We're no strangers to discussion of the flag dialogues, particularly when it comes to comment flags. Since that discussion two years ago we've been reassessing how comments are used on the network and have found that we need to change how comment flagging works - as Tim Post said in the Code of Conduct announcement blog post:

But we’re not done, not by a long shot. Our research indicates that the most problematic places on our sites tend to be free-form comments, so we’re working diligently on coming up with a way that lets users express feedback through the system; this not only ensures that users see compassionate, actionable guidance, but also helps remove the perception that there are people taking pleasure in picking at their work.

To that end, this post is here to highlight the user interface changes that have been made over the last weeks and talk a bit about the new text and how it furthers the goals of the Code of Conduct while also making flagging clearer for everyone.

There are a number of considerations in this process which include:

  1. How can we make flagging easy and accessible to users?
    If problematic or unnecessary content isn't flagged, removing it is difficult, so we need to be sure that users:
    • know that flagging is an option, particularly users who are unfamiliar with the sites.
    • know how and when to use flags without making the flag dialogue too text-heavy or complex. We want to be particularly mindful of people who may not speak English as a first language.
  2. How can we make flag handling easy and clear for moderators?
    Moderators are largely responsible for handling comment flags and some sites get huge volumes of them, so we need to be sure that moderators:
    • aren't overloaded with many extraneous/noisy flags by being clear about when flags are appropriate, particularly custom flags.
    • can easily decide whether a flag is valid or not based on the flagging text.

Making flagging obvious and accessible.

The first changes that were made revolved around making comment flagging more obvious to users by having the flag icon visible at all times and accessible to low-reputation users by running a test on Stack Overflow of allowing users with less than fifteen reputation to flag comments on their own posts, including on answers to their own questions. As of right now, both of these are undergoing testing and may be updated or adjusted in the future, specifically:

  • There's a lot of discussion about how noisy having the flag icons permanently visible on the page on every comment you can flag would be. That's understandable. The question is, does the benefit of permanent visibility outweigh the extra noise it might create, or will it simply create noise for limited gain? If the latter, how can we address this while making flagging more accessible for everyone?

  • When it comes to allowing <15 reputation users to flag comments, we're looking at how much this affects the flag queue for moderators - are we seeing a huge uptick in flags and, if so, are those flags marked helpful or declined?

UPDATED: Adjusting flagging reasons to connect with the Code of Conduct.

A lot of the concerns I've heard in the last few months revolve around users having difficulty determining whether a comment was bad enough to be called "rude or abusive" or if it was more on the side of being unwelcoming without crossing into abusive territory. To address this, we've split the rude or abusive flag reason in two parts:

New new comment flagging dialogue with four reasons - "It contains harassment, bigotry, or abuse", "It's unfriendly or unkind", "It's no longer needed", and "Something else". The descriptions have changed slightly since the initial rollout.

We've separated attacks on people or groups from general rude behavior and added explanations for each flag type.

  • It contains harassment, bigotry, or abuse.
    This comment attacks a person or group. Learn more in our Code of Conduct.
  • It's unfriendly or unkind.
    This comment is rude or condescending. Learn more in our Code of Conduct.

The first flag should be used for blatantly abusive statements while the second should be used for statements that are rude or unwelcoming but don't cross the line into attacking a person (or the content they've posted) or a group of people. I go into more detail about this in a related answer.

In general, you're more likely to need the second option than the first but having two options helps our moderators see the degree to which someone is breaking the Code of Conduct and - in the case of high-flag-volume sites - triage handling the more severe flags first. If you never use the first option, that's fine too. Both flags bring the comment to the attention of our moderators.

In addition to this, we've made some adjustments to the text for the other two flag reasons though their intended usage is unchanged. For information regarding the changes to the "no longer needed" flag, see my explanation here.

Flag dialogue user interface changes.

As part of the ongoing work to standardize the user interface across the Network, when updating this flagging interface, it's been brought in line with Stacks, the CSS & pattern libraries for the Network. As various updates are made, you can expect to see more of the sites' infrastructure become coherent with this design.

In addition to this, a thank you response toast notification was added when a user flags a comment to show appreciation for that flag - and in the case of unwelcoming or abusive flags, an apology for the comment. The implementation for this is still being moved over to the Stacks styling, see this related answer on Meta Stack Overflow for more information.

As you may guess, a lot of this UI design is still a work in progress. Several users have pointed out some concerns they have. If you have some of your own, please feel free to do the same.

It's our goal to be as up front and open about these changes as we can be. If you have any questions about the updated comment flagging that's not addressed here, please let us know.

