Recently on the question Politely refusing to validate veiled bigotry some of my comments suggesting that the question may be unanswerable and/or not asked in good faith, and should therefore be closed, were silently deleted.

Further comments revealed that at least one other user (@Stacey) was experiencing a similar issue, although I can't say what the content of these comments was, as the deletions were happening very quickly.

It could certainly be argued that the comment threads on that question are right out of hand, and should be deleted/moved to chat, but what seemed to be happening was more along the lines of targeted deletion of content in support of closing the question, while leaving a bunch of pretty rambling discussion in place.

It seems like a mod would be more inclined to go ahead and delete/move all of the comments, so I was wondering whether these comments were removed due to moderator intervention, or user flagging? There doesn't seem to be any way to tell the difference.

  • 3
    I suggest you read this post on this site's policy regarding comment deletion.
    – sphennings
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 23:50
  • @sphennings I had read that post -- it doesn't really say how a user can tell whether the comments were deleted by a moderator, three user flags, or the regex bot.
    – jkf
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 23:59
  • 5
    On the question itself, there are 37 deleted comments and 39 still visible. This answer has 2 deleted comments and 40 still visible - a number that I hope will decrease. Most of the deleted comments have been deleted by mods, although the 72 flags on the question and its comments and the 19 flags on that answer and its comments contributed.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 0:22
  • 5
    I'm gonna go through when I can and prune them all, but I'm just going to say that this is an absurd amount, and most of them are unnecessary side discussion. Very few are worth keeping.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 0:22
  • @HDE226868 Thanks I will do heavy pruning on mine!
    – jkf
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 0:26
  • 4
    The regex bot does not actually do anything to comments, it just posts them to chat for visibility. It's still only users and mods taking actions.
    – Em C
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 2:36

2 Answers 2


Short of a diamond mod actually telling you, there's really no way to know.

If you suspect comments are being deleted unfairly by the community, you can flag the parent post for moderator attention and they can look into it. But comments on the whole are treated as third-class citizens, so they're pretty much by design allowed — expected, even — to disappear without so much as a howdee-doo.

  • 6
    And if the community removes them, mods can't put them back anyway.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 12:42

As goldPseudo said, that information is only available to mods (we're also the only one who can see deleted comments). If you really really really need to know for some reason, you can flag the post or ask us in chat, but it's usually just not relevant.

Let me give some data about the specific question, though. As of me writing this answer, there are . . .

  • 53 deleted comments on the question.
  • 45 not-deleted comments on the question (most of these will be deleted at some point, once they've served their purpose).
  • 58 deleted comments on the answers - including deleted answers. The vast majority were on this one (46).
  • 71 not-deleted comments on the answers - again, including deleted answers.

I believe the deleted comments Stacey is referring to were mostly on the question itself, as part of a side conversation. There were quite a few of those discussions (hence the dozens of deleted comments). Some of your comments were deleted because they were addressing the question itself (and one accused someone of trolling, which probably isn't nice). Also, we (the mods) deleted comments from people with pretty much every opinion possible, both for and against the question, or moved them to chat. We keep it neutral when moderating comments.

If you have any questions about why certain comments were deleted, feel free to ask us (on meta, or in chat). 99% of the time, the response is going to be "They were obsolete/too chatty/irrelevant", but it might be helpful for you.

  • I appreciate the detailed response -- to clarify, does this stack differ from others in that an explaination of reasons for downvoting in the comments is considered inappropriate here? I acknowledge that the word "trolling" has evolved into a usage which is perhaps not so nice, but in the original sense of "fishing for controversy online" is not an unfair assesment of the question at hand. The point being that all of the mod workload that you enumerate above would be eliminated by the speedy closure of this type of question.
    – jkf
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 19:40
  • 1
    A comment saying "-1 because reason..." is inappropriate on this site. This question lists out suggestions for what you can do if you find a post that you think needs work. It's also explicitly forbidden by the comment policy.
    – sphennings
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 19:50
  • I can't help but notice that mods here are often quite eager to close (see here for an example from today's HNQ, which does not seem to be a case of trolling), but seem reluctant to use this option in other cases. I am not active enough here to feel any certainty as to why this is, but can't help but notice a correlation between the position of views expressed (by the questioner) on the political spectrum and likelyhood of closure.
    – jkf
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 19:50
  • That example was closed by a CM on March 17th. They left a very clear comment explaining why the question was closed. Are sure you aren't talking about a different question?
    – sphennings
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 19:56
  • @sphennings That seems reasonable, although does not address the case of discussing whether a question should be closed or not. Others have suggested that this should take place in meta, which makes sense, although of course a comment is required in order to introduce a link to the meta-topic.
    – jkf
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 19:57
  • @sphennings Sorry, yes: this one https://interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/12348/how-to-tell-a-gay-co-worker-to-stay-far-and-to-never-try-to-flirt just hit the HNQ here.
    – jkf
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 19:58
  • @jkf This comments thread is not the place for that to happen. There have been lots of meta questions about the closing of questions perhaps you can find one that clarifies things for you. If that doesn't help you can always post your own meta question. Or bring it up in chat.
    – sphennings
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 19:59
  • @sphennings So to be explicit, is it OK to make a comment with a link to meta-discussion on a question?
    – jkf
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 20:00
  • @jkf That's the same question you linked previously. It's not in HNQ. There are two comments posted in the last 24 hours that should probably be deleted.
    – sphennings
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 20:02
  • @jkf It depends. If you are discussing about site policy it doesn't matter if the links are relevant, comments on main aren't the place to be having any discussion. If the question is being actively being discussed on meta providing a link to the meta question in the comments so that people are aware that is being discussed is a common courtesy.
    – sphennings
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 20:06
  • @sphennings Maybe that was on "Related Questions" rather than HNQ -- the point being that it was closed and all answers purged despite being apparantly asked in good faith. It's not asimilar to a number of well voted "how to stop flirting" questions on this stack, but seems not to be a dupe due to the same-sex aspect. I'm not saying this was a bad decision, but there seems a contrast to the reluctance to close the "bigotry" question despite a lot of close votes and generally bellicose discussion.
    – jkf
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 20:13
  • @jkf If you want to ask about that question post a meta question about it. Don't sidetrack the comments on another question
    – sphennings
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 20:15
  • @sphennings That's fine, it was just an example of what seems to be possibly inconsistent moderation -- which is more or less the topic of this question. I don't need to talk about it anymore though, I think I have a pretty good idea of what is going on here. T h a n k s for your patience!
    – jkf
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 20:20

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