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So I was dredging up old posts and flagging superfluous comments that are mainly gratitude as "no longer needed". I have raised about 20-30 flags today. While most of them have been marked helpful, several recent reviews declined some of my flags. The interesting thing is at least one of my declined flags' corresponding post has been removed, which should prove my flags are helpful :). Some other declined flags point to comments along the lines of "Thank you." "That's very helpful." "Your answer helps learners like me." I don't see any reason they should stay. I won't link those comments. I believe mods can see my flagging history.

I understand it is a cultural thing that some users feel compelled to thank their answerers, and I appreciate that. But I recall reading this: https://ell.stackexchange.com/help/someone-answers

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In general, I think these flags should be marked helpful unless there's something else in the comment that we want to keep around for some reason. There've been a number of discussions about this in the past, both on ELL meta and on the network-wide meta:

Although there's been some disagreement in the past, I think the general consensus looks something like this:

  1. We don't need thank-you comments on our site.
  2. If you flag them, they should probably be removed.
  3. They're only a minor problem, so the flags aren't a high priority.

When you flag a thank-you comment, it doesn't take up very much of the moderators' time, because it only takes seconds to validate these flags. However, if you flag enough comments at one time, it can start to be a disproportionate burden.

I don't know why the flags were declined. Perhaps the moderator who declined them will write an answer. But in general I'd suggest flagging comments like these as you come across them, but not specifically searching for them. That way we don't end up spending a lot of time on what is really a minor problem.

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  • I will admit I may be after the Marshal badge. But hey good news, the incentives work! :D – Eddie Kal May 1 '18 at 0:35
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    @EddieKal It's fine with me if you want to spend time your time flagging "thank you" comments, but changes may be coming: Stack Overflow Isn’t Very Welcoming. It’s Time for That to Change. Comment flags are a little different from other flags in that it's difficult for us to mark them helpful without deleting the comment (for example if we edited the comment, or trimmed up the comments around the flagged one). I wouldn't worry if a few get declined. – ColleenV May 1 '18 at 11:37
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Some comments are obvious chitchat and ought to be removed. Chances are those flags will be marked as helpful.

Some comments are slightly more substantive and have marginal value. These are more of a judgment call. And any time something is a judgment call, you may not agree with the moderator's decision.

If I'm going through 25 flags at 6:30 in the morning, it's not inconceivable to think that, for two or three of those, I might think, "Yeah, maybe I can delete that comment – but this flag wasn't nearly as 'helpful' as those flags that sent me toward more glaring comments that really did need to be cleaned up." And out of those two or three, perhaps I will click declined instead of helpful once or twice.

I've marked flags as helpful yet let the comment stay in place. I've also marked flags as declined yet still deleted the comment. (That last one is very uncommon, but, if you try to flag 30 posts in a day, you might have that happen to you.) Either way, you're still helping out the site and your efforts are appreciated.

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    Thanks for explaining. Having modded at other forums, I can imagine how much work moderation at SE must be. I find it helpful to know some of its mechanisms (for example I thought moderator removing a comment will automatically result in a "helpful" mark). Still learning to be part of the community. – Eddie Kal May 2 '18 at 18:30

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