Some time ago there was a question that was tagged with . One user added in a suggested edit (that was accepted) and I removed it since I deemed that inappropriate.

Yesterday I noticed the question was bumped, and saw that the same user made the same edit suggestion again, it was accepted (although it had one correct rejection), and shortly after someone edited the tag out.

I left a comment on the main thread, pinging the user who added that tag, twice, that they shouldn't do it. Both because I think that my ruling about the elementary tag being sufficient was correct (and it was backed up by a different user, as evident from the second retag), and because I didn't want this to happen again, when the user adds a tag, and it gets removed, so they add it again, and it gets removed again (and both removals by users that has been here longer and are sufficiently experienced in judging what content should be on each of these tags).

This morning I woke up to find that my comment is missing. Since I surely didn't delete it in my sleep, I flagged the question and pointed out that while it's inadvisable to have long meta discussions in the comments on the main site, one single comment (and possibly a reply) do not constitute of a meta discussion, and should not have been removed. In fact, these are positive things to have on the main site, since they make users be aware of social norms on the site even without being forced through the meta sites and all the long arguments there.

Of course, my flag was declined with boilerplate message (contrary to previous flags about deleted comments that were declined/accepted with some simple explanation as to what happened).


  1. Why was my comment (and perhaps a reply?) was deleted?
  2. Why wasn't I given any explanation when I asked for one in the flags?
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    $\begingroup$ This site has always been much more permissive of comments than some other SE sites are reputed to be. And that's a good thing IMO. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Dec 25 '14 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ A trivial explanation could be that somebody reacted on an obsolete flag and somebody else did not yet understand the interface and dismissed the flag with the intent to leave it to somebody else. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 25 '14 at 14:57
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: That's possible. But since moderators can undelete comments that were not deleted by their owners, why was the second flag dismissed entirely? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 25 '14 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ My hypothetical scenario was that a mod seeing your second flag did want to leave it to somebody else, but rejected it instead (while the intent was to skip it). $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 25 '14 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not pleading guilty or anything. I think I was careful not to click anything while investigating this flag. Let me just state that the flag handling interface is still not entirely clear to me :-) $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 25 '14 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Jyrki: Perhaps SE should make the data read-only for the first week after being elected (at least the first time you get elected on the network), so the new moderators will have time to adapt and learn the system before doing something foolish like "pressing that big red button". $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 25 '14 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ My opinion is that it is okay to make such comments, but they are not that useful in the long run and can be deleted after some time has passed. In this case, the comment was deleted a bit early which, well, can happen. Errare humanum est. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Dec 25 '14 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Michael: Thanks. I agree that after a while it's probably fine. I felt ignored when the flag asking for clarification was quickly declined, and that pushed me to posting this meta question. Of course human errors can happen, and are expected to happen when new moderators join the team. I was just hoping there will be less of them. :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 25 '14 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker I agree - that's the view I had as a mod too. Generally I think it is a good idea inasmuch as possible to quickly migrate meta discussions off main, because it may alienate users who don't have a taste for such politics. It would be nice if there were a way to post ephemeral comments. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Dec 25 '14 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ "Why wasn't I given any explanation when I asked for one in the flags?" You were given an explanation. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Dec 25 '14 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Pedro: "declined - a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it" is not an explanation. Perhaps you are thinking about another flag. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 25 '14 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ Related but follow-up question: how would a user go about disputing the rollback of such an edit? Even in this example, I see benefit (from a searching point of view) to having both tags on the question. It also doesn't appear to cost the community nearly as much to just leave the tags, some of which will be nuisance / redundant, than to expend great effort fiddling with edits / flags / comments / meta posts. I'm just thinking of the huge amount of up-front cost this whole issue has required, in terms of the person-minutes spent on this meta thread, likely to never be recouped over time. $\endgroup$ – ely Jan 8 '15 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ @prpl.mnky.dshwshr: If you wish to make an argument in favor of tag overlap, you should open a thread on meta and bring this up there. As you can see on the front page, there are people who are concerned with these sort of overlaps. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 8 '15 at 20:32

Why was my comment (and perhaps a reply?) was deleted?

I can answer that question: The user you addressed with that comment flagged it and said (well, wrote) that it became obsolete since they have read it.

In that situation, I thought the comment had served its purpose, the addressee confirmed they had read it, so I saw no reason not to delete it as obsolete.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you Daniel. I disagree with that, and I think that leaving it for a little bit could easily serve a better purpose. But thank you for the explanation. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 26 '14 at 18:25
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    $\begingroup$ In the hope that others read it and take the message to heart? Agreed, I should probably have let it sit longer. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Dec 26 '14 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ Yes. Perhaps you should also discuss the policy on automatically rejecting flags that require explanation. I have no doubt in my mind that you would have easily made this reply to my flag requesting explanations and all would have been good. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 26 '14 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf unfortunately, I was away visiting family, so I didn't see your flag. I'd have explained there and then if I had seen it. It seems that nowadays, one can even attach messages to helpful flags. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Dec 26 '14 at 18:40
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    $\begingroup$ You wouldn't have a chance. The flag was cleared quite clearly. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 26 '14 at 18:50

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