8

I was reading the answers and comments in this question and I realised that maybe if in IPS the comment deletion was a tad different people would feel less bad about it.

I have been using SE sites for ages, I don't normally ask so many questions or anything, I am more of a reader, however I have used several of the sites and I have witnessed and experienced different ways of rule enforcing.

When I first joined IPS I thought it was awesome but later I felt a bit put off by the way comments were being handled since it is so different to the way they handle the comments in other networks from SE.

What could we do to improve the experience of users used to a different way of handling the messages here in other SE Networks and other Forums so we can be more welcoming?

Background notes:

Where I am coming from and my thinking to propose this.

  • In IPS they follow the rules for comments. Mods and members in general are not making up their own rules, they are actually following them. And since the site doesn't have so much traffic, like say SO, it is really easy to notice.
  • In some of the other Networks they don't follow the rules or they sort of make up their own comment moderation rules. So even in small networks you don't see this aggressive comment deletion thing. (By aggressive I don't mean mean, I mean like super fast)
  • Both things are not bad per se, it is more about what actually works. Since IPS lends itself more to discussion, it makes sense to moderate more, otherwise things can really get out of hand. Also Mods can not go around making rules like "ok I will give this comment 10 min more so the OP has time to read it and then I will delete it because it is not appropriate". It would be impossible to follow such behavior in the volume of things a person has to do day to day. So it totally makes sense for them to delete comments as soon as they see them.
  • People are usually really busy, so comments deleted in this magic way without even a comment "comments were deleted", can lead to people posting again and again the same comment. They may forget they already posted, they may feel that maybe the webpage hung up on them, or they may even not understand what happened. (It has happened to me that I wasn't sure if my comment had gone through or not, and lets not forget that not everyone is as tech savvy, not everyone here is also a SO user since ages, so it can feel really confusing). This in turns leads to a higher moderation load.
  • People, as general rule, are here to help. Any time I wrote a comment in no way I was doing it to troll the other person, whether the comment was following or not the rules of the network I meant it well. So having your comments so consistently deleted without even an explanation or only the very cold "comments are not for extended discussion", when in other Networks this is handled totally different can be extremely shocking. In other networks you get the "extended discussion thing" when there are 20 comments or more, so you understand it easily and even feel a tad guilty. Here I have seen it happen with 3 or 4 comments.
  • People have the natural perception that if a comment was deleted it means it was not useful or it was rude, or stupid, etc. So basically on a daily basis people that participate here are steadily feeling attacked/insulted. Of course not everyone feels the same, but I know I felt attacked.
  • It wasn't personal: I always analyse whether or not is right to feel attacked by a situation, in this case I realized it was "wrong" because mods here are just trying to help and are actually following the rules. (Btw I took the time of re-reading the rules, it had been ages since the last time, but a lot of people may not take the time to do the same, or may not even realise they should)
  • All these becomes worse with the principle of familiarity. You may not realize it, but as an general outsider to this site, I don't use it as much as I use SO, so my name is not that known here and I have noticed that rules are slightly different applied to users that that are more known (btw this happens in SO too). This is only natural, if you know someone you know why they wrote the comment and maybe you won't delete it, or delete as promptly. So rules get applied in an unevenly and when they are applied in such an aggressive way as here, this is more noticeable. This is natural, and makes sense, and actually happens in all the networks. But it is a bias that people usually don't realize exists which can be really be off-putting to newcomers.
  • Humans are creatures of habit, many of the people using IPS also use other sites, so they are not likely to re-read the rules. People that don't use any of the SE sites, are more used to "forums" where you can basically have endless discussions. All of these makes for an even worse perception of the comment rule enforcing.
  • Everything gets worse because users can not see their own deleted comments, I don't think you even get a notification, they just vanish completely and without warning.

This is not a problem of this site. It is a problem of the SE comment policy that is made really patent here because of the diligence of IPS members. If in other sites they would follow the rules just like here, users would feel just as bad and maybe we should do something about it.

First, we cannot shield ourselves in the concept "we are just following the rules". It is true that we are, but that doesn't make it any less true that users feel attacked. Saying "we are just following the rules" almost makes it sound like "I am justified to attack you by the rules".

Reality is, users are used to what other SE sites do and to forums. Does that mean we are supposed to give up and let the comments run wild? No, because as many threads here in Meta explain, there are a very good reasons to be strict with the comments.

Rules are important, but people are more important, and if we want more traffic in the site and if we want it to grow, we need more people. For that we want them to feel welcome, but still follow the rules.

