I've been going through the flag queue a lot recently and it seems that we get lots of non-answers (comments, other questions, etc.). I see a lot of helpful comments on these posts talking about rep required for the commenting privilege and so on, which is fantastic.

However, on some posts there are 2 or 3 such comments posted hours apart. Besides being redundant this comes across very negatively to me, and I can only imagined how badgered a new user would feel seeing that on their very first post here. It's not a good way to greet new users.

As such, I think we should not do this. I've started flagging the extra comments as redundant ("obsolete") but ideally they would not be there in the first place. Please take a look at existing comments before you post another very similar one.

Of course, there may be some reason people are missing these comments and thus duplicating the info unknowingly. I can't think of one, but if you do please comment here so we can see if it can be addressed.

Here is an example. One hour before a redundant comment, another hour before a second:

enter image description here

The third commenter should have used the (default) "No comment needed" option:

enter image description here

  • 28
    If they're the automated ones from the review queue people could be doing it unintentionally. I think it still lets you do that
    – Ben Brocka
    Mar 19, 2013 at 18:52
  • @BenBrocka Ah I will have to check out the queues when there's something there. However I noticed that none of the "dupe" comments I saw were written the same way on the same post. Mar 19, 2013 at 19:10
  • 2
    Checked it out. The review queue shows all the comments and provides a "No comment needed" option. There's no excuse for blindly clicking to post another without reading. cc @BenBrocka Mar 19, 2013 at 19:18
  • 4
    Yeah, but it shouldn't let you post another regardless. IIRC someone feature requested that if you pick the same auto-comment as someone else it would just upvote that one. Just asking them not to do it when the system makes it so easy's just herding cats
    – Ben Brocka
    Mar 19, 2013 at 19:23
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    @BenBrocka It's even easier not to, the "No comment needed" option is the default. Again I haven't seen the same auto-comment on a single answer, just different comments. Mar 19, 2013 at 19:25
  • 4
    That's what I try to do; leave a (canned) comment if nobody's said anything about it yet, or upvote the existing one and leave no comment. Multiples help no one at all.
    – Frank
    Mar 19, 2013 at 20:53
  • 17
    Part of the problem may be because I didn't leave a canned comment. "Well why didn't you leave a canned comment?" Good question. Well because I didn't come to this answer from the review queue. I flagged the post, then left the custom comment. Perhaps part of the solution should be an option to leave a canned comment after flagging a post as NAA.
    – MBraedley
    Mar 19, 2013 at 22:03
  • @MBraedley Could be. I do find the discrepancy between flagging, the flag queue, and the review queue to be disconcerting. But I don't think that good customized comments like yours are the issue ;) Mar 19, 2013 at 22:08
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    @MatthewRead: The point is that if there are canned comments for flags, then the system can recognize them and prevent double commenting.
    – MBraedley
    Mar 19, 2013 at 22:09
  • 1
    @MBraedley I understood, it's just not my only concern. Mar 19, 2013 at 22:13
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    I've [featured] this following a recent spate of redundant comments happening again.
    – Robotnik Mod
    Dec 9, 2016 at 2:36
  • 1
    @Robotnik, I thought when someone selected a comment reason from review, and then another reviewer selected that same comment, it stacked it with the other reviewers (via an upvote of the first reviewers comment). Is this not true?
    – Timmy Jim Mod
    Dec 9, 2016 at 12:55
  • 1
    I think part of the problem is that when flagging a post or closing a question from review, the system asks for a specific reason for why you are voting a certain way (not an answer, unclear what you're asking, duplicate, etc...). When recommending deletion on answers, this is not the case - yet we are still prompted for our reasoning so that a comment can be generated. This disjoint probably causes more confusion than necessary. I know I didn't realize the comment prompt was just for adding comments until a few weeks after I got access to the review queues.
    – Mage Xy
    Dec 9, 2016 at 15:14
  • 2
    @TimmyJim that is true if reviewers select the same canned comment but doesn't hold up if there are manual comments and/or people are selecting different review comments. Like Matthew's example picture in the question above: some users are leaving manual comments while others are selecting different review examples. All of them combined on a single post is basically dogpiling onto the poster.
    – Robotnik Mod
    Dec 9, 2016 at 23:54
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    @TylerH the mod team has noticed an uptick in the amount of dogpiling unnecessary comments again - it seems this flares up every two years or so (see the revision history of the post). Same as last time, and the time before that, we decided to feature it as more of a reminder/heads up to newer users who might have missed the initial discussion :-)
    – Robotnik Mod
    Dec 11, 2020 at 22:25

5 Answers 5


I agree.

