It is possible to answer a question about how to handle something you disagree with without attacking the OP or questioning their beliefs. Possible, yes. Easy? no.
Why is this happening?
Just a note, nearly all comments/comment threads we moderators delete are the result of flags from the community. We are not going out and looking for the massive discussions to delete. Almost always any involvement is directly the result of flags. Sometimes, lots of flags.
When comments begin focusing on the person and not the post, it normally gets moderators involved because the community dutifully flags this sort of content (rightly so - and thank you to those of you who patiently flag stuff like this). Just for reference from that post:
The comment chain on that particular question almost immediately devolved into an attack against the OP and their beliefs. There was a good mix of totally inappropriate comments directed towards the OP too. Plus a lengthy "is veganism true" argument. This is Workplace.StackExchange.com - not Argue.Veganism.StackExchange.com. There's a reason why comments there picked up 22 flags - and it's not because people misused comment flags. The overwhelming majority of those 32 deleted comments either:
- Discussed why the OP was/wasn't preachy (all ignoring that presumably their native language is not English with potential issues there)
- Discussed whether being Vegan was a the 1 true way or not
- Were straight up offensive
None of those are useful towards furthering the goal of helping the OP improve their post, requesting clarification, etc. Additionally whether veganism is 100% the "best thing ever" or 0% has no bearing on how to answer their question. Just read through the actual answers there. Many are applicable regardless of whether veganism is the best lifestyle ever.
Calling the OP ignorant (such as one of your deleted comments which seems to have inspired this meta post) is a quick way to attract comment flags because it's not appropriate and frankly will nearly always be deleted by a moderator. Particularly when it is part of a long debate unrelated to the actual content of the question.
You know why this comment was written?
I would like to remind everyone here to keep our Be Nice policy in mind as they answer or comment. It's fine to encourage the OP to critically reflect on his own behaviour but belittling comments, arguments or debates on the merits of veganism are not what this site is for
Because comments had devolved into belittling the OP, arguing and debating the merits of veganism.
When there is a wall of comments where the majority are straight up non-value add? There's no point in "saving" them. Copying a long list of personal attacks to chat? That's not useful or helpful. If you want to "be right" and have a place to tell vegans how wrong they are -- go to a place on the Internet which is more willing to accept personal attacks, ad hominem "arguments," and a total free reign of off-topic discussion.
There will always be comments that get unfortunately deleted in the crossfire that happens when there's a wall of comments. I wish this wasn't the case, but when there are 25+ comments that are overwhelmingly derailed there will always be comments which could have stood alone. I should make a point to clarify your comments there were part of the problem. They were not innocent bystanders.
If there are particular offending comments, those should be dealt with on a per-case basis - not nuke the entire thread wholesale
Nearly that entire thread of comments was not appropriate. I suppose they could have been moved to chat and then a good percentage of them deleted again. But that seems fairly counter productive.
I then noticed this particular question was Tweeted: https://twitter.com/StackWorkplace/status/729746121996800000
The twitter account tweeting happens due to and my understanding is it is completely automated.
The main thread had numerous comments, majority of which were high quality and relevant. Now, they are gone (either moved to a Chat room I cannot locate, or deleted for good).
Arguing with the OP about their beliefs is not relevant. Attacking the OP is not relevant. Telling the OP their beliefs are not correct is not relevant.
I guess my definitions of relevant seem to differ from yours.
Due to the nature of Workplace questions, discussion and comments are inevitable. Because of this, we seem to be more tolerant of discussion here
Keep in mind the primary purpose of Stack Exchange is Questions and Answers. Not discussion. Not arguing. Not telling an OP their beliefs are wrong. If/when discussions/arguing get in the way of questions/answers or content violates the Be Nice policy expect it to be deleted.
This isn't super popular sometimes (most of the time?). Particularly because people are wrong on the Internet and people have to tell them how wrong they are.
How do we stop this behavior?
Raising the issue on meta is a good step.
Keep in mind too there is a contact us link at the bottom of every page, which sends an email directly to Stack Exchange (bypassing moderators entirely). If you wish to raise a grievance with SE directly about moderator behavior this is the best way to do so.