  • Hey Mykazuki, could you put your suggestions in a separate post than the question? This way, people could vote on the question and propose solutions separatly – Ælis Sep 20 at 7:13
  • @Ælis I separeted them, is alright the way they are now or should I change something else? Let me know please and thank you for your suggestion. – Mykazuki Sep 20 at 13:09
  • That's much better, thank you :) – Ælis Sep 20 at 13:34
7

This is a great discussion to have and I appreciate how you've explained your perspective!

To start, here's some things we already do, and how I think we might improve:

Leaving a comment about policies

We've left comments on HNQ questions (as in this example) which have gotten a lot of attention:

Hello network visitors! Please note that IPS is fairly strict about using comments as intended. Comments are only for clarifying and improving the question. Partial answers or general thoughts about the situation may be deleted without notice. If you'd like to write an answer, make sure to check out our posts on How do I write a good answer? and citation expectations first. Thanks!

Sometimes if we notice a lot of comments about the same thing, we will leave a comment on that post saying "Hey, we've deleted a lot of comments arguing about 'x', please don't do that". (Tinkeringbell linked a couple examples of that, like on this question.)

However, we might seem inconsistent about posting these -- for instance, different mods delete comments as they're flagged, so it takes a while for any one of us to notice there's a pattern. It does seem that "bad" comments die down after we've posted a notice like this, so maybe we should be checking more carefully and commenting earlier rather than later.

I do sometimes feel rude posting a notice if there's only been one or two comments (I wouldn't want that particular user to feel singled out for shaming), so I'd appreciate thoughts on how to avoid that!

Replying directly to users about their comments

If a user appears to be answering in comments ("AIC"), we sometimes reply to them suggesting they turn it into an answer. I can think of a few good answers that happened because of this!

However, this doesn't always happen - it's more likely to just be silently flagged/deleted if the comment seems low-effort (e.g. "Just tell them what you said here"), or if the user has a history of AIC. Conversely, if the comment indicates some backup (= high potential to be a good answer), it's more likely someone will suggest it.

A major drawback is that mods have to keep track of "ok, where did I leave that comment, have they logged back in, can I delete it yet".. instead of just deleting when we see them. Plus, on more popular posts 1) it's easier to just wipe them all out instead of leaving 5 comments pinging the 5 different people answering in comments, and 2) hard to tell if they're just "drive-by" users who aren't interested in writing a full answer and won't notice/care if their comment is deleted anyways.

Maybe we could compromise by deleting right away, but then posting something like:

Hey, we had to delete a few answers in comments here - see this meta post for why that's problematic. Instead, please check out our answer FAQ and consider writing a full answer!

Based on past responses, I don't think it's useful to always ping: if they care enough about their comment that they'd be bothered by its removal, they'll come back and see that message. Otherwise users sometimes seem annoyed by a ping (e.g. "obviously I didn't write it as a full answer because it's not that good / I didn't want to put in the effort, why are you bothering me"). So I probably won't ping users unless I think they have a high chance of actually converting their comment into a full answer.

Mod messages

On a couple occasions, mods have privately messaged users who we noticed leaving a lot of chatty comments. I think it was received well by users who were interested in contributing but just unaware / confused about the role of comments here.

However, as friendly as we try to make the messages, it can still seem heavy-handed (plus takes some time for mods to compose and send). So we've generally only messaged users that have been consistently doing this for a while.


Now for thoughts on other ideas that have been proposed..

Leaving comments every time we delete comments

So I mentioned a couple ways we already do this in the first part. The main issue I see with us always leaving "comments were deleted here" comments is the scale of it - I don't have exact data, but easily the majority of posts here have deleted comments. People just like to talk and give opinions about the sort of questions we host! Other StackExchange sites might not delete comments as often as us, but as far as I'm aware, all of them do agree that comments should not generally be expected to stick around.

You do make a good point that even if people don't say so, they may be hurt by silent deletions. I don't like that either :/ The problem is that if they never say, we are stuck guessing whether they're hurt, never checked back, or just don't care / accept it.

I don't have a great solution to that.. people with comment privileges should be aware of the guidelines already, and the comment box itself says

Use comments to ask for more information or suggest improvements.

So I'm skeptical that restating that on every post will really make a significant difference - if people notice and don't understand, there are plenty of places they could read about this, or just ask here on meta.

I also worry that if people see mods posting "Comments deleted." everywhere it will give off worse of an impression ("wow the mods here are so mean and scold everyone all the time!".. which we already get sometimes when we do post reminders).

I can reassure you though that comment deletions are not personal! If you are seriously causing issues with your comments, we will mod message you ;) Otherwise, it's routine cleanup - at most, take a mental note "ok, that was too chatty, I should write an answer or rephrase it explicitly as a question / suggestion".

