I will later post my own opinion as answer, so this is to be viewed as a more or less neutral baseline for discussion - please comment / suggest edit if you have improvements

I've been active on this stack for a few months now, and I noticed that a constant source of trouble seems to be the deletion of comments. One common stumbling block seems to be, that they are handled more strictly here than on other sites. I'd like to get a discussion if we need to adjust or if the current practice already is the best compromise.

When you answer / vote - please also consider the effect different approaches of moderation could have on quality of posts and user base of this stack, not only the front most tidying effect that may affect usability.

Let me start off with SE's help center about comments

and clarification on meta

1. Purpose of comments

Clearly the main function of comments is to improve the corresponding questions and answers. By asking questions or pointing out errors, the author gets a chance to improve his post. Sometimes this is obvious (Your code example is missing an "end" command!) sometimes it is more subtle or even a series of comments that show the author that his post is prone to misunderstanding.

Secondary, as stated in the link above, comments can add relevant but minor or transient information to a post (e.g. a link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the question has been updated).

I'd like to point to a third function comments serve: Often they serve as a support in the cognitive process of coming up with a full-blown answer. This is especially true for topics that tent to be somewhat subjective, as a lot of IPS-topics tend to be. As such, comments can be a catalyst for Answers in a later "stage of thinking".

2. What to delete

I'd like to leave out of this discussion any comments that obviously have to be deleted because they are rude or abusive. Also comments which are clearly on topic and are currently not affected by any moderation.

So what about the rest:

  1. Me too comments (backup of experience?)
  2. Don´t do this (because ...)
  3. Related funny trivia
  4. Valid but obsolete by edit of author.
  5. Not quite answers
  6. Frame challenge
  7. Developing discussion

(... please expand)

3. When to delete

A middle ground for moderation could be to give comments which ultimately do not seem worth keeping some time to live, so others around the world have a chance to read and cognitive processes can start - but delete them after X hours to not clutter the thread.

4. How to delete

We basically have three options.

  1. Silent delete
  2. Delete with announcement/ explanation.
  3. Move to chat. (as I understand this is possible only once per post, but may have signalling function for later commentators)

Below link suggests:

Whenever possible, try to leave frequent comments on posts where you’ve taken (or considered taking) a moderator action, explaining the reasoning. This is important so that community members can learn the norms of the community and the moderation policies.

Some basics to consider from the SE-Philosophy:

A Theory of Moderation

The ideal moderator does as little as possible. But those little actions may be powerful and highly concentrated. Judiciously limiting your use of moderator powers to selectively prune and guide the community — now that’s the true art of moderation.

Previous related discussion:

Deletion of comments 1

Deletion of comments 2

Strictness of deletions

Request to leave supportive comments

Should comments be transient?

Stock comments

At last, let me thank all the moderators for their effort in keeping this site in shape. Please don´t take this as a complaint about your work but as an opportunity to fine-tune some aspects (or make us understand them better). If you think there is already sufficient broad and deep discussion on this topic, feel free to point me to it an I´ll retract my question!

  • 9
    I've seen this discussion in many forms, across many different stack exchange platforms. The answer to "are comments moderated too strictly?" is invariably "no, they are not. Comments should always be viewed as transient, subject to deletion at any time."
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 12:11
  • @Beofett: Can you give some references?
    – user6109
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 12:31
  • 3
    Gaming discussion, which references this meta.se discussion. Note in particular the `When should comments be deleted? section of the linked answer.
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 13:25
  • 2
    I´d also like to encourage down voters to contribute why you think this is not a worthwhile discussion to have. If you think all is well as it is, it would serve your cause much more to up vote the question as well as Tinkeringbell´s answer.
    – user6109
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 13:34
  • 4
    Note that on meta, votes are typically interpreted differently, since they do not come with a reputation benefit/penalty. Downvotes frequently indicate general disagreement. If you're concerned about downvotes anyway, phrasing the question more neutrally might help, since I expect you're getting downvotes from people who disagree that comments are moderated too strictly, and upvoted by people who agree.
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 13:44
  • 2
    I don´t know but that somehow feels like people did not read the argument but only voted on the title. This puts up the general question what those votes are worth. I´ll try to change it though, thanks for the suggestion!
    – user6109
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 13:51
  • 1
    On average, people on this site are more long-winded than on the other sites I am familiar with. The Qs are longer, the As are longer, there are more As, many of which don't add much to the first several posted. If the comments weren't quickly pruned back to those that directly address how to clarify the Q, the site would quickly become a field of kudzu.
    – user1760
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 22:06
  • I never liked the silent delete option. And I agree comments on IPS are deleted more frequently than on other sites. One time I posted a comment, and then it disappeared. I thought I had made a mistake (it was my first comment ever deleted), and I posted the same comment again. When it disappeared again I realised it had been deleted. Is there a way to signal that a comment has been deleted?
    – user11175
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 0:14

