Purpose of this post (what type of answers do I expect)

This post is meant to get answers in the form of one or more links to Stack Exchange Data Explorer queries which list comments that are unnecessary. Ideally the comments are sorted so that more important cases appear first (if everyone starts flagging the comments starting at the top of the list, those important cases are removed first).

Sorting by importance can be done in multiple ways, each have their own up- and downsides (this is a non-exhaustive list, numbers are for referencing only, it's not an order of preference):

  1. By date, oldest first (top results don't change until comment is deleted, but comments are probably not read as much today)

  2. By date, newest first (top results keep changing, but those comments are probably read because they are likely to be on newer posts)

  3. By view count of question, highest first (top results don't change)

  4. By comment length, shortest comments first

Please include links to your proposed queries on data.stackexchange. Also indicate what the query returns, i.e. which types of comments it looks for and how they are sorted.

Please note that if you don't log in you need to complete a Captcha to run the queries, that restriction is lifted when you log in with standard SE credentials.

Scope of comments

The comments I think of that could be found this way are:

  • Comments which only express gratitude (i.e. small number of characters, containing things like 'thx', 'thanks', 'ty', et cetera).

  • Vulgar language aimed at other users (link to question on offensive comments)

  • Junk(this is a broad category)

For a more exhaustive list on unwanted comments, see the help centre page on comments


First of all, removing unnecessary comments provides everyone with a better experience. In addition to that, there are some rewards in the form of badges for those who systematically flag (awards on 5th of april 2018 in brackets):

  1. Citizen patrol: first flagged post (3609 awards)
  2. Deputy: raise 80 helpful flags (152 awards)
  3. Marshal: raise 500 helpful flags (38 awards)

Furthermore, the number of flags at your disposal every day will increase as well, the number is given by this formula:

Max(100, 10+Floor(reputation/2000) + Floor((helpful flags - declined flags)/10))

  • 3
    Anyway, while I'm no fan of useless comments (I delete them constantly on the site I moderate), I think your post would be better if you removed the implication that answers in comments are somehow "valuable". This is something that's completely counter to network policy and having users here who support it and who post such comments is really not good and can harm the site. Answers in comments are a discussion for another place, not as a point of argument in this post.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 0:01
  • 2
    Related on Meta Stack Overflow: 96 wrongly declined comment flags in 1 day. You're not the first person to have this idea. Just be glad you asked before you got a massive number of declined flags :)
    – Laurel Mod
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 2:22
  • 2
    Is this just an exercise in gaining badges ? I have noticed, lately, a lot of editing that seems (to me) to have the same agenda.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 6, 2018 at 8:07

2 Answers 2


Please do not flag old comments unless they are offensive and hurtful of others. This is not a good use of limited resources.

  • 1
    @JJJ Yes, they're auto-deleted once enough flags have finally accumulated on a single comment. We are not structured to have moderators look at the hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of these trivially unimportant comment flags a day that you're proposing creating. I recommend spending time on improving the site’s Q&A by actual content creation, not on telling other people to delete old comments.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 1:17
  • @JJJ What you need to understand is that flagging is really just a way to make something somebody else’s problem. That’s perfectly fine and it’s why it exists. The trouble is that these are so far down the comparative priorities of things that "need personal intervention by a moderator to fix" that it risks diluting our attention. Finally, it seems a little unsporting to try to get flag badges from mere comments.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 1:26
  • 2
    Just flag NAAs, you'll easily be able to make Marshal that way. Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 1:36

My understanding is that it's OK to flag even a non-offensive comment as "no longer needed" if you just happen to come across it in the course of using the site--for example, an old question gets bumped and you notice that there is a comment suggesting an edit that the original poster has since made to the question. I've cast 329 comment flags so far, and even though most of the comments I flagged were not rude or abusive, only 18 of the flags were declined.

But if everyone started running queries to try to find flaggable comments, it would be harder for moderators to manage the workload of going through flags. It's true that non-custom comment flags can sometimes take effect without moderator action, if multiple users raise the same type of flag, but in general, looking into these kind of flags is still part of the moderator workflow.

I try to go through my own comments every once in a while and delete the ones that have become obsolete. This is one action you can take to get rid of some comments that are no longer needed without using the flag system.

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