Moving comments to chat

In theory, yes, in practice... mixed feelings. StackExchange chatrooms get deleted or frozen if there's not enough messages, and IMO it's more frustrating to click on a "this conversation was moved to chat" that leads to an error page than have no comments at all. So when considering that option I look for:

  1. actual discussion happening: that is, not just a lot of one-off "this answer is bad" / "this answer is good" comments, but more like: "this answer seems bad", "well, have you considered situations like XYZ?", "hmm, but then ABC", etc.
  2. ... that seems likely to continue. For instance, a recent comment thread between two people ended with one saying "this is too tiring to discuss" - so I wouldn't expect them to participate if it was in a chatroom, and there weren't enough messages that the chatroom would be retained, so I just deleted it.
  3. ...in a productive and civil fashion. Even if people aren't showing suspension-worthy behavior, sometimes the comment section is just going in circles, to the point where we would rather encourage dissenters to spend their energy on writing their own, better answer instead of trying to convince the OP to change theirs.

And to expand on my comment on scohe001's answer, extra chats will mean increased moderation load of some sort. For per-post chats, this falls on site moderators. Although all mods and users with 10k+ reputation across the network can act on chat flags, what usually happens is that they'll defuse the immediate crisis (e.g. freezing the room) and then notify "local" mods to check it out and decide if any other actions should be taken (deleting messages, unfreezing, suspending users, etc.). So I want to make sure we're not spawning chatrooms that will create a lot of extra work for everyone.

Plus, users who want to chat can always drop into in The Awkward Silence, our main chatroom, where there's more eyes to make sure discussions don't get out of hand. Some people might not know about it though, so maybe when we post notices about comment policies, we should make sure to mention chat as an alternative. I do think we have a good set of regulars and room owners there that it could handle a little more activity :)


TL;DR

It seems from the discussion here, we should err on the side of more and earlier communication, over less. So, I can do my best to...

  1. Comment on HNQ's explaining that we're strict about comments, and linking to the answer policy
  2. Comment when deleting answers in comments (probably this template)
  3. Comment (earlier?) when I see a trend of chatty comments on a post
  4. Suggest chat as a venue for discussion, such as when moving comments to chat doesn't make sense

Keep in mind this is just me, one mod, so I don't want to over-promise how much I can do. All y'all are entirely allowed to link policies and ping answer-in-comment-ers as much as you see fit ;)

  • 2
    For the "Hello network visitors! " HNQ comment, I think we should post it under every question who hot HNQ as soon as they do it (hit HNQ). I don't really see the point in waiting before posting it and I don't see the harm in posting it "for nothing" (but I don't believe it would be for nothing anyway since I believe some may take the time to read our answer FAQ) – Ælis Sep 22 at 6:42
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    @Ælis that makes sense! Fortunately the feed makes it easy to keep track of HNQs so that's definitely doable :) Overall from the discussion here it seems users are in favor of more communication/notices/warnings over less, so I'll try to keep that in mind. – Em C Sep 24 at 14:47
  • Thank you @EmC, I was following up to a different Q&A thread on the subject, which I was hoping to reply to the chatroom. I think the discussion here highlights my frustrations and addresses some of those through your answer. I still think that IPS addresses comments differently. This answer on Meta SE coincides with my attitude toward comments meta.stackexchange.com/questions/19756/how-do-comments-work, Once a clarification has been made, an edit added to the post to include new information, or the issue in the comment is otherwise resolved, it is subject to deletion – vol7ron Oct 1 at 18:57
  • Often, comments on IPS are deleted before a clarification has been made or a post has been edited. Moderators seem to disagree with a comment or deem or proactively deem it deletable. I think that's fine IPS's policy and attitude towards comments, but I think it also diverges from the Stack Overflow and other larger forums. This is where the confusion sets in. Additionally, I think its disingenuous to say IPS is enforcing rules that other communities are not — something I've heard repeatedly. I think that statement is incorrect and needs revision and/or follow-up. – vol7ron Oct 1 at 19:02
4

I think it would be really useful if any time a comment got deleted from a thread a message was left saying "comments have been deleted"

Well, over the past week alone, IPS mods have deleted close to 200 comments. That may indeed sound like it's not that much, but given that we don't get that many posts that stay open, it's actually a lot of chatter that can be put mainly on the few questions we've had in HNQ during the last week.

If we put a 'comments have been deleted' every time we delete some comments, that would still drown out everything else. And we're deleting comments to not have them drown out any possible requests for clarification!

Note that we sometimes do let people know we've deleted several comments, and that if theirs is going to be similar to several we've already deleted, we discourage people from posting: See the two comments moderators have left here to get an idea of what those look like.

If there was a long conversation going on, or still going on, move the comments to a chat.