4 Answers 4


I disagree with the idea that comments are for improving posts; that's what edits are for. To quote the help that can be accessed when adding a comment:

Comments are used to ask for clarification or to point out problems in the post.

Or, to crib from the help center, comments are like Post-it Notes. Unfortunately, comments use some sort of industrial-strength sticky that keeps comments attached to the page more or less forever. Short of somewhat exceptional situations, comments are removed by moderators or not at all. The only way to hide comments is with MOAR comments. This is not a feature.

Some sites attract lots of comments by the nature of their topics. We've tried a hack that reduces their visibility, but doesn't actually solve the problem. Instead, we have put the job in the hands of moderators who mostly respond to flags. Our basic advice about what to do with excessive comments on posts is to purge them. If you want your words to stick around, post an answer instead. We also provide a move-to-chat function if the conversation seems important and not so caustic. Finally, moderators sometimes take it on themselves to add a comment reminding people not to comment so much.

The way the system is designed to work is for the best comments to be upvoted and for less useful comments to be hidden. Several years ago, I postulated that comment score is inversely proportional to friendliness. This was based on a large sample of comments rated by Amazon's crowdsourcing tool, the Mechanical Turk. Since then I've learned that data scientists developed lexicons that can be used to estimate sentiment of a text. Looking at the distribution of words by score, there are some interesting cases:

Words by number of comments that use them and average score

On the less upvoted side, you might notice some familiar names: oldpadawan, catija and apaul. These are almost entirely replies to these prolific users. I don't think it pays to read into those comments scores other than to say comments deep in a thread are less likely to get upvotes and replies are more likely to be further in the thread.[citation needed] There are also words explaining some site action such as updated, edit, edited, delete, chat, discussion and, of course, comment.

The word "voting" is used a lot and gets voted upon more often than one would suspect for a site about relationships. Weirder, this is also an outlier on Stack Overflow. The solution is fairly simple, actually. When people vote to close a question, the system inserts a comment that starts "I'm voting to close this question . . ." and each subsequent close vote for that reason adds a vote to the comment rather than duplicating it. The result is an unusual distribution with a spike at Score = 5.

At any rate, I brought this up to note that there are some fairly negative words that are upvoted: awful, arrogant, unsafe, creepy and trash. Now those almost certainly describe the content of the post they are attached to. Plenty of people have creepy ideas when it comes to human relationships. Unsurprisingly, this means that higher scored comments have lower sentiment scores on Interpersonal Skills:

score       n sentiment
------ ------ ---------
0       39532    -0.085
1       13925    -0.081
2        7077    -0.133
3        4171    -0.152
4+      11278    -0.182

Sentiment is based on the AFINN lexicon, which rates 2477 words on a scale from -5 (most negative) to +5 (most positive). Notice that all groups of comments average negative sentiment. This pattern holds on Stack Overflow too, by the way. So generally speaking, comments tend to be negative and the most visible comments tend to be even more negative.

All of this is to justify an aggressive attitude to comment deletion as long as the current system holds. There's more than enough negativity in this world, we might as well purge it when we can. And so, the moderators delete a ton of comments. Many of them were deleted at the prompting of a flag:

deleted  FlagType                   avg sentiment median length avg score     n 
-------- -------------------------- ------------- ------------- --------- ----- 
no       Comment Other                      0.043           351     1.457    70 
no       Comment Obsolete                  -0.026           350  2.004   269
no       Comment Rude Or Offensive         -0.065           372     1.613    62 
yes      Comment Obsolete                  -0.098           291     1.039  8696 
yes      Comment Other                     -0.301           361     1.196  1483 
yes      Comment Rude Or Offensive         -0.624           313     0.900  1161 

I tossed in comment length because of a theory I have that shorter comments tend to be less friendly or helpful than longer comments. At any rate, you can see the moderators have deleted thousands of comments. This past week, I did some light moderation and boy howdy do y'all love your comments! On the whole, they have preserved comments with higher scores and more positive sentiment than the comments they deleted. Notice that when they decline an "other" flag on a comment, those comments creep into positive territory (though barely).

