I recently noticed that comments are removed in many questions. Why is that happening? Most of the time, I found very good answers to my questions in comments rather than actual answers.

Is it a good idea to clear most of the comments?

  • "Long comments threads make it harder to get to and read answers. Not just that but which is probably more dangerous, long comments threads make answers look less important. Assuming that comments tend to stick to popular, highly viewed posts, this may have substantial perception impact..." (Help us figure out a way to handle the explosion of comments...)
    – gnat
    Jul 10 '14 at 10:50

From our help center:

Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer. They can be up-voted (but not down-voted) and flagged, but do not generate reputation. There's no revision history, and when they are deleted they're gone for good.

Comments are meant to be temporary, and they are not intended as somewhere to put answers. Answers should be turned in to answers. See also What “comments” are not:

Comments are not for answers
Comments are not a substitute for answering questions. Comments cannot easily be searched, nor can they be edited for corrections or vetted with the community vote. There's no history, no reputation awarded, nor can they be 'accepted' as the best answer. They get little visibility but often keep users from posting proper answers because the question appears to be resolved… albeit, incorrectly. Further, those comment-answers will not bring new users to this site searching for the information. In short, you are hurting rather than helping the site, and your contribution is at great risk of being lost/deleted.

When I notice a lot of comments, I delete all the ones which shouldn't be comments because we get a lot of comments here, a lot more than we should. The only comments I tend to keep are:

  1. Comments that ask for clarification of a question/answer that haven't been responded to by the author in the post yet
  2. Comments that add to a post by providing additional information that hasn't been edited in to the post yet

If I have a little extra time, I will edit the answers to clarification questions/the additional information provided in a comment in to the post, and then delete the obsolete comments.

  • 3
    If the comments do actually contribute to the answer and you don't have the time to append their content to an answer then you are knowingly killing useful information. While your dedication to cleaning up the comments is commendable, the blanket deletion of worthy information is not. Furthermore, this isn't the only Stack Exchange with this issue and it's the only one where I've seen this draconian policy from a mod. Now that I sound truly combative, I'm sure you didn't jump right to this approach and have tried other unsuccessful ones, I'm just perturbed by the loss of good information.
    – maxywb
    Jul 10 '14 at 14:15
  • 3
    @maxy, I try pretty hard not to delete comments that the author of the post hasn't read (I check when they last visited vs. the posting time of the comment) or that are only a couple hours old, so there is definitely an opportunity for either the commenter or the post author to edit them in. Or anyone else in the community (there are more of you than there are mods). We also get flags on comments very frequently, so I am following the rules the community decided from the help center/linked post. Want the information to stay? Edit it in or make another answer. Nothing draconian about it.
    – jmac
    Jul 10 '14 at 14:40
  • 4
    There is some contradiction in the rules. My comment to the topic of the warehouse picker who has been forced to develop software for the same low wages, was to try the citizen advice bureau. It is deleted, so this potentially useful information is gone. If I had posted it as an answer, then you or someone else would say that it is too short and should be a comment, as it happened with my answer in another topic. But I didn't want to write a long answer as I have no personal experience with the CAB. Should I just write a long text with a tiny bit of meaningful information in it? Please advise. Jul 10 '14 at 15:51
  • 2
    And the "comments removed" message. Is it possible to not have this message at all. I personally find it annoying to know that there was something here but I can't read it. A even better option would be to hide the comments (leaving only a link to them), then they wouldn't distract from the answer and the members who want to read them would be able to do so. Jul 10 '14 at 16:01
  • 1
    @greenfingers there's a whole q&a about what to do with comments here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/180325/… Realistically, tweaking jmac's process is unlikely to leave anyone satisfied.
    – maxywb
    Jul 10 '14 at 16:16
  • @maxywb yes but if I don't vent my frustration in the meta where can I? :) Jul 10 '14 at 16:45
  • 2
    @greenfingers - You could add it as a comment to an existing answer. I tend to view comments on actual, real answers as detracting less than comments posted as answers under the question. Also, either you or the answerer could edit in that additional info into the relevant answer...
    – jmort253
    Jul 10 '14 at 16:50
  • 2
    With that said, I've been wanting to create a MSE feature request to make it easier for people to move comment discussions to chat via the ability to create a room and then ping users in the comments. Perhaps that, as well as your idea to just collapse comments by default, could help mitigate the problem. Still, useful info in comments is a problem. There's simply no way to rank them or make them searchable by search engines. Info in comments is less useful than info in actual answers based on the design goals of SE.
    – jmort253
    Jul 10 '14 at 16:52
  • 1
    @greenfingers, the comments serve two purposes: (1) they let me know that I already cleaned out comments there, and that I should feel freer to delete comments that come in after because... (2) it shows the community that comments should not be for chit-chat, so that when I do delete the lot they were forewarned. For currently active posts, I would much rather keep them around for that reason, but for older posts, feel free to flag them as obsolete (say a week after the post was active last?).
    – jmac
    Jul 11 '14 at 9:22
  • @maxywb re your first comment here: moderators are not expected to arbitrate correctness; that's what voting is for. So at best we know that the person who posted a comment thought it contained valuable information, but since it's not an answer the community can't properly evaluate it (no comment downvotes) nor improve it (no edits). Even if it was useful -- and I emphasize the "if" because often it seems not to be -- we can't expect moderators to decide that. If you want your valuable suggestion to be on the site, put it in an answer. Jul 13 '14 at 17:48
  • You should not delete comments, you're removing completely all social functionality in this place just might as well just change it to stackdocumentation
    – user86742
    Jul 12 '19 at 16:58

You must log in to answer this question.

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