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I recently flagges three comments on an answer to be "unfriendly or unkind" - The reason was that the comments said "you are so boring" (direct quote, addressing the OP of the answer) and something like "you are too stupid to understand it" (a bit exaggerated, no direct quote since I don't remember the exact wording).

Now I realized that these flags have been declined, the comments have however been deleted.

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So my question is: Was this due to a technical error or should I have used another flag or done something different at all? The only explanation that I can give is that a moderator (or someone else reviewing the flags) decided that the type of flag wasn't correct and then deleted the comments themselfes. However, the used flag seems to be the best fitting to me in this situation.

Should I have acted differently?

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    $\begingroup$ Nope, you flagged correctly. I am not sure why they were denied. $\endgroup$ – Don Thousand Mar 1 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ As a rare flagger, I'm not sure I know what it looks like for a flag to be declined. Can someone explain / show a screen shot / point to a FAQ? $\endgroup$ – JonathanZ supports MonicaC Mar 1 at 19:17
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    $\begingroup$ @JonathanZsupportsMonicaC sure! On your user profile > activity, you can click on "x helpful flags" and you will be able to see an overwiev. I'll add a screenshot to my post. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Mar 1 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Jonas: Oh, I see it now, on the right side of the page you said, in the "Impact" box. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – JonathanZ supports MonicaC Mar 1 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ I usually abstain form using the " unfriendly /unkind" as it can be taken differently by different users,When in doubt if I feel that it adds nothing to the post I usually resort to " no longer needed" and till now that hasn't been declined for me.But well,if like you said the comments where ' you are so boring" etc come by I am surprised why they have been declined $\endgroup$ – Albus Dumbledore Mar 2 at 2:30
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    $\begingroup$ The truth of this matter is, @Jonas, your flags were in fact helpful because they alerted Asaf to there existence, after which they were deleted. Take that as a huge compliment, whether Asaf can acknowledge their deletion was triggered by your flags, or not. $\endgroup$ – amWhy Mar 2 at 17:38
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As the handling moderator, let me answer this one.

There is a problem with comments: sometimes context is missing due to previously deleted comments. There's another problem, where "unfriendly/unkind" flags are often used in comments that are definitely not that (more often than you'd think it's a flag on some decade old comments that are not at all unfriendly, by the way).

Moreover, unfriendly comments are tracked by the system to let us know if a user has a history of abusive behaviour, which is a good thing.

In this case, I agree that the unfriendliness was borderline. However, there were more comments on that thread that were deleted back in 2016, and upon reading them, I felt that "unfriendly/unkind" was a bit harsh for the given situation. Nevertheless, the comments were deleted, since they were made obsolete, having half the conversation removed years ago anyway.


Let me clarify about the appropriateness of these flags. If you see comments that you think are unfriendly please flag them as such. We can investigate and decide whether or not they are unfriendly, or is it something else. In the worst possible case, we decline your flags, but that's not the end of the world.

If, however, you see (even somewhat) old comments, especially those that feel like "half the conversation is missing", and you're not 100% sure if they are really unfriendly, the easiest route is to flag them as "no longer needed".

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  • $\begingroup$ @Peter: I've added a clarification. Yes, it's always appropriate (unless we contacted you and told you otherwise, or if you see a trend of declined flags). $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 3 at 18:37

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