We only rarely see long conversations that are aimed at improving a question or answer. If of course, they're there, we move them to chat.

One of my personal reasons for not moving everything that's not focused on getting clarification or suggesting improvements to chat is that I don't want people to use comments as a sneaky way to get a room, to talk about something someone wrote and e.g. discuss that person's morality. Besides, we have a main chatroom where people can always drop in!

Another reason I'm often hesitant to move a raging discussion to chat is that we're only moving the problem in most cases, to a place with less oversight. Comments are there, on the site, to be seen and flagged by every passerby. If those passersby don't enter the chatroom, they'll never see them. Discussions get heated, remarks made become rude or unkind, and no-one sees it until it's too late. At that point, you'll end up deleting the chatroom and discussion anyways.

The "comments are not for extended discussion" message should be upgraded.

Sure, we can do that! I like the way you phrased the message, I'd like to know which posts you'd link to? If you want to, please put that one as an answer to our Comment Templates question here on meta, so people can help you refine it a bit further and easily find it for use!

  • Well there are 2 things, first I didn't say you have to put the message each time you delete a comment, but place a message per thread. Did the 200 commenst belong to 200 different questions/answers? I think as long as you put the message under the specific question or answer where the question was deleted from it would help users to get less confused by the disapearing messages. I think doing this will actually lower the load of having to delete comments, because I have re-posted comments because I thought I hadnt posted them originally. And also makes the use the site not that friendly. – Mykazuki Sep 20 at 14:05
  • The other thing, what constitutes an improvement is actually subjective, so unilaterlly deleting a long conversation can actually be counter productive. A discussion about what the post is about can actually lead a OP to change radically their post. Moving comments to chat doesn't hurt, and adds potential benefits of people feeling more welcome and less confused. However if people are fighting or being agressive I makes sense to directly deleting. And although determining if soemthing is aggresive is also subjective, you actually affect negatively the site by not deleting negative messages. – Mykazuki Sep 20 at 14:11
  • I will look for the links but I think one of the links could this and this what do you think? – Mykazuki Sep 20 at 14:31
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    @Mykazuki I do like the link to the privilege page, but I'd pick the one for IPS just so people don't end up asking IPS questions on SO (We've seen that happen on MSE). I'm not sure about the meta post, because the most upvoted answer there states that 'joke answers should be comments'. – Tinkeringbell Sep 24 at 18:34
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    Due to the very personal nature of most questions and answers, IPS is pretty much a no fun zone: 'joke answers' can very very easily be taken as a personal attack, or being made fun of. I'd really don't want to link to a post that encourages those. What do you think of this one instead? – Tinkeringbell Sep 24 at 18:34
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    And if I understand correctly now, we could certainly post a rephrased 'comments are not for extended discussion' on posts that have several comments deleted. I'm still a bit hesitant to do it on the first deleted comment, because at that point basically the commenter whose comment got deleted is still getting a pretty impersonal comment directed at them. Better to just have a few around, but on posts that actually had 3/4 comments deleted already. Hopefully people will see them around enough to notice them, without them being on each post? – Tinkeringbell Sep 24 at 18:37
  • Yes I think it doesn't need to be so strict, but if there was a message letting you know what is happening more frequently, it would lessen the blunt. I am sorry I didn't notice I actually had linked the page from SO. And regarding the Meta. Maybe we could have our OWN Meta on Comment Etiquette. Specially because we know comment policy is enforced a bit different in other SE. – Mykazuki Sep 24 at 21:52
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    @Mykazuki what about this one then? It explains that we moderate comments more strictly and why :) – Tinkeringbell Sep 26 at 18:19
  • @Mykazuki for the record, I tagged the meta Tink linked as faq-proposed specifically so that it could act as a guideline on our comment etiquette. If you think there's anything missing over there, I'd love some feedback (in the form of a comment there). – scohe001 Sep 26 at 18:40
  • @scohe001 do you mean this link? – Mykazuki Sep 26 at 20:00
  • Sorry, should've been more clear. I mean in her most recent comment. This is the post in question. – scohe001 Sep 26 at 20:03
  • @scohe001 well actually I think it is a good idae, because that is one thing that people wonder when they get their comments deleted and all that stuff. – Mykazuki Sep 26 at 20:50
  • @scohe001 And Tinker, what do I need to do next? I lost track of it. I have to suggest a new message with these links where? I remember Tinker, i think, had suggested a place where I should suggest it, but I can't find it anymore. – Mykazuki Sep 30 at 14:33
  • @Mykazuki by now, a new post to focus on the wording would be fine I think. Include the old one, and your proposed changes + reasoning for it in the question, and people can vote on it or write answers if they have further improvements. I initially suggested you'd drop it on our Comment Templates meta Q&A in my answer (last paragraph), but it seems this may be important enough to warrant it's own question too. – Tinkeringbell Oct 4 at 19:35
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    Hey Tinker and @scohe001 I am sorry it took a while, I was away, but I came back and posted the new question as you suggested here: interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3876/… – Mykazuki Oct 29 at 22:31
2

I don't think that we can have IPS work as we collectively feel it should (reflected by current policies) and also have comments be less than a nightmare.

