 1 rep by next Wednesday. – user1228 Oct 12 '17 at 19:07
  • I am not married to 25, 100, 1000, 10000, + the harsher the penalty the less likely people are to violate the rule. – Chad Oct 12 '17 at 19:08
  • @ThomasWard Only reason I would want it to be extremely harsh out of the gate is make it clear rude behavior isn't acceptable. – Ramhound Oct 12 '17 at 19:11
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    The problem there is that a comment can be seen rude by someone, and not by another. I support more for a clear abuse/insult comment. – yagmoth555 Oct 12 '17 at 19:13
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    @yagmoth555 - Yes that is rude. Yes it should be flagged. You can say something more constructive in a less offensive way. If not then yes you deserve the penalty if you choose to comment anyway. It is clearly a violation of the be nice policy – Chad Oct 12 '17 at 20:52

I process a lot of comment flags. I really want to find a way to reduce the number of comments I have to deal with and even considering that, I'm hesitant to consider this a good solution.

I'm concerned that there are too many avenues for abuse or accidental usage, particularly knowing how mod comment flag processing goes. It's really easy to see a comment, delete it, and only later (if ever) realize that it was flagged as rude or abusive rather than "no longer needed".

When I review flags in a post rather on the flag page, I don't even look at which comments are flagged, I look at the entire comment chain and if I delete a comment, the flag is marked helpful even if the reason I deleted the comment was because I thought it was "no longer needed". If I want to specifically decline an abusive comment flag, I have to decline it before I delete the comment.

Comment flags should be quick and easy to handle, they should not cause the moderator be scared that they might accidentally cost a user 25 or 50 or 100 reputation because they validated a flag that was miscategorized.

I think the only way this could work is if the comment is flagged as rude/abusive by a moderator and maybe additionally if sufficient users flag it as such. A moderator simply deleting the comment or clicking on "helpful" should not come with this penalty. If a moderator handles the flag, they should specifically choose to flag the comment if they believe it deserves the penalty.

Automatic single-flag deletion due to keywords probably should not carry this penalty, either, as there are many false-positives with this flag. A comment including the word "sex" isn't necessarily offensive, for example.

This would correlate with the deletion of a post as rude or abusive costing the user 100 reputation.

I don't want to support this request, generally, but if I feel it necessary to at the very least improve it.

  • they might accidentally cost a user 25 or 50 or 100 reputation because they validated a flag that was miscategorized. - That is sort of why I like 25. It is a significant penalty but its not like it's difficult to overcome for a one time instance. I suspect if you reduced your flag load by 75% it would be easier to sort out the wrongly flagged abusive also. – Chad Oct 12 '17 at 19:53
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    If I had to estimate, 75% of my comment flags are "no longer needed", so not really. The fact that they're a low percentage makes it more likely that there will be an error. It generally doesn't sit well with me to penalize someone with reputation for a comment - something that isn't really designed for the usage it gets. – Catija ModStaff Oct 12 '17 at 19:56
  • How many of those no longer needed flags are actually just repsonses to comments that might never have existed if the poster was concerned about a potential 25 rep penalty for their first worthless comment. This would hopefully drive an improved behavior across the board. – Chad Oct 12 '17 at 19:57
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    Your question isn't about worthless comments. It's about rude/abusive ones. – Catija ModStaff Oct 12 '17 at 19:58
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    Yes. So any time anyone goes to post a comment they are (hopefully) going to consider the potential for a 25 rep penalty if they are rude so they think just a bit harder about how to make their comment constructive. Then because that comment is constructive, it generates less argument comments. All of which end up in a flag queue to deal with, or in this case because those arguement comments never exist because the argument commenters also fear the 25 rep penalty, you have less flags to process. Also users may feel more inclined to self prune comments before they get to you – Chad Oct 12 '17 at 20:02
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    Being non-constructive is not the same thing as being rude. We don't flag comments as rude or abusive if they're merely argumentative. – Catija ModStaff Oct 12 '17 at 20:26
  • No. But if people feel the way they commented may be perceived as rude, they should(hopefully) be more thoughtful about leaving their comment. Either improving it to move the borderline comment to be clearly constructive, or choosing not to leave the comment in the first place. Both of those actually improve the comment situation greatly. And lets face it my comments are going to get much less of a benefit of the doubt than someone like JoeStrazzere who has a history of very constructive responses. As it should be. – Chad Oct 12 '17 at 20:34
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    To amplify the part about the flag-handling process: I often see a post in the flag queue that has a bunch of comments individually flagged. I can't evaluate those flags in isolation; I need to see the thread. When reviewing the thread, the info about what was flagged is far away. If I purge or move a thread to chat, I automatically validate those flags even if they're the wrong type. If that can deal damage, that means I have to do extra work to flip back and forth between the two views. We'd need rude-flagged comments to be highlighted inline to correctly process penalty-dealing flags. – Monica Cellio Oct 13 '17 at 3:36
  • @MonicaCellio - I would think that would act as incentive to not get involved in comment wars in the first place. – Chad Oct 16 '17 at 1:17
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    @Chad I don't understand. I, as the moderator trying to clean it up, don't need "incentive to not get involved in comment wars"; they're not my wars. Sometimes people misuse rude flags, though; some even go so far as to flag the other side of the argument they're engaged in. So I can't let those flags get validated if they'll have consequences, and there's no disincentive for wrong or weaponized flags, so nothing's going to reduce our workload there. – Monica Cellio Oct 16 '17 at 1:23
  • @MonicaCellio - I was saying that the potential for being nailed with a penalty that "may not be deserved" should reason to decide not to comment in the first place. No comment war, no flags to deal with. – Chad Oct 16 '17 at 1:27