As you might expect, rude comments are roughly twice as negative as other flagged comments. But the bulk of flagged comments are obsolete, which are not particularly likely to be negative. In my experience doing occasional moderation on the network, these flags are particularly difficult to handle since you gotta go search out the context. Why is this comment overtaken by events? Was there an edit? Did someone change their mind or resolve a misunderstanding? Is this just someone trying to make an enemy's argument disappear? That purge link starts to look a lot more attractive, let me tell you.

Bottom line

I mostly avoided answering your question because I used it as an excuse to present some data I've been playing with. That said, the data suggests a few things that might be helpful:

  1. Comments tend to be negative so deletion is a decent default action for moderators to take.
  2. Since we emphasize answers over comments, users ought to consider voting, editing and writing new answers instead of commenting.
  3. If you find yourself responding to a comment, double check that what you are saying still addresses the post too. If not, it might be time to go to chat or take a break from commenting. (That goes for meta too!)
  4. Moderators seem to have preserved comments that are more positive (according to sentiment analysis) than comments they deleted. If you want your comments to stick around, consider that.
  5. Moderators have a hard enough job on this site. Do them a favor and avoid complaining about comment deletion.
  • 9
    Thank you so much for this. I'm looking forward to reading it a few times and really digesting it. I'll point out that part of the comment help text you quote here has always seemed problematic to me: or to point out problems in the post. on this site, people tend to interpret this as giving them license to state their disagreement with the answer. "Your post is wrong because...". This wording may need some improvement or clarification 😉
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 1:41
  • I disagree with the idea that comments are for improving posts; that's what edits are for. > So we shouldn't use comments to ask people to back up their answers with experience, or to ask whether or not people would like to limit their question to something that's within IPS scope, and just edit? That's going to be ... fun.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 10:08
  • 5
    @Tinkeringbell: This requires wisdom. Like Parenting, The Workplace and the religious sites, this site tends to be more personal in terms of what people are saying in their posts. Edits are sometimes seen as hostile (and sometimes they actually are). Leaving a single comment that explains your objections without getting drawn into a discussion might be the better option. But comments don't fix the problems with a post unless someone edits. (I sometimes make a speculative edit and leave a comment explaining my reasoning and suggesting the author roll it back if they disagree.) Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 16:02
  • 1
    I've read this 3 times. Still too technical for me to understand it :/ because of the english terms and the ideas/concepts behind them, that I can't get... I fail to understand if being at the bottom was because I talk too much ^^ and/or make a bad use of comments, or because it was wisely used... Anyone to light the path for me? thanks :)
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 9:17
  • 1
    @OldPadawan: It's replies to you (like this comment) that are not highly upvoted. So it's not that you leave bad comments, but that voters don't find as much reason to upvote the people who respond to you. By definition, the votes are on comment other than the ones you posted. So the graph doesn't tell us anything about your comments at all even though your display name is listed. Well, maybe it says you comment a lot as do the other people who show up. That just means you are active here, however. (This is complicated for me to think about and I did the analysis!) Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 14:50
  • 1
    This site get more confusing every day: You say I disagree with the idea that comments are for improving posts yet the labeling of the comment-button was changed to suggest improvements???
    – user6109
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 9:23


  • All the categories of comments you mentioned aren't asking for clarification or suggesting improvements, and since that's what's comments on SE are for, they are removed.
  • Ideally, these are removed as soon as possible to avoid setting a precedent for others or to prevent arguments that can turn quite nasty.
  • Ideally, these comments are removed by community flags, and not moderators. The community does sometimes leave comments, just like the mods, explaining why the comments are flagged/removed, if this is deemed necessary.

Now, as for your different categories of comments, they all have their problems:

a. Me too comments (backup of experience?)

I don't think comments are the place for this. Even though you might have had a similar experience as well, a comment's character limit makes it hard to draw good parallels between your situations, the situation as described in the answer and the situation as described in the question. Just upvote the answer as being something that's good, and that works in your experience as well.