The basic reason for this is that essentially every time someone posts a comment, they feel that the comment is worthwhile and conveys valuable information. This feeling is, um... sometimes not so solid. But I feel that with deleted comments people are typically looking to prompt specific changes in a question or answer (whether those changes are advisable or not) but know or suspect that it would be inappropriate as an edit, and/or are looking to express an opinion and then feel validated as it collects upvotes.

Even though both of these are explicitly not allowed, people (seem to) tend to feel that their goals are worthy and so resist any argument that supports deletion. The exact form of resistance varies from person to person, but the fundamental reasoning starts with one of two conclusions and rarely goes anywhere else:

  1. The rules should be different

  2. The rules are fine, but there should be an exception in this particular case

These aren't going to go away. It's always going to be the case that at least some people will disagree with the rules governing this stack, and/or feel that they deserve an exception.

I firmly believe that the bulk of our comment issues are just symptoms of other problems, and often it is those problems that lead people to use comments inappropriately.


So what?

We can only do so much to address this proactively-- that is, before bad comments are posted.

  • People who can't be bothered to read the rules will never read the rules, and will be unreachable.
  • People who feel the rules are wrong, and that this is demonstrated by some egregious question or answer, will at least sometimes choose to fight it out via comment (it's easier and more satisfying to cry censorship over a comment you know will be deleted than to write a meta post that just gets ignored).
  • People with strong feelings and coherent arguments about something very broad don't really have any place to make their arguments (within the SE ecosystem). Meta is an awkward kludge because people can (and very frequently do) simply not engage with posts here, even if a major decision is at issue.
  • People who are not "popular users" on the stack may see a lot of community support for someone that is a "popular user" when there is a dispute, and feel that they have been arbitrarily shut down by a cabal.
  • People who have standing grievances (reasonable or not) with the stack, questions and answers, or users on it don't have an outlet and so they only get angrier (and potentially more belligerent) and become less willing to comply with stack rules.

Clearly, enforcing and then explaining the rules is not adequate to fix the problem. A meaningful portion of the IPS user base flat-out does not care about the intended purpose of comments, and insist on trying to make them be what they want. Even if comments are a poor fit for that, they may well be the best fit that SE offers.


Due to the nature of this stack, there will always be some tension between users' worldviews and values. There is no outlet for that here.

There was an issue quite a while back regarding how accepting we should be about askers' prejudices in questions. Some people feel that we need to accept that they exist and are factors in interpersonal interactions, and try to give answers around those ideas. Others felt that allowing those ideas in questions would make the stack less welcoming to a variety of people and so those ideas needed to be scrubbed from questions.

This was a zero-sum situation, and regardless of how obviously right you may feel a given position is it's clear that some people are going to be disappointed in any decision.

People on the "losing" side have no recourse or outlet. Their position, which they feel is correct for reasons which at least seem good to them, is slighted, and so they react with the tools available to them. That's just comments, even if it requires their misuse.

Many people would probably be open to discussion or chat, but the asynchronous nature of SE and the randomness of when a user might see a particular post they want to discuss makes that difficult. And even then, many people only view discussion as a vehicle for being reassured that they are already correct, and view any other scenario with distress.


We have a few choices: change how IPS works, change how comments work, provide an outlet to give people what they're trying to get from comments, or stick with the current approach despite its problems.

1. Change how IPS works

The policies that have been settled upon for the site represent what we want it to be. Abandoning those ideas due to inappropriate use of comments seems extreme, and what we might want the site to become instead would require a huge amount of discussion elsewhere. I do not find this option attractive.

We might be able to make some cultural changes, but I doubt we could do so in a way that would satisfy everyone. For example, working on some of the "popular kid" impression that some users have might help at the margins. But we're not going to make changes which would prompt someone whose comments indicate they think IPS should be more friendly to prejudice to suddenly stop commenting that way.

2. Change how comments work

This would be easier on moderators, but ultimately I don't think it would affect the problem very much. As I mentioned above, it seems to me that individual comments are more proxies or expressions of underlying complaints than issues in themselves. Loosening comment policies may be what some people are saying they want, but I really doubt that doing so would satisfy them. Instead of

You censored me, how could you?!? You monster!

we'd get

My comment that [some thing in the question should be different] has 150 upvotes, why hasn't some mod changed the question?