  • 8
    How do the aging away rules work for these new comment flags? Old "rude or abusive" flags used to age after four days; do the same rules apply for both options that replace that? Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:02
  • 6
    Isn't this just back to what it used to be when there was a rude flag and a not constructive flag? Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:06
  • 8
    @CharlieBrumbaugh This new option is much more clear than the prior description of "not constructive". Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:07
  • 157
    I’m not sure how I feel about the site apologizing for a comment we have no control over. It’s not sincere, especially coming from an automated system that has no idea what the content was. It’s potentially a “sorry you were offended”. I would rather see that “toast” space used to make our expression of appreciation for acting on the comment, which we can be sincere about, more detailed.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 19:38
  • 4
    Thanks for the change in flags with regard to the CoC. I recently raised my first comment flag when I saw a user making fun of an OP('s first post). The flag for "harassment, bigotry, or abuse" seemed the most appropriate, particularly with the new CoC and discussions surrounding it in mind, so I was pretty disappointed when it got declined.
    – Kay
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 19:45
  • 3
    Can the chat flags be expanded in this way too? potentially with differing end-results than an instant 30min ban?
    – Kevin B
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 20:06
  • 5
    @Ramhound I'm not quite sure what you're saying. What does comment flagging have to do with copying and pasting close reasons? If you have a concern or suggestion for improvement, feel free to flesh out your comment in an answer.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 21:37
  • 51
    Is harassment really the most prevalent flag reason so as to justify it being first?
    – rath
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 8:20
  • 23
    Does a violation of the same ToS really merit two different flag reasons? Do we get that much value out of refining the flag reason? Isn't it obvious to the moderator if a comment is intended to harass someone or if it's just not particularly friendly, for someone's definition of friendliness?
    – rath
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 8:26
  • 8
    The ordering is unchanged from how it's been. If you think it should change @rath Feel free to support that in an answer. :) It's not a matter of volume. Most of the flags we get are "NLN" flags. In general, the rude/abusive flags are listed first for visibility, not volume.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 15:41
  • 8
    How can we make flagging easy and accessible to users? How about not breaking the dialog for users who aren't using bleeding edge versions of their browsers? Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 19:04
  • 10
    @rath Harassment/abuse is the most serious potential flagging reason. Whether or not such comments are currently "rampant" (per LRO's comment) is irrelevant. As for two different flagging reasons: (1) they let moderators examining the flags know what to expect, and (2) in the future, it's conceivable that the two flags could be handled in different ways. Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 19:27
  • 4
    @user170039 That's what the contact form is great for. :) It gives you a ton more space to write than just a flag since the CMs won't be as familiar with the site and your specific concerns. Be detailed and explain the situation when you write in. :)
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 14:45
  • 7
    Wow, I just flagged a slightly rude mod comment on Workplace and it vanished immediately. This is far too powerful. Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 12:32
  • 6
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit That comment would have been deleted by a single flag a month ago, too. Nothing about this update changed that.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 12:38

19 Answers 19


See updated flag dialogue text and explanation in the question.

Somehow, having two different options with the same subtext "The comment violates our Code of Conduct." doesn't fly with me. Maybe the first one can be changed into something like "The comment violates our Code of Conduct in a particularly aggravating way." or something which captures that intent in simpler English?

  • 8
    I think that the text could be changed, yes. The links go to two different parts of the CoC but with identical text, that's not necessarily clear.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:05
  • 43
    This annoys most of us too, but we didn't have time to come up with a more descriptive replacement before launch. So, we're gonna try & look at what folks are actually flagging and gin up a description that matches what should be flagged.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:06
  • 72
    I have a couple of suggestions... It contains harassment, bigotry, or abuse: "Offensive comments violate our Code of Conduct." It's unfriendly or unkind: "Disrespectful comments violate our Code of Conduct."
    – 3D1T0R
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 20:47
  • 19
    I think just offensive will do for the two. Unfriendly/unkind seems a bit over-sensitive and subjective to me. Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 21:23
  • 8
    @MartinMaat It's always going to be subjective. No one's ever going to come up with an objective description of unfriendliness (although that's exactly the sort of goal you'd expect to come out of Stack Overflow) Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 0:50
  • 11
    You mean like... rude or abusive?
    – rath
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 8:26
  • 15
    Might I add that as a non-native English speaker I actually had to Google up the differences for the flags? I never had to even think about "rude or abusive"
    – user312421
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 20:01
  • 3
    @MartinMaat "Offensive" has entirely different meanings around the world. I think the current split has the advantage that the first option (harrassment, bigotry, abuse) is rather clear-cut, and only the second (unkind, unfriendly) is "soft". Think also about handling and counting flags on the mod end: a user with many "type 1" flags should probably be banned; a number of "type 2" flags are not as bad an issue.
    – Raphael
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 6:36
  • 13
    @Raphael My point is that "unfriendly" or "unkind" would not be worth flagging in the first place. We are not shop owners, we are supposed to be brief, concise to the point. That will often not be socially pleasing and that is OK, just staying "on topic" will do. It is personal attacks we want to avoid. "Personal attacks violate our Code of Conduct". Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 8:07
  • 1
    @MartinMaat I think more on line that we are not employees of SO, and it seems SO wants we to uphold the values of paid employees. (...) Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 4:02
  • 18
    @MartinMaat Brief, concise, and to the point isn't inherently unfriendly or unkind. Brief, concise, to the point, and condescending or sneering is what the Code of Conduct doesn't permit and should be flagged. Brief, concise, to the point, and professional or respectful won't draw flags except from the extremely thin-skinned, and when they do flag, mods won't validate them. Keep being brief, concise, and to the point while avoiding condescension. That's what the network needs more of. :) Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 17:18
  • 7
    @MartinMaat SE has a LOT of unfriendly, but not abusive, comments. The other day I reported a comment that was essentially "I don't know why anyone would use this framework." It wasn't wrong, it wasn't harassment, bigotry, or abusive. It was just someone being a jerk for no good reason other than to feel smug. I feel that both categories have a reason - if you have only one option that is meant to cover everything from bigotry to unkindness, you'll get a lot of 'was this really worth reporting?" eyebrow raising. You can have brief and efficient, even cold exchanges without being unkind. Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 16:37
  • 2
    @Shog9 but we didn't have time to come up with a more descriptive replacement before launch. We'll circle back to that. What I'd like to say is: I think the issue people will have with this, and eventually you'll have to deal with, is that these broad and vague statements will definitely give rise to people flagging whatever they don't like, valid or not, for the simple fact that they don't like it, and technically, that would be ok.
    – Möoz
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 21:25
  • 5
    That's never not been true, @Möoz
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 21:29

