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How can a new user or any user on Stack Exchange sites know if their comments are coming across "Unfriendly or unkind"? Is there a notification when someone flags it? if it's deleted (in the handling of an "Unfriendly or unkind" flag)?

I've found these questions that seem related but they're old from a lot before the code of conduct update. I'm not sure they answer my question?

  • Comment deletion notification asks for notification of comment deletion but the question went off into "well obviously they were unconstructive" rather than answering the question (and it's from nearly seven years ago)
  • Notify user when their comment is removed is a feature-request for notification on deletion which the top answer says won't happen "because comments are second class" (and it's from five years ago)

But knowing your comments are being negatively seen is important even if comments are second class. If my comment was taken wrong, I want to know right when its flagged so I could try wording differently.

I don't know if this is , , or . I think , but maybe a will come if the answer is what I think.

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    You don't, deliberately. Being able to see could lead to harassment of the (perceived) flagger, which is why it won't be added. – ArtOfCode Nov 18 '18 at 15:35
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    But harrassing the flagger would also be unfriend and unkind, right @ArtOfCode? So someone being a jerk would just get another flag and poss. come to attention of moderators earlier? More efficient flushing out of jerks? 😁😁 – Harrison Stemple Nov 18 '18 at 15:49
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    @HarrisonStemple We aim to de-escalate conflict here. What you're describing is an escalation we wouldn't want. – Catija Nov 18 '18 at 16:01
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    Don't agree providing information is escalation @Catija. If the person receiving the info escalates it by attacking someone they think flagged their comment, they need to be dealt with, but they would either have just kept providing low-level unfriendlyness that gets cleaned up after it's caused it's damage, or they'd escalate something else and a mod gets involved anyway. I think I read something in the code of conduct about assuming good intentions. I would apply that to letting people know their comment has been interpreted as unfriendly. – Harrison Stemple Nov 18 '18 at 17:53
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    @ArtOfCode "could lead to harassment of the (perceived) flagger" - Although is this any different to seeing downvotes on your answer? – DocRoot Nov 18 '18 at 17:58
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    @DocRoot Downvotes aren't harassment. – ArtOfCode Nov 18 '18 at 19:56
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    @ArtOfCode I didn't say they were. (Although I have witnessed downvotes on good answers, where the only reason for the downvote is to seemingly harass the author - but that's another thing entirely.) – DocRoot Nov 18 '18 at 21:19
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We don't systematically tell you when your comments have been flagged - at all for any flag type - and there's no way to know why a comment was removed without asking or even that it was removed without revisiting the post it was on. You can't even see your own comments that were removed, as you can with deleted posts.

As a side note, there are two flag reasons that relate to negatively received comments. While we give flaggers two different options, they're treated the same by the system. I refer to these two reasons as "harassment" and "unfriendly".

Comment flag reasons - showing all four (It contains harassment, bigotry, or abuse; It's unfriendly or unkind; It's no longer needed; Something else)

The only time that a user is made aware of their comments being flagged is if a moderator feels that the comments crossed a line and they needed to send a moderator message or possibly issue a suspension. In many cases, the message sent won't specifically state the content of the comments, though users can always ask for more details in a response to the message.


So... this is how it is... the question is, should we change it?

Right now, we're going through a lot of changes for the network, realizing that we need to help users be more welcoming and encourage them to consider how they're interacting with other users on the network. Giving users a place to review their flagged comments would be a step in the right direction.

The Flag Summary Page

I think it makes sense for us to consider a "my flagged comments" counterpart to the "flag summary" page. If you're not aware of the flag summary page, that's not surprising to me as it's easy to miss - you can find it on your own profile in the "Impact" box:

Impact box on my profile, shows the number of people reached ~221k, and has the flags circled "390 helpful flags (4)"

This link will take you to a summary page that lists all of the flags you've raised on posts (if you haven't raised any, there won't be a link). This page lets you sort your flags by type and review if they were marked helpful or not.

My flagging history stats from my flag history page.

Proposing a "My Flagged Comments" Page

I've been thinking for a while that it makes sense to let users see when they have content that's been removed for being harassment or unfriendly. How can we hope for improvement if users don't know where they've gone wrong? Many comments are deleted due to flags - either by moderators or sufficient user flags - and most of the time no other action is taken other than removing the comment, so users often don't know that their comment was flagged and removed.

In many cases, this is OK. I'm not really interested in sending a notification to every user who has a single comment deleted as a result of a flag. Some sites have many (hundreds of) comments deleted on a daily basis, most of them are "no longer needed", not harassment or unfriendly.

