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I'm not an avid participant in RPi.SE, but I do refer it pretty often when I need help with my RPi. Whenever I come across posts with too chatty comments, I normally flag them (I've been doing so on other sites too).

As I normally don't visit my flag profile here on RPi.SE too many times, the flags I am referring to are a bit old.

I had flagged this comment as not constructive and it got declined. The contents of the comment is (in case it gets deleted):

It did the trick. Thank you for providing the link!

which clearly is not constructive. I originally thought this was a misclick by a mod, and just ignored it. Later on, a mod on StackOverflow came into SOCVR, a chat room I regularly am in, and informed us about this. Even though I disagreed with it, I thought that might be the reason why some of my obvious flags are getting declined.

On March 1st, I raised a "too chatty" flag on another obvious "thank you" comment:

Thank you very much for helped me.

which was also declined. This puzzled me. I really don't care much about two declined flags, but I don't want to increase a mod's workload either.

Am I doing this wrong?

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Thanks for bringing this up. As it turns out I declined one of those flags a while ago...

Let me clarify my reasoning behind this and come to an understanding why that reasoning breaks apart upon discussing it: personally I tend to read "not constructive" with a strong negative connoation (just like the MSE questions you've linked states), as in "mean-hearted" but just not as mean as to warrant a "rude or offensive" flag. I would have flagged the examples you've listed as "too chatty" not as "not constructive". Which is by the way what you suggested in your question too: Whenever I come across posts with too chatty comments, I normally flag them (I've been doing so on other sites too). See also: https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/244225/284388

It's only important if it fails to convey why the comment should be deleted; for example I'm likely to dismiss a “rude or offensive” comment on something that isn't rude, even if it would warrant deletion for some other reason that's only apparent in context.

Bottom line is, however, that comment flags are all treated the same when handled, i.e. there is no penalty for the poster of the comment, it is either deleted or not and that is that. So there is no harm done deleting a comment that is flagged with a "wrong" reason.

Given that the comments don't follow the basic rule (comments should be used to request clarification from the author) that should warrant deletion, true. If comment flags were to show up in large numbers the noise would of course be a problem for the work load of the moderators. Right now I really do not see that as a big issue (my fellow mods might chose to disagree).

  • Thanks for the clarification! After the post which I linked in my post, I've been flagging the comments as TC now instead of NC. So um is there any reason why my second comment flag (which was TC) was declined? Or was that just a misclick by a mod? – Ashish Ahuja Mar 13 '17 at 2:16
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    @AshishAhuja I'll leave that evaluation to the mod who handled the flag. However, all flag handling, while trying to be as impartial as possible and trying to follow a clear line, is somewhat of a judgement call. So better don't read too much into it. – Ghanima Mar 13 '17 at 6:36
  • ok, I got it. One last thing: in the future, if I flag such "thank you" comments as TC, would it be correct? – Ashish Ahuja Mar 13 '17 at 9:52
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I believe I declined one of those flags, and I would probably decline either of them most of the time -- which yes, implies there is some inconsistency in my attitude here (and WRT to many other things; I believe there's value in consciously applied inconsistency).

Before I explain why in this case, first, thank you for taking the time to do this and don't let me declining flags stop you from raising them. I would not say they were inappropriate; my "consciously applied inconsistency" is usually me acknowledging to myself that I'm of two minds about something.

I am aware that by the book comments of this sort are considered gratuitous on Stack Exchange, and I agree that in general this is a reasonable policy. However, I do not think it is a very serious concern (the way, e.g., abusive language is). By analogy, traffic cops do not stop everyone observed doing 90 kmh in an 80 kmh zone (but hopefully they do go always go after people who run red lights). Extending that, if a hypothetical citizen were observing a cop at a speed trap and said, "That person was doing 92 in an 80 zone!", I do not think this compels the officer to begin a chase, etc. I believe generally it is recognised that the police can exercise their discretion in making arrests, handing out tickets, etc.

Keeping the analogy rolling, hopefully part of what informs the "discretion" of a police officer is his or her experience doing that job all the time -- a greater than average awareness of the big picture with regard to crime or traffic behaviour in a given area.

If we had a lot of gratuitous "thank you" comments going on, or a particular individual who did it habitually, I would take the job of enforcing the policy more seriously. But we don't. Similarly, I remove them from questions if I am editing them for some other reason, but it is not enough of a reason all by itself for me to edit a question.

So, thanks again for your participation in the site, including asking this question. I realize that you can be automatically blocked from raising flags (temporarily) if you have too many declined and I certainly would feel bad if that happened because of this, so you've given me something to think about -- and if that should happen please don't hesitate to try to reach one of us in chat or raise the issue here.

