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So that I don't contribute to "our comments problem", I periodically go back and delete comments more than a few days old.

But the site limits me to being able to delete only 20 comments per day.

Why?

What is the motivation for this limit? Why shouldn't folks be able to delete as many of their own comments as they choose?

  • Looking at the meta linked, it's limited to comments from 20 posts, which I guess most people won't hit though I don't understand the rationale. Ultimately you'll have to raise this on main meta though if you want to discuss the topic. – Lilienthal Aug 27 '18 at 9:27
  • I personally noticed you go back and delete your own comments when they become stale, which I appreciate, and should do more of myself. Does the limit include that action? – rath Sep 10 '18 at 21:56
  • @rath - yes, that's when I hit the limit. – Joe Strazzere Sep 10 '18 at 23:50
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The powers that be at Stack Exchange decided to treat comment deletion as equivalent to voting on comments. Given that those two actions are nearly always mutually exclusive (you can delete but not upvote your own comment, while you can upvote but not delete other users' comment), the reason for defining this equivalence is best known only to them. More about it on this meta.SE post and other meta posts linked from there.

One good reason mentioned there, though not entirely convincing (to me anyway), is to prevent Denial of Service (DoS) attacks on the Stack Exchange server. However, the number of comments posted is already rate limited, and by definition, the number of comment deletions is limited by the number of comments posted. Hence, this attack requires advance preparation by posting lots of comments for several months, and then deleting them all at once (using an automated script).

  • 1
    Any time I see an exuberance to guard against bad behavior, I wonder how much of that exuberance is due to psychological projection – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Aug 27 '18 at 13:19
  • Kind of an odd DoS concern. I mean, if they want to rate-limit something like comment-deletion, having something like 20-comment-deletions-per-every-5-minutes or something would seem far more than adequate. I mean, the DoS concern is really about a burst effect, not a throughput rate. – Nat Sep 4 '18 at 3:06
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If you have several comments on a particular question/answer that you'd like to see tidied up, then try raising a custom flag and using this as prompt to look at your other comments in the question/answer.

This is a great way of bringing our attention to comment streams that have become obsolete (clarifications that have been clarified) or too chatty.

Also, if your comment deletions may have the effect of breaking a stream of conversation (e.g if someone responds to a comment that you made), flag one of the broken comments so that we can clean up that stream too.

It's great to see self-discipline in self-deleting old comments.

  • No, it's not worth flagging. I just wait a day then do it. If that breaks a stream of comment-conversation, then someone else will have to flag it to get it cleaned up. – Joe Strazzere Aug 28 '18 at 10:33

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