our name is The Workplace, and we have a comment problem.
- We definitely have a comment problem
- We have tried to fix it, but haven't succeeded yet
- We want your help to figure out a way to do that
We have a growing comment problem:
This is our comments by week since the Workplace started out:
As you can see, from January this year we have seen a marked increase in the number of comments we are getting. Bear in mind this does not include deleted comments, of which there are many hundred per week that are being deleted.
For a more specific example, at the time of this edit, this question is 15 hours old and already has 59 comments. Currently none are deleted. Take a look and tell me that all these comments are appropriate and useful to high-quality Q&A.
What we've tried
Comments are not intended for long-term storage of important information. But that transiency doesn't mean you can use comments for random, parenthetical asides. If your comment isn't likely to change the content of the post, please do not post it for someone else to clean up. Thanks.
We have tried recommending chat instead:
Chat is an underused tool on The Workplace, yet we have users in our community with over 300 comments posted in just a 30 day period. The evidence speaks for itself; people like to chat. Yet, comments on the Q&A site leads to a lot of unnecessary cleanup, not just for moderators but for all of our diligent community flaggers who work tirelessly to help keep the clutter under control.
But yet we still get a whole lot of comments, and plenty of meta posts trying to ask the community what to do about them:
- Best ways to address comments?
- Is it appropriate to leave a comment which is a general remark on the question?
- Are '+1 for [something about the post]' comments discouraged?
- Get a Room, a Chat Room!
- Why did all comments suddenly start disappearing?
These are just the posts in comments since April!
What can be done?
I would like you guys to let us know what can be done to prevent comments from drowning out the core information on the site: questions and answers. As explained in the help center for every SE site:
You should submit a comment if you want to:
- Request clarification from the author;
- Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post;
- Add relevant but minor or transient information to a post (e.g. a link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the question has been updated).
We definitely are getting far more comments that isn't in one of those categories than in it, and that is creating noise for people seeking our high-quality answers, and adding additional burdens to the community on flagging and cleanup.
How can we solve this problem short of turning off commenting?