What I did

I left a comment on this answer explaining that I downvoted because of the recommendation for cussing out your superior. It also contained a speculation about what a preceding comment was intending to say. My hope was that the author would revise the section, but even if not, I believe that the criticism and clarification of a previous comment are a legitimate use of comments. (The section has not been revised, so it's not obsolete.)

It read something along the lines of

@WGroleau I believe slebetman may be saying that the stream of profanity would cause this. (That is, quitting could become fired with cause.) I was going to upvote this post until I saw that part. If you would quit over this, just hand in your resignation and make it clear that this treatment is the reason why. Don't cuss out your superior. -1

(I'm certain that isn't quite exactly what the comment said, but it's the general idea. I have no problem if someone can obtain and wants to post the exact text to discuss it.)

What I'm confused about

The comment has been deleted (potentially twice, I'm not 100% sure), while the comments preceding it (and apparently following it) remain. So my comment was singled out for deletion. Why? I do not understand why the comment would be flagged, much less what justification for deleting it there was. Did I do anything inappropriate?

Why this isn't a dupe

It's been suggested that this is a dupe of What "comments" are not . . ., but none of the reasons there explain why it would be deleted.

  • Comments are like Post-It notes The comment pointed out a problem with the post, namely that cussing out your supervisor is inappropriate enough to warrant downvoting the answer, in my opinion. So it is clearly relevant.
  • Comments are not for answers It clearly wasn't an attempt to answer.
  • Comments are not mini chat rooms It's not chatty. It was specifically targeted to a problem with the post.
  • Comments are not discussion forums No debating or deliberation. Just, "That specific thing in your post is a problem."
  • Comments are not for voting No, they're not, but one of their purposes is for explaining problems in a post. That I also took the opportunity to express the fact I downvoted for this reason does not invalidate this fact; it's an indication of the severity of the problem.
  • Comments are not for Meta discussions Also not applicable.

So none of the discussion there explains why this comment would be deleted.

Is it constructive?

I believe that everyone reading this is capable of the making the extraordinarily small mental leap from, "This single, isolated part of your post caused me to downvote," to, "This single, isolated part of your post should be removed or edited." I don't think that needs to be made explicit. I even suggested a more professional alternative behavior that could easily replace the unprofessional behavior mentioned in the post. Realizing that I meant that the post needed to be changed is a sufficiently small leap that I have a hard time imagining anyone not making it.

Additionally, I expressed that with the exception of that one small part, the rest was a very good answer.

I'd also like to add that there's no hiding behind, "It wasn't a suggestion," to suggest that it can't be criticized as problematic. (A comment here made this point.) If the author did not wish to express that they considered the behavior appropriate, there would be no need to include it in the answer.

Is it nice?

The Be Nice policy does not forbid strong criticism of suggestions/promotions/expressions of approval for unprofessional behavior. Neither does it forbid expressing that one specific unprofessional piece of an answer was the sole reason I considered the answer bad enough to warrant a downvote and at the same time expressing that the rest of the answer would have been good enough to warrant an upvote. I made no personal attacks, and I offered an alternative professional behavior. I see no reason to consider this "not nice."

Comments are temporary/ephemeral

If the entire chain of comments had been deleted instead of mine singled out, I would have assumed this explanation myself. Appropriate comments are often lost amidst a large number of inappropriate ones. It's happened to me personally before. However, this time, my comment appears to have been specifically targeted for deletion, while the rest of the comments around it remained. This suggests to me that somebody (a person who raised a flag and the moderator who approved) considered it more problematic than the other comments surrounding it.

Why am I so bothered by this?

So I'm still left wondering why a person would flag this comment or why a moderator thought it warranted deletion.

The only speculative answer I have about why it would be flagged is that whoever flagged it simply didn't like the fact I criticized using profanity against your superior. But this is completely speculative, and it wouldn't explain why a moderator would approve the flag. However, I believe that if (and that is a very big if) that's what happened, the system has been abused. That's why I consider this issue important and why it's equally important for me to figure out if I'm in the wrong instead.