Decline explanation: After comparing the flag data on Stack Overflow during the period between October 23, 2018 to January 23, 2019 and the same period last year, the indication is that that while there is an increase in these flags overall - 69% more flags - they're actually declined less frequently - 21.6% of the time, down from 25.8%.

Considering this, we're going to leave it the way it is.

Extend the "other" reason to match the same description as normal flags, i.e, "A problem not listed above that requires action by a moderator". This is because we had some new users use the flag to talk to the commenter, instead of adding a new comment.

enter image description here

Update: This still seems to be occurring, I see atleast a couple of comment flags every day which should have been replies (and I don't even handle that many comment flags)

  • 9
    And being friendly and welcoming what did you do with those flags? Did you re-post the comments on their behalf?
    – rene
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:25
  • 17
    @rene I wasn't sure about how to be welcoming in that case, so left it to another moderator... Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:27
  • 7
    Oh ... so we now have welcoming mods ... and you ... ;) ... (keep it up!)
    – rene
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:30
  • 27
    Yeh I'm noticing an increase in the flags that are replying to comments. I think it needs to be made clearer that it's not a reply to the commenter. A lot of people don't differentiate between mods and high rep users.
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 19:05
  • 2
    @rene there will be a meta post with me declining or deleting them. There's no custom mod reason to decline. And yes, I'm too lazy to write the comments out. It's an issue with the UX
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 19:08
  • 5
    @YvetteColomb yeah, I agree. Not expecting you or anyone to write them out. It is and odd effect of the new UX and at first looks pretty funny. But is a kind of useless/pointless load on the mod queue.
    – rene
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 19:35
  • 18
    @YvetteColomb A totally predictable effect of making the flagging system too "welcoming" ;) Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 10:24
  • 3
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit I wish I could compile a list of humorous/ridiculous flags.
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 12:16
  • 8
    @YvetteColomb: Me too! FlagOverflow.com awaits, just need to ban privacy first :) Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 13:00
  • 9
    And why's that @TakahiroWaki? The picture clearly shows the issue which the moderators are facing on Stack Overflow. Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 8:33
  • 2
    This is privacy problem. I'm flagging this answer. Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 8:34
  • 6
    Where is the privacy problem in the answer, @TakahiroWaki? The names are all redacted. You must be new to meta. Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 8:37
  • 1
    @BhargavRao, might this possibly have been a place to word a comment differently according to what the new CoC suggests, just in case someone's feelings get hurt? I was thinking instead of saying "You must be new to meta," a person who wrote that comment might instead say something like "Are you new to meta?" To me, that implies an offer to help someone who might not understand how meta works. This is just my thinking on this matter, not at all a judgment of you or what you wrote. No reply is necessary, I appreciate you taking the time to read this. Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 0:44
  • 3
    @BhargavRao I think commenting on someone's newness on meta is inherently (minorly) demeaning, no matter how you phrase it. It suffices to explain the misunderstanding and let the other party reflect on it. While their newness may be true in most cases, it really doesn't benefit anyone to point it out. But that's only my 2¢, as someone who's never commented on Meta StackExchange before. ;-)
    – Graham
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 4:15
  • 1
    Thanks for that @Graham, I'm also very new to meta so still learning stuff. :) Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 4:17

I, for one, appreciate the new "unfriendly or unkind" category as something quite distinct from "rude or abusive." (Or even "no longer needed.")

In the past, I've left alone what I've felt to be sarcastic comments (backhanded criticism) because I haven't felt there was a proper "bucket" to flag them under. Comments like that are a bit subtle, and might not have been recognized under the old categories. While some of those flags of mine were accepted, others were rejected.

Are moderators now encouraged to be more accepting of this kind of reporting when the "unfriendly or unkind" category is used? Should I use that category more freely and not worry so much about flag rejection by moderators?

