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Okay, I know you've already downvoted this. I did too. That's fine. Please just read a bit more before you close this tab.

tl;dr: Instead of requiring 50 rep to add a comment, throw up a modal (with an ever-increasing mandatory wait when used in close succession) describing what comments are, and are not, for. Detail how much rep they need in order to avoid the dialog. The user must clear the dialog to post the comment.

Why I'm submitting this as a FR...

I've seen this dance about ten thousand times...

  1. Newb creates account, goes to look for stuff to answer.
  2. Newb sees a moderately answerable question, needs more info
  3. Newb tries to comment and is denied
  4. Newb sees a big ol' text area at the bottom of the question they can type in
  5. Newb adds non-answer to the question
  6. Folks come along and downvote the answer.
  7. Newb adds comment "why are people downvoting me???"
  8. Folks leave comments (some welcoming, some short) telling newb this is a comment, not an answer
  9. Newb responds "but I can't leave a comment! I'm just trying to help!"
  10. Downvotes continue. People vote to delete. Maybe a mod helps.
  11. Newb rants about elitist Nazi snobs who downvote other answers so they can get rep on meta
  12. Downvoted, delete voted.
  13. Newb rants on facebook, twitter, reddit, Medium, the local bathroom wall about how we're not welcoming
  14. Repeat 10k more times
  15. Drama-nado eventually swallows all life on earth

That seems like a very unfriendly and unwelcoming outcome to a new user's first interaction!

If newb was already marginalized, I'm sure newb would think themselves marginalizedier. I heard some folks were concerned about that kinda thing.

I dunno, I've been a little out of the loop, was there some kind of blog post about it? Shoot me a link, k? Nobody hooked me up last time I asked :(

So, instead of flat out blocking newb from commenting, let's let newb comment and short circuit this cluster.


When they press submit on their comment, a modal dialog is shown with a countdown in the lower left hand corner and an "I understand" button in the lower right. The button is disabled until the countdown reaches 0.

Comments are intended only to ask for clarification. They are not for extended conversations, for thanking people, for stating that you also share the same problem, or similar purposes. Users with less than 50 reputation are presented with this dialog and must wait the required period of time before they submit their comment. You can gain reputation by asking good questions, providing good answers, or by editing posts to make them better.

Include an algorithm to increase the wait times when the user creates comments too fast. For example, start with a wait of 10 seconds. If they add another comment within a minute, the wait is now 20 seconds. Again, 30 seconds. Let this wait decrease over time if no comment is added. If, for example, they don't comment in the next three minutes they're back at a 10 second wait.


Possible benefits:

  • New users who try to help don't get slapped in the face
  • New users who aren't well versed on how comments work (bloody all of them) get an education
  • New users get onboarded quicker, and are able to get reputation faster
  • Questions are more likely to get answers

Possible issues:

  • Spammers will use this to bypass the block
  • Without server-side control, hackers would be able to use userscripts to bypass, making the implementation a bit harder
  • More crappy comments will appear

Feature update and comment about spam: Considering this is supposed to be for users trying to answer a question, in order for < 50 rep folks to get this dialog,

  • The question must not be old (let's pick an arbitrary number like a week)
  • The question must not have an accepted answer (maybe any answer? Play with that in testing)
  • The OP of the post must not be a deleted account

As for spam... I just don't believe spam would overwhelm the comment systems. I've never even seen a spam comment. Seen hundreds of spam questions and answers, both of which a 1 rep user can add. Forcing a spammer to sit through a modal in order to add his spam when they can do it instantly... no though.

Yes, we don't have good spam detection tools for comments. No, I don't think it's anywhere near reasonable building them. Obviously, if the hose is turned on, and instead of that sweet, cool summer hose water we get a throatful of spammy diharriha, you can always turn off the spigot. You wasted some development time, but you did so for a good cause. And who hasn't been blasted in the face with a good old squirt of liquid brown before? You lived.

As for the dupe target, this hasn't got anything to do with losing rep for commenting. And neither of the answers apply to this question. So nah.