  • 8
    I did not see your comment, but I do find it a bit strange. When you downvote an answer, you are shown a pop-up that explicitly asks you to "consider" leaving a comment, but when you are considerate enough to do so, out come the flaggers and moderators with their pair of scissors to chop it off.
    – Masked Man
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 17:42
  • I'm not sure whether discussion or support is more appropriate here. If anyone has any advice there, I'd appreciate it.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 18:35
  • 2
    Comments are transient by nature. Do not post an answer as a comment. the -1 was unnessessary and some people find it to be rather obnoxious as we get from your comment you probably downvoted. Commented May 16, 2017 at 14:20
  • 1
    @MaskedMan comments are also supposed to be constructive. Commented May 16, 2017 at 15:51
  • 5
    @RichardU It's not constructive to say, "This one sentence was so bad it caused me to downvote the entire post"? That very readily translates into an action that would improve the post.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 16:10
  • 5
    @IDrinkandIKnowThings I'm confused about what point you're making. The comment I described is most certainly not an answer. It pointed out a major problem within the answer it was posted on. Yes, the comment was harsh and blunt, but that was intentional due to the severity of the problem and doesn't constitute a reason to flag it. At least, last I checked, "This comment personally annoys me," wasn't a flag reason. And yes, comments are transient, but comments used properly aren't typically singled out for deletion; they get deleted as collateral damage with a string of improper ones.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 16:17
  • 1
    @jpmc26 Saying that a sentence is "so bad it caused me to downvote the entire answer" does not offer any suggestion for improvement, and is actually a bit insulting and is certainly not constructive. Besides, it's a comment, they get deleted all the time. Commented May 16, 2017 at 16:58
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of What "comments" are not . . . Commented May 16, 2017 at 17:21
  • This "question" has turned into a rant. VTC Commented May 16, 2017 at 19:30
  • @RichardU See the explanation in the question. I also explained at the end why I consider this important.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 19:30
  • @RichardU I'm frustrated, but being frustrated is not the same as refusing to give a reasoned defense and to listen to feedback. Every point you've tried to make, I've clarified in the question why I rejected those reasons. I had gone through all this in my head prior to the question, but I added it to the question because the suggestions were raised explicitly. Explaining why I did so is certainly not "ranting" or "rules lawyering."
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 19:32
  • @RichardU No, I don't want people to say I'm right, but if you're going to say I'm wrong, I expect a convincing case for it. I have personally lost comments, yes. I've never been singled out for no apparent reason before; that is not "the culture of Workplace." If I did something wrong, I'm waiting for an actual explanation, not merely an unsupported claim when I've already considered that possibility.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 19:38
  • 1
    My comments get deleted frequently. ;-)
    – Neo
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 1:06
  • Same, my comments are deleted all the time, best not to worry about it....
    – Kilisi Mod
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 15:50
  • 1
    Workplace regularly deletes comments. Sometimes they get "moved to chat" which I can understand, but others I've seem them arbitrarily deleted.
    – Brandin
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 15:37

3 Answers 3


Sorry I missed this. Was out of town this weekend.

It was indeed deleted twice:

@WGroleau I think slebetman might be saying you could be fired for the profanity. (I.e., it becomes fired with cause instead of you quit.) Whether or not that's what slebetman means, a stream of profanity and insults is a terrible thing to do. If you would quit over this, then hand over your resignation and make sure it straightforwardly cites the treatment as the specific cause (professionally, not with profanity). It doesn't matter if they deserve it; take the high road. -1 (I was gonna +1 until I got to that.)

and then:

WGroleau I think slebetman may be referring to cussing out your superior. (I.e., doing that may allow it to become fired with cause instead of quit.) I was going to upvote this answer until it recommended something as unprofessional as that. If you would quit over it, just hand over your resignation and make it clear that this response was the reason for it. There's no need to act unprofessionally yourself; take the high road. -1

I deleted the second one of these, without realizing the first was deleted. The reasons I deleted it:

  • it had received a flag from someone in the community
  • it reads a bit.. accusational in tone ("until it recommended something as unprofessional as that" comes across, I guess, pretty "I can't believe you suggested this WOW" - maybe that's incorrect?)
  • comments are pretty ephemeral in nature anyways
  • it was pretty discussion-y to begin with and primarily seemed to be addressed to another user
  • the lingering "-1" comes across.. a bit petty

The tl;dr is don't worry about comments being deleted. Trust me, you'd have to post hundreds of them like that before we as moderators would take any significant action.