  • 18
    I don’t think you should worry about flag rejection from moderators if you are flagging in good faith. The flagging system only works well if every community member feels free to act on their judgement. Moderators can’t moderate what they don’t know about, and we’re elected to serve the community. Let us know when something seems over the line.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 20:07
  • 4
    @ColleenV That makes sense, and I'd like to think I normally have good judgment in these things. :) But I do appreciate the newer category where such flagging somehow seems more appropriate rather than a kind of "overreaction" as I'd often felt in the past. Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 20:15
  • 14
    I really like this answer and agree. As a mod it makes handling the flags more simple. I'm hoping that the back end will produce separate results for the two flags, so the change is carried through the entire moderation process.
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 20:51
  • 3
    @ColleenV the real problem is that there are (rare) instances of networks where those who make the most over the line comments are mods or high rep users. I already left a community for that and from the feedback I received here on Meta SE I am not the only one. Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 22:59
  • 2
    I also like it, as there is a huge gap between unkind and abusive
    – WendyG
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 11:08

What about showing users privately statistics on the “unkind” flags marked "helpful" by moderators that their content has received? General statistics on how many people flagged and how many posts were flagged may help folks understand how their posts are negatively impacting people and might ease some of the burden on moderators if it becomes necessary to do more than warn a user.

We already display stats on how many people our content has reached, but those stats don’t say whether our impact was perceived as positive or negative.

Just to be clear, only the user and moderators would see these stats. I think making them public would be counterproductive. I understand that this is making it more visible to people when they have comments deleted and that might lead to some people arguing with the decision that's been made. My personal belief is that being more transparent is rarely a bad idea.

We delete unfriendly comments because we want the community to be more welcoming. Where is the line between what the community will tolerate and what it won't? How can someone know in advance whether their comment will be perceived as unfriendly by the community? One way is to have discussions about how the Code of Conduct is being applied and have the community weigh in on the site’s meta. If showing statistics to a user about how many times their comments have been flagged as unfriendly causes them to start a discussion on meta, I don't see that as a bad thing.

We let people see down-votes on their posts. Why would letting them see unfriendly flags (that have been reviewed and accepted by the mod team) on their comments be that much different?

  • 8
    I'm guessing you actually mean how many have been marked helpful - "raised" is prone to a lot of error in some cases. Flags are quite often misused. We don't want users concerned about having 10 flags raised against them if only two of those flags were marked helpful.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 20:45
  • 5
    @Catija Yes, I did mean "helpful" flags - the idea is to provide constructive feedback, not add a way for folks to bully people :)
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 21:09
  • 3
    The only issue I have with this will be the demand from users wanting to see which comments were flagged and an overwhelming workload for mods on busy sites @Catija. It's bad enough when giving people warnings about being rude/abusive, they often want a list of their comments. This is a request I'd either really hold off on, or put a ban on people taking it to meta and contacting mods and the team. The "why was my comment deleted"/"why was my flag declined" questions on meta are already furiously time consuming.
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 12:13
  • 7
    @YvetteColomb Users should know when their behavior is causing problems. I assume what you do now is silently delete flagged comments and the user is supposed to notice and understand why? How can we expect folks to improve if we don't give them any feedback? Why shouldn't a user see which comments of theirs caused flags that were looked at by the mod team and deemed appropriate? Letting users see "this comment was flagged by 10 people as unfriendly" should help them understand where the community draws the line. Some folks will argue no matter what.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 12:41
  • 1
    @ColleenV that's very condescending and shows an ignorance about how hard some of the mods work on some sites. Today SO has deleted approx 300 comments. I've deleted in total 25k comments. How is it reasonable to expect specific user feedback about each comment. We have auto flags that are tripped (which you should know about) and we contact users accordingly. We save contacting users for serious issues.
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 12:48
  • 1
    I should also add, many people don't react well at all to be told they're doing something wrong. I'm not sure how many mod messages you've sent, but some of the abuse that is returned is not nice.
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 12:59
  • 7
    @YvetteColomb I didn’t mean to condescend. It’s hard to give feedback on comments, I generally don’t do it either. I should have used “we” instead of “you”. That’s why I suggested this. People who don’t know what they’re doing wrong can’t improve. Statistics seem a less confrontational way to give that feedback. I’ve gotten the same vile responses to mod messages. I think it is a little different for the system to just display information, similar to question scores and comment upvotes.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 13:08
  • @ColleenV thanks for the clarification. I just see it as a can of worms on a site like SO. Have a look at why was my flag declined and why was my comment deleted. We would be flooded with questions wanting a categorical reason. As it stands people cannot see their deleted comments. I just see this opening a can of worms. Have a browse through my meta answers to get an idea.
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 13:14
  • 3
    @YvetteColomb People are already asking why their comment was deleted. Showing the accepted flags gives them an answer for some of those comments without us having to explain anything. The community thought it was unfriendly so it was deleted. We could just show the stats and not the specific comments. That should reduce the opportunities for arguing.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 13:30
  • 4
    this reminds me recent feature request at MSO: Allow users to view their deleted comments, especially flagged ones (over 300 upvotes as of now - and I feel like it will be ignored, just like your suggestion here)
    – gnat
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 14:14
  • 4
    This seems relevant to me, esp. considering new conversations like "the standard comment template we are not a code writing... is not friendly" which is kinda shocking to some (me at least). I prefer to use the standard "link user to MVCE" or "how to ask a good question" help page comment templates but now I feel like I'm just waiting on my comments to be deleted and a ban place because people don't like being told "we are not doing your work/homework for you". Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 14:51
  • Let me see if I understand...censor things here, by whatever criteria you deem right, and you are worried about people defending themselves? Is not that very welcoming per se? Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 3:56
  • 1
    It makes sense to list actioned flags in the user’s private profile under the ‘responses’ tab alongside the existing all|revisions|comments|answers. We are told repeatedly that comments are ephemeral, so mods should feel free to use that as a canned response to “Why was my comment deleted?”
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 8:16
  • 2
    I shall certainly find it very interesting to see how many of my comments are perceived as "unfriendly", because I suspect that it depends very much on the sensitivity of the reader, and the only way I can learn what people perceive as being unfriendly is by getting feedback. But in any case, if people are wrong I shall continue to put them right, whether they perceive that as unfriendly or not. Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 21:11
  • 1
    I've changed my mind about this. I think it's a good idea. I think my objection was largely due to burn out and thinking omg this is going to make it harder. Overall transparency is a good thing.
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 15:31