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    okay, thanks! Just one last thing (which I even asked on Ghanima's post above): in the future, should I flag "thank you" comments as TC? Or is that increasing a mod's workload? – Ashish Ahuja Mar 13 '17 at 11:50
  • Sorry for the tardy reply (I'm actually on vacation). Anyway, up to you. I can't say it's inappropriate, but I can't promise to bother with all of them either ;) When I'm online all day maybe I handle half a dozen flags (probably less, since my total is ~1400 and I've been doing this 2-3 years). Some of them are quite quick, some of them require a few minutes to read the flagged material, etc. Plus the queues, and watching questions, etc. -- it can add up to an hour or two sometimes (though I am probably on the zealous side). – goldilocks Mar 15 '17 at 8:38
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I would disagree that comments like

It did the trick. Thank you for providing the link!

should be removed. They do add new information (that the link was indeed helpful) which is otherwise not present anywhere. This information is sometimes replicated by the OP accepting accepting a helpful answer, but not always. Sometimes the OP forgets to accept, or is unaware that they should. Sometimes there are several helpful answers which cannot all be accepted. Plus, occasional visitors coming from Google may not be aware what the green check mark means, whereas the comment above is pretty self-explanatory.

What I would consider chatty the answerer replying "You're welcome!" to the comment above, or comments completely unrelated to the topic (like "Snap, my dog just ruined the power supply, I'll have to get a new one"). Even then, if it's only one comment I would probably let it slide. Of course, if people start a discussion about what animals ruined more electronics, or whether Mr Trump is a good guy, that would warrant some flagging.

BTW, consider your own comment:

ok, thanks! That clears pretty much everything.

Do you really think it's inappropriate and needs to be brought to the attention of the mods?

  • I disagree. There are other tools (like you mentioned accepting and upvotes) which should be used in cases if you want to tell to future visitors that the answer helped. I do understand that many OPs do not know about the accepting feature, but that is not a reason to leave "it worked" comments. (Regarding my comment on the above post: I set it to self-destruct in 24 hours - there is a userscript to do that if you did not know. I've deleted it for now though) – Ashish Ahuja Mar 15 '17 at 12:51
  • continued in cases of replying to comments with "it worked", you can always upvote the comment instead. – Ashish Ahuja Mar 15 '17 at 12:54
  • @AshishAhuja Upvotes are not always accurate, thanks to HNQ. An "it worked" comment is an extra indicator that the answer is actually working and not just looking plausible enough to attract upvotes. – Dmitry Grigoryev Mar 15 '17 at 13:05
  • @AshishAhuja Regarding your comment, self-destruct is a nice feature, but I could still flag it before that happens and give mods more work. – Dmitry Grigoryev Mar 15 '17 at 13:07
  • yes, I agree that you can flag it before it gets deleted (I do admit that I should have not posted the comment in the first place itself). I mainly put the comment to inform the mod that I mostly understood everything. I could have done that using a accept but didn't do that as they were basically two answers which solved my problem. Anyway, these comment don't seem to be a major problem here (in fact, a user wrote a comment flagging bot to auto-flag comments like these and the mods on SO were pretty happy about it) – Ashish Ahuja Mar 15 '17 at 13:14
  • continued I won't flag comments like these here much as not everyone agrees to it (I don't really know about the rules of this site), but IMO they should be flagged. – Ashish Ahuja Mar 15 '17 at 13:15
  • @AshishAhuja Consider that saying thank you is only natural, so people will do it regardless of your flags. I really don't see any harm in having a few such comments around. I agree they create some clutter, but they also provide info about the quality of the answer. I don't think mods should be spending valuable time dealing with them, especially considering that, like I said above, people will say thank you no matter what you do. – Dmitry Grigoryev Mar 15 '17 at 13:32
  • the problem with "thank you" comments is that you don't want to scroll through a couple of garbage comments to reach the useful ones. That happens quite frequently on popular posts on SO. – Ashish Ahuja Mar 15 '17 at 13:43
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    @AshishAhuja As a rule of thumb, I would tend to allow one singular 'Thanks' message from the original asker in response to a helpful reply. Rep points are great, but there's something pleasantly civil about receiving an honest-to-goodness expression of gratitude for doing something that you didn't have to do. 'Thanks' messages are also often conveyed with some sense of just how specifically the solution met the problem ('That was perfect!') and the ease of implementation ('Only took me 2 minutes!'), which can be useful information. – goobering Mar 15 '17 at 15:17

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