It came up on the question How to deflect awkward questions when shopping for women's clothing as a man? but I've seen it repeatedly on this site.

I'm a long-term Stack Exchange user and I understand the nature and point of comments. However, IPS seems a little different. People are writing in with difficult, personal problems looking for not just answers, but I believe a little emotional support. Some people--myself included--left some supportive comments on OPs question; he's clearly going through a difficult time. While I agree they'd be rightfully deleted on other sites, deleting them here seems like a violation of the "Be Nice" policy. Sometimes a kind word can be more helpful than an answer. I know there's a fine line there, but maybe mods are a little too quick to delete sometimes?

  • Something I should change to counter the downvotes, or are you just downvoting because you disagree?
    – user3306
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 21:28
  • 9
    Downvotes almost always indicate disagreement on meta @thumbtackthief. I have rarely seen anybody downvote on meta for any other reason. I 'indicated support' if not agreement by upvoting here! Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 23:36

5 Answers 5


A truly supportive comment is a kind thing to do but it's only of use to one person. SE doesn't have a private messaging service - and I'm glad that I don't have to moderate one - but it makes it difficult to do what you'd like to do here - send a kind message to someone in distress.

If we didn't have a comment problem already on this site, I'd be less strict about that sort of thing - and very occasionally I will leave (not delete) such comments, particularly if there's only one and it's highly upvoted. What becomes problematic is when we get a dozen or more comments all commiserating with the OP. It obscures actual requests for clarification or information and makes comments less useful. As such, I really can't see a reason whitelist them.

In addition, we do "get away" with supportive comments from time to time by including them within a comment that does what comments should - ask for clarification or more information.

This sounds like a really tough situation you're in and I really hope we can give you some help here. To do that better could you please explain what you'd like to get out of this situation more clearly?

Some full disclosure here... I appreciate that you would like to be supportive of the OP in situations where they are going through something difficult but all of your comments on that answer that have been deleted (by a moderator - me) were not supportive comments. They were answers in comments or just general comments.

Might I suggest online shopping? Long answer: yes of course, be proud of who you are, it's nobody's business, find like-minded people, etc, etc, but sometimes I understand it's easier to just avoid the problem. And congrats for getting to explore your true self. It's not easy. – thumbtackthief Nov 2 at 19:24

Dammit someone has beaten me to the punch on every thing I've typed for this question :P – thumbtackthief Nov 2 at 19:24

While we may be willing to allow comments that actually ask for clarification while also being supportive, we will not allow answers in comments that also happen to include words of support. We have a very strict policy of removing answers in comments.

  • The comments are out of control at TWP. I don't flag as often as I should, but I've got over 300 useful flags over there. You don't want it here.
    – user4548
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 22:03
  • 2
    @TheSnarkKnight ... I think you underestimate the number of comments I delete.
    – Catija
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 22:09
  • Probably, but still. We're out of control, I hope you're not.
    – user4548
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 22:22
  • Monica and I were comparing numbers the other day... she was surprised... There's a reason we're going to be used as a test subject for this.
    – Catija
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 22:26
  • Cool, we could use it too.
    – user4548
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 22:27
  • 1
    So... How are any of these ^^^ comments different?
    – user3306
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 0:50
  • @thumbtackthief This is meta.
    – Catija
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 0:57
  • 2
    Sigh. The rules seem arbitrary and at the whims of those in power. I think I'm going to stay away from these sites unless for work purposes from now on. I always walk away feeling bad.
    – user3306
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 1:01
  • 4
    @thumbtackthief I agree that it's somewhat complicated and takes a bit of getting used to. When I first got my diamond here I started treating comments on meta like I did on main and was quickly corrected that comments on meta (like voting) are different. Unless they're abusive or overly argumentative, we don't spend much time curating them. Part of this is because Meta is about discussion - something that's not really welcome on the Main sites. I do hope you'll give the site some time. The rules aren't as convoluted as you might think at first.
    – Catija
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 1:53

I think it's best to keep a lid on the comments before comment abuse becomes habit.

At TWP, we are constantly dealing with comment storms that are driving the moderators batty.

So, yes, this stack is different, but I would put the kindness and support in the answers, not the comments. If you allow comments of support, then someone is going to start snarking in the comments and when the mods have to delete them, it's going to cause trouble. I see this all the time.

As with all stacks, the comment section is designed for improvement of questions and comments, not for chat and not for support. That is not the same thing as saying we shouldn't be supportive, BTW, just that the comments are not the place to do it.