Just like posting an answer that adds nothing to the existing answers is meaningless, the same is true for comments. If you agree with the comment, that's what upvoting it is for. Obviously two people posting similar comments within a minute or two is not unreasonable, but hours apart seems excessive. No one wants their inbox spammed with the same thing over and over.


I think you have a point in general, but your specific example is pretty poor.

The first comment is a manually, nicely written comment specific to the situation, which is ideal.

The second is a much simpler comment cutting straight to the issue. Sort of a TLDR for the first. Maybe not necessary, but certainly doesn't hurt to rephrase things. In fact, given how often new users don't seem to understand the advice they're given, especially the canned comments, a simpler rephrasing or two can actually be beneficial.

The third is the canned comment from somebody else flagging it. It would have been better to indicate that no comment was needed, but the user was probably thinking more about indicating their reason than about adding another comment. This, as well as the additional example Robotnik provided in the comments on this answer, leads me to believe we have more of an interface issue than a user issue. When you flag something, it asks you why you're flagging it. It's perfectly reasonable to expect a user to answer that question. They might not have even read the other comments to realize that someone posted a similar one already.

Not sure what the best way to fix that would be. Maybe the first flagger's comment could be linked to the reason somehow, so the system doesn't double it up.

  • 2
    I don't agree, but the example is from 3.5 years ago. Feel free to add a better one. Dec 12, 2016 at 16:59
  • There is no problem with the comments themselves, taken individually they are all equally valid. It's the piling of them all onto the post that is the problem - stating the same thing over and over. In the original example, After MBraedley's comment there's no need for the other two. Here's a more recent example, this and a few other instances were why we decided to [feature] this meta again.
    – Robotnik Mod
    Dec 12, 2016 at 23:41
  • @Robotnik Both the 3rd and 4th comments are From Review. Are those both canned? Why do we have several canned comments saying the same thing?
    – DCShannon
    Dec 13, 2016 at 1:09
  • @DCShannon - They're saying different things. The 'answer' was another question. The 1st comment (manually written) is correct. The 2nd comment is irrelevant in this context it's a response to the 'question-answer'. The 3rd is a canned comment incorrectly applied to this type of question-answer as it's referring to comment-answers, but seeing as it is also here it adds to the dogpile. The 4th is the 'correct' canned comment, although it shouldn't have been added, because the 1st comment already states it. So tl;dr, after the 1st comment, the rest aren't needed. :-)
    – Robotnik Mod
    Dec 13, 2016 at 1:43
  • @Robotnik Can't really tell that without seeing the post those comments are on. So, the 2nd and 3rd comments aren't relevant to this discussion, since they aren't redundant. If the 4th one is just the canned comment left after the initial not-canned comment, then that's relevant. Looks more like an interface issue at that point, rather than anything else.
    – DCShannon
    Dec 13, 2016 at 18:12
  • 1
    @DCShannon I don't think the interface needs to change. If you agree with a comment, upvote it. If you're in review and you see someone else has already added a comment (even a manual one), upvote it, and complete your review with 'No comment needed' selected. It's already the default option.
    – Robotnik Mod
    Dec 14, 2016 at 1:20
  • @Robotnik I was thinking about this, and maybe just adding "additional" to the phrase would help, in the case where there's a comment already. It's actually inaccurate to say that "no comment is needed". A comment is needed. It's just already there, which the user may not realize. So: "No additional comment is needed".
    – DCShannon
    Dec 15, 2016 at 21:32
  • @Robotnik: Could "No comment needed" cause you to fail a review audit in a case like this?
    – Kevin
    Dec 7, 2020 at 18:28
  • @Kevin - No, I don't think Arqade has review audits turned on, but even on other SE sites I don't think not leaving a canned comment would result in an audit fail
    – Robotnik Mod
    Dec 7, 2020 at 19:48

I'm going to offer another dissenting view. I agree that the duplicated comments should be unnecessary, but I think they are a symptom of a system that is somewhat broken.

