I answered a question yesterday that ended up in the HNQ. There were a few reasonable comments on my answer, then a side-discussion popped up about dealers and ethics. I flagged those comments as no longer needed, but my flags were declined. Another moderator saw the conversation and moved it to chat (this was my desired outcome; fewer notifications on my cellphone app for an argument that didn't interest me). I don't think it would have been a problem to delete the comments entirely, but moving it to chat was fine too.

What should I do differently to achieve this result the first time I flag so that my flags are not declined?

  • 2
    As I've thought more about it, I think maybe the real solution would be to turn off alerts on my phone or ask for a feature to mute responses to a particular thread. It's not that big of a deal. Apr 27, 2018 at 14:48

3 Answers 3


Comments are a pain in the neck to deal with as a moderator - as @JoeTaxpayer says, deleting one comment can leave others hanging so you need to check through the whole list anyway to make sure it still makes sense. We get an auto-flag when a post hits 20 comments and then we normally do move the conversation to chat. Sometimes a set of comments doesn't seem too bad in itself but as the volume mounts up the case for deleting the whole lot strengthens.

Personally I generally err on the side of deleting comments that shouldn't be there, and if I don't have time to look properly I'll leave the flag for me or another mod to handle later. But sometimes I'll dismiss a comment flag and then later change my mind. I might also dismiss a "rude and abusive" flag because I don't think the content meets that threshold (those flags also have some negative consequences for the comment poster) but then delete anyway on the grounds of "no longer needed".

So there's nothing really you could have done differently, it's just one of those grey areas where the result you get from a flag will depend on slightly random luck. Also, unfortunately the UI doesn't let us mark a comment flag helpful if we don't want to delete the comment, so you're more likely to have them marked as "declined". For flags on other content I mostly mark them as helpful even if I don't take action if I thought the flag was plausible.


There's far less rigidity when it comes to handling comment flags than other. As you noted, any comment thread you are on will give you the alert on the phone app.

I am happy to move a comment thread to chat when appropriate, or to kill the whole comment thread. I'd suggest flagging the last comment and noting that request.

To be real honest, when I see a few dozen comment flags, it's not something I'm going to spend too much time on. Very often, the "no longer needed" comment leaves a prior comment hanging in the wind, along with further comments that appear to address nothing. For this question, I was the deleter, and Ganesh moved the whole thing to chat. (keep in mind, this occurred in the midst of another question getting a crazy number of comments and flags. I'm not suggesting that 'dismissive' is my normal MO.


As a non moderator - the most important thing I think is not to use the 'no longer needed' flag but to use a custom flag here, to make it clear what you want. The comment flags have much less importance in using the particular reasons (especially compared to stack overflow) since they all go to moderators, as opposed to some being handled by nonmoderators for question flags (at least on SO, not sure on here).

  • The custom flag always goes to mods too, and comments can't be moderated by anyone except mods (and the commenters themselves).
    – Andrew T.
    May 1, 2018 at 17:56
  • If the comments you're flagging are obviously irrelevant to the question, I think "no longer needed" is fine. If you think it needs more explanation then a custom flag on the post saying "comments need cleanup because ..." is an alternative. May 1, 2018 at 21:48

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