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?
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.