That said, there's a big difference between notifying users for every comment and giving them a place to review the comments that have been flagged and removed - if any. Right now, we alert moderators when a user has three or more comments deleted within a week for being harassment or unfriendly. We could use this alert - or a similar one - to also notify the user in such a case and link them to this page - which would also appear on their profile somewhere. So, no alert for every deleted or flagged comment but yes for a recent high frequency of flagged comments.

Now, if we were going to let users see a list of their comments that were flagged, we'd probably want to be considerate of what we show. There are a few options for this but at a minimum what I suggest is

We should show a user:

  • Comments that were deleted as a result of a flag being marked "helpful".
  • Comments flagged as harassment or unfriendly and possibly the flag type/s raised.
  • The content of the comment that was deleted.
  • A link to the post the comment was on.
  • Multiple comments on the same post would be grouped.

We should not show:

  • Flags on comments where the flag was declined.
  • Comments with pending flags. Many comment flags are declined, so showing users currently flagged comments could be unnecessarily confusing.
  • The username/s of the person who flagged the comment.
  • The username of the moderator who handled the flag (if any).

We could consider the following:

  • Limit the page to show only content that was deleted within the last 30-60 days.
  • Show all deleted comments from a certain time range to address concerns like this.
  • Give moderators a way to explain why a specific comment was deleted.
  • Give moderators a way to invalidate/clear a flag after being marked helpful, or at least note that the flag was marked "helpful" in error.

This page would be accessible only by the user themselves and the moderators of that site.


Do I have concerns with showing this content to users - sure. I think there are possibly some users who will use this page to argue about their content being moderated and whether it was actually rude or not. In general, I think these users are the minority and I trust the judgement of our moderators and their ability to support their decisions.

I think it's really valuable to empower our users to see where they're going wrong and improve. It's much easier for a user to see where they went wrong if they can see what they wrote and review it. I've seen many questions on Metas that read "I wrote a comment that was deleted and it said something like _____ - Why was it deleted?" Often, the version of the comment they remember is much less unfriendly than the actual comment they wrote. A page like this would make it easy to review those comments without needing the help of a moderator.

If the user can see the text of the comment and still doesn't understand why it was deleted, they can go to the child Meta of the site and ask with the actual comment text in hand, making it possible to get feedback from any of the users on the site, not only the moderators.

Adding a page like this would also help moderators who are reviewing a user's comment history in a way the existing comment history page does not - or a page like this, if well designed, could even replace that page.


So, if we find some time to rework some of the moderation tools - which we generally need to do - this is something I think would be nice to implement, in some form.


  • Occasionally, sometimes, I see users who keep reposting the same comment after it keeps getting deleted. Should something be done about this as well? – Sonic the Inclusive Hedgehog Nov 20 '18 at 0:54
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    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog, some indication of "comments on this post have been deleted" should cut down on that. I suspect a significant number of repeated comments are the result of deleted comments simply evaporating -- the user thinks a system glitch caused the comment to disappear, so they re-post it. – Mark Nov 20 '18 at 2:17
  • this is excellent. I would prefer notification even of one comment deleted for either of the two reasons you highlight. but if it takes a threshold of three to make it palatable to others, okay. the page also sounds great. – Harrison Stemple Nov 20 '18 at 6:59
  • What is the number in brackets? We mortals don't see it. – Shadow Wizard Nov 20 '18 at 7:30
  • @ShadowWizard total declined. Gives a quick idea of what kind of flagger someone is without going to the page. – Catija Nov 20 '18 at 8:15
  • Huh. Also, minor mistake in your answer: if there are no helpful flags, there is no link i.e. one might raise 10 flags quickly, until at least 1 is marked helpful (or declined? Not sure), there won't be any indication. – Shadow Wizard Nov 20 '18 at 8:21
  • @ShadowWizard hmmm. I thought that was fixed. It definitely should show the link if the only flag/s were declined or disputed. I guess it's possible that the link requires at least one handled flag. – Catija Nov 20 '18 at 8:23
  • I like the intent but see issues with this specific proposal, so I hope you'll make a feature request where we can better respond. In sum: (1) it seems odd to tell people about their flagged comments but not their flagged posts; (2) mods sometimes purge entire comment threads without stepping through individual flags, so we need to handle false positives there somehow; (3) mods can see just flagged comments and the counts by type; adding actual filters would meet the mod need better; (4) instead of a persistent page consider a notification containing the comments (less drama from monitoring). – Monica Cellio Nov 20 '18 at 16:15
  • @MonicaCellio (1) The question here is about comment flags, so I focused on that - post flags are much more complex. I'd started the answer mentioning post flags but there were too many variables. (2) The fourth bullet in the "could consider" section addresses that, specifically. (3) I've been asking for that in general and that's what my second-to-last paragraph is getting at. (4) If the goal is to let users self-help, I think a persistent page is necessary but that's why I recommend aging out the flags after 30-60 days. – Catija Nov 20 '18 at 18:50
  • (1) is something we'd have to address as part of implementing this; doesn't mean you need to address it right now. (2) probably needs some extra UI prompting -- purge -> "validate these rude flags?" or similar, else there'll be too many false positives while mods develop new, more-labor-intensive patterns. (3) good. (4) agree once we solve (2) but could be disruptive before then. Aging out is important (just like you don't see your deleted posts on your profile forever). – Monica Cellio Nov 20 '18 at 22:39
  • Seeing a reason for why a comment was deleted would be very helpful, and further transparency on all sites about what mods do. But why not offer this valuable feedback to the user while still emphasising the fleeting nature of comments: explicitly discouraging discussion about them, even stronger than now. I just want to know whether I deleted & misremember, or it was flagged, chatty, rude, part of 12+ purged; in short: was there a real problem (I need to think & change, next time), a minor one (huh? OK) or just no real problem (one of a dozen down the chute, nobody cares, truly obsolete…) – LаngLаngС Jan 26 at 0:06
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    @Catija followup: meta.stackexchange.com/a/327144/162102 – Monica Cellio Apr 21 at 18:59
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TL;DR: you can't know, but it also depends on severity.


