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In this question Why doesn't a photon state have to be infinite in length? in the answer given by [user A] there is a comment by [user B] that is advertising his/her personal theory on photons.

I commented on this, and [user A] answered:

I have long since given up on the duo who love to go around every question mildly related to theoretical issues and spamming their pet theory views. It would be helpful if we can flag comments for non-mainstream physics.

I think this is a good suggestion, if it can possibly be implemented. Maybe even if one could flag comments like this for moderator attention it would be enough.

BTW today there was no link to Physics.meta on the page. I had to search on the net.

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    $\begingroup$ I have edited the question so that it’s not a callout of a specific user, and hidden a comment that names a different specific user. Let’s discuss this in a policy-oriented way without [user D] needing to decide whether to make this Meta question about defending themself. If you are desperate to know the names of the accused, go read an Encyclopedia Brown novel to brush up on your super-sleuth skills, but don’t derail the policy question here. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    May 12, 2023 at 5:52
  • $\begingroup$ @rob fine by me $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    May 12, 2023 at 6:00
  • $\begingroup$ @rob one could flag the comment, I suppose for moderator attention, but this would make too much work for moderators. Maybe negative votes on comments? $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    May 12, 2023 at 6:20
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    $\begingroup$ I want to suggest that to a certain degree non-mainstream comments enrich the site. In this same question, the comments of said user lead to a discussion in the chat that I found very interesting to read, and I think it's generally agreed that comments are a gateway to chat discussions that people wouldn't have engaged in otherwise. This doesn't mean that repeated use of comments to promote personal non-mainstream views is okay, but I don't think it should be completely forbidden. $\endgroup$
    – Amit
    May 13, 2023 at 0:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Amit while this is a valid point this site is not a discussion forum… $\endgroup$ May 13, 2023 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero Very fair point, Idk honestly how to pin down properly the usefulness of comments in this context, when we have apparently an ideal which diverges from reality, with reality perhaps having some perks that the ideal does not :) I trust the community to make the best decision here $\endgroup$
    – Amit
    May 13, 2023 at 1:23

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I'm glad you brought this up.

There are users who definitely abuse comments, possibly as they realize these cannot be downvoted (hence no reputational cost). It seems in fact some users have been emboldened over time to include increasingly controversial comments.

The only practical way is to flag the most egregious ones. Possibly custom flags would be more appropriate as they would cumulatively highlight problematic users.

The difficulty is that reputation does grant commenting privilege so it's difficult to police individual abusers who have sufficient reputation, unless it's a direct action by the mod team.

(Although asked in a different context this old question of mine is pertinent: are there consequences if a user abuses their commenting privilege?)

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    $\begingroup$ Without getting into specifics, the mod team has definitely reached out to some users to say, “you’re using comments wrong and you gotta stop.” $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    May 12, 2023 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ @rob I'm glad to hear this; is custom flagging the optimal way to alert the mod team in such cases? $\endgroup$ May 12, 2023 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, flags are the best way to bring issues to the moderators’ attention. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    May 12, 2023 at 16:29
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The It's no longer needed flag option is described as:

This comment is outdated, conversational, or not relevant to this post.

and I suppose the not relevant to this post would apply to non-mainstream comments. Alternatively there is the Something else option, though I can't help feeling it is unfair to expect the moderators to act as our thought police.

Diverging slightly from the question, the best way to deal with niche opinions is to post a good answer, i.e. lead by example, as indeed naturallyInconsistent did. It is always better to be positive than negative. As for comments, a good answer beats any number of negative comments every time.

Diverging even further from the question, we need to be careful before we judge in these situations. There have been decades of arguments about photons, and indeed more generally about the physical interpretation of quantum field theory. A quick search of the Physics SE will find several highly upvoted questions on this issue. We do get crackpots on the site from time to time, and I have crossed swords with some of them, but it isn't clear to me that the people involved in this discussion have crossed this line.

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  • $\begingroup$ "the people you accuse have crossed this line." user B comment has been deleted $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    May 12, 2023 at 6:07
  • $\begingroup$ @annav OK, I've edited my answer accordingly. $\endgroup$ May 12, 2023 at 6:09
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that a "good" answer beats an off-topic comment. But I don't think it beats any number of such comments. After a while, the entire discussion shifts/drifts and nothing is being added vis a vis the main post. Anytime I see someone say "photons are not particles" or similar generic comments attacking someone's usage of a common word or phrase, I wonder: what's the point? As to where the line is... there has to be more substance presented than merely attacking that word or phrase. You shouldn't have to defend mainstream usage. $\endgroup$
    – DrChinese
    May 12, 2023 at 16:50
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    $\begingroup$ @DrChinese If you see a comment and think, “what’s the point of this comment?”, please flag the comment as “no longer needed.” $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    May 13, 2023 at 3:46
  • $\begingroup$ However, one has to point out that 1) when the offending spamming comments are flagged with "not relevant", it often gets rejected. 2) mods should have something more convenient than to have to read the "something else" 3) having a specific category makes it not just easier to use, but rather also easier to inspect the statistics thereof 4) The spamming comments quite often leads to preaching sessions. $\endgroup$ May 15, 2023 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ @rob Thanks for letting me know. $\endgroup$
    – DrChinese
    May 15, 2023 at 14:34
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It seems to me that the problem with many of these comments is that not that they are out of the mainstream, but that they are nothing more than announcements of the commenter's preferred way of thinking about things, and therefore inappropriate for the same reason that repeated announcements of the commenter's preferred breakfast cereal would be inappropriate. (The inappropriateness is often compounded by an unwarranted aggressive tone, but that, I think, is secondary to the main point.)

I will mention in passing that I feel exactly the same way (and for exactly the same reasons) about the people who feel compelled to announce at every opportunity that they prefer not to think in terms of relativistic mass. It's usually not my preferred way of thinking either, but I can't imagine why anyone would find that interesting enough for me to post a comment about it.

I will also mention in passing that there used to be another user who sometimes posted useful content, but who also posted a lot of quite tedious comments expressing views extremely similar to those of User-B (and in much the same tone). That user stopped posting several years ago. I have wondered whether User-B is the same person with a new name.

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