When I come across pointless comments it really annoys the hell out of me.

By pointless comments, I mean a user posts a question and they have put some of the text in upper case, have lots of spelling & grammatical errors or the formatting is pretty poor. What happens is that someone comes along a post a comment along the lines of:

Fix your keyboard first!

Why not just edit the question and then post a comment pointing the user to review your edit to see how they should be formatting their questions.

I know a poorly formatted question burns our eyes and somewhere a unicorn dies but not everyone understands perfect English.

Additionally, I see that most of these questions are from new users. Rather than just posting a sarcastic comment, if we give them a little help and direction it would encourage them to follow the "standard" and participate further in the site.


On a side note, should I flag these comments? I don't feel that they provide any constructive advice? (In my opinion)

  • 9
    Flag 'em. The tooltip says "unconstructive" [sic] so I think things like that qualify. – ChrisF May 11 '11 at 11:29
  • Not that you are wrong or anything, but recall that until recently users with less than 2000 rep did not have an option to edit (even pending approval). – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten May 11 '11 at 14:54
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    @ChrisF: I'll bite. What's the [sic] for? – mmyers May 11 '11 at 15:55
  • @mmyers - I don't think "unconstructive" is a real word (but I could be wrong). – ChrisF May 11 '11 at 15:58
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/89707/… – Pops May 11 '11 at 16:01
  • @Chris, dictionary.com approves of it, for what it's worth. – Pops May 11 '11 at 16:02
  • @Pop - fair enough. – ChrisF May 11 '11 at 16:03
  • @ChrisF: It's listed in Merriam-Webster and various other places. Now how do I quote you? – mmyers May 11 '11 at 16:04

The tooltip on the flag icon for comments says, at least on stackoverflow, "flag this comment as unconstructive, offensive or spam". I'd consider a comment of:

Fix your keyboard first!

To fall quite firmly into unconstructive, so, flag away. If the comment said (or something like this!):

I've tidied up the spelling and typos in your question for you, but you might want to consider taking more time when asking questions as the better the question the better the chance of people taking the time to provide you with answers =)

It'd be a different matter entirely!

  • 2
    Good if someone wants to edit it, but without editing I feel that a "Please use proper uppercasing and sentences" (or whatever is appropriate) is fine too. – Arjan May 11 '11 at 11:49
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    @Arjan, I guess it comes down to manners basically =) What you suggest is polite, "Fix your keyboard first!", well, isn't. – Rob May 11 '11 at 11:51
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    I've seen posts where such comments are definitely constructive. If the argument is that these people don't understand English or don't know better, consider that the comments are educating them. Or, if they just don't care enough, then I think a little snarkiness is more than justified. We can quibble over wording here, but that's merely an implementation detail. ;-) – Cody Gray May 11 '11 at 11:52
  • @Cody, so you're suggesting that poor behaviour will beget good behaviour? Leave being snarky (in the form of the ban hammer) to the mods & stackoverflow team. If the question is so poor that consider it unrecoverable, downvote or vote to close. That said, this is just my opinion! =) (Oh, and I bet I loathe non-native UI more than you do! ;-) – Rob May 11 '11 at 11:54
  • I agree that it's strange when people leave comments instead of editing the question. I don't usually do that. But I don't see how a comment about glaring presentation problems is at all inappropriate. – Cody Gray May 11 '11 at 11:55
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    @Cody, I look at it like a "broken windows" thing (poor behaviour leads to further poor behaviour). Either be constructive (by editing the post, voting to close if it's unrecoverable, or commenting constructively) or move on. A snarky comment does nothing to encourage the OP to improve their question, they're more likely to think "oh, f$%k off you condescending insert expletive here") =) – Rob May 11 '11 at 11:57
  • "New" users on some sites can't flag worthless comments. security.stackexchange.com/posts/comments/449507?noredirect=1 – Ken Sharp Nov 10 '19 at 16:03
  • @KenSharp, Uhh, if you're describing a comment from an established member of that community who's written over 2.5k answers and has taken the time to post a lengthy comment that's essentially providing challenges to allow you to polish your question as 'worthless', then, I don't think there's much I can say here other than to perhaps consider taking the feedback from the moderator over there on board – Rob Nov 11 '19 at 7:26

I disagree. There are 5.8 million comments, according to the last SO data dump. Let's be generous--lets assume only .001% of these could reasonably be considered "pointless" by a rational adult (I can almost guarantee that's way low).

That's almost 6000 flags that have to be evaluated by mods. Each one is a judgement call. Each one may require the moderator to evaluate the context in which the comment is made, as without context you cannot evaluate if a comment is constructive or not.

Can we just keep the comment flags restricted to truly offensive or unwarranted comments?

  • 2
    If that's the idea, then the option for "flag as unconstructive" should be removed. – skaffman May 11 '11 at 16:07
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    @Will - Isn't that data since SO started? Even if it contained data for the past 2 years that only equates to roughly 9 flags a day. If a comment is unconstructive or "pointless" then isn't it unwarranted also? This isn't just about me getting annoyed by the comments. It's about trying to help new users in to the community and not be sarcastic and unhelpful as soon as they do something wrong. – codingbadger May 11 '11 at 16:49
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    Flagged comments can be resolved by the users of the community. In fact, the flag dashboard explicitly notes that comment flags do not have to be evaluated by the moderators. Skip over comment flags that aren't egregiously problematic, and let the community handle them isntead. – Grace Note May 11 '11 at 16:50
  • @skaffman: Sounds like a plan. Somebody get on that. – user1228 May 11 '11 at 17:08
  • @Barry: That's an offensive comment and should be flagged as such. Also, I don't remember when comments came online, so I can't tell if your flags/day number is correct. – user1228 May 11 '11 at 17:08
  • @GraceNote: If we dismiss the flag, does that clear the flag count? – user1228 May 11 '11 at 17:09
  • Yes, if you dismiss the flag, it clears the flag count. – Grace Note May 11 '11 at 17:29
  • @Will. You should catch up on your math :-) .001% of 5.8 million is 58. You surely meant "one thousandth of all the comments" and not "one thousandth of a percent of the comments". – Hendrik Vogt May 12 '11 at 6:15
  • @HendrikVogt: I h8 u. – user1228 May 12 '11 at 10:16

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