Looking at this answer to a question about an embarrassing scenario: https://interpersonal.stackexchange.com/a/5177/6468 . If it's relevant, I wrote the answer.

The answer intends to give advice on how OP can reassure a young relative after she caught him in an embarrassing position. The comments contain some tangential information about how my family might have reacted differently. I did not believe that was relevant enough to put into the answer proper. There were comments suggesting that I do put some of that information into the answer. I read them, and made as many updates as I thought warranted.

I have been sternly schooled in the notion that comments are intended to request improvement to an answer and provoke updates to the answer, and that's it. Not my favorite notion, but okay, that's the standard.

So ...

Should not comments then expire? The person who writes the answer will either take the advice & make updates, or not. Community-minded users will then either delete the answer or allow it to stay. The comments have served their purpose.

Side-note ... this also gets rid of irrelevant, "+1", and joke comments.


  • Related request on StackExchange meta (which also links to an older request)
    – Em C
    Oct 11, 2017 at 16:19
  • More cons than pros for implementing them.
    – NVZ
    Oct 11, 2017 at 16:19
  • This is more of a network-wide matter, and it's already answered multiple times on the mother meta. Worth checking those out first. :)
    – NVZ
    Oct 11, 2017 at 16:21
  • Seeing as I'm still around, (I'm Mari-Lou A and I am waiting for my account to be deleted), I can still post a comment. You are really asking for a feature request, see @NVZ's comment above. I have also suggested in the past that comments, all of them, should be deleted automatically by the system after 72 hours, but on IPS that would be too early, seeing there are so few questions posted on a daily basis, we're around 5 questions a day. In which case, maybe seven days after being posted, comments should be automatically deleted?
    – user3114
    Oct 12, 2017 at 7:56

1 Answer 1


No. Comments should not expire at some predetermined time. Good comments may point out faults with the answer - particularly on less subjective sites. If these faults are not addressed - either by clarifying or correcting the post body - that doesn't make the comments less valid. If only the OP can clarify, we can not fully judge the post - whether a question or answer. These comments should be a signal to others that the post may not deserve an upvote because they are unclear or imprecise or completely wrong. Removing them is a disservice to the people who come after to judge the post.

A user who is inexperienced may take a post with some upvotes and no comments as a good answer. If that post had originally had a comment questioning the correctness - by asking for supporting information or documentation - this would tell the inexperienced user that they may want to find a better solution to this problem.

If a comment is a +1 comment or a joke comment or argumentative, it should be flagged and the moderators can either remove it or move the chain of comments to chat.

In relation to your specific answer:

The main gist of the comment I left you is that your answer fails to explain itself.

Why would you do this? Answers need to support themselves and explain why they are good solutions. If you've been in this situation before, feel free to share your experience. If you have not, explain why you think this is appropriate. You've mentioned some of this explanation in your comments... please don't leave it there - add it and any other detail to your answer.

The initial revision of the comment actually did not include the final sentence as I hadn't seen the comments you had posted. If you think those comments are tangential to the question/your solution, you don't have to include them but that does not mean that your answer should not include support at all.

From practically the beginning of this site - the very long duration of less than four months ago - we have debated what we expect answers here to contain. One of the things that we seem pretty strongly to feel is that we need answers to back themselves up.

If an answer calls out directly relevant personal experience, or reference materials, those are signs that the answer likely deserves an upvote. If the answer instead provides what seems like sensible advice, backed with an explanation of why that advice seems applicable to the situation, fully answers the question, but doesn't explicitly state what parallel experiences happened to the author that they are basing their advice on, that's fine, too.

If instead, an answer is brief, low quality, and doesn't seem to stand on its own, it is appropriate to downvote and add a comment saying "answers on this site should be backed up with either a reference, or experiences that happened to you personally", with a link to (our hopefully updated) help center.

(emphasis added)

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