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Sometimes I remove my own comments if they don't make any sense anymore or if they turn out to be too off topic.

This can lead to "dangling comments" posted by other users. (Initially as a response to my comment).

I'm not sure how the flagging-system works, but I'm tempted to use this as a "cleanup notification" so that the commenter (or a moderator) can delete that dangling comment.

Eg.: I suggested revert the on/off slider in this answer. When the redesign was done, my comment was obsolete (and could actually be read as a suggestion to revert the correct design). So I deleted it. Roger's response should therefore be deleted too.
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BUT. I feel bad when I flag other comments. I'm not trying to be cruel - just notify someone in a discrete and polite manner...

Is there a better way to meta-notify other users?

Does flagging have any negative consequence for the flagged user?

  • You may also want to consider leaving your comments precisely for this reason, although of course that won't always be appropriate. – Nico Burns Aug 13 '12 at 21:30
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As I point out on Arquade's Meta. flagging comments has no consequence for the flagged user. Now, if you flag a bunch of spam or offensive posts from that user a moderator may manually decide to contact or suspend that user based on a history of rude/non-constructive comments, but there is no automatic punishment. And we're definitely not going to punish anyone for having obsolete comments; suggestions that get acted on are exactly what comments are for; they just need some cleanup after the changes are made.

So never feel guilty about flagging rude, totally off topic or obsolete comments. Removing them keeps the site clean, and unlike questions they're very easy to miss, making moderating them difficult without the help of your flags.

The only risk here is that if you flag as not constructive a moderator might not get what you're talking about; use the 'obsolete' flag for single comments that are now obviously obsolete, or use an "Other" flag which lets you explain the situation. If there's 10 comments that are all obsolete because of X, use one Other flag to let the mods know and we can quickly get rid of them.

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There are no real drawbacks to flagging comments that are obsolete, in fact it should be encouraged as it will help keep the possible confusion related to obsolete comments on the site down to a minimum, as well as improving the overall noise level resulting from too many long-winded comments.

Flagging a comment that then gets actioned actually counts towards your helpful flag count and provides no reputation hit to the person whose comment you've flagged, so really you don't need to be concerned here.

Also, the flagging is anonymous as far as site users are concerned. If your comment is deleted you have no way of knowing if it was removed because of unprompted mod intervention, community flagging (if several people flag the same comment it is 'soft-deleted' without any moderator intervention), if or an individual flag was raised by one person for moderator attention.

Provided there are no malicious intentions in the comment flagging (which wouldn't really serve much purpose anyway because comment flags have no reputational impact on the user who wrote it) then it should be encouraged to flag the comments.

Also, thanks for doing some spring-cleaning on your own comments too, that is also something valuable to the site to keep all the content accurate.

One final point of note: Comments should not be thought of as permanent in the same way as questions and answers, they can be flagged, deleted or removed for a variety of reasons which is one of the reasons that answers / questions requiring expanding should be done via an edit to the post rather than an additional comment.

There was a post on Meta StackOverflow about comment flagging if you want to get some more information: https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/17365/162091

  • Thank you. I've also considered comments to be more temporary than the Q&A's, but at the same time I don't want to "spam" you moderators with lots of housecleaning tasks :-) – Jørn E. Angeltveit Aug 1 '12 at 14:36
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    Ah, that's what we're here for though! Also, you only get 10 comment flag votes per day (ish, depending on rep score and flagging weight) so you're unlikely to overwhelm us with flags in that respect. – JonW Aug 1 '12 at 14:44
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    @JørnE.Angeltveit flag all the things! We really don't get that many flags. And JonW steals most of them so I don't get to do as much :( – Ben Brocka Aug 1 '12 at 23:08

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