Part 1.

It would be preferable if we continued to only count the first flag It contains harassment, bigotry, or abuse. as counting towards the automatic too many rude/abusive comments autoflag and not the unfriendly or unkind flag.

That would make it easier to handle such flags and provide moderators with more latitude on marking It's unfriendly or unkind. as helpful.

Part 2.

Can we have two separate auto flags with differing thresholds for the two split rude and abusive flag types.

It contains harassment, bigotry, or abuse. as counting towards the old automatic too many rude/abusive comments flag.

It's unfriendly or unkind. more flags to count towards an auto "too many unfriendly comments".

Or a different threshold for Stack Overflow. I fear our flag queue will be swamped with these auto flags.

  • 1
    I believe that's already being done. I checked my old comment flags and the "harassment, bigotry, or abuse" flag is just a rename of the old "rude or abusive" flag (which in turn is a rename of the "rude or offensive" flag in the original flagging system). Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:27
  • 1
    @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog well it's not clear actually, which type of flag the count towards.
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:35
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog I edited my answer. Can you tell me if that's clearer?
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:53
  • The "unfriendly or unkind" flag is a wholly new flag type internally. The "harassment" flag is just a rename of the old "rude or abusive" flag (i.e. internally, they are the same thing). Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:55
  • Your request would involve keeping the current status quo as is, and not changing the system so that the new flag type unfriendly or unkind counts. Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:59
  • 3
    @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog I just received a "CommentTooManyDeletedRudeNotConstructiveAuto" autoflag after flagging a comment as "unfriendly" – so it seems like it has been mapped to the "Not Constructive" option. Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 19:20
  • @Nathaniel I guess this is now a revert request Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 19:23
  • @Nathaniel well that's odd :D
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 19:25
  • So, are you saying that you don't think that moderators should receive auto flags regarding users who regularly/repeatedly post comments that are flagged and deleted as "unfriendly"?
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 20:24
  • 1
    @Catija I think they should be separated. Definitely not lumped into the one flag type for auto flags. You see the if else options at the end?
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 20:27
  • I think that it's mostly having multiple feature requests for slight variations of the same thing is confusing to me. It'd be less confusing to have a single answer that suggests different options. We're definitely going to look into this - it's on our radar - but leaving it as-is for the time being gives us a baseline of info to decide what to try next.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 20:30
  • @Catija yeh they're combined
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 20:31
  • Separating the auto-flags makes it too easy for a user who persistently skirts that line to go unnoticed. One flag for the first type only and another for both together (with a higher threshold) would prevent that. Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 19:03
  • @MonicaCellio it really doesn't need to be that complex. Once an auto flag is raised the mod will review the user's history, flagged comment, all comments and annotations. People who skirt the lines may think they go unnoticed, but they don't. Not even on a site as large as SO. More eyeballs, more flags. I don't think that will be an issue. But sure combining them does no harm either.
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 19:07
  • 1
    @MonicaCellio I had a chat with Shog and Catija and it's probably a case of some sites will need differing heuristics. I see your point of view. It's that case of one size doesn't fit all.
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 18:13

It would be useful to be able to drag the dialog so that you can move it to re-read the comment if needed while deciding which flag you want to cast the same way you can with the flag/close question dialog.


About the always-visible flag icons being too noisy - have a user preference option to hide them (per site, or on all sites) once the user reaches a certain reputation. 100 rep seems like a decent threshold as that's the site association bonus as well, and if you know how other basic features of SE work, you presumably know how flagging comments works, too.

  • 4
    It should be a global setting, not per site. Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 9:39
  • 3
    I was actually going to propose just hiding it by default for everyone over some reputation, although a setting might be less disruptive. Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 9:39
  • @Dukeling, I assume that the proposal isn't that higher rep users should be unable to flag. But it's not clear to me how they would be able to flag without the icon, especially on mobile browsers which don't have hover. Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 19:29

Please add the option to explain any flag; not just the flags for "something else".

