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There were several posts mentioning that for various reason (mistake in the LaTeX-code, automatically inserted space) MathJax can break page layout:

I did not see there addressed the question I am asking here, but if I simply missed it, please let me know.

During the first 5 minutes, the poster of the comment can edit the comment. (At least if they manage to do it; in such situations it is not that easy to click on edit link, which is often hidden.)

After this period, only moderators can edit comments. Therefore I thought that it would be good to bring such comment to moderators' attention. And I thought that flag might be a good way to do it.

But then I hesitated a bit. From the reasons offered for flagging (rude or offensive/not constructive/obsolete/too chatty/other), the only reasonable choice seems to be other (with a custom explanation in the text field). I am not sure whether users are somehow penalized if their comments are flagged. (I could imagine something like that, if the reason for flagging is offensive or not constructive. I am not sure whether it makes sense for other reasons, and whether some kind of such penalty exists at all.)

Another reason I did not immediately flagged the comment I've seen is that I thought about other possible course of action. Namely pointing the OP to the post on meta which describes how they can delete the "offending" comment. They can then post the comment once again, this time without breaking the layout. This would move the workload from the mods to the poster. (And maybe there already is too much work for moderators, so they would prefer user to handle things by themselves if they have a possibility.)

TL;DR: Is flagging the comment (with explanation for flagging as a custom reason) the correct thing to do in situations like this?

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Paraphrased from the MSE comment voting/flagging FAQ:

  • Enough flags on a comment will cause it to be automatically soft-deleted, however this does not negatively impact the commenter at all.

Remember that ♦-mods have only two possible actions on comment flags: delete (the comment) and dismiss (the flag). This is slightly annoying for all involved. The ♦-mods — and I include myself in this — are a bit lazy, and will likely opt to "dismiss" unless the comment should be deleted, even though we could delete to increase your helpful flag count, and then undelete the comment afterwards. Of course, we're in the post-flag-weight world, and having flags dismissed isn't going to negatively impact you the flagger.

In general, if there is something that is keeping math.SE from working properly, and there is something that the ♦-mods (but not regular users) can do about it, a flag is probably the path of least resistance. And in the situation described, an "other" flag is certainly appropriate. We may not exactly welcome an influx of such flags, but generally it is something that we can take care of without too much extra effort. (After all, we agreed to this voluntary position, and all the joy it brings.1)


1That would be zero joy.

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    $\begingroup$ I disagree with the footnote. Is it not joyous to obliterate accounts of spammers and sock puppets of well known cranks? Is it not joyous to read delete comments from time to time? Is it not joyous to separate three cardinal invariants at the same time? Wait, no that last one has nothing to do with that. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 13 '14 at 15:54
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If the comment is reasonable and the user seems to still be active, pinging the commenting user seems like the right approach, because it gives the user a chance to fix the formatting without losing its content.

However, if a comment is breaking the formatting of the page, and the user is either inactive or has not responded after a few days to your ping, you should definitely flag the comment.

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    $\begingroup$ Users only have 5 minutes to edit comments, no? I don't think there is a need to wait "a few days". $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong May 13 '14 at 10:59
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    $\begingroup$ @WillieWong Maybe the user can delete the comment and repost it, second time being more careful? (That's what I suggested to the OP in the particular case which made me to ask here.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak May 13 '14 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak That is what I was thinking. $\endgroup$ – Alex Becker May 13 '14 at 20:29

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