Casting a downvote on an answer costs reputation. As such, downvotes are far rarer than upvotes. This creates a tendancy across stackexchange for good quality answers to have very high scores, while bad quality answers either have very low negative scores or even low positive scores.

To give a hypothetical example, a user may post a poor quality answer which receives 5 upvotes. Another 20 users may have judged the answer as poor but only 1 of them was willing to spend the reputation to downvote. As such, this user goes away thinking "5 people thought my answer was good and that 1 downvoter is clearly in the wrong".

Similarly, if an answer receives a single critical comment it is easy to dismiss this as just the view of one awkward person. If it receives multiple comments saying the same thing, it is much harder for the user to dismiss.

Unfortunately, because comments are free while downvotes are not, the system incentivises posting criticisms in the form of comments. The correct solution is to remove the cost of downvoting and discourage duplicate comments. In this way, those second and third commenters have a legitimate outlet by which they can express their view on the answer. If you implement the latter without the former, we will increase the number of poor quality answers which lack negative feedback.

  • 1
    it costs 1 reputation to downvote
    – Penguin
    Dec 16, 2020 at 15:43
  • @Penguin That's my point. If you think 1 point is too small to matter, just take a look at a typical popular stack exchange post and compare the scores of upvoted answers with the scores of downvoted answers.
    – JBentley
    Dec 16, 2020 at 17:02
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    I definitely agree that the system could be better. Worth noting, though, that even in systems where downvotes are free they are generally much rarer than upvotes (at least when it comes to responses/answers). People just don't engage as much with content that they don't want. Dec 16, 2020 at 19:43

I'm going to go in the other direction on this.

There's nothing wrong with duplicate comments on non-answers posted by new users.

  • The non-answer is going to be deleted soon anyway, extra comments won't screw up the user experience for future visitors.

  • At this point, the new user who posted the question doesn't know the difference between posting a new answer and leaving a comment (if they had, they would have left a comment). The experience of these users is not going to be any worse whether they see one comment with two upvotes or three identical comments.

Important: I'm not saying redundant comments are good, I am saying they're not bad.

  • 13
    If the user comes back before the post is deleted, they're going to see a bunch of comments telling them how wrong they are. Three separate comments is much more off-putting than a single comment up-voted several times, because they're not yet familiar with the site. If we drive off new users with a barrage of negative comments, they're less likely to come back and be productive members of the site. Mar 21, 2013 at 18:01

No, actually, the first comment should've been a cannedcomment, and the rest shouldn't have been there at all. Only mods' and canned ocomments reliably reach the owner of a deleted post, so if the user doesn't read the non-mod hand-crafted comments before his answer is deleted, he's not going to know what happened to his post. Perhaps an option to post canned comments whenever you see a post that is eligible for review would help with this problem.

In conclusion, it is always OK to post a canned comment if the soon-to-be-deleted post doesn't already have a canned comment or a mod comment, to let the user know why his post was deleted. Posting a regular comment is, a lot of the time, a wasted effort.

  • 2
    What makes those comments more reliable? Mar 20, 2013 at 15:18
  • 2
    @MatthewRead the fact that they show up in the notifications area even if the post they were under was deleted, unlike regular comments.
    – kotekzot
    Mar 20, 2013 at 15:32
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    Did you not see above for why my original comment wasn't canned? Your answer makes it seem like I did something wrong, and I don't think that's the case. Also, don't mods have the option of leaving a canned comment at the time of deletion? Wouldn't that be the best time to leave a canned comment if the existing comment(s) are custom?
    – MBraedley
    Mar 20, 2013 at 16:00
  • 2
    @MBraedley I did, hence the last sentence of the first paragraph in my answer. I don't know if mods have that option, but I hope they do.
    – kotekzot
    Mar 20, 2013 at 16:14
  • I wasn't aware that was a mod-/template-only thing, can't find it on MSO -- could you point me to info about it? Mar 21, 2013 at 5:40
  • @MatthewRead I don't remember where I read it, but I flagged the post for diamond mod attention so they can confirm or deny it.
    – kotekzot
    Mar 21, 2013 at 6:18

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