I flagged a comment recently for being unfriendly/unkind, and the flag was declined.

This question is off-topic here, would be off-topic on an image recognition site. It is asking for impossible magic.

The question was whether a database of serving size images exists.

This comment isn't directly calling the OP a name etc., but its tone feels dismissive and snarky. There are many constructive ways to say "what you are looking for doesn't exist" without calling someone's idea/request "impossible magic." Given the number of prior comments exploring the difficulty of such a database, it feels even more unnecessary.

Why is this comment considered to be not unfriendly or not unkind?

1 Answer 1


I was the moderator who handled your flag, and I took a shortcut here. Basically, I agreed with your assessment that the comment is unfriendly and unkind, but decided that, as it was a small part of many problems with that question, a single-comment-deletion is not needed. It was a judgement call, and of course it could have been handled differently, or can still be handled differently if the community wishes so.

The comment was part of a very long thread on a question which was also off topic. The discussion itself was quite heated, and several of the comments on it struck me as potentially unfriendly, not just this one.

It was clear to me that the question should be closed, since it was both off topic and already causing unnecessary drama without actually helping the OP, plus generating lots of unsolicited opinion which doesn't really address the question - a phenomenon which SE sites try to avoid.

After closing, I considered what should be done to the comments. Deleting only the one flagged comment seemed not very helpful, because with the other not-nice comments, it would not have solved the problem as a whole. Besides, it contained not only the unfriendly expression, but also evidence that there are more people recognizing that the question is off topic. Going through each comment and deleting multiple of them would have taken much time and made the conversation unreadable. Deleting the whole conversation or moving it to chat would have been possible, but seemed pretty radical.

In the end, I reasoned that, with the question closed anyway (and presumably heading for the roomba script), there is no need to invest the work into pruning the comment conversation into something nice and pleasant. I don't expect many people to go into a closed question and read through a very long comment conversation. So I left it as it is.

  • I assume the answer is getting downvoted because people disagree with the way I handled the flag. If I get suggestions which of the many alternatives is considered the right solutions, I can still apply it.
    – rumtscho Mod
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 15:02
  • 1
    I'd say that especially if it's comments on a closed question that you don't think anyone's gonna be too invested in reading, err on the side of deleting too much, not too little. More generally, we should probably be suspicious of any chain of logic that starts from "I agree this is unfriendly" and ends with no action.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 17:18
  • I was mostly confused by the "declined" state of the flag, vs "helpful but no action required" (which would be more in line with the logic you've explained in your answer). Thanks for clarifying.
    – Erica
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 19:00
  • @Erica Oh sorry, that is a mistake on my part. I didn't realize I have declined.
    – rumtscho Mod
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 19:52
  • 1
    @Erica I think you're thinking of post flags? On comment flags, we can either delete or decline; there's no helpful but no action option. The only way to accomplish that is to delete and undelete the comment.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 23:54
  • Ah, probably, sorry :)
    – Erica
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 0:12

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