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There are a lot of comments on both questions and answers which are jokes, "attaboys", or wildly tangential.

I love them. To me, they supply much of the charm and verve of the site. An example of some comments on an answer: How can I stop enabling my brothers without my mom exploding?

Well, per our help pages (https://interpersonal.stackexchange.com/help/someone-answers), we don't do any of this:

Please do not add a comment on your question or on an answer to say "Thank you". Comments are meant for requesting clarification, leaving constructive criticism, or adding relevant but minor additional information – not for socializing.

If taken to an extreme, this means that the comments will look like a transcript of a copy-editing session. Is this the intent, or do I misunderstand?

  • Changed title; from "serious" to "strict". Thought that fit better. – akaioi Oct 26 '17 at 4:00
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Ideally, yes, comments should look like the transcript of a copy-editing session, for the most part.

Everyone likes a little bit of fun. But fun's only good when it doesn't get in the way of the serious stuff. If you've got two or three people making funny comments on a post, and one person trying to engage in constructive criticism to make it better . . . that person's going to be really frustrated really quickly because they'll get drowned out. It's also a bit demoralizing for that person. Commenters should care about making a post better. If your priority is to be funny, then you're kinda missing the point of Stack Exchange.

Remember what it says in the tour:

This site is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum. There's no chit-chat.

IPS is already a non-traditional Stack Exchange site. We do, at times, risk getting close to being a forum. But we're not here to be a forum. We're here to be something more than that. Let's not forget what we are, and what we're not.

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Since a Stack Exchange website is not a forum, the comments section is the one place where members can interact in an on-topic manner (I know that for more general interactions we have the chat section.)

Therefore users, in addition to making good use of the comments section for all the intended purposes, will also appreciate or disagree with the post owner, express thanks and engage in broadly relevant discussions in the comments section.

I personally feel it entirely justified to post constructive comments identifying a very good answer, quoting a short extract of what I considered its best content. When I am the person asking the question I will do the same but add sincere thanks for the kind members making the effort to answer my question.

This is a more specific way to draw attention to the qualities of the post, in addition to generic upvoting; and also my way of appreciating and encouraging members who are doing some very good work here. It may or may not come within the strict definition of comments, but it cannot be considered irrelevant by any decent standards, and I am happy to note that my such comments have been upvoted and not usually deleted.

I have noted that the type of less relevant comments you refer to are posted more often by new users who are probably not fully aware of the site policy regarding comments, and less often by experienced users. It is tolerated by moderators and the community as long as the comments are not blatantly off-topic. Moreover comments are ephemeral and less relevant comments will be deleted by the user or by a moderator (whether or not flagged by another user) sooner or later, giving a tidy and 'serious' look to the comments section.

There is also a graded system of 1 week --> 1 month (repeat offence) --> 1 year suspension for users who persistently misuse the comments section for posting off-topic matters or for conducting prolonged discussions/ arguments even after being warned by moderators.

So yes, we are indeed strict about insisting on appropriate use of the comments section!

  • No. Comments saying "this is a good answer" will be (and largely have been) removed. That's clearly explained on the comments page as a reason to upvote. – Catija Oct 27 '17 at 12:20

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