  • The possible issues weigh out IMHO. Cheers Will! – πάντα ῥεῖ May 11 '18 at 17:19
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    "Spammers will use this to bypass the block" is a much bigger problem than it appears on the surface. Dealing with comment spam is a pain, as comments are harder to find and the tools available aren't nearly as effective. We had to deal with comment spam recently (I won't share details publicly), and this proposal would make the problems much worse. – NobodyNada May 11 '18 at 17:39
  • My advice to that fictional user, find a single question you can answer without a comment, and from the reputation you earn from that single answer you earn the necessary reputation not only to submit comments but more! – Ramhound May 11 '18 at 17:57
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    Thank God it is Friday ... – rene May 11 '18 at 18:02
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    Before this is done, there need to be more tools for finding spam comments. First comments should have to go through a first comment queue before being posted, some comments should go through a triage to block users making bad comments, ... – pfg May 11 '18 at 18:23
  • @Won't I'm pretty sure you get the "spirit". – πάντα ῥεῖ May 11 '18 at 19:10
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    @πάνταῥεῖ neither does this question have anything to do with costing rep, nor do any answers over there address features discussed above. I poo poo your dupe target. – Won't May 11 '18 at 19:25
  • I wonder if SE has ever audited 1 rep user comments for spam? That'd be interesting. Let them submit the comment, store it on the backend, and then just pop up a note about the user not having enough rep to comment. Then sift through the data and see how many spammers are trying to get in that way. Might be an interesting test. – Won't May 11 '18 at 19:41
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    @Won't a site that up until recently had a 1 rep requirement to comment got hit with a lot of spam comments (the stuff NobodyNada was talking about). The potential abuse of the system outweighs any potential gain atm, and sitting through a modal isn't anything that should even be considered an argument because of spam scripts. If a spammer wants to exploit something, they will. – Olivia May 11 '18 at 19:41
  • @PrincessLuna Already covered that--"Without server-side control, hackers would be able to use userscripts to bypass, making the implementation a bit harder" in the negatives column – Won't May 11 '18 at 19:42
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    @Won't Server-side delays still won't to do anything to defeat spammers; they'll wait out the delay if they're writing comments by hand, or write a script to mass-post comments that automatically waits until the delay is up. – NobodyNada May 11 '18 at 20:28
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    As for your recent update: "I've never even seen a spam comment." That's because comments require 50 reputation. I can't share details, but see my and Princess Luna's comments -- we have had problems with spam comments in special cases where rep was not required. If spammers can get away with spam in comments, they will. – NobodyNada May 11 '18 at 20:48
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    @Won't We get plenty of spam in questions and answers. The reason it's not a problem is because of the awesome tools to block and delete spam, such as SpamRam, which blocks the vast majority of spam before it's posted, and SmokeDetector, which catches the rest. The issues with comments certainly do apply for questions and answers, but it's not a problem in posts because of the powerful tools which don't exist for comments. – NobodyNada May 11 '18 at 20:54
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    @NobodyNada Just wanted to call out everyone that spend some there time making sure the best quality is at the top of the cup instead of whatever would happen without those people and those tools :-). Call it self-pat on the back :-) – Ramhound May 11 '18 at 21:51
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    I really don't think the necessity of building up comment-spam-handling is such an absolute blocker that this should be rejected out of hand. I mean, sure, it would be a good bit of work, but if we can almost eliminate one of the biggest pain points for well-meaning new answerers that's worth some serious development time. What else can we do that would have the same effect and would cost less, anyway? – Nathan Tuggy May 12 '18 at 2:39
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There are not enough tools for finding bad comments.

When a user first posts something, it may go on a queue to make sure it's acceptable. This comment system completely bypasses them and allows new users to add anything with no approval and there is no easy way for high rep people to find these comments.

What's really needed first is more tools for identifying spam comments. This could be done through review queues for first comments or having a triage with many random comments to make sure bad commenters get blocked from commenting. Queues may not be the right way to do this, but allowing spam comments is not.

About your suggestion, the modal's wait should be server-sided as well. When a user clicks to comment it should tell the server so the server knows how long need to wait before commenting. The only thing that could be automated or cheated by the client is clicking the post comment button as soon as it becomes available. I just got a captcha while posting this answer and that would also work to prevent bot comments and comments coming too fast.

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    "When a user first posts something, it has to get approved before being put on the site." This is not true. A user's first post always goes right onto the site. First posts that meet certain criteria for being potentially problematic have lower visibility than normal until they've been checked out, but that's as far as the site goes. – Servy May 11 '18 at 18:33
  • When you comment on a post, the owner of the post sees the comment. Now, for normal folks, no problem. They'll flag as spam. But gone accounts, you got a point. Updating my question. – Won't May 11 '18 at 19:30

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