On SO recently a poorly-asked question received this comment:

410 points and you still have to tell them how to ask a question properly...

Now, the question was poorly asked (and downvoted and closed), but that doesn't mean that comment is useful or appropriate.

I used to flag these as "Not constructive," which I thought fit them quite well (though as Shadow Wizard points out in a comment, it's a mild description).

I hesitate to flag it as "Rude or abusive" (it's rude; it's not abusive), even though the name says "or abusive," because that seems like overkill.

But "No longer needed" seems like...underkill. :-) (And inaccurate, as has been noted before.)

  • 3
    "Not constructive," which was exactly the right description for them. No, it's not. "rude" is 1000% perfect description. It's also not constructive of course, but that's only secondary. Rude takes over, by far. Rude users should be warned and suspended if they don't stop. Nov 14, 2017 at 13:02
  • 1
    @ShadowWizard: Fair enough, I guess I just have a different threshold. (If I'd had to predict, I'd've thought I'd see something as 'rude' before the average SE community member, but maybe I'm less sensitive than I thought. :-) ) Nov 14, 2017 at 13:15
  • Regarding your titular question: The main reason why this flag was abolished was that there was no consensus as to what exactly it meant and when to use it. So, there is no general answer to what flag replaces it. Also there is no real point in answering this question because even if you had a fixed idea on how to use not constructive, we can at best answer this question personally for you as the next user will have a different interpretation of the flag.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Nov 14, 2017 at 19:58

2 Answers 2


The new flag popup actually includes some guidance on when to use which comment flag (as I recall, the old one with "not constructive" didn't):

screenshot of flag popup

So the key question is:

Does the comment violate the Be Nice policy?

In this case, I'd say yes: "you still have to tell them how to ask a question properly" is a personal comment which seems to violate parts 1 and 2 of the Be Nice policy:

  1. Rudeness and belittling language are not okay. Your tone should match the way you'd talk in person with someone you respect and whom you want to respect you. If you don't have time to say something politely, just leave it for someone who does.

  2. Be welcoming, be patient, and assume good intentions. Don't expect new users to know all the rules — they don't. And be patient while they learn. If you're here for help, make it as easy as possible for others to help you. Everyone here is volunteering, and no one responds well to demands for help.

If yes, "rude or abusive". If you're not sure, "no longer needed".

There's no penalty attached to "rude or abusive" flags on comments (unlike on posts), so regardless of which flag you use, it's essentially just a bat signal to mods that "this comment should be deleted". But anything which is "rude or abusive" is likely to be "no longer needed" as well. Certainly in this case the comment is not constructive, doesn't say anything useful about the post, and is entirely unnecessary - so "no longer needed" would definitely be OK, if you want to play safe. The important thing is that the comment gets deleted, not precisely which flag reason you use for it.


The flag to use is "Rude or abusive". They are, after all, rude. Additionally, in an answer on the post about the "longer" in "No longer needed," Shog9 said that's part of why "longer" is in the name "No longer needed":

After... Oh, a year or so of trying to come up with a wording that had the connotation of "useless but benign", someone suggested that the real line here was between things that a reasonable person - even someone completely unfamiliar with how these sites work - would recognize as inappropriate and those that might be posted in good faith but later seen (by the commentor or others) as unneeded.

Hence, "no longer needed".

The hope here is that this name is immediately incongruous to flaggers looking for the "destructive" flag, while still close enough to "useless" (particularly with the subtext) to serve that purpose.

Trust the moderators to handle the flag appropriately (e.g., if it's just rude and not abusive, not to hit the poster with a disproportionate penalty).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .