In My first freelance project took me twice as long as estimated - How should I proceed? , it took the OP twice as long as he had estimated to finish a project (missing a few updated deadlines on the way, too). It was his first project. I commented only half-joking that that was really not a bad estimate for a first freelance project. I actually think that the comment contributed to the OP's question by putting it into perspective, and I stated that I was not being sarcastic, in order to avoid misunderstandings.

The comment got deleted with a reference to https://workplace.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/comment. That page has a few examples of what are good comments and what are bad ones, but my remark doesn't seem to fit either really well. Perhaps it could be seen as "minor or transient information", but clearly not in a technical sense (as a link to an article would be).

This incident inspired my request for comment here, for future reference: Are such general comments which are neither

  • requests for clarification
  • constructive criticism
  • nor additional information

indeed unwanted? What's your current practice, and what would you like to see?

  • 4
    Just FYI, there are (currently) 19 deleted comments on that post, so it may be that yours got caught up in a larger operation. (I'm not the one who handled that post and I haven't reviewed all the comments -- just supplying some possibly-relevant info here.) Jun 5, 2014 at 18:48
  • 1
    Thanks for that particular bit of information. I made a change to my post to clarify that the incident was only the motivation for a general question. Jun 5, 2014 at 20:23

2 Answers 2


thanks for posting this on meta for clarification. I was the one who deleted the comment (among many other comments), here was my general thought:

  1. While it was tangential information, it was most useful to the asker, and he had (presumably) already read it since he added a comment after yours
  2. Wesley's answer says basically the same thing (that double isn't that bad for a first project)
  3. Our focus is on Q&A, and we want to make sure that comments add value to those posts, rather than distract people from the content we optimize for

As explained in the help center you linked (emphasis mine):

Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer.

We get a ton of comments, and they take time to deal with. When in doubt, I delete. The longer the discussion/more comments there are, the more likely it is I will delete them. If you feel we removed valuable content that isn't available elsewhere then please let us know with a meta post like this one and we can look in to it, or even better, find a way to include them in to an answer (of your own or through an edit).

Hope this helps.


I think the comments are actually some of the most interesting content on the stackexchange sites. And honestly, let's be real, the chat rooms aren't really working.

If comments really are supposed to be like "temporary post-it notes" then why not just delete all of them automatically after a certain amount of time or after the activity on the question has died down? Stackexchange could even post a warning comment that the comments will be blown away in x days. At least that would be predictable and much preferable ad-hoc deletion at the whim of a do-gooder moderator while the discussion is in progress (not suggesting that anyone here is a do-gooder moderator :-) ).

IMO, the achilles heel of stackexchange is the false assumption that "good" questions have "one correct" objective answer. That might approach reality for some topics, but for others like Workplace, there are problems. In a topic as INTRINSICALLY subjective as "navigating the workplace" there are always other facets to consider, complications, and tangents which could transform one's thinking about the question at hand. Comments really help for those "side-issues".

I understand that clutter from comments dilutes the intent of stackexchange, and understand why comments should be deleted (at least eventually). What I find annoying is deletion of comments while a discussion is still active. Please stop doing that. A better way to handle it is to just automatically delete comments after activity has died down. That way your time as a moderator can be better spent encouraging people to frame their good comments into useful answers.

  • Your answer pretty much reflects my sentiment, but others seem to disagree (also see @mxyzplk's comment with link above). If the site (and others on SE) is considered a strict Q&A affair, only "technical" comments are in order (e.g. asking for clarification). But if a discussion and emergence of a more faceted picture is considered part of it, comments with information or opinion bits below the "answer threshold" would also be of value. This discrepancy is exactly why I wrote the question. Jun 11, 2014 at 13:25
  • 2
    One problem with automatic deletion is that it doesn't distinguish. If a comment points out a flaw in an answer and the author never addresses it, we shouldn't auto-delete that -- a human should judge whether it should remain. I do wish there were better tools for comment-management; I just don't know what they should be. Jun 12, 2014 at 0:56
  • BTW, this mod (I'll leave "do-gooder" for others to judge) sometimes flushes a discussion in progress because it's getting ugly. Name-calling, shouting, and repeating the same points over and over really don't make our site look good. I try to pay attention to timestamps otherwise, though I might make mistakes sometimes. Jun 12, 2014 at 0:57
  • I think it is fine if "offensive" comments are flushed by a mod. As far as a comment which points out a flaw in the answer which the author won't address, there's always downvotes and the ability to edit, or if we want to get fancy about it, stackexchange could make it possible to "lock" mod-selected comments?
    – teego1967
    Jun 12, 2014 at 9:34
  • 2
    I think the comments are actually some of the most interesting content on the stackexchange sites. - I think that would be seen as a failure by many, myself included. The interesting content should be the questions and answers. Chat rooms work, people come here because they are not chat rooms or discussion forums. That is the reason we get the good content that we get and it is so much easier to find here than it would be on a discussion forum or chatroom. Jun 12, 2014 at 13:43
  • 2
    Our top viewed question has over 140,000 views. People are not coming to read the comments, they are coming to get an answer to their question. As a participant, comments seem like a whole lot of fun, but if you're just looking for an answer, they're distracting. That's why they are meant to be temporary, and why we regularly go through and remove comments when they get in the way of the Q&A. Chat works great as an alternative, check out this room that spawned off a related question.
    – jmac
    Jun 13, 2014 at 2:58
  • @jrmac If reality was that easy -- "question? answer!" I'm afraid this pattern covers about 0.01% of the non-trivial issues. And of those clear-cut questions which have a clear-cut answer, the vast majority had an answer already out there. Jan 20, 2017 at 13:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .