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I make flagging part of my 360° approach to volunteerism to help maintain the SE network.

I was horrified to realize that I have 61 unhelpful comment flags on my JSE account.

Comment flags: 34 helpful out of 95

What in the world?!? This makes me looks like I don't know what I'm doing and that I am unhelpful in my volunteerism.

I decided to compare this with my StackOverflow account...

Comment flags: 2994 helpful out of 3003


So I decided to investigate how I've gotten the flagging SO WRONG... Here is a short list of some of the most recent comments that I've flagged that were subsequently denied:

At the accepted answer on How can I output each item of a multiple list custom field

  • "That worked, cheers." (from 2018, no value because the answer is accepted and upvoted) (How can I output each item of a multiple list custom field)
  • "Oof, that was lucky :)" (too chatty, no value to researchers) (How can I output each item of a multiple list custom field)
  • I didn't yet flag "Well I wish I had that luck I'd ask a lot less questions on here" that follows because I fear my flag will be declined once again.
  • The comment from Eoin under jamesgarrett's answer is NOT flaggable because it asks for clarity after saying thanks.

  • The following comment from jamesgarret was actually to an off-topic comment that I made (and have since deleted). It is not relevant to the page or Eoin's comment and so should be deleted. Again, I guess I have lost faith in the flagging process here.


Why is it important to purge the "thanks", "you're welcome", "+1", etc. comments?

  1. Synchronicity with other SE Network sites -- most specifically StackOverflow which is certainly the most likely place where our readers will journey to if they don't find a solution here. When sites in the same network have varying rules/expectations, users will have a hard time of interacting "appropriately".

  2. The SE software has automated processes in place whereby if a volunteer flags a comment that contains certain keywords ("thanks", "+1", etc), the comment is instantly deleted. https://meta.stackoverflow.com/q/353809/2943403 Why? Because it is useless noise: https://meta.stackoverflow.com/q/258004/2943403 So why should our human moderation layer have a different take on what is and is not worth saving?

  3. The placeholder text on comment fields says:

    Use comments to ask for more information or suggest improvements. Avoid comments like "+1" or "thanks".

    So why send a mixed message about how to use the site? This makes the decision less of an opinion and more of a matter of "If you don't like the rules/expectations around valuable comments, then you should contact the owners/designers of StackExchange and ask them to change the policy that presides over ALL of the sites".

  4. By condoning these comments, some new users believe this is how you "mark" an answer as a preferred solution. This does not apply to all, but I have seen sufficient evidence of this on multiple SE sites.

  5. When one or more answer - but not all answers - receives a "this worked for me" comment, then researchers may be swayed away from considering later answers that the OP hasn't actually seen (because they haven't revisited the site).
  6. For people who want JSE to be a more social/chatty/informal site, I will urge another channel to be used. Open a JSE chat room, or start up a Slack group, etc., whatever, I'm not bothered. Let's just not deviate from the grand design of the SE Network.
  7. For answers that have been accepted/upvoted, the "thank you" comments represent redundant appreciation. These are the mechanisms designed to issue "thanks". When a new user does not yet have the privilege to issue these forms of thanks, then consider this quasi-relative post from Jeff Atwood about "paying it forward" https://stackoverflow.blog/2011/01/08/how-to-say-thanks-in-an-answer/
  8. For answers that have NOT been accepted/upvoted, when a "thank you" comment is presented, that should be an instant trigger for volunteers/moderators to educate the user about how to best interact with the community and refer them to links which speak about reward processes.
  9. By retaining all thanks and you're welcome comments, the site culture will come to EXPECT these gestures as standard protocol. A cycle of site bloat would take effect. Then, when a user DOESN'T say thanks or you're welcome then they seem rude.

Are these bits of noise overwhelming THIS site? No, not now, not yet, but it does perpetuate behavior that the system is designed to prevent. I'm not a grinch. Have I ever said:

Good golly, that is an inspired, comprehensive, and professional-grade solution!!!

Yes, yes I have, and will probably will do it in the future. However, I do so with intent to remove my own comment after I feel that it is received or has lived long enough to be received. This is MY trash to get rid of.

The overarching design is that all or nearly all comments should be considered to be as disposable as toilet paper. This is Q&A, not Q&A&C. It is not a forum. It is not a social network. Those services are already provided elsewhere. Comments have no permanent record or version history (compared to answers). Bad/incorrect/unnecessary comments cannot be downvoted to devalue/disincentivize them. If there is a good piece of advice in a comment that should be made permanent, then that would indicate that the answer should probably be edited to include the note. Comments are second-class citizens. To train our community's members to act appropriately, we must role model the correct behaviors and remove traces of unnecessary interactions because new users will emulate the behaviors that they witness here.

Effectively, this is a plea to the 3 moderators here to recalibrate their stance on flag acceptance.

If anyone wants to make this community "warmer" / "more human", then I will urge you to take steps to allow this online community to transcend into the offline. Can JoomlaDay events offer "Not a Robot" badges to JSE users? If we want to treat each other as humans, let's go out and actually be social and congregate in Meetups and Conventions. You can be absolutely sure that looking someone in the eye and telling them how much time their answer saved you in terms of money and time will resonate deeply. (You might even buy them a beer.) Offline, REAL friendships can be initiated and nurtured. This is inclusive. This is powerful. This is lasting. This is Joomla! Giddy-up!

  • I was wondering where all these flags were coming from... as it was not clear to me. Now I know. Personally, I haven't declined your flags in most cases, although I felt that dealing with this all the time was a bit noisy, so after a point I event stopped checking those flags (generally I didn't have much time recently to dedicate on JSE). To be honest, I didn't read all this post - it looks too long to go through it... but anyhow I know what's the case with the thank you comments - but I tend to agree with Lodder regarding JSE. – FFrewin Dec 16 '18 at 21:06
  • If this is the will of JSE moderators, please modify the placeholder text of comment fields because they do not match your collective philosophy. – mickmackusa Dec 16 '18 at 21:09
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I have looked more into the "Thank you" comments on other Meta sites. Some are for, and some are against.

Those that are for have the same opinion as me, in which they believe it's nice to leave a polite comment on the answer as a token of appreciation, in addition to an upvote. So this is my reason for declining your flags.

In addition to this, JSE is not as popular as other Stack Exchange sites so filtering out the "noise" isn't required as much. It's much different when it's 1-2 comments vs 200 comments.

That said, If I saw for example, 10 "thank you" comments on the same answer and you flagged them, I'd delete them.

I would not worry so much about the declined flags. The fact you've taken the time to help out on JSE is much appreciated and shows dedication.

  • I agree Lodder - JSE does not have a real problem with this kind of noise content and I also like a few "thank you mate", or "you make my day" type of comments. – FFrewin Dec 16 '18 at 21:07

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