How can we make flag handling easy and clear for moderators?
[Moderators] can easily decide whether a flag is valid or not based on the flagging text.

If I flag a comment as "no longer needed", I have no way of letting the mod know why it is no longer needed.
If a comment has since been addressed in the post, or edited in, or has been handled another way, the mod will have to look at the post the comment was made on to decide that. To help them out, I would like to be able to enter a short message such as "addressed in post" or "clarified by OP" or "dead link replaced by link to Way Back Machine".

Other flagging options could use this as well, allowing a flagger to explain why they find something to be abusive rather than "just" unkind.


The "unfriendly or unkind" option is currently broken.

I just tested out the "unfriendly or unkind" option, and while I got a positive acknowledgement message of my flag being submitted, I checked my flag history, only to find that there was no flag submitted.

Interestingly, the red flag indicator next to the comment continues to show up, even after I refresh the page, but when I go to my flag history, there's no record of a pending flag.

Can this please be fixed?

  • 2
    Do you see them if you restrict your flagging history to "comments" only?
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:15
  • 2
    @Catija Yes, but I can't see them if I show all flags (the default view). Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:16
  • 2
    Yep. I'm seeing the same behavior.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:17
  • 21
    This will be fixed in the next build. Your flag was getting reported successfully as you saw in the comments filtered list, but the default view only shows a whitelisted collection of flag types, and the new type wasn't on the list. Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:33
  • 1
    This has been built and seems to be fixed now.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 18:50
  • 1
    @Catija Yeah, Shog tagged another question (closed as a dupe of this) as completed a couple hours ago. Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 19:10

In the "make flag handling easy and clear for moderators" vein: display aggregated flag stats (e.g. # approved flags of each type, on other posts/comments by the same user whose comment was flagged) directly in the flag-handling UI, and presumably also linked from user pages.

When deciding what to do about a flag, the user's history is quite relevant. First time, just clean up and move on. Tenth time, fiftieth time, take stronger action. We need to make sure that moderators reliably know which it is. Right now it's easy for mods to take single-infraction severity into account for deciding consequences, but much more difficult to address ongoing patterns - and the CoC asks us to do this.

  • Yep, the user comment history does this in a very minimal way but it doesn't give you any more granularity than "flagged", no sorting or even count by type of flag. I'd really like this, particularly if it had a way to show flags over time. The flag handling UI could use an update for certain but even linking directly to that flagged comments page would be faster than the multi-click process required to get to it right now.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 18:55
  • if you're going to put stats in the history, be sure to frame them against the total number of comments on the site. For instance, 3 CoC flags in a total of 15 comments is very different than 3 CoC flags in a total of 700 comments. Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 15:03

Please place "It's no longer needed." as the first item in the list because it is apparently the most commonly used item[1].

I imagine that "It's unfriendly or unkind." would be the second-most used item, and accordingly should remain in second place. SO undoubtedly has statistics to confirm the usage frequency.

"Something else." should, of course, remain as the last item, leaving the unpleasant words in third place where we only have to look if really necessary.

[1] Personal experience and Catija♦, in a comment.


Request to improve new popup UI in part of radio button clickable area, current state:

enter image description here

Desirable behaviour: like in question's flagging popup (description is part of clickable label and no gap between radio button itself and its label):

enter image description here

  • 1
    @PaulWhite question has not received any official feedback, so I leave this answer here yet for more attention to the problem
    – user379859
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 11:55

Just a thought -

I assume the harassment/bigotry/abuse reason = rude/abusive flag, and has similar consequences, while unfriendly flags are handled "separately", without some of the consequences (see also this answer).

Can a user having a history of unfriendly flags automatically raise a rude/abusive flag with the unfriendly flag history? This will help mods "notice the pattern" so to speak, and basically makes it easier to "escalate" that sort of pattern.

  • this feature request would help with just that meta.stackexchange.com/questions/313762/… However the automatic flag raising for unkind flags will cause Stack Overflow's queue to overflow. Maybe have two separate auto flags raised? My answer is opposite to yours :D
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:45
  • @YvetteColomb already upvoted that feature request while browsing =) I don't think your answer is quite opposite to yours which is why I linked it - I was talking about the r/a flag corresponding with the new abusive flag. But yeah, the overflow of the flag queue (lol) was something I hadn't really thought of.
    – auden
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:47
  • I didn't see the link LOLOL.. I added a separate answer, re the auto flags. As I didn't want the answer to be up/down voted for one or other... if that makes sense. Yeh I agree the unkind flags will need to raise a warning if they accumulate
    – user310756
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:52

"It's unfriendly or unkind." doesn't look really separate from "It contains harassment, bigotry, or abuse.", but a superset of it, as it's true for both the latter case and the case of subtle put-downs. I would make the text read "It's mildly unfriendly or unkind." instead, which implies that there's no severe rudeness such as harassment, bigotry or abuse.

Another issue I have is the return of the "It's no longer needed." text. I suggest changing it to "It's unnecessary.".

