I was looking on a specific question to see what the latest activity on it was, and I noticed that some comments (including some of my own) have been removed. Normally if comments are removed, a mod posts a comment saying that the comment section is not for extended discussion and they've been moved to chat, but there instead was no notice whatsoever.

I could understand if my comments have been removed for the reason of extended discussion, but I do not think they were offensive. One of my comments had several upvotes on it as well, so I'm wondering why they were removed.

The comments were on this question. Thanks.

  • 4
    If you're going to downvote, maybe comment why. In case you're wondering, questions like this are on-topic on meta. If asking in a chatroom is preferred, please post a link so I know which one.
    – mbomb007
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 0:06
  • Were you asking for clarification or for more information?
    – apaul
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 0:07
  • @apaul I'm not sure what you're referring to. About the deleted comments, I want to know why they were deleted and why they weren't moved to chat. If they were flagged and removed, I'd like to know what about them warranted their removal.
    – mbomb007
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 0:09
  • Were your, now deleted, comments asking for clarification or for more information?
    – apaul
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 0:10
  • No, they would probably count as extended discussion, which normally gets sent to chat if there's enough comments. This question may need a moderator to answer it, because I don't think anyone else would know the answer.
    – mbomb007
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 0:11
  • What does the usual moderator message say when they move comments to chat?
    – apaul
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 0:13
  • @apaul meta.stackexchange.com/questions/239513/…
    – mbomb007
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 1:39
  • 3
    "Comments are not for extended discussion" right?
    – apaul
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 1:41

3 Answers 3


I deleted the comments. Any post with more than twenty comments is autoflagged by the system. As a moderator, it's my job to review them and determine if the comments need to be there. In this case, I decided that most of the comments were either unnecessary or tangential. None of them were rude.

Upvotes really don't mean anything when it comes to preserving a comment. A comment being popular doesn't make it not "noise". Comments are ephemeral and not meant to be long-lived. If you want something to stick around, put it in an answer (assuming it is one).

We have a pretty strict policy prohibiting answers in comments here and your first comment was, essentially, that:

@AnonymousNo345 Why don't you ask the other women in the group separately if it offends them? If I say that the women are good at X, that's not a negative thing as long as X is a positive choice a woman could take, whether those women plan on doing X or not. Complimenting women on being housewives is not negative. After all, men ought to serve their wives as much as they serve their husbands. Saying women from a country are good at that is no more offensive than saying the men from the country are good husbands or fathers.

You start with a rhetorical question and then answer it yourself. That's not a comment, that's an answer. Whether it's a good answer or not is up to the community to decide by voting. If you want to understand why these comments aren't allowed, feel free to read the post I linked above.

The remainder of your comments were responses to a question about your "answer" and your response to them. If you'd written a proper answer instead of comments, that request for clarification and your response (preferably in the form of an edit to your answer) would have been fine and dandy.

Since the "discussion" wasn't really worth preserving in my opinion (moderators can only move comments to chat once, so we have to use it carefully), I didn't move the comments to chat, choosing instead to remove them. Please feel free to use your comment as the basis for an answer, if you wish, but please refrain from writing answers in the comments section.

  • 1
    Okay, thanks for your answer!
    – mbomb007
    Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 18:22
  • I understand your policy on this. However, I do want to criticize the strategy you opt for, because it is not very transparent to whomever has a comment deleted. In the future, might it be worth adding a comment pointing to this answer to reduce such confusion? [There is a certain irony in this question since it is about interpersonal skills - should I post this on the main site?] Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 7:45
  • 1
    @FirefoxMetzger I do post comments sometimes... when I feel that it's necessary. But, more often than not, telling people that comments were removed often makes more people curious about why or what the comments were. Adding comments to a post I'm removing comments from (potentially causing discussion in the comments about why the comments were removed) just replaces one argument with another.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 14:17
  • 2
    Unfortunately this happens regularly and quite broadly and a lot of valuable thoughts and additions to a lot of answers are lost that way (only on this Stack, I might add) It also usually happens to fast to really give the commentators a chance to make improvement or answers out of it. I think that this leads to quality-problems on this site!
    – user6109
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 14:56
  • 3
    @Daniel If you have concerns about it in general, feel free to ask about it. I'm not going to get into a long discussion on it here.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 15:50
  • 1
    @Catija, This would be nice except I've just seen an answer that followed these rules and you objected to this answer - in a comment - because you felt that the answer was not relevant to the post. Except that it was. And if it wasn't, readers could have downvoted it, as you suggest. interpersonal.stackexchange.com/a/13043/3641
    – davidbak
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 1:12
  • @Daniel - I agree, and this happens on several SE sites I'm aware of because users - including me - frequently have a different idea of what comments are useful and valuable for than the site itself does. But the site's idea of what makes a valid comment is controlling, not your idea or my idea. So we just have to suck it up.
    – davidbak
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 1:15
  • 2
    @davidbak That comment was stating that the answer didn't answer the question. That's not an objection to the opinion/suggestion expressed in the post itself, but a note by a community member suggesting that the post be edited to better address the comment.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 2:05

How comments are moderated

Members of the community who have gained 15 reputation are given the permission to flag posts. It's a well discussed policy on SE that comments are not intended to be permanent. As a community our way of implementing this is through flagging. We have three options for flagging comments.

