Anytime a question or answer seems to have more than 5 comments, they get axed by the "comment" police. I notice one moderator seems to do this a lot more than they others.

My question is this: What is wrong with the comments? Why are we in a hurry to delete them?

More info:

I feel comments can be a great to reference to later. I can understand if it is primarily arguing. But sometimes I like to seek clarification or clarify something as well. I asked a question once where one of the answers was very rude and I could not comment on it because they kept getting blown away.

I'll be honest in my opinion is that they are getting deleted with way too much frequency. The other aspect of this is I just don't find the chat room helpful or interesting. Several times I checked it, it's pretty much empty. Workplace needs some improvements. I know that this is one of the things that I feel could be improved. With it being too controlled by the moderators, it gives a lot less motivation for other users to participate without knowing if their contributions will be deleted. Long story short: Aren't we deleting comments too much?

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    +1: Please don't refer to them as the comment police. They are the arbitrary police. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/199302/…
    – Jim G.
    Jun 13, 2015 at 23:40
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    I understand your frustration but please avoid this sort of piling on. It's fine to be forthcoming about your disagreement with mod's actions, but moderators here on TWP work incredibly hard to handle a complicated subject and enable everyone to produce constructive content. If you have a specific, separate issue with mod actions, please raise it for discussion (respectfully) in its own meta question.
    – Ana
    Jun 15, 2015 at 18:57
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    "I understand your frustration but please avoid this sort of piling on." Does it hurt to ask? I notice that this is one of the highest voted question recently on workplace meta.
    – Ronnie W
    Jun 24, 2015 at 15:49

3 Answers 3


Regarding chat, I am in there nearly every day and interact with people who stop by - I do not recall ever seeing you there. Feel free to stop by and ping me! A few years ago Workplace had a pretty thriving and active chat. That's something I would love to see again.

Stack Exchange is a question/answer site -- not a discussion board.

You might be interested in reading this thread and specifically this answer from JonEricson and this one by jmac. When a Q/A turns into a discussion board it is operating fairly fundamentally different than how SE is designed to work.

Also note that a lot of comments get deleted because they are inappropriate.

It is a lot of work oftentimes for moderators to sort through 10+ comment threads, most of which do not satisfy what comments are supposed to be used for. It is inevitable some will get caught in the crossfire, but most are not fulfilling the purpose of comments.

When you go to post a comment on a question you see the following:

enter image description here

There is a lengthy FAQ about comments here. I would encourage you to read the information page on comments, too, specifically:

When shouldn't I comment?

Comments are not recommended for any of the following:

  • Suggesting corrections that don't fundamentally change the meaning of the post; instead, make or suggest an edit;

  • Answering a question or providing an alternate solution to an existing answer; instead, post an actual answer (or edit to expand an existing one);

  • Compliments which do not add new information ("+1, great answer!"); instead, up-vote it and pay it forward;

  • Criticisms which do not add anything constructive ("-1, see previous comments you scallywag!"); instead, down-vote (and provide or up-vote a better answer if appropriate);

  • Secondary discussion or debating a controversial point; please use chat instead;

  • Discussion of community behavior or site policies; please use meta instead.

I bolded the areas where we moderators frequently get comment flags to deal with.

In many cases too, comments are obsolete - a question/clarification is addressed and so some comments are no longer needed. This is a fairly frequent occurance

(some of this I modified from a post of mine on a related meta question)