  • I'm not sure I follow... why would allowing comments of support mean allowing snark? I'm just saying when there's one or two supportive comments, maybe leave them. I'm not suggesting allowing a non-stop stream.
    – user3306
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 21:22
  • @thumbtackthief I'm not saying it would be allowing snark, but it would certainly be snark-bait. I'm somewhat familiar with the subject.
    – user4548
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 21:28
  • 3
    @thumbtackthief Because it creates a situation where your version of no-touch comments are okay, but someone else's aren't. Where do you draw that line? Who gets to "chat" in comments? Comments still do not have the features needed to vet or correct/edit whatever folks might discuss there, so the nuanced difference between the misuse of comments and "I'm just trying to be helpful" will only make the minefield of "you're commenting wrong" more divisive and unfathomable than ever. Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 21:31

What tends to happen is a sort of false parity... One person's support is an affront to someone else's deeply held belief... It's unfortunate, but still true.

One or two supportive comments get left and then a bunch of noisy, argumentative, or completely rude comments follow. Eventually a mod notices or gets flagged in and sees the mess and removes all of it rather than sifting out the nicer ones.

I think a part of the reasoning is to try not to show a bias one way or the other. Noise is noise whether the mods think it's nice noise or not.

I feel your pain here. I'm queer and I've gotten in trouble around here and had my comments deleted too. At a point I realized that for a site that allowed me to post this and this to survive as a Stack Exchange site, I still had to treat it like a Stack Exchange site. Trust me, picking my battles is hard for me, but I came to understand that there was a greater good at stake.

In order to really help people, I had to be willing to work with the system a little more than I was when I started out here...

  • Yeah it sounds like your argument is "We can't let people be nice to gay people without also allowing bigots their say too."
    – user3306
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 0:49
  • @thumbtackthief I was trying really hard not to say that... The site has been accused of "silencing conservatives" a few times now, it helps the site and the issues at hand to not give them a "look I'm being oppressed" platform.
    – apaul
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 0:53
  • 1
    Comments are also deleted to prevent the development of potentially divisive large-scale social debates in the comments section @thumbtackthief. Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 0:53
  • @thumbtackthief just try to do the right thing in answers, rather than comments. Solves a lot of problems in one motion.
    – apaul
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 0:54
  • Yeah fine. This is not the first time I've run afoul of homophobia and bigotry on this site. Perfectly acceptable to say "I was raised to think LGBT people are sinners," but I doubt I'd be allowed to say "I was raised to think Christians are bigoted morons." Can you just delete my question, since there's no way to shut off notifications? I knew when I posted it that it was a bad idea and I should have trusted my instincts.
    – user3306
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 1:05
  • And for what it's worth, it's massively fucked up that questions regarding my existence are marked as controversial.
    – user3306
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 1:06
  • @thumbtackthief I feel your pain here. I'm queer and I've gotten in trouble around here and had my comments deleted too. At a point I realized that for a site that allowed me to post this and this to survive as a Stack Exchange site, I still had to treat it like a SE site. Trust me, picking my battles is hard for me, but I came to understand that there was a greater good at stake.
    – apaul
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 1:21
  • @thumbtackthief Actually, the part of the question that was causing the controversy and caused the post notice... was the vegetarianism. So, please, consider that we aren't what you think we are.
    – Catija
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 5:16
  • @thumbtackthief I really hope you didn't bail. I could use some backup around here...
    – apaul
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 5:44
  • @thumbtackthief I could really use that back up right about now.
    – apaul
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 8:34

I don't think this is a good idea.

Comments are supposed to be for clarification and improvement of posts, not for show of solidarity. Wavering on that principle now will only lead to more answers being buried in comments and more pointless discussions happening in comments.


I will add a point that I didn't see yet.

People asking questions here are looking for solutions more than nice comments IMO. Because nice comments won't resolve the problem they're facing. They can get lot of nice comments everywhere on the net or even IRL.

If you really want to be supportive, you're best option is to think enough of a solution for an OP.

You may not be able to write a full detailled answer that cover the whole subject, as your knowledge may be only partial, but it can already :

  • Give interesting things for the OP to lookup
  • Give idea for others people that write answers.
  • Personally, I'm not a big fan of writing 'partial' answers that provide OP's with things to look up or ideas other people can work on...meta.stackexchange.com/questions/301807/…
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 11:24
  • 1
    Well, I didn't know exactly how to expressed it, but it was more to answer with what you know, and that is your knowledge that is partial, even if you expect that someone will give a more detailled answer.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 12:04
  • That sounds better ;-) Answers written from own experience are welcome! Especially if there isn't an answer yet addressing that angle...
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 12:05

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