3. Provide an outlet and direct people to it rather than comments

I think that this could potentially help, but certainly wouldn't catch everyone. But none of SE is set up to handle this kind of thing, even if an option did exist it would be a moderation nightmare, and if site discussion took place there people would have to read it to be informed (exposing people to the sorts of comments that we currently find abusive or insulting, as well as the more innocuous varieties).

But, in my personal experience and observation, people rarely just want to express their ideas and complaints. They want to express them and also be validated. That means results, whether they take the form of comment upvotes or concrete site policy changes. It's hard for me to imagine any outlet we come up with satisfying that, and so the problems would persist (and misusing comments would still be the easiest outlet).

4. Keep doing what we're doing

It's not ideal, but it's a way to preserve the balance of what the site is intended to be and what some users feel it is or should be. The enduring record of the site, our questions and answers, are consistent with the intention for the site because the discrepancies are removed by hand.


(way)tl;dr:

The issues we see with comments are a problem, but I feel that the sources of our comment problems are elsewhere and the comments themselves are simply the path of least resistance to an expression of those sources. The comments are very visible, but they are a lagging indicator.

People bring a lot of personal stuff here, and complaints (that I've seen) have rarely been only about, or even primarily about, comment deletion. This may always be a messier stack than others, and I think that this is a part of what the mess looks like.

In conclusion, be nice to IPS mods.

  • "working on some of the "cool kid" impression that some users" -> I don't really understand this sentence. For me, "cool kid" == "the ones who don't follow the rules" but I still can't figure out what you are trying to express here :/ – Ælis Sep 20 at 20:47
  • @Ælis Yeah, it's a bit disjointed. I'll try an edit, but to be clear: some of the more active IPS users obviously have strong influence on site policies and are thought to get extra leeway on bending rules and extra leeway from moderators. The perception is that some users have to deal with all of the rules, no exceptions, and others get to largely do what they want without worrying about the rules – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Sep 20 at 20:51
  • Oh right. In my experience, that's always how things are perceived (on every site I have seen) between "the newbies" and "the established users", so that's not really surprising (and even if we try to avoid it, it's probably still partially true because we are all just humans with bias) – Ælis Sep 20 at 20:58
  • @Ælis Yeah, it's the sort of problem some people can't help but see everywhere. I do think that there is some legitimacy to it here, though nowhere near as much as complainants seem to feel. And the personal nature of the stack might tend to make that sort of thing feel more intense. – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Sep 20 at 21:05
  • Regarding the "cool kid" thing you mention. It is only human nature, and to think it doesn't happen is to fool yourself, it happens everywhere and it is not necesarily bad. The most trusted, frequent users probably should be given more space to help steer the site, than someone new that doesn't know much about it. But since this kind of bias exists people should be aware of it to make sure it is justified. – Mykazuki Sep 20 at 23:41
  • Regarding the rest of the answer, it seems to me you have dismissed what I said about my own experience. You say people are complaining about something else. I am specifically taking about comments being deleted in a way that seems magical and with little explanation, I have seen others do the same. You can not tell me my motivations, I am telling you I care about comments. I dont mind my comments being deleted, It is just confusing to receive such an aggresive treatment compared to every other site without a nice polite (IPS-like) explanation. – Mykazuki Sep 20 at 23:55
  • @Mykazuki It seems that I've offended you, so let me apologize first off: that was not my intention. I do feel that comment deletion is hard. The policies exist and are posted, that our mods follow them ideally wouldn't be shocking. The default assumption of users on IPS is that their comments will not remain over time. I don't know of a way to inform each user of each of their comments that was deleted (pinging would work, except there's no comment left to ping to). When told about the comment policy, some people understand, even if they feel their deleted comment had some value (con't) – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Sep 23 at 15:22
  • (con't) which is often true. Those people seem to generally be the ones that will read the policies, understand them, and accept the comment deletions. Many others (and I'm not suggesting that this group includes you) seem to feel that their comments should never be deleted for any reason, no matter what the rules of the stack are. I don't think that a ping or alert or more detailed message is going to satisfy this group, since what they want are their comments to exist forever, and I think that that attitude exists largely because of separate complaints about IPS.SE. – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Sep 23 at 15:26
  • You didn't offend me, so no worries about that. I just dont think you understood me because you focused the question towards something different that what I am talking about. I am certainly not saying the site should cater to lest call "nuts" that don't care for rules, or reading them, or anything but their own opinion. What I am saying is that I am an example of user with the best intentions, with a lot of years on SO and other SE networks, and yet when I came here was like crashing a wall at high speed in a corvette.(con't) – Mykazuki Sep 23 at 19:04
  • My comments being deleted left and right without warning, comments being deleted in the middle of a discussion, I was doing what I always did. I wasn't being malicious or calling people off. I was trying to be helpful, and please refrain of saying "you were not helpful" because that is actually a subjective thing so maybe I was, and maybe I was not. Which is my point, such harshness on something that is subjective is detrimental. I felt unfairly treated, so I read the rules. And I say Ok, they are right the rules say that. However the rules are not applied to everyone the same,(con't) – Mykazuki Sep 23 at 19:06
  • At this point maybe we should move this to a chat. If you agree please feel free to do so. As natural bias apply to human being, rules are never going to be enforced the same for everyone, people fail to realize that, and act "I am fair", yes we are fair to the best of our posibilities, yet we will never be perfectly fair, it is just not possible. Now with such a small comunity going out of our way to be nice so new people stay instead of feeling like I felt, would go a long way. As a general rule I have been told I take way worse treatment than I should before I give up, (cont) – Mykazuki Sep 23 at 19:09
  • so stands to reason, that many users will feel it is not worth it. We know SE has deffects and people usually bent the rules, like you said, to deal with those issues, but we don't let the people bent them, and you don't give them a way to solve those issues either, and you(i am using the "royal" you, not talking of you specfically) treat them in a harsh way and we expect people to stay? The reason SO was succesfull is because besides offering solutions, people felt welcomed. IPS is not welcoming, I know it is not on purpose, but that is because I took the time to look. Many won't do the same. – Mykazuki Sep 23 at 19:13
  • And they are not wrong, we are. It is not "it's their loss" it is ours. Because I assume, we want users. Being polite is never a bad thing. 200 messages in 1 week is actually not that much. We're not supposed to keep doing this forever, but as the site slowly grows it'll be less needed. SO it is way bigger and I can guess they deal with way more messages, yet it feels like they delete waaaay less messages. This site is too aggresive with comments and it is detrimental to the overall experience. That is why people keeps bringing it up. And we know most users dont even know about META. – Mykazuki Sep 23 at 19:19
  • I wrote a whole lot. Sorry about that XD – Mykazuki Sep 23 at 19:28
  • @Mykazuki I think I've done things correctly to create a chat room, so come on over if you'd like to talk more about this. But, for the record, I have no particular influence over what the policies are, and my suggestions are often unpopular. The room may be a good place to talk but probably isn't a good place to provoke change. – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Sep 23 at 19:43
1

