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This comment was deleted/moved to chat, yet it seems to me that this particular comments meets the requirement for posting comments: it constructively suggested an improvement to the answer, especially since "add comment" is now "suggest improvements" (the other comments, not so much; I agree they should be removed.)

I asked the moderator on chat, but that didn't result in a very satisfactory answer, IMHO. (I know it's been a while, but I've been away from home for holiday and work, and haven't had time yet).

I know that "comments are supposed to ephemeral", but that alone doesn't strike me as a good reason to delete useful content. If the content is useful, then it is useful. Simply chucking it in the bin seems ... counter-productive, at best.


This is not a new phenomenon on this site; I find that on all Stack Exchange sites I've contributed to, comments get deleted on this site significantly faster than anywhere else, even compared to some other more subjective sites that tend to generate a high number of off-topic comments (e.g. Politics or Skeptics).

I appreciate that the moderators have to clean a lot of off-topic bickering, but I really wish they would take a bit more care in not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Personally, I am always very careful with content that users create in their spare time. Not every comment is typed as a stream of consciousness, and sometimes writing even a comparatively small comment can be preceded by some amount of research or thought.

I'd hate to see that destroyed if it's a constructive suggestion for improvement, which this comment was (technically, you could argue it's still there in chat, but no one reads that, so it's effectively just deleted).

  • I'll point out that the comment was not actually deleted, it was moved to chat. Moderators do have the option to do either, and deletion will remove the comment entirely.. The fact that the comments are in chat means they are still available for others to see. – David K Jul 10 '18 at 13:39
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    @DavidK Yes, I already mentioned that in the question: "technically, you could argue it's still there in chat, but no one reads that, so it's effectively just deleted". – Martin Tournoij Jul 10 '18 at 13:49
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I say that I agree with what that mod said to you: If you consider that comment useful, include it in your answer if you wish so. If the comment is as useful as you say, then it must have valid suggestions or improvements that would make your answer/question better if you include it.

"Just" leaving it as a comment is not only dangerous, as it can be deleted without notice, but it is also distracting and brings noise to the answer/post. IMHO, useful comments should be addressed (included or edited into the answer) and then pruned to keep the post on focus and without noise.

However, I also had the same question as you recently, and I asked on chat for it. FWIW, here is the transcript of my phrasing of the question and the reason one of our kind mods gave for sometimes "sweeping all the comments to chat" (emphasis mine):

Question to our respected mods: When you clean up comments under answers, is there a way not to delete them all?

And, perhaps, leave the ones that had validity, or that warned user from continuing to discuss or comment for other purposes than the ones permitted.

I've sometimes reminded users to stop engaging, and politely point them to chat... but when the cleaning comes, it takes away that comment also, and then future users don't see what happened, nor the warning, and start again a wave of unnecessary comments.

For which the answer was (emphasis mine):

In case of extended bickering, I generally delete the whole set. I usually also undelete the useful comments, but if the comment count has gone over 20 or so, that becomes tiring, and some useful comments might get deleted in the crossfire.

I prefer moving the first batch of comments to chat, unless there is undesirable arguments going on there. We don't have the option to move to chat more than once, so further comments are usually just deleted.

The comment reminding people to disengage from conflict is certainly well-intentioned, but it is also technically noise. We cannot keep pasting that comment on every post, and users should know that anyway without reminders.

Additionally, if a comment is flagged, I almost always go to the post to figure out what is going on there, and delete/move all unnecessary comments, not just the ones that are flagged.

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So, I reap what I sowed, eh? :) See Why was my comment deleted? where I too had questioned the moderators for deleting my comment. What Monica and enderland explained to me back then is more or less what I would have said in response (and DarkCygnus' answer already does that to a great extent), but there are some case-specific points I could add here:

  • Moving comments to chat is different from deleting them entirely: Deleted comments are visible only to moderators, whereas comments moved to chat are publicly visible even to users not logged in. The suggested improvements from the comments are still available to be incorporated into the answer.

  • Moderators don't go on a witch hunt against comments: We usually delete comments only in response to flags or if we see prolonged discussions in the course of our "regular" use of the site.

  • Comments flags are (usually) not handled in isolation: I cannot speak for other moderators (though I think they wouldn't differ too much), but this is how I handle with flags: If I see a specific comment flagged in the mod review queue which merits deletion, I always usually go to the post and see if there are additional comments to be deleted.

    I do this for two reasons: (1) extraneous comments are usually part of a back-and-forth discussion and (2) occasionally comments are flagged by the "other" user(s) involved in the discussion. It would be ... problematic to delete only one user's comments in such cases.

  • HNQ: Again, I cannot speak for other moderators, but I follow a special handling of HNQ. If there is a prolonged bickering debate in comments and/or large number of comments flagged on the question, I usually look for similar comments on the answers as well. This is what occurred in case of the comment you asked about. Based on observations (from my pre-mod days), comment misuse on HNQ rarely occurs only on questions.

  • Useful comments sometimes wrongly get moved: Generally, if the comments follow the sequence of user 1 responding to user 2, user 1 replying to user 2, user 3 responding to user 1, user 4 replying to user 2, user 3 responding to user 4, etc., selectively deleting comments could lead to complaints of moderator bias, so it is usually more pragmatic to move the entire conversation to chat.

    This occasionally causes legitimate comments to get moved in the crossfire. However, in case of moving comments to chat, I usually go back to the deleted comments and undelete the legitimate ones. I messed up and neglected to do it in this case. As enderland said "this is unfortunate but a problem of human moderators without unlimited time."

I could have undeleted the comment when you pinged me in chat, but I did not consider it worth the effort since I (wrongly) assumed I had addressed your issue then and there. I am sorry for the trouble this has caused you. For what it is worth, I have now undeleted the comment.

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Comments are ephemeral by nature. The mod was correct. If you think a comment is worth adding to your answer, you add it to your answer.

You can post "As per the comment left by Don Thermidor, the Lobster Mobster", and then quote the comment, that way it is preserved.

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    I'm sorry, but I think "this is how it's supposed to be" is a non-answer and discussion stopper. – Martin Tournoij Jul 10 '18 at 12:00
  • @MartinTournoij But they aren't wrong. Comments seem to be a problem on all sites but they aren't meant to stick around. Stick them in your post if you feel the information is important otherwise risk having it removed. – Bugs Jul 25 '18 at 7:50

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