Leaving room for me-too comments would mean we should treat me-not! (or type-b 'don't do this') comments the same way. Otherwise, we are censoring the stuff we don't want to hear, and leaving only the stuff we do want to hear.

b. Don´t do this (because ...)

This was discussed before, to some extent, here and also here. Basically, if you think an answer is wrong or dangerous in any way, leaving a comment stating your disagreement isn't the way to go. If you don't understand the motivations for the advice, you can ask about that. Otherwise, just write your own answer, pointing out why certain things should not be done, and back that up with cultural information, experiences and maybe even sources.

c. Related funny trivia

Although I do like a good joke from time to time, I find that such comments aren't asking for clarification or suggesting improvements. Even more so, some of the topics asked about here lend themselves to a kind of inappropriate humor: To you, something may be funny, to the rest, it may seem like you're ridiculing their experience. Jokes or funny trivia to me seem like you're making fun at the expense of the person on the other side of the post.

e. Valid but obsolete by edit of author.

All comments on StackExchange are only temporal. If a post is edited, and comments have become obsolete, that's perfect! The purpose of the comment has been fullfilled. Now, it's time to delete them, there's no need to dwell on the past. Leaving comments like that might cause some problems, a few that I can think of:

  • A question still being in the close-vote queue, and people casting close-votes because, hey, there's outstanding comments asking for clarification!
  • Confusion on the premise of a question. If a question get's changed from very broad to something much narrower, we want as little trace of the original question around as possible, to avoid answers to the original post.
  • On answers, some people see the comment before the answer (especially on short answers) and think they agree more with the comment, and are not seeing the attempt to fix whatever was the problem. Leaving the comments around may lead to downvotes the answer doesn't really deserve any more.

f. Not quite answers

Comments aren't meant for answers, they're also not meant for half-assed ones. If they're not quite answers, maybe think of what you're really looking for. Do you need more clarification before you want to write an answer? Then why not use the comments for their intended purpose: asking for that clarification?

If you include links to relevant questions on IPS in the 'not quite answers' category, comments pointing out related posts to an OP are generally not removed as far as I know.

g. Frame challenge

Please, don't do this in a comment! Writing a good subjective answer is already hard enough. Challenging the frame of a question within the character limit of a comment is just not going to work.

If you really want to explain someone as to why the skill they're asking about would be a bad thing to do/use, you can do so in answer, and include experience and sources to point out and discuss why it is so important to never do this. And you can offer an alternative in the answer as well. That's basically what a good frame challenge does.

If you feel the need to challenge another frame, your comment is more likely to fall under type h.

h. Developing discussion

'You shouldn't feel this way', 'You shouldn't believe that'... They're not frame-challenges. They're the start of a discussion. We have specifically decided in the early days of this site, that it's important to stick to the premise of a question.

The same goes for answers, telling someone from a certain culture they are doing stuff wrong because in your culture/experience it is done in another way, is a developing discussion of the type 'who's right, who's wrong' that has no place on this site.

If the developing discussion is about how this site is run, it's best to take that discussion to meta.

I think the moderators already explained stuff on when developing discussions are moved to chat and when not, here: It can only be done once.

As for when to delete, ideally, this is all done as soon as possible. If we allow me-too comments, we also have to allow the me-not! comments. And seeing a me-too comment makes it ever so tempting to leave a me-not comment.

This may seem weird and counterintuitive, but trust me, I've seen worse response times on some comments when I joined, and have seen the consequences. They weren't pretty. Obsolete comments are obsolete, and there's no need to leave them around so 10 people from around the world can upvote them, without the other 50 being able to downvote it.

As for who does the deletion, in some cases it's the community. In an ideal world, all is done by the community and these comments aren't even written in the first place.

So, moderators on this stack spent time handling those comments that get 1 or 2 flags, that don't reach the treshold for automatic deletion. And I have declined comment flags, so it's not like they're mindlessly deleting everything just because it's flagged.

Both moderators and the community do leave comments explaining why comments are removed. But it's a bit of an overkill to post 'Your comment wasn't asking for clarification or suggesting improvement, so we deleted it' on every post here, or for every comment. Such comments are usually made when discussions are moved to chat, or when people keep coming back to a post to give their opinion.