  • 3
    How dare you take a break from deleting my comments! ;-)
    – Neo
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 1:23
  • 2
    Thank you for answering. I am not worried about moderators taking significant action. I laid out my concerns at the end of the post. =/ To me, this seems like a user just wanting to shut down legitimate criticism. Yes, the comment had a very strong reaction; that was intentional because I felt the behavior being endorsed/promoted would be extremely damaging to anyone who did it. Is there no place for strong criticism on this SE? Isn't it problematic when someone can't point out a major problem in a highly upvoted answer? What changes would it take for you to not delete such a comment?
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 5:16
  • @jpmc26 I think your question ( in the comment above ) is very subjective and bound to the context of the rest of the comments included with the answer.
    – Neo
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 12:31
  • 3
    This is exactly what I said in my answer I just didnt use all them 3 dollar words :p; Commented May 17, 2017 at 18:18
  • I've thought about this a lot, and I have some... disagreements with your analysis. 1. The fact something is flagged is not in and of itself a reason to remove it; this is why we have human moderators reviewing the flags. 2. Your parenthetical statement is essentially the correct tone; however, I wouldn't call this "accusational." It's certainly mortified or something similar, but that is far and away from making an accusation. I think this distinction matters: making wild accusations is something SE discourages, but afaik, there is no discouragement from expressing dismay.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 22:06
  • 3. I've addressed this. 4. The fact you think it seemed "discussiony" suggests to me that you didn't read it very carefully. The first version explicitly disassociated most of the content from the one I suggested an interpretation for. Everything except the first sentence was clearly directed at the answer itself.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 22:07
  • 5. I disagree. It's essentially an exclamation point. It is for emphasis because of the extremity of the content I was objecting to; having thought about it, this is normally the reason I put it in comments where I explain my downvote. If I don't feel the problem is extreme, I will typically not put it in. Even if you disagree, this one is so subjective that the "assume good intentions" seems to apply. Certainly, other reasonable readers wouldn't necessarily see it as you do, and I don't either.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 22:07
  • Lastly, your final note suggests you did not give the post here a thorough read, as I fairly explicitly laid out my concerns about this entire problem and they had little to nothing to do with further moderator action. My concern in all this is for the quality and integrity of the site. You may have seen a comment with a harsh reaction to a small portion of an answer, but I see an answer endorsing cussing out your superior (something that is categorically a bad idea for your career) and left unchallenged. Imo, this is not a good thing for Workplace.SE or its readers.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 22:13
  • I suspect that you probably just didn't give the comment as much thought as I have, and that's understandable. There are a few mods and a lot of content to handle. Giving the flagger the benefit of the doubt probably works well in 99% of cases. But I really don't buy the defense you've presented here.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 22:14
  • I think I may owe you an apology for my #1 remark above, but I can't edit it out at this point. I didn't state anything you didn't already know, so it's a bit condescending. It was not my intent to be so. I merely wanted to emphasize the moderator's role in reviewing flags and that flags are not always correctly raised. I assume you mean that it would probably have escaped moderator notice entirely without a flag, but I had already assumed it was flagged. You can see this throughout my question. So that also suggests a not very thorough reading, and it comes across as a bit condescending, too.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 23:09
  • So I'm still left wondering why a person would flag this comment or why a moderator thought it warranted deletion. -- I mean, I guess I'm not sure what else you want me to say. I gave the answer for this, explaining my rationale which... well I'm pretty sure is the answer since I did delete it after all. I've been trying to figure out what else to say here and am not really sure what you are looking for me to say.
    – enderland
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 14:41
  • 2
    I am less looking for you to say anything and more saying that your thoughts about the comments assumed bad intentions that were not there. And that I think if you had looked more closely, you would have seen that there was no evidence of them and that there was evidence of good intentions. In short, I think deleting these comments was wrong. If you find my argument of that unconvincing, then there is nothing more to say.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 15:03
  • As something of a side note, you may find my responses over on IDrinkandIKnowThings illuminating in terms of how I think the Be Nice policy is supposed to work and why I don't think it applied to the comments you deleted.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 15:30
  • 3
    I'd rather take a -1 comment like those ones than a silent -1. I might agree or disagree with the proposed improvement (take the high road) but at least I get some insight about other points of view. Commented May 18, 2017 at 22:31
  • 1
    @jpmc26 I might point out too that it took the third iteration of the comment (after two comments and a meta post around the issue) before your comment had its intended effect ;-) Regardless, I apologize for misunderstanding your intent and hope it was not too negative an experience for you. I appreciate you bringing this to meta though and discussing this.
    – enderland
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 17:35

Comments are not for editorializing, they are for constructive criticism aimed at improving the answer. Do we tend to deviate at times? Yes. Do those comments get deleted? Also yes.

When you leave a comment consider the following:

  1. Is it constructive? Does it offer advice for improvement?
  2. Is it nice? We have a "be nice" policy here. If your comment isn't nice, it will certainly be deleted.
  3. Is it on topic? Chatty, off topic comments will be deleted.
  4. Is it something you'd like to see if it were your answer? Again, be nice.
  5. Will it improve the post?
  6. Is it part of a long string of irrelevant comments/chatter?