  1. Rude or Abusive
  2. No Longer Needed
  3. In need of Moderator intervention

The "Rude/Abusive" flag is used for comments that violate the Be Nice policy. The "no longer needed" flag is used for comments that are chatty (ex: "+1 I agree"), obsolete (responding to other comments that have been deleted or have been edited into the post), or are otherwise unnecessary. The "moderator attention" flag is used for special cases that aren't handled by the other two flag reasons. A common reason to use this flag is if a large number of comments in a chain need to be handled.

Comments that receive 3 + number of upvotes / 3 flags are automatically deleted, and all other flagged comments are put into a queue that the moderators have access to.

This specific post

The post you mentioned and its answers attracted a lot of unnecessary comments which were removed. A number of those comments were picked up by the chat bot which looks for comments that are likely to be unnecessary. The bot checks all comments on IPS against a set of patterns that have been defined as commonly flaggable. If any of these patterns exist in the comment, it is posted in chat by the bot. The bot DOES NOT cast any flags of it's own. It's a good bet that many of them got flagged and removed by the community without moderator intervention.

  • It might be useful for this answer if you can clarify exactly what the Bot does and, more importantly, doesn't do.
    – user9837
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 13:51
  • 1
    @Spagirl - the bot detects comments via the use of certain regexes that are set by humans in chat. If it detects a comment that matches one of these regexes, it posts the comment to The Awkward Silence for people to look at. It does not automatically flag or anything in any way.
    – Mithical
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 14:02
  • @ArwenUndómiel can anyone set those regexes or is it just you?
    – Rainbacon
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 14:29
  • @Rainbacon - currently anyone. Also, the source code is publicly available: github.com/thesecretmaster/ips-comment-bot
    – Mithical
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 14:34
  • Any chance of also making it plain English? I think I've worked out from lurking in chat what it does, but if 'regex' means 'words or phrases' for all relevant intents and purposes,can't we say that given that not everyone interested in IPS shares an interest in Computer Science?
    – user9837
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 14:51
  • 1
    @Spagirl regexes are patterns. One of the regexes for example checks to see if the text "+1" or "-1" appears in the comment.
    – Rainbacon
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 14:52

I think for some comments we agree they should be removed and no explanation is necessary. This is i.e. the case if there was a comment to clarify and the question or answer was clarified.

But I agree with you that it seems some comments are removed (without any information) by people who have a different view and simply don't like the comment. Some of the recent questions here in meta are about that problem.

I am not a moderator and I don't know how to convince some moderators that their world view is not the only world view. Maybe we should just continue to write comments (within the official limits) and if they get deled write more comments. Maybe after a while the moderators will see that if they delete a comment there will be a new comment and if they delete it again there will be another one. At some stage they should get tired and/or maybe rethink their strategy.

To be clear: I don't ask people to spam comments and I don't ask them to write offensive or troll comments. My idea is that if the moderators see that there are enough people out there with a different world view then they might start to accept that they have not the only valid word view and let people state their opinions without just deleting them.

I don't know how many moderators exist here and how many of them delete comments which they don't like all the time. Maybe there is just one of them who deletes all this.

  • 7
    Comments are always temporary and subject to removal. It might be that yours got swept up in a cleanup action and that's fine. It's also worth noting that regular users can't remove comments, only multiple regular users flagging and/or a moderator can do that.
    – Magisch
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 11:45
  • 2
    Comment deletion have nothing to do with world view. When they're not appropriate content for the site, they are removed as a matter of policy across all SE sites. Repeatedly breaching such policy isn't going to change the application of policy by moderators, it just invokes more policy - like suspending users silly enough to not get/actively ignore the message that they are posting inappropriate content. Perhaps if you can't even find the number of moderators on a site, you don't know enough about SE and its policies to be making such statements about it.
    – Nij
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 3:13
  • 1
    To add to what Nij said, remember that unless a mod happens to be reading the comment thread, regular users are the ones bringing particular comments to their attention, via flags. It is human nature that users are more likely to flag a chatty comment that they disagree with, than one they agree with. So, you can help even things out by flagging all the chatty comments you see regardless of which side they are supporting.
    – Em C
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 13:19
  • (BTW you can see the mods here, we have three here.)
    – Em C
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 13:21

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