I am going through the moderator tooling over the next [timeframe] and create some feature requests that I think would improve the UI a bit. I have more radical suggestions for a complete overhaul, but I imagine that's going to be even more work than the number of UI things I'll be posting. (Screenshots are intentionally not inline on this post, as there are many of them)

This post deals with flagged comments.

There are several different flags that can appear in the moderator queue that want us to deal explicitly with a comment or group of comments. These are:

  • Comment Flag - No Longer Needed
  • Comment Flag - Rude/Abusive
  • Comment Flag - Other
  • Automatic "Too many comments" flag
  • Post Flag - Other

In the Comment Flags, we are presented with a list of comments that have been flagged. Each flag contains the following information:

  • A link to the question or answer
  • The time the post was made and the author of the post (not the comment)
  • A link to the comment, the author of the comment, and the type of flag
  • The text of the comment
  • The option to delete, edit or dismiss

Suggestion 1: Don't move the options to deal with a comment around

Screenshot 1 | Screenshot 2 | Screenshot 3

Many comments are flagged as no longer needed because they are "I edited the post", "Thanks!", "please accept" type comments. These can be dealt with easily by putting the mouse over "delete" and clicking.

The problem is, the "delete" option moves. If you misclick and hit the text of the comment, you are dropped into a text box to edit the comment.

These buttons move for multiple reasons.

  • The comments you've recently handled populate the top of the page (Screenshot 1, label "A"). This is a rotating window of the 20 most recently handled comments since page load, I believe.
  • The length of the title pushes down the user card, which pushes down the options to handle the flag. This kicks in after you've dealt with 20 comments. (Screenshot 1, label "B" and Screenshot 2)
  • Previous moderator actions on the question add more data to the flag (Screenshot 3), which push down the options further.

All of these break the work flow of quickly eliminating comments and require constant readjustment of the mouse to hit the delete button again.

Suggestion 2: Add more context to the flag queue

The "no longer needed" flag is great when it's obvious. "I edited my answer" is nice and clear. "Please add [block of code], because [reasons]" is not. At least not without leaving the flag queue and looking at the post to see if [block of code] was added. An example can be seen in Screenshot 4. "Please edit your question to contain [mcve]". This is a valuable comment until that edit takes place, then it'd obsolete. Unfortunately, from the flag queue, I can't see that an edit ever occurred. I need to go to the question and a.) See if it was ever edited and b.) Make a best guess on whether it is minimal.

Moderator guidance tells me that second part shouldn't be needed. In all honesty, unless it's a technology I am familiar with, I don't usually do part B. I just compare flag time vs edit time.

If we could get an indication that the post has been edited by the original poster that'd be helpful. Ideally, an edit for something like Screenshot 4's flag would take place after the comment was posted and before the comment was flagged as no longer needed.

Suggestion 3: Make Purging comments easier

Screenshot 5

Unless a moderator uses one of the user scripts floating around, purging an entire comment chain at once is hidden behind the "mod" button. Even worse, when flags are raised to purge a thread, they can either show up on the post itself or on a single comment in the thread. Neither of which show context.

In screenshot 5, you can see a single comment was flagged but requests the entire thread be purged. To do so, I need to a.) visit the post b.) determine if all comments should be purged c.) either delete the comments one at a time or click "mod->purge all comments" (or use a user script the pulls that option out of the menu.

If we had the option to purge from the flag queue and show/handle sibling comments, that'd be very helpful. If this could be combined with Suggestion 4 to allow us to either purge or move to chat after handling the entire thread in the queue, that'd be even better.

Suggestion 4: Complete the Move to Chat feature

Screenshot 6

Automatic flags are raised on posts that have received 25+ comments in under 3 days. From the flag queue I have the option to move these to chat (yay!), but this option tells me that comments still need to be deleted separately. That's...unfortunate. That means that I still need to go visit the post to clean up.

However, if I move comments to chat from the post itself, I'm presented with the option to also purge comments during the move. This option should be available from the flag queue as well. Combined with Suggestion 3's ability to see and handle sibling comments, this would make cleaning up long threads a lot faster.

Suggestion 5: Consistent button layout between too chatty questions and answers

Screenshot 7

When an automatic flag is raised, the difference between questions and answers is an extra button and a second row. On top of that, the "No further action" button is in a different position (first vs second). Can these be made consistent and all on a single line?

Suggestion 6: Remove the click comment to edit default action

As mentioned in Suggestion 1, if you click on the text of a comment (or misclick and hit the white space around it) you are dropped into a text box to edit the comment. I can't recall a time I've ever edited a comment posted by another user.

When you do this click, the "dismiss" option disappears, moving the "Delete" and "edit" links over to the right.

Editing comments should be pretty rare. Can we make editing only available when you click the "edit" link? Additionally, can we not remove the "dismiss" link?

On Stack Overflow we've deleted roughly 20K comments in the past month. This doesn't include anything automatically flagged by my bot. I stopped that process back in October, so that is 20K comments that have been brought to our attention by the community.

Comments are lower on the priority list of things that need to be dealt with, but there is still a lot of them that need to be handled.

  • 3
    These suggestions are all for the flags page (that is, the list of all flags). For in-page flags, i.e. when you're viewing the actual question, I've greatly increased my flag-handling satisfaction by using this script, which Shog wrote in part in response to complaints/suggestions from me. I almost never handle comment flags from the flags list anyway because where one problem is flagged, others lurk, but I don't moderate on SO. :-) – Monica Cellio Feb 8 '18 at 20:32
  • 1
    Hey Andy, I was just referred to your post. I have been working on similar improvements to the comment flag queue with CommentFlagsHelper, which solves 1,3,6 above – Samuel Liew May 1 '18 at 1:48

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