I generally prefer positive reinforcement to negative reinforcement. This is negative reinforcement. Also, while most people don't realise it, compared to a regular post, the amount of information is minimal in a comment flag (which invariably leads me to the original post for context).

I've also often said that comments are second class citizens and in this case, 5 reputation is more than what a downvote gets. 1 might work buuuuut.....

Either someone has a bad day (in which case do we want to punish them?) or they have a history of bad comments. I've also known a few users to go "I disagree, I'll just flag em all". In the case of the user with a bad day, eh, we can talk to them. With the people with a history of bad comments, I don't actually think the reputation penalty fixes the underlying issue. Folks who kinda misuse flags on the other hand...

In most cases, the point of anything punitive here is to give someone a chance to think about their actions.

Personally I've previously suggested comment suspensions so I certainly have somewhat of a bias here but I certainly don't like reputation penalties here.

If someone's being really bad in comments, to the point where something needs to be done, we can mod message or suspend (and yes, in 3 or so years as a mod, I have suspended someone for excessive comments, though a rudeness mod message would work too). Considering how rare its been that comments are a major issue I feel this is a solution looking for a problem.

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    in which case do we want to punish them? yes the rules do not exist only on good days – Chad Oct 13 '17 at 2:19
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    Or just let them know "Hey dude, NOT COOL". It works suprisingly well. Not all of moderation is about rolled up newspapers. – Journeyman Geek Mod Oct 13 '17 at 2:21
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    If it did on all sites then I would have never posted this in the first place. – Chad Oct 13 '17 at 12:24
  • @Chad I suspect you are dealing with a particular troublesome user, or a couple of them, and getting your frustration generalized to all or many commenters. It's your theory that a rep penalty would dissuade such—but, as in the criminal justice system, some people don't respond to any form of disincentive and must be forcibly prevented. I think the policy and mod tools in place are totally adequate, but moderators will never be entirely relieved from dealing with nastiness, just as police and courts will always have to deal with criminals no matter how stiff penalties get. – Wildcard Oct 14 '17 at 9:05
  • @Wildcard - And if it is what is the problem with this being in place as a common deterrent to keep those users from moving from site to site when they wear out their welcome with the mods of those sites. – Chad Oct 16 '17 at 1:10

If we added a reputation penalty for comments removed for being rude and abusive then we'd really have to add a reputation reward for comments that were upvoted.

If you find a comment rude or abusive, flag it. If the comment contains certain content then it will be deleted immediately, if not then it will be deleted if others flag the post or a moderator sees the flag and handles it.

If a user has several comments flagged as rude or abusive then the system raises a flag for the moderators to let them know this. We can then check out the rest of the user's activity and see if further action is warranted. This is usually a moderator message, but can include a suspension. This removes the user from the site completely for a while - a far more serious and effective outcome than removing reputation.

Given the tools we already have available I don't think there's any need for this.

  • And the problem is the current penalties are either nothing or extreme mods do not want to give the extreme penalty, so instead they decline rude or abusive flags. So what I really want is to change that extreme penalty only thing to one where mods are going to be able to give some quick pain that is easily recovered from before the system takes it out of their hands – Chad Nov 2 '17 at 14:22
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    @Chad, do you have evidence they decline rude or abusive flags when they shouldn't? – ChrisF Mod Nov 2 '17 at 14:23
  • I have evidence that moderators are unwilling to accept R&A flags not because they were not rude, but because the mod did not want to inflict the penalty. I.E They decline the flag but delete the comment. – Chad Nov 2 '17 at 14:32
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    @Chad The rude/abusive flag can be declined because it's not rude or abusive and the comment still be deleted because it's no longer needed. – Andy Nov 2 '17 at 14:49
  • @andy - get that. I have had the mods admit the reason for the decline was they did not want the baggage that goes along with accepting the r&A flag – Chad Nov 2 '17 at 14:52
  • BTW I have no desire to get those mods in trouble or even have them removed. They are otherwise incredible mods. – Chad Nov 2 '17 at 14:54

I think there should be penalties for posting R/A comments, but not necessarily rep loss.

The main reason why there should be penalties on R/A comments is in order to make posting R/A comments as bad as posting R/A answers or questions. If you post an R/A answer, you currently lose 100 rep.

If a high-rep user loses 100 rep, it might not matter at all. What's 100 reputation when you have 100k? In addition, since R/A flags on comments only require three flags, it's considerably easier to abuse since it's harder getting 6 flags on a post than three on a comment. And those three flags cost the user in question 100 rep even if it's a valid comment, which would be the the "perfect" way for anyone targeting a user to get revenge for something. So instead, I suggest bringing diamond moderators in earlier.

Currently, if a user posts 3 R/A comments in 7 days, moderators get involved (source). In my opinion, this is too "high" a barrier. The period should be at least doubled (while keeping the same amount of comments). Although, since it would be documented, there's still a chance there are users who actively post two R/A comments in n days to stay just underneath the limit.

The problem is, as Shog mentioned in a different (related) post the persistent users. A single R/A comment gets deleted pretty quickly, but if there's a user who posts a lot of R/A comments, that's a problem. And yes, a 100 rep penalty would help, but it would also make people afraid to post stuff if there's a chance it gets misflagged as R/A, deleted, and they lose 100 rep. Which is why persistent users should be the focus here, and not every single comment flagged as R/A when it might not be

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    Three r/a flags on a comment to delete it automatically, not two. :) – Catija ModStaff May 7 '18 at 22:11
  • @Catija think it depends on comment score, default might be three, but if comment got X upvotes, it will take more flags to be removed. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 May 8 '18 at 7:10
  • @ShadowWizard That's true for both comments and posts. :) – Catija ModStaff May 8 '18 at 11:53
  • @Catija questions, yeah... for answers it's fixed at 3 delete votes, but since we can't vote to delete answers with positive score guess it's not really relevant. :) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 May 8 '18 at 11:56
  • @ShadowWizard Don't forget this is about r/a flagging... which, actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure if more than three are necessary. – Catija ModStaff May 8 '18 at 12:03
  • @Catija for posts? 6 are required. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 May 8 '18 at 12:04
  • @ShadowWizard for comments. – Catija ModStaff May 8 '18 at 12:13

It strikes me as quite wrong that rudeness/abuse should be gamified along with the other stuff—as if you're entitled to spend rep. earnt from useful contributions on slanging other users. It would be trivializing behaviour that upsets people & disrupts our communities to punish it by imposing a fine payable in fake internet points.

As @JourneymanGeek says, a conversation usually suffices: mostly people didn't mean to be rude, or afterwards rue it, or at least are willing to toe the line once it's drawn. But your saying "currently other than the occasional warning or suspension there is no real deterrent" suggests deliberate & repeated rudeness/abuse is being dealt with too leniently. If the prospect of (ultimately) a year's suspension doesn't work as deterrence, its realization will work as incapacitation.

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