  • Thank you for your Answer. Just to be clear, do you reject the Add relevant but minor or transient information to a post from the help-center as a valid reason to comment on this stack?
    – user6109
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 10:44
  • I've looked at that, and the help center already gives examples on this: e.g. a link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the question has been updated. I have addressed the links to related questions already. I think comments that are meant as alerts can be removed as obsolete once a post is edited or an edit is 'accepted' (OP confirms in a comment this is okay with them) for example
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 11:13
  • Another type of such comments may be leaving sources that you happen to know, like it was done here. As you can see, that comment has been left alone for a long time, waiting for the OP to decide to add that into the answer and improve their post from a one-liner to something that actually is an answer.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 11:14
  • 2
    @Tinkeringbell: It seems like you just repeat the current strict policy. Don't you think IPS could be better with other rules? I think the idea is to have a website which answers questions. Should the questions and answers and comments change or should maybe the website policy change?
    – user8838
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 11:18
  • 4
    @Edgar, I have quoted the current policy and reasons why I think it's a good idea. You wrote an answer saying why they're not... For me, this is about comments and the questions/answer they're made on. For you, apparently, it's not. Make your case for website policy change in your answer, and let people decide if they think it's a good idea or not. I personally think IPS would not be better with other rules, because I've seen the state this was in before these rules we have now, and part of what your answer is suggesting is inviting IPS back to a state before those rules.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 11:22
  • @Tinkeringbell: Interesting, I was not there at that time. Do you have any links i.e. to questions from that time? Or was this all cleaned up? Sometimes it's easy to imagine things would be better with other rules but experience is obviously better.
    – user8838
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 11:37
  • 3
    @Edgar about all of it was cleaned up. I'm talking about times when there isn't much community flagging, so the flags that were raised sometimes spent 6 hours sitting for a moderator to clean them up, attracting huge amounts of discussion and nastyness. It led to some discussion about moderators from different timezones, and the conclusion was basically that we as a community should pick up flagging instead of relying on the moderators... So far, we already seem to be doing a lot better (with a massive amount of improvement that can be done too, but hey..)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 11:45
  • 2
    @Daniel A key part of the add relevant but minor or transient information to a post is transient. I've always interpreted that as "this type of comment is appropriate, but not expected to be permanent additions to content". The guidelines I've typically seen are "good comments could result in changes to the question/answer, and once that happens (or fails to happen), the comment should no longer be necessary".
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 12:19
  • 1
    @Tinkeringbell: Thanks for the explanation! An thank you very much for the thought presentation of the current policy. Much appreciated answer!
    – user6109
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 12:30


I think moderation on comments should be less strict, because it would improve the overall quality and usability of this site.

I further think, what is still moderated should make more use of move to chat or at least leave an explanatory comment

1. Comments can provide context beyond their immediate apparent informational value.

A number of "don´t do this" answers do clearly indicate that this topic is highly controversial. Voting on the answer does not solve this. As it costs reputation most people don down vote too much, as can be seen on a lot of popular but off-topic answers.

Example: On this answer, I had several stern warnings of people that where of the opinion my answer could have harmful consequences. This did show that in this case there is really an extreme division between really good and really bad idea to follow this advice, depending on who you ask.

2. Comments can help to illustrate a problem better.

A lot of problems are quite common, and there may already be related media that deal with that specific problem. That may be research-papers, blog-posts, poems, songs, memes or just jokes. Not only does this help to better understand the problem, it also show that this is a common thing which is relevant as common problems tend to have common solutions.

Example: Here I did post a link to a parable that really illustrates part of the problem. A lot of readers could relate and also OP, yet it was deleted. I would have considered that relevant but minor or transient information

3. Especially relevant on IPS, Comments can serve as backup.

We already have a discussion about improving the quality of posts by backing up answers via either research or relevant experience that validates the proposed solution. A firsthand experience by second source can essentially double the backup of an experience-based solution.

Example: Again, on this answer, I had one comment from a user stating that this is exactly how he handles it, and it works for him too.

4. Comments can help to vent a users thoughts without the crutch of an makeshift answer.

Thus it improves the quality of the answers by not having those among them.

Example: This Answer from me was originally a comment. I don´t think this does meet minimal quality criteria. I originally posted it as a comment, which was deleted in minutes. I only posted it as an answer because I felt they prevailing ones did all miss the crux of the matter. I still don´t know what to make of it.

5. Comments can help making an immature thought into a full blown answer

Sometimes all you have is a little idea, that relates to a problem but does not make yet an answer. If you put it into a comment and get some feedback this can spark the necessary engagement of your brain to develop something worthy of a full blown answer.