Note: Following Ælis advise I separated my specific suggestions from the question so people can vote them separately.

I have been thinking about this for a long time, and today while I was commenting in that other question I mentioned I realized that maybe if we keep following the rules but modify a bit our behavior people could feel less attacked. So I propose these possible actions:

  • It would be advisable to stop the "magical deletion" of comments. I know it is standard procedure, and it is done in other sites, but not as frequently like here and it is not as noticeable. I think it would be really useful if any time a comment got deleted from a thread a message was left saying "comments have been deleted" (see bellow my notes on the actual text said message should have). We just need one message, not need for many messages in the same Question/Answer. But something making clear comments previous to that have been deleted.
  • If there was a long conversation going on, or still going on, move the comments to a chat. They do this all the time in SO. People usually drop those, but it is less aggressive and after a while those chats I think die by themselves. Of course as long as the discussion wasn't aggressive or improper in any way.
  • The "comments are not for extended discussion" message should be upgraded. As I explained before, people are used to the way other sites handle comments, and that message doesn't really explain anything on that regard. Because users think they know how comments work, when they actually don't or have totally forgotten the actual rules. And also lets not forget, what makes a good comment is a bit on the subjective side. I think we could use some IPS's here and phrase that message in a more friendly way so people don't feel attacked. Not sure how viable this is but I think something like

    In IPS we follow closer the rules for comments, please read them here. Comments shouldn't be used for extended discussion, if you wish to discuss further with the OP you can open a chat. Please read here a wider explanation to why we do this. Thanks a lot for your collaboration!

    Would go a long way to make people feel more accepted and help them understand why things are done differently than in other sites.

  • I downvoted because of your two first suggestions (Tinkeringbell answer explain why it wouldn't be a good idea), but the last suggestion could be interesting. – Ælis Sep 20 at 13:42
-1

Create one standalone chatroom for each HNQ question

This might sound a little crazy, but hear me out...

Users (read: humans) want to talk about controversial topics they feel strongly about. Like a moth drawn to the flame, even if they know that their comments will deleted and it's against policy, we still have people leaving chatty comments. They'll continue to do it even if we leave our patented mod-made "Network Visitors" comments.