  • 6
    "It's not relevant" ignores most of the reasons comments are flagged. Things like "thanks" or "you're welcome" or "I've updated my post" and comments that have been addressed through editing are absolutely relevant to the post - they're just not needed.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:19
  • @Catija Sorry, I meant to write something else.
    – EKons
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 18:20
  • 2
    You should probably separate these two requests into 2 answers. People can't express agreement with one through voting if they only agree with one. Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 11:14
  • @Dukeling Hm, I might do so later, can't now.
    – EKons
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 12:02
  • By the same argument, arson, murder, and other physical crimes are unfriendly and unkind. ISTM that terms like “unfriendly” and “unkind” carry an implicit upper bound on severity, especially when juxtaposed with something more severe. Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 18:33

The terms "unfriendly" and "unkind" seem very close... at least as a non-English speaker I would not know the difference unless I looked it up. One of the two seems enough.

On the other hand, comments that have the appearance of being friendly can still be patronizing (included in the "put-downs" that the Code of Conduct mentions).

Would it be an improvement to say something like:

It's unfriendly or patronizing

(Or "...putting down", "...condescending", although the latter is not in my active vocabulary)


I think this is completely over the top. This obsession with "being kind" means you are not thinking about the real reasons people would flag a comment. As has already been said, a single violation of code of conduct is enough.

What is most needed on some of the lists I frequent is the following:

An answer, not a comment.

Use comments to ask for more information or suggest improvements. Avoid answering questions in comments

(The explanation is copied from the comment box on the SE lists I frequent, although not, strangely, on this meta.)

  • 2
    There's no reason that both can't exist simultaneously. Having two reasons that help users flag hurtful content doesn't prevent us from adding other reasons. Has this been suggested anywhere? In my experience, this would be a great flag reason and I'd support at least considering it. Until then, "No longer needed" is already intended to meet this need and has been for several years. If a more specific flag is necessary, we can look into it!
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 22:40
  • @Catija — No longer needed has always puzzled me. Is it used much?
    – David
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 22:47
  • It's the most commonly used comment flag on the network, as far as I'm aware. :) If the comment either is no longer or never was needed - say it's an answer in comments, a comment that was already addressed in an edit, or a comment that we would consider "noise", like one that just says "+1, great post" or "thanks for your answer" - that's what NLN is supposed to address.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 22:55

It's a small issue, but it's very annoying. Seen on Firefox ESR 52.9. It does not appear to be an issue in Firefox ESR 60.2.

When I first open the flag dialog on a comment, I see only the bottom right quarter or so of it:

Flag dialog showing only "nal or not relevant to this post" and down right

However, if I resize the window ever so slightly (a change of a single pixel in either direction will do), then I see the whole dialog because it gets moved to the center of the window:

Complete flag dialog

I do not see the same issue with the question or answer flag dialog, and didn't have the same problem with the old comment flag dialog.

This appears to be independent of whether the site has an old-style custom theme (tested just now on Worldbuilding), new-style custom theme (ditto on Unix & Linux) or no customizations (ditto on Writing).

  • Thanks for letting us know! I think this is related to this post. At this point, I'm not sure that it's supported based on Tim's answer there. These ESR releases are often slightly troublesome for exactly this reason.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 20:41
  • Aye, this's the same issue Catija's linked to. Honestly no idea what's going on there except that it seems to be something specific to older versions of Firefox that's been patched by Mozilla since. :/
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 21:23
  • Seems fixed in ESR 60.2. Updated to reflect.
    – user
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 9:44

Combine the rude and unfriendly flags into:

It is rude or unfriendly

It contains harassment, bigotry, or abuse or it's unfriendly or unkind.

My reasoning for this:

  • The one is just a more severe version of the other.
  • There may be an auto-flag for one but not the other, but this would come down to asking users to judge how severe another user's infraction is - this doesn't really seem appropriate. A user should say "this is inappropriate", a mod should decide what to do about it, if anything.

    Perhaps there could be a feature that allows mods to say, while handling flags, whether a comment is fine / mildly offensive / very offensive, but...

  • Unfriendly comments are a problem too.

    Just because someone isn't very rude, doesn't mean they're not rude and there isn't a potential problem that should be investigated.

  • Users could have wildly different views on severity of offensive language. If all the discussion around the "be more welcoming" ... thing has taught us anything, it's that.

    For example, even while I personally lean towards the side of "get rid of anything remotely offensive", I would be hesitant to use the more severe flag for a comment calling someone else an "idiot" (because it just doesn't seem quite on the level of harassment, etc., but maybe that's just a problem with the flag phrasing, since name-calling is listed there in the Code of Conduct itself). In some contexts regular flaggers may not even flag it at all.

    So I doubt we'd get much of a useful differentiation if we leave it up to the users.

  • This creates more choices for the user.

    Didn't we combine a bunch of similar flags for exactly this reason not too long ago?

    I personally might just (mostly) stick to the "unfriendly" flag, because then I wouldn't have to decide which flag to use.

  • You'll make users flagging in good faith very unhappy.

    If you're declining flags because people are using the wrong flag, then the message you're sending is roughly: "oh, sorry, this is offensive, but it's not quite offensive enough to fall into this flag, you should've used the other flag instead" (or vice versa?). Given the subjectivity of this, plenty of people will probably just have no idea what you want from them, and stop flagging.

