Flagging comments, I ran into this:

enter image description here

I'd pasted-in a reasonable reason, but the Flag Comment button was disabled! And, the dialog/UI didn't provide a clue as to why!

Eventually, I found this brilliant request for a reasonable number of characters for the field. (2047 characters would be a fine choice. (^_^) )

Meanwhile, there is an easy, immediate, UI fix... Merely add a single bit of static text to the dialog, like so:

enter image description here


The comments shown are not the final comments I flagged with (obviously, since they were being rejected). People commenting that those comments could have been condensed (after minutes of hindsight) are missing the bulk of the point of this question.

That is: that the UI should indicate why an input is being rejected.

I won't rehash the length argument anymore, since most people have already resoundingly supported that notion here.

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    I see the problem already: your flag explanation was not written in the form of a haiku. – Cody Gray Jul 27 '11 at 0:26
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    @Siva: Thank the maker, no! But it seems rather silly to be pasting in bit.ly links in this field. ;) – Awesome Poodles Jul 27 '11 at 0:49
  • @Siva: Okay, split the difference at 1023 characters. The main point is ≈195 chars (experimentally obtained) is not enough! (And the UI should let us know length and haiku requirements.) – Awesome Poodles Jul 27 '11 at 1:11
  • The validation on this dialog upsets me -- more on that later -- I agree with the UI change, but must agree with @Robert because if you can't reduce your other reason to 195 characters then perhaps it shouldn't be a flag? 'The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter.' -- Blaise Pascal. – M. Tibbits Jul 27 '11 at 5:03
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    +1 with respect to the UI. Implementation-wise it's fairly easy to add the character counter to the field now, so I imagine this was just overlooked when it was added to the similar "other..." option of the post flag dialog. – Tim Stone Jul 27 '11 at 5:43

Yes, that makes sense. It will be implemented in the next build.


Tackling the OP's central argument that the flagging dialog could be improved by giving the user feedback as to why the button is inactive, and ignoring for a second the sub-argument triggered by his verbose example flag, I agree with the OP.

Whether the comment field is 2 characters wide or 2000 characters wide, making the limit easily visible and intuitively-understandable is good UI design. There's nothing worse when filling in a form than exceeding a limit and not realising until you've finished typing.

We should either display the character limit, or prevent the flagger from being able to type more characters than are permitted.

(As an aside, my opinion is that the current limit is more than enough.)


I agree with the character counter, but not with the length of the flag comment (2047 character) you proposed in your original edit of this question.

I handle 100+ moderator flags daily. Do you really expect me to read that much text on a single comment flag? You need to keep the description brief.

In your example, all you have to do is flag both comments as obsolete. I can figure the rest out.

  • Good for you. But that's one person, when you're fresh and not distracted. I've found that the less someone has to "figure the rest out", the more accurate and efficient they are at whatever task. – Awesome Poodles Jul 27 '11 at 4:54
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    Seriously, just flag them as obsolete. I know what that means, and I don't need the Bible on the head of a pin to figure out what happened (I'm going to have to look at the comments and answers anyway to verify your flag). Have some respect for the time that the mods volunteer. – Robert Harvey Jul 27 '11 at 4:56
  • This question is 2 thirds about the poor UI, and an easy fix. Even if this particular comment could have been condensed, like Siva did a fine job of, are there no other cases when a longer field is required? Many users agree that the field is inadequate.. – Awesome Poodles Jul 27 '11 at 4:58
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    @Brock: No, I don't think so. I'm notably bad at being concise, and I've never overflow the allowable space for a moderator flag. Anything that requires that much explanation and is that unintuitive should probably be posted here on Meta first... – Cody Gray Jul 27 '11 at 5:17
  • @Cody: That was not an opinion; that was a statement of fact. Follow the link, that was the proof. The majority of question readers agree that the field size is inadequate. – Awesome Poodles Jul 27 '11 at 8:58
  • @Brock: By "the majority of question readers", are you referring to the number of people who upvoted the feature request? It's not necessarily the case that upvoters agree with the request. Some people still think votes on Meta mean "this is a good question A++ would ask again". I see just as much disagreement in the comments/answers there as I do agreement. It's definitely an opinion. There's absolutely no reasonable situation where you would need this. I'd be tempted to reject any flag longer than ~200 characters as "invalid" out of spite. – Cody Gray Jul 27 '11 at 9:00

Identical comments, and in addition, they have been reposted as an answer by the OP (which is what they should be)

That's less "figur[ing] the rest out" for the moderator, with custom text, while still staying far underneath the limit. It's fairly easy, by the way, to figure out that two comments are identical.

The point I'm trying to make, by the way, is not that this specific comment can be reduced. It's that all comment flags that take up anywhere close to that amount of space are far, far too long.

  • When responding to a comment flag, do you always read the whole set of questions an answers? – Awesome Poodles Jul 27 '11 at 5:01
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    @Brock Yes—it's a good time to check for other problems with the post, and if the flag specifically refers to it, it takes very little time to scan them quickly. – waiwai933 Jul 27 '11 at 5:03
  • A perfectly reasonable, complete, concise flag text. Tells me what I need to know to process the flag, and nothing more. – Robert Harvey Jul 27 '11 at 5:03
  • Thank you, waiwai933. Now is there some sort of clique or sock-puppetry going on here? For hours, this question garnered nothing but 8 up-votes, on about 30 views. ... Then in a span of about 15 minutes or so, it gets 5 down-votes, and harsh criticism about a minor aside, not the main issue! – Awesome Poodles Jul 27 '11 at 5:23
  • @Brock: If the length of the comment is not the main issue, then why are we spending so much time on it? – Robert Harvey Jul 27 '11 at 5:29
  • @Robert: Good question. – Awesome Poodles Jul 27 '11 at 5:30
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    @brockadams: People are probably logging in from Asia, where it's about time they take a mid-morning coffee break. – Lorem Ipsum Jul 27 '11 at 6:02

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