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I flagged a number of comments on Wad Cheber's answer to the question what technologies were predicted by Back to the Future II.

There was a discussion about the source of some statements that had been resolved, there were some snarky remarks, there was some other stuff that was superfluous. I flagged a total of 13 comments and about half a day later, they were gone.

Yet all those flags were declined.

Why is that? I'm glad they were cleaned up, but it nearly doubled my number of declined comment flags, looking bad on my record, and it delays my Marshal Badge (okay, I don't care that much, but still).

But what I really want to know, is if I should have flagged these comments or not. Was I wrong to flag them like this? Should I have flagged the first one for moderator attention with a request to delete the lot?

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Mike's answer contains an error:

if a moderator deletes comments that have flags pending on them, those flags are auto-declined.

This is incorrect, if a mod deletes comments that have flags on them, that auto-validates the flags.

I declined your many comment flags because that's not how you flag a comment thread that should be deleted. Especially since many of your flag reasons seemed to be chosen at random, which made the flags look like some bot run amok. Instead, you should flag the first comment with 'other' and then enter an explanation that the comment thread should be deleted (see Shog9's quote in Mike's answer).

  • Thanks for the explanation. I assure you, I didn't pick at random. Some were to chatty, some were not constructive, and some were obsolete. And some I actually found of (some) value, so I didn't flag those. But I'll change my flagging behaviour based on this explanation. Thank you. – SQB Oct 20 '15 at 15:53
  • Shog 9's quote below actually says to flag the post, not the first comment. So... if the comment thread that's problematic is on an answer, you flag the answer and if it's on a question, you flag the question. – Catija Oct 20 '15 at 17:53
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    @Catija Either works. I prefer flagging a comment over a post, as the problem is a comment issue not a post issue. – user1027 Oct 20 '15 at 17:55
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I think this is actually two questions: "Why were those flags declined?" and "Should I have done what I did?"

For the first one, I believe (based on things I've seen mentioned on meta.se) that if a moderator deletes comments that have flags pending on them, those flags are auto-declined. In this case, you should see your declined flag count go up but there won't be any way to see those flags in the declined flag list. That would be a hint as to what happened.

For the second one, your approach is probably not the way to go. As explained by Shog9 in this meta post:

But if removing the comments requires a moderator to review an entire comment thread and pick out which bits are no longer relevant, or verify that an edit has indeed obsoleted a good many of them... Then multiple comment flags don't really accomplish much. Just flag the post, summarize the problem, and let the moderator deal with it. This is especially true when the bulk of a thread should be removed.

In this case, if the first comment flag was enough to clue the moderator in that the entire thread was out of hand, then having a second comment flag isn't helpful -- it's just noise. In that case, the remaining 12 flags were redundant, and got declined because there was nothing left to "do".

(You could argue that perhaps pending flags should be approved when the comment is deleted, but that doesn't appear to be the case for whatever reason. You'd have to ask on meta.se if you really wanted to know why.)

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