Usually the moderator handling the flags will just remove the comment(s) and move on. In those cases, the authors of the removed comments can't have any way to know their comments were removed, unless they somehow notice they disappeared. There is also no penalty to anyone in those cases.

However, in severe cases e.g. outright being rude to others, the moderator will send official warning to the comment author in the form of private moderator message, which cause two things:

  • Instant inbox notification
  • Email is being sent to the address used on that site

In those cases the moderator might also suspend, but I think they usually warn first.

Bottom line: while you can't really tell if your comments are/were flagged, it's all about self review. Go over old comments of yours, see how they look like, try to put yourself instead of the person you commented to. Usually this works, and you can see if you're seen as unfriendly or not. :)

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    It would be good to know why this was down-voted. Is Shadow Wizard wrong? – Harrison Stemple Nov 18 '18 at 17:55
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    In Meta there is no right or wrong, rather people who agree or disagree. :) – Shadow Wizard Nov 18 '18 at 18:16
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    ...or why they "disagreed"? There doesn't seem to be a whole lot to disagree with here? (Incidentally, you are still prompted to leave a comment on meta when downvoting - if a relevent comment has not already been given.) – DocRoot Nov 18 '18 at 18:23
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    @DocRoot well, at this specific case it becomes complicated. People are not satisfied with the whole concept of Welcome Wagon so they might disagree with anyone who supports it hence downvote. It is not black and white, if you want to discuss it further, better head off to chat. :) – Shadow Wizard Nov 18 '18 at 18:31
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Generally, there's no way to know, just like with flags on your posts. It's also possible that a user flags your comment even though it is not unfriendly or unkind at all. If your comments are repeatedly (and justly) flagged as unfriendly/unkind, chances are the moderator team will send you a (private) message asking you to adjust your behaviour.

In general, if you try to adhere to the Code of Conduct, you should be safe. A single 'unintendedly' unfriendly or unkind comment will not cause you any problems.

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A comment being flagged as "Unfriendly or unkind" is one thing, being notified that it is "deleted" is another.

I would say that probably the most common reason for comments being "deleted" are that they are simply "no longer needed". Comments are often used to seek clarification on the question or query points in an answer - once these changes have been made then the comment is obsolete. Comments that stray off-topic are also not needed. I frequently flag "clarification type" comments on old questions because they are "no longer needed".

Sometimes mods will delete whole comment threads that have strayed off-topic or are no longer relevant to the post they are attached to.

Being notified of comment "deletions" could potentially create way too much noise.

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    I didn't say anything about notifications for anything other than "Unfriendly or unkind" flags and deletions coming from them. – Harrison Stemple Nov 19 '18 at 8:39
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    Ah OK, sorry, but I didn't think your question was particularly clear in that regard. You asked "If it's deleted?" as a separate question. And the two questions you linked to as reference are only discussing deleted comments, regardless of reason. The other answers have also included remarks with regards to comment deletions in general. If you target the "Unfriendly or unkind" reason, then you would presumably also want to target the "harassment" reason and possibly "something else"? The "Unfriendly or unkind" reason is a relatively recent addition. – DocRoot Nov 19 '18 at 12:14
  • huh, both the title and the text call out the specific reason, but I see your reply comment has been liked twice. I've edited to try to make it even more clear – Harrison Stemple Nov 19 '18 at 16:04
  • by "your comment has been liked twice" I meant it looks like two other people agree with you about the Q being unclear (I re-read the comment and it looked off, thought Id explain) – Harrison Stemple Nov 19 '18 at 17:35

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