  • As of 11:11 am 6/15/15 the last chat message was 6/10/15. You may be there, but no one else is. My point, is that sometimes moderators remove helpful comments. This does happen. As the community works on improving comments the moderators should focus on improving when comments should be deleted.
    – Ronnie W
    Jun 15, 2015 at 17:12
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    Enderland and I both monitor the chat transcript, and possibly others do as well. I can't really be parked in there during the work day, but if something comes up that I can help with I'll try to do so. Yes, it would be better if there were an active community of chatters, but please don't assume that a several-days-old last message means no one's watching. Jun 15, 2015 at 21:25
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    There is a mechanism to "Add a comment", so comments like this is not a place for discussion are void and are meaningless. Comments are there for a reason, and many mods snip too many of them too soon. I believe this is not only a problem on this site but many of the stack exchange sites. If you guys snip all these comments than the real question is why do we have an "Add a comment" button if comments are not allowed on the sites.
    – JonH
    Jun 24, 2015 at 14:18
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    Is is possible the answer to this question is: "Sometimes comments do get deleted when they shouldn't."? I am sorry to call someone out in particular but @MonicaCellio seems to be the biggest culprit. It seems whenever a comment line gets 8+ she cuts them all, no matter what. On my workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/48046/… question, she killed all the comments(some were good too)in response to the OP. My question is, why kill all of them? Maybe be selective?
    – Ronnie W
    Jun 24, 2015 at 15:48
  • @RonnieW. there's no need to apologize; mods are accountable for our actions. I don't do the majority of the deletions, FYI. Comments are not for discussions and when comments become too chatty and no longer about clarifying the post they're attached to, they're subject to deletion. Usually that happens because somebody flagged it; nobody's got time to read all the comments on the site looking for things to clean up. I hope this helps. Feel free to raise new issues here on meta, or you can use the "contact us" link (bottom of every page) if you want to appeal to SE. Jun 24, 2015 at 15:56
  • @RonnieW. it's possible moderators make mistakes. On that particular question, the comments which could have remained were comments with questions directed to you - which you did not address (?). The other comments were discussion comments and while perhaps useful and interesting directly violate the bolded content above (especially point #2). As a voting based Q/A site it is difficult to handle comment answers as it's impossible to vote them down, etc. (cont)
    – enderland
    Jun 24, 2015 at 23:05
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    I would encourage you in the future if people are posting useful answers as comments on questions to recommend the poster post them as an answer so you can vote on them for their helpfulness! This helps you thank the post authors and contributes to an overall better Q/A site.
    – enderland
    Jun 24, 2015 at 23:06

There is nothing "wrong" with comments.

As useful as the stackexchange sites are, many of them suffer from really aggressive comment deletion. This is especially true for sites which feature intrinsically subjective topics where there are multiple ways to approach any particular question and its answers.

It is not unusual for the comments to become the most interesting part of a question. People are clearly spending time on writing and reading them, so they do have value. The problem is that some moderators have very very rigid ideas about what constitutes deviation from "the rules". When comments get clipped in the middle of an ongoing discussion (rather than months after they've stopped growing), it is somewhat insulting-- akin to being told to "shut up".

We are told to use "chat" as an appropriate alternative to comment streams. I think that is a really nice effort, but the implementation of chat is kind of a mess. It looks like a vat of unrelated blurbs of text. Maybe there's a way to make chat threaded and attach a chat discussion to a particular question? If there is I haven't found it perhaps because I don't stick around in chat long enough to find out.

As far as any "solution" to comments goes, I don't think I will agree with whatever stackexchange folks come up with, but whatever they come up with, I just hope they're CONSISTENT in its application. IMO, it would be better to give comments some fixed lifetime after which the comments are deleted. This gives folks a chance to hash things out while the question is still hot and an opportunity to amend the answer or question involved using the comments. Eventually, however, the comments would get deleted satisfying the "rules-oriented" folks while still giving chatters an opportunity to chat.

  • 1
    "Maybe there's a way to make chat threaded and attach a chat discussion to a particular question?" - I like that idea. Jun 25, 2015 at 18:56
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    If there are too many threads of conversation in the site's main chat room you can always get a room of your own and link to it from the question. It would be nice if there were more automation, but it's possible. Jun 25, 2015 at 20:50
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    @MonicaCellio, obviously the rooms feature isn't working to eliminate discussion in comments in the way that the moderators would like. By "automation", I assume you mean being able to flip between associated questions, answers and discussions effortlessly. I agree. Perhaps a lot of aggravation could be avoided by designing-in this feature and less drudgery for mods having to evaluate and cull commentary that turns into discussion.
    – teego1967
    Jun 26, 2015 at 11:01
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    FWIW, I knew about the rooms feature but completely forgot about it because it was effectively useless in practice. If you want to draw people away from extended comments, there needs to be some type of easy mechanism to do that. It is baffling that a ton of effort clearly went into UX doodads for chat, but there is no hyperlink in each Q or A with something like "discussion (14)" to encourage would-be commenters to discuss a hot topic.
    – teego1967
    Jun 26, 2015 at 11:11

If an answer is rude, flag it. Moderators will see it and address it. Also vote the answer down.

If a comment is rude flag it. A moderator will address it.

  • 2
    -1: This doesn't answer the OP's question.
    – Jim G.
    Jun 13, 2015 at 23:43
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    Then op wants to use comments to complain about rude answers. We have ways to address rude comments. Jun 13, 2015 at 23:56
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    Nope, I want to use comments to clarify of expound. Case in point...right here!
    – Ronnie W
    Jun 24, 2015 at 15:39
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    quote " I asked a question once where one of the answers was very rude and I could not comment on it because they kept getting blown away. " Jun 24, 2015 at 15:50
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    That was one instance, not every instance.
    – Ronnie W
    Jun 24, 2015 at 17:06

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