    If you're not declining flags because people are using the wrong flag, what's the point?

  • 1
    Personally I don't see much difference between rude or unfriendly and rude or abusive, making the change rather pointless. Just my veiw, so don't feel unwelcome! (Just kidding :D )
    – hat
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 12:39
  • @Jǝssǝ I wouldn't have proposed changing "abusive" to "unfriendly" - I was mostly trying to consolidate the two current reasons (instead of changing the old one). Although one can perhaps see "unfriendly" as less severe than "rude" (which is less severe than "abusive"), so it could make some sense to use "unfriendly" if we also want them to flag less severe things. Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 12:45
  • 6
    I think there is a difference between "unfriendly" and "hateful" that shouldn't be glossed over. "Unfriendly" can be an honest mistake in tone and I would like to be able to mark flags like that as "helpful" without calling the person making the mistake a bigot.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 13:56
  • 1
    @ColleenV Why is marking the flag as helpful = calling someone a bigot? The comment is, for the most part, just silently deleted. If there ends up being an auto-flag later, wouldn't the mod investigate it anyway (and thus evaluate whether and what action needs to be taken)? The bottom line is that we don't want such comments, whether it's over the top rudeness or mild rudeness. Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 15:34
  • 1
    @Dukeling When assessing what response is appropriate for a particular user, I would like to see how many flags were for unfriendliness versus outright hatefulness without having to go back an reread all of the deleted nasty comments. I am going to respond differently to someone saying “don’t be lazy” than to someone disparaging someone because of their race, religion, etc.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 17:36
  • @ColleenV Of course, but expecting the typical user to differentiate between "unfriendliness" and "outright hatefulness" seems problematic for the reasons listed in my post. Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 17:45
  • 1
    We expect people to use their judgment and the mod team will sort it out based on our experience with our community. You know that there is a difference between having a bad day and being grumpy and trying to drive someone out of the community. I have faith in the people in my community to choose the right flag most of the time. The mod team will help users if they seem to be having trouble.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 18:00

This is all unnecessarily complicated. It's a subjective decision. There's only one reason to flag a comment: "It makes me feel bad" (or "I don't like it"). A mod can then read the comment and decide if she feels like the user should be punished. Done. Sure, link the code of conduct, but that's unnecessarily complicated as well. You don't need a formally expressed policy to justify mod decisions. Mods are by definition kind people, because unkind people aren't interested in policing other people's behavior all day. They'll do the right thing. If somebody doesn't like having a comment deleted, the answer is: "It's our site. Go away." Users who don't like mod decisions don't belong on the Stack Exchange network. The users who belong here are the ones who, when corrected, say "Yes, I was wrong. If I don't know what I did wrong, it's my job to figure it out." We're not here to educate them.

When you explicitly state what's forbidden, however broadly you state it, you are implying that there may be some behavior that bothers somebody which is permitted. And that person may feel disempowered and hesitate to flag. You don't want that happening. A site where somebody hesitates to flag a comment is not a kind, welcoming site. The only guideline for flagging should be "When in doubt, flag", and the only guideline for mods should be "when in doubt, delete".

  • 4
    If we only gave users one choice, our mods would be angry at us! We've talked to them... heck, I was one until a month ago. Having multiple options for flagging reasons helps them do their job more efficiently and effectively. In fact, many of them are asking for more reasons, not fewer... and, in fact, "I don't like it" ... it's not a reason to flag something or to have it deleted. Lots of people don't like the comments on their posts... that doesn't make them wrong or out of place. By reducing the number of reasons, we're burdening our moderators with more work.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 13:42
  • On top of that, our moderators know that they need to be able to explain their decisions. We're not a "my way or the highway" sort of community and we can all make errors and change our minds. If someone is constructively looking for information about why their comment was deleted, we want our mods to be open to that discussion, not try to shut it down.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 13:44
  • 2
    I appreciate your faith in the mod teams, but what you’re proposing puts more workload on us. If enough regular users flag comments with certain reasons, the comment gets automatically removed without having to involve a moderator at all. If we lump them all into one valid reason, like “Doesn’t follow SE guidelines in my opinion”, mods will have to review every flag. That would take up mod time that should be used to handle situations the community can’t handle for themselves.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 14:05
  • @ColleenV Seems to me auto-delete should apply regardless of reason. The gist of the CoC is "when in doubt, don't say it". Kindness means erring on the side of false positives, not false negatives. If the user wants an explanation of why the comment was deleted, that's easy: X number of people agreed that it was objectionable. Be a little more careful next time, or just keep quiet if you can't figure out what you did wrong. Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 14:42
  • So you think that a bunch of folks that don’t like you should be able delete your comments just because and trigger automatic escalation that happens when you’ve had too many of your comments flagged? No thanks. That’s a system that is ripe for abuse.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 14:56
  • @ColleenV I don't see how restricting the auto-remove to "certain reasons" is likely to address that problem, if it even exists. I suspect that anybody so widely disliked ought to be banned anyhow. (Oh looky, I'm a "new contributor" after all these years.) Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 15:02

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