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Proposal

Allow new users to flag comments on their posts as "no longer needed" (NLN), even without 15 rep.

See my later suggestion (at the bottom) on how to cut down on possible abuse-cases.

Relation to a Similar, Prior, Completed Feature Request

A while back, a change was made to allow new users to use certain comment flags on comments on their posts:

  1. If you can post a comment on a given post, you can also flag comments on that post (new behavior)
  2. If you can flag comments only because of #3, you'll get an abridged set of flag options: "harassment, bigotry, or abuse" and "in need of moderator intervention" (new behavior)

Feedback on the Prior Feature Request's Outcome

  1. See Shog9's comment in the prior feature request:

    More striking is the fact that while many, many comments on these users' posts are flagged as "no longer needed" and later deleted, very few of these flags came from the authors themselves; among new flaggers, "no longer needed" sees only about 20% more use than "rude / abusive".

  2. See Journeyman Geeks's answer in the prior feature request:

    I don't think these are the right flags here. Practically it makes a ton of sense to give the exact same flag options as a higher rep user
    [...]
    Should be paired with "no longer needed" since this reinforces the point that comments are transient

Relation to the Edit Feedback Loop

When I'm in the first questions review queue, a good portion of my actions involve sending canned comments or custom comments requesting more details or other edits that would be burdensome for other users to do (such as getting text from/for images). Those comments are requests for [edit]s, and they should go away as soon as an edit has been made which attempts to resolve the issue (and possibly updated if the issue was only partially or insufficiently addressed). The point is that in almost all such cases, my original comment should go.

I've made a sibling feature request that would give a visible reminder to editors and edit-reviewers to flag NLN where appropriate. I think it would be a shame if users below 15 rep couldn't flag NLN on comments, since the majority of my feedback comments are to those users.

If we're afraid of abuse, we could cut down on many possible abuse-cases by making it so they can only flag NLN on comments that were made before the most recent revision (and perhaps additionally, after the second most recent revision).

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  • 5
    I don't know that this is worth the development effort. In my experience, ultra-low-rep users very rarely flag, and of those flags, few are correct.
    – Laurel
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 19:54
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    @Laurel the sibling feature request could provide visible guidance on that. I think by giving just-in-time guidance, we can change the current situation for the better. See my note on ways to limit abuse. To the extent that it doesn't conflict with preventing common abuse-cases, I think it would be nice for the system to assume good intent too.
    – starball
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 19:57
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    Problem is, most users with less than 15 rep are not familiar enough with SE to even know what "no longer needed" means. That option would be noise for them, and if they'll use it, high risk of false positives, i.e. they'll use it on useful comments they don't like for their own unrelated reasons. Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 8:04
  • @ShadowTheKidWizard couldn't that guidance (for good faith users) be provided by the sibling feature request? We kind of already have some protection against flag misuse in the form of declining flags, right? It's not like they could do any real harm, since there a baseline of 3 flags to actually delete a comment.
    – starball
    Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 8:07
  • Sure, I didn't mean there's any harm, just explained why I don't think there's a point giving people a tool they don't know how to use. And people don't read, especially new users, so guidance isn't relevant. Just to clarify, I don't mean all users, of course there are those who read, learn, and use everything perfectly, but facts are, most users are not, my rough estimation is 90%, so it's not worth the hassle to add feature when 90% of the people won't know how to use it. Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 8:15

1 Answer 1

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flag comments on their posts as "no longer needed" (NLN), even without 15 rep.

We're talking about an incredibly narrow set of users, those who haven't gotten 1 or 2 upvotes plus 2 or 3 edits...

(Plus, they haven't gotten the association bonus.)

If you can post a comment on a given post, you can also flag comments on that post (new behavior)

I didn't know about this, although I knew you can comment on your own posts below 50 rep or just 5 rep on the metas.

by making it so they can only flag NLN on comments that were made before the most recent revision (and perhaps additionally, after the second most recent revision

Here's one problem, it's been policy to keep system rules as simple as possible. Proposing an additional rule is proposing additional system complexity.

The other problem I see is that I was 1.5k rep on SO when I raised my first NLN flag. I think this proposal overlooks that learning how to flag has its own learning curve: in all likelihood an under 15 rep user is already busy learning other site functionalities and practices, and knowing what is NLN and what not requires spending a considerable amount of time reading the site and the metas...



To add some historical depth to this thread:

  1. The Triage review suspensions are still in recent memory showing +500 reps tended to get the reviews wrong, so hoping 15reps will get the full set of flagging options right is wishful thinking by comparison.

  2. About 5 months ago a rule proposal about comments wasn't accepted by the SO community. One argument backing the proposal was the amount of work that cleaning up comments requires from the mods.

On that note, I think a significant proportion of questions from users in the 1rep-15rep range tend to get closed and eventually deleted (sometimes by the Roomba). I don't see a benefit of rushing to give these users additional flagging privileges because many of those comments will tend to be deleted by the system or by vote when the Q&A is deleted in due course.

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  • This change would actually make the rules simpler. One way to implement it would be to remove the limited reasons a low-rep user can flag for and simply show them all the reasons. (I don't see a valid reason why "unfriendly or unkind" flags should not be selectable by low-rep users.) Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 4:40
  • @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog the issue is rude/abusive vs unfriendly/unkind has very different nuance. It's extremely likely a new user would misflag anything they don't like, e.g. telling them their question is wrong or not a good fit, etc... The same for NAN, you could flag anything NAN, perhaps the better part of meta commentary. (It's also common for users to raise objections to posts where the objections are technically wrong, it makes sense for mods to have someone more experienced raise flag on technical comments.)
    – bad_coder
    Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 4:44
  • @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog it's also easy to get a flag suspension (it's happened to me over just 2 or 3(?) declined flags) and just keep on upping the suspension period. So that would also not make for a nice new user experience.
    – bad_coder
    Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 4:46
  • In that case, as the architecture to exclude certain flag types is already built, it isn't that much added complexity to add one more allowed option, as no longer needed. Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 4:49
  • @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog you didn't read the last paragraph of the question.... Read it carefully before you say that isn't a complex business rule.
    – bad_coder
    Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 4:50
  • That's only if it ends up being abused or the team is afraid it will be abused. I'm not sure of that. If it does end up being abused, existing systems such as flag bans can kick in, or the team can just revert the change. Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 5:02
  • @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog the problem with your "if" is that kind of speculation has to be considered before implementation. You're also not addressing other hard parts of the question, what will be the benefit? The Triage review suspension is still in recent memory showing +500 reps tended to get the reviews wrong, so hoping 15reps will get the full set of flagging options right is wishful thinking by comparison.
    – bad_coder
    Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 5:17

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