So how do we prevent comments?

Give these people an outlet!

Maybe we add a link to the mod-made comment and turn it into something like

Hey Network Peeps. We're going to boop your comments. If you'd like to discuss the merits of answers here or your own opinions/experiences without writing an answer, [hop on into the discussion]! Again, don't do it in the comments. Thanks y'all.

(Feel free to use this word for word. You absolutely have my permission.)

But isn't this just moving the problem?

@Tink makes a good point when she says that by moving these discussion from comments to chat, we're just pushing things into a darker corner with less oversight.

However, since we're in a place where we'll only ever have 1 active HNQ (and so one matching active HNQ chatroom), this should be fairly easy to leave a few high-rep users/mods in to ensure things don't get too heated.

Perhaps we could also give some of the regulars RO status there to help the mods if we find that this becomes a lot of work?

What will this do for the site?

I believe that this solution will (once we've trained the network), drastically reduce comments. However, even if it doesn't, by giving these people an outlet, I believe that we can reduce a lot of the friction with the current system. shows a bloody history of upset and slighted users. I'd like to get to a point where we can have our clean site while also engaging those users who want functionality that we can't feasibly support on the main site.

  • 2
    Sounds like the recipe for a disaster with rude messages flying everywhere. I'm one of the current RO of your main chatroom and I will definitively not volunteer to moderate such a chatroom. It might be fine for non-controversial topics, but we all know HNQ loves nothing more than controversial topics. – Ælis Sep 20 at 17:12
  • 3
    I get the motivation but... the main things I'm worried about with this is 1) increased moderation load (hi, I'm the only US-timezone IPS mod and I don't like moderating chat :p), and 2) it might invite people to get into potentially quite heated exchanges that they might not otherwise get into, whereas if we waited until there was evidence of a good discussion potential to create a chatroom it would be less risky. – Em C Sep 20 at 17:13
  • I think you make a really good second point, @EmC, in that we may be causing more drama than there would be. My thought process here was to try this as an experiment to see what it'd look like if we allowed every (non-rude/abusive) passing comment to stick. It'd also serve as a good benchmark to point to as "look at what would happen if we let commeters say whatever where they want, this is why we need to remove comments." It is a bit of a radical view/solution though :) – scohe001 Sep 20 at 18:35
  • I have a doubt, why would it need any kind of proactive moderation? Chats die after a while. I think those chats wouldn't need proactive moderation, they would need reactive moderation. After a while they die so if people is going of the rocket, it will vanish and if needed I think users can flag those messages right? I don't know much about moderation on chat. Everyone seems to focus on the negative effects of some negative messages and not in the negative effect of deleting comments of people that did nothing wrong but not understand the policy or disagree in the way it is interpreted. – Mykazuki Sep 23 at 19:28
  • @Mykazuki flagged chat messages go to any user over 15k(ish? I believe?) rep and all the mods. So if IPS begins generating a large number of chat flags, it could be a very bad look for us. On top of that, if we're expecting heated topics and heated discussions, I'd rather start off overly cautious. And if we find ppl can be well-behaved after all then we can tone things down. – scohe001 Sep 23 at 19:32
  • Well I know for a fact that the messages I wrote were not controversial and I wasn't being agresive. But also 15k users would have a better undestanding of the whole thing, so I don't really think it would have such a negative impact. The problem here is with users that are new to this site and don't understand all the harshness. – Mykazuki Sep 23 at 19:40
  • @Mykazuki sorry I didn't make that more clear--I mean any 15k user in any chat on the network. There's no guarantee they'll have ever even visited IPS or have any idea of the context of the conversation. – scohe001 Sep 23 at 19:42
  • 3
    The threshold is 10k total reputation across the network :) @Mykazuki, I don't think anyone means you personally said something offensive! We're talking about general patterns on IPS - unfortunately there is a non-negligible amount of users who do comment on posts with no intent to improve them and spark unhelpful arguments. That's why the site started being more aggressive with removing comments that weren't clearly trying to be constructive. – Em C Sep 23 at 20:19
  • @scohe001 oh really? yeah that wouldnt be good haha – Mykazuki Sep 23 at 20:28
  • @EmC I know I wasn't aggresive in my comments. ANd I dont think anyone remembers them so I dont think they are saying my comments were mean, what I am saying is that I have seen many comments deleted that were really not harmful. And what constitues helpful, well that is subjective. Sometimes we read into comments something that was not there. Of course I understand there are people that are actually aggresive, but we are deleting left and right, aggresive and not aggresive, without warning and without an easy to understand explanation and that makes people feel bad. – Mykazuki Sep 23 at 20:49

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