Example: On worlbuilding.se I had such a thought, which was challenged by another user, which sparked some research and fact-checks on my side and ultimately resulted in a full answer, with sources (and probably sparked the expansion of another answer to regard this approach). I agree now is the time to delete those comments - but if you look at the timestamps, it took about 36 hours to get there.

6. Deletions frustrate users, which kills engagement.

If users drop in here from other SE-sites and promptly get deleted with something they would expect to be perfectly in order on other sites, they may get frustrated and decide not to bother. This leads to less diversity in the answers which in turn makes us miss possible good ones.

A less frustrating approach could be to move certain comments to chat - especially where a discussion develops. At least leave an explanatory comment. Those actions do essentially serve two functions: First, it shows some respect towards the original commentator, secondly it serves as a warning to further commentators. If a user has been warned by these and decides to post nonetheless and is subsequently deleted he will less likely be offended, because, well, he has been warned.

7. Comments can provide a kind of opinion trend, to put an answer into perspective

Good examples are answers going with a specific cultural norm. If you see some users agreeing and some disagreeing, while sating their countries you can easily put that answer into perspective before your own cultural background.

8. I think we are currently not quite in line with the general SE moderation guidelines.

I think it will be easier for users from other sites if we are somewhat consistent with what is found elsewhere.

  1. Your goal is to guide the community with gentle — but firm — intervention. Respect your fellow community members at all times; demonstrate fairness and impartiality in your actions.

for one, I think silent deletion is about the least respectful way to deal with the statements of a fellow human being. I would reserve this for rude behavior and SPAM.

For the rest:

  1. Whenever possible, try to leave frequent comments on posts where you’ve taken (or considered taking) a moderator action, explaining the reasoning. This is important so that community members can learn the norms of the community and the moderation policies.

Last I want to dispute a little bit the general idea that having somewhat cluttered comments is really harmful (but I am happy to be convinced otherwise, if you have any examples)

First, if comments grow SE-magic hides most of them so any future reader can easily concentrate on the actual answers. Anyone who clicks on "show more" will probably want to see the state of mind of the swarm for this specific post. So it is partly self-regulating.

About the quality-measures/ no down votes argument in comments: Calm down, anybody who makes life changing decisions based on some comment to some question in a forum on the internet, would probably not have made any better decision on their own. Also I have never seen a bad suggestion in comments which was not followed by someone pointing it out. (Which makes this a discussion, so a move to chat could be in order)

Last, thinking is not linear and any technique I know of for inspiring creative thinking works with introducing some from of chaos. I´d rather have some chaos in the comments and great answers in return, than tidy comments and boring answers.

Comments which are not immediately on topic, but inspiring can contribute in a subtle way to engage the users. I see no gain in deleting them as long as they are not otherwise harmful.

PS: I am sorry that all the examples revolve around posts put by me - its just the nature of the matter that I don´t have information of any other deleted comments.