Your comment was likely flagged and deleted because of #s 1,2,4, and 5.

If, in the future, you want your comments to last, you should be able to answer yes to 1-5, and no to 6.

Otherwise, it's likely to be delted.

Also, if you're interested in what you posted lasting, try leaving an answer instead. Comments are designed to be temporary.

  • 4
    After you posted this answer, I edited to clarify. I've essentially responded to all by point 4 in your answer. RE point 4: If I were to suggest cussing out your superior, yes, I would ultimately be glad if someone called me out on it and told me it's a bad idea so that I would edit it out. I would be humbled, and it would be unpleasant. But it would be better for readers. (I don't expect a response; I post this comment for the consideration of future readers of your answer. Also note that this comment is fine; we're on Meta where the rules are different and discussion is not so unwelcome.)
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 22:51

You posted a comment that was not helpful with improving the current answer, was rude, and was insulting. Of course it got deleted.

  • 3
    I take it you did not actually read the updates to my post because I reference the very FAQ you linked to. copied several headers from it, and explained why the content of each section there does not apply. I know how SO/SE work normally. This does not seem to me to be a case of SE working normally, and because you have suggested it is, I spent more than half the post above explaining why I don't think that's the case. I request that you give me enough benefit of the doubt on this front to go through my post thoroughly. I welcome any specific responses you have to what I have written.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 22:34
  • 2
    Specifically on your post here, I do not see how it is insulting or rude to say that most of an answer is good and then explain that the extremely unprofessional behavior endorsed was enough that I decided to downvote instead of my planned upvote. Unless someone is going to be insulted when their suggestion of cussing out a superior is called unprofessional, but I hope we can agree that acting that way in the office would be so beyond the pale that feeling insulted is an improper response.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 22:41
  • 1
    @jmpc26 - Just because you are blind to the problem does not mean the problem does not exist. I cant make you see something you refuse to look for. Commented May 17, 2017 at 18:20
  • 1
    It is a little bit remarkable to me that you turn around and make a personal accusation while stating that someone else has violated the Be Nice policy. I have done a lot to explain my perspective. I admit I got frustrated for a while there, but even while frustrated, I tried to stick to the facts and give sound reasoning with evidence. I've gotten into specifics repeatedly to try to explain, but I don't recall seeing you do so at any point here. It is not helpful to repeat accusations without evidence like a mantra when someone is giving you reasoning and evidence to counter your claim.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 22:43
  • And if my comment is removed for such I wont come whining to meta about how unfairly i was treated because one of my comments was removed. And if i did, I wouldnt argue with everyone who to tried to explain why it was removed that they were all wrong and I was the only one right... Commented May 18, 2017 at 14:48
  • 2
    Calling someone or their post whiny is explicitly forbidden in the Be Nice policy. Assume good intentions. I have debated over this because I think it's important that policy gets applied as it was intended. SO policy is not designed to forbid a strong criticism of a post, and it is not helpful to the site to delete legitimate criticisms that, if given consideration and acted upon, would result in improvement of a post. And it certainly isn't a nice thing to do.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 15:10
  • Listen. I get that you're feeling frustrated. I've been there. But the heart and soul of the Be Nice policy is that we're not supposed to give in to those desires to not take people seriously. What the Be Nice policy is really about is to step back, read the other person's words carefully, and try to figure out what it is they're really getting at. That's what assume good intentions means. If you can't figure them out, it's okay to ask questions and try to clarify, but it's definitely not okay to assume there isn't a real point or start making fun of them. You're not doing that right now.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 15:20
  • Just FYI: I was assuming that you had deleted your own comments here, but in case not, I didn't flag them. Assuming I recall correctly, I haven't raised a single flag anywhere in this question.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 15:30
  • It doesnt matter they are comments they can be deleted. All it takes is a certian number of flags from users and they get deleted. Commented May 18, 2017 at 17:00
  • 1
    Several comments were removed by flags (not from the OP). Commented May 21, 2017 at 19:23
  • @jpmc26- No the heart and soul of the be nice policy is that we are supposed to be nice and considerate and helpful. None of your comments here really meet that IMO (not saying mine do or that I am better) The be nice policy has been very inconsistantly enforced and defined. Requests for clarification were scoffed at. I am really hoping they eventually give me a permanent ban so I can kick my SE Addiction once and for all. Commented May 22, 2017 at 14:30

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