  • 3
    A lot of the scenarios you proposed involves content that should just be put in the answer or post itself - no need to leave it lying in a comment. Having it separate from the answer means that people might miss it.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 13:16
  • 1
    @HDE 226868: Could you care to be a bit more specific. Currently I fail to see how any of the points I made could be solved by your suggestion.
    – user6109
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 13:25
  • 2
    Let's consider your second scenario, for instance (B). If that parable/anecdote really does give the question more context, then it would be helpful for the OP to edit it into the post themself (or if the person writing the comment is the OP, a direct edit would be preferable.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 13:39
  • 1
    @HDE 226868: This would result in OP partly answering his own question. The same logic could also be applied to links to related SE-Topics, which somehow seem to be ok. It is also a touchy subject to edit someones original post regarding content. To my experience this brings more problems than it solves. You may not think it important, but the reality is that currently such information is simply lost for good on IPS.SE - an all further thoughts it may have sparked with it.
    – user6109
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 13:47
  • 1
    @Catija: Sorry if I was unclear - it is lost for other users of the site.
    – user6109
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 14:14
  • 3
    The point of comments is that they are transitory. Something is important enough that it's loss will affect other users on the site, it should be included in the post itself.
    – sphennings
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 14:16
  • 4
    Because they never should have been posted in the first place. We are under no obligation to allow users to misuse the comment function on this or any site. Existing for only minutes is good.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 14:20
  • 1
    @Catija: Further you say they never should have been posted in the first place but you fail to address any of the concerns I have mentioned which come with such a policy. I´d be really happy to learn why the current approach to comments is beneficial - but to me it seem this approach only lead to those kind of low-quality, borderline off-topic answers that get constantly criticized.
    – user6109
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 14:34
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    The comments section isn't a forum. It exists for a specific purpose. To request clarification, to suggest improvements, and to provide minor transitory information. Any post that isn't in one of these three categories shouldn't have been a comment to begin with.
    – sphennings
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 14:38
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    If you think an answer is low-quality, borderline off topic, you should be voting it down, and asking them why they think their answer is appropriate, not pointing out where the fault that you see lies... you may just as well be wrong in your opinions as they are in their answer... so what makes that comment of value? You've only cast 16 downvotes ever on this site if the number of poor answers is so endemic, why aren't you downvoting more? Downvotes are a form of community moderation and one of the most effective ways of saying "this answer is bad". Use them.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 14:39
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    " Now you allow users and censor to your will what you deem is misuse?" No. The moderators enforce the policies set forth both by the community, and (where there is no overriding local community consensus) stack exchange. Removing comments that are a misuse of the comment system, as defined by both the platform and the community is hardly censoring to the moderator's "will".
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 14:40
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    @Beofett: As stated, I would have considered that relevant but minor or transient information a lot of readers also did, in that specific example. So yes, it kind of is. IF it had been deleted once an answer was found and accepted that would have been a different story. Currently I think this hurts the site and your failure to argue otherwise does not help to convince me that this is anything but arbitrariness.
    – user6109
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 14:46
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    @Catija: I am talking about this discussion and subsequent enforcement on some answers. As you well noticed I downvote when I see something that I deem as a bad post, but that is entirely off topic here.
    – user6109
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 15:00
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    We are stricter with the application of the policy here than on other exchanges because the nature of the site attracts a large volume of emotionally charged comments. Instead of trying to have a complicated and nuanced policy about what exactly is and isn't allowed in a comment, leaving lots of room for people to cry that the policy is being applied unfairly, it's easier all around to have one clear policy about what is and isn't allowed in a comment.
    – sphennings
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 15:18
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    @Daniel I know that wasn't directed at me, but rather than rejecting the notion that strict enforcement of the comment rules has any negative effects on the site, I'd instead argue that strict enforcement helps mitigate other problems that would otherwise cause far more harm than would be avoided by being more permissive of comments. I believe we have a widespread set of problems on this site directly related to the prevalence of comments. We may make a few people happier by being more tolerant of comments, but I believe we'd lose far more.
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 15:41

I am relative new here and lots of my comments were deleted. After a while I understood why some of the comments were deleted.

I like the idea about x hours delay before not so good, but not really interruptive comments should be deleted. Because some information which users want to add don't really fit in the definition of the comments and are also no answer. Examples are:

  • Not quite answers (like you mentioned above). Often people have an idea that this and that information could be useful to clarify the question or to start an answer. But it not quite an answer... I think these comments are often helpful.
  • Similar are questions to ask the OP to think about the situation in a different light. Often questions assume people will react like this or that but this is far away from certain. So it would make sense to look at other ways to look at the problem (similar to the beginning of a frame challenge without really challenging the situation, it's just a possible different way to look at things)
  • Sometime I think about articles or books which I read about a similar situation. I don't want to write a long answer with details from an article which is available online. But just a link to an article is no valid answer. But it also does not fit in the normal comment definition.

One delete option would be good but is probably difficult to implement: Sometimes people ask in comments for clarifications and then the question or answer is amended with this clarification. It would be good if the person who amends the question or answer can right away delete a comment which requested the amendment he just did. Now normal users can't delete these comments. And often they just add more comments like: "I just amended the question." It would be great if this could be solved. It would fast remove lots of comments which are not valid anymore.

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    The option to delete comments that are no longer relevant is already a flag option.
    – Magisch
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 10:58
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    One serious downside to the delete option you're considering is that people can make trivial edits, and singlehandedly remove comments. So, if people are asking for back up, change a word or two, and remove the comment. That's not really true to the nature of comments, because the commenter doesn't have the clarification they were after/the answer wasn't improved
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 11:34

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