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If you've noticed comment-discussions being unceremoniously deleted, there's been a lot of misuse of comments in this system. Let's see if we can nip this in the bud.

Comments are like Post-It notes
Comments are inherently disposable and not for permanent information. Comments are used primarily to leave notes to the author asking for clarification, or to point out problems, or otherwise help make a post better. Ideally, this information should be moved into the post and the comments deleted.

Comments are not for answers
Comments are not a substitute for answering questions. Comments cannot easily be searched, nor can they be edited for corrections or vetted with the community vote. There's no history, no reputation awarded, nor can they be 'accepted' as the best answer. They get little visibility but often keep users from posting proper answers because the question appears to be resolved… albeit, incorrectly. Further, those comment-answers will not bring new users to this site searching for the information. In short, you are hurting rather than helping the site, and your contribution is at great risk of being lost/deleted.

Comments are not mini chat rooms
Comment-chat sessions come in the form "Yes, same thing happened to me, let me tell you…" but they also contain random quips, anecdotes, jokes, and various side conversations inspired by the discussion. If you find yourself chatting up the situation, please stop. Our chat rooms are much better suited to this purpose — http://chat.workplace.stackexchange.com

Comments are not discussion forums
Comments are not for debates or deliberations. If you find yourself going back and forth about a post, you're doing it wrong. It's okay to express disagreement about information posted (voting goes with this), but if it becomes a conversation, stop responding and bring it to a chat room. We're building a canon of clear, concise answers in this Q&A, and we sometimes have to forgo these conversations and debates to keep that repository clean, useful, and accessible. If the question needs further discussion, bring it to a chat room. Ideally, the issue should be resolved and the information added to the post. The comments should not become part of that canon.

Too much to read? Start here.

Comments are not intended for long-term storage of important information. But that transiency doesn't mean you can use comments for random, parenthetical asides. If your comment isn't likely to change the content of the post, please do not post it for someone else to clean up. Thanks.

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    I guess by the same token: Answers are not for comments or clarification questions. :) – Karlson Apr 13 '12 at 15:21
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    The comment deleting is much higher here than any other stack site, it seems excessive. Sometimes valuable perspectives and ideas are routinely lost. – Mark Rogers Feb 3 '16 at 15:27
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    @MarkRogers If the perspective is valuable, it should be editing into the answer. One of the foundational ideas that separated SE from discussion forums is that the best information and ah-ha moments aren't supposed to be buried at the bottom of page 11. – Robert Cartaino Feb 3 '16 at 15:35
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    Not everyone wants to commit to a full answer on every question, only some people have the content and time to format and defend a full answer. Simply because some information has not been worked into a full answer, doesn't mean its not valuable or useful to readers. And simply deleting all comments is an oversimplified solution to a complex problem. Sure the old signal-to-noise line can be used to justify almost anything really, but that doesn't mean the network and all its user are aided by heavy comment deletion. – Mark Rogers Feb 3 '16 at 15:43
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    @MarkRogers And what if that "I don't have time to defend answer" is wrong? Comments aren't ranked for correctness. They cannot be down-voted if they are wrong, or edited to correct that. And when new users see "answers" posted prominently right there below the question, we're teaching them to do the same same, and soon questions start going unanswered when the issue looks pretty much resolved... in comments. Bottom line, comments aren't answers; answers are answers. – Robert Cartaino Feb 3 '16 at 15:49
  • @RobertCartaino - While I disagree, thanks for taking the time to respond with well considered answers. – Mark Rogers Feb 3 '16 at 15:51
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    @MarkRogers Thanks for raising the issue. It is complicated, and good information does gets lost. We simply feel the bigger problem to solve is assuring the proper vetting of information posted on the Internet; that over simply giving people more places to type. Cheers. – Robert Cartaino Feb 3 '16 at 15:55
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    It would be helpful if you could clarify whether comments should be used to explain downvotes, as they are on other sites. I’m asking because comments explaining downvotes are routinely deleted on this site (and only on this site), which is quite annoying (see e.g. workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/q/5029/14546). In fact, downvoting triggers the usual popup (“Please consider adding a comment…”) but given the practice it appears misleading. – Konrad Rudolph Jan 26 '18 at 18:47
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    So, when will this chatter be moved to chat? ;) – Alexander Kosubek Jan 30 '18 at 6:58
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Comments are not for answers

Are you sure about that? Isn't it standard operating procedure on Stack Overflow to convert simple, link-only or single-line answers to comments? Doesn't this practice run counter to that assertion?

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    @YannisRizos and conversely questions that can be (correctly and completely) answered with such things aren't usually good questions :-) – voretaq7 Apr 13 '12 at 5:10
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    Questions are converted into comments when the author is using the answering feature incorrectly. Answers should not be converted into comments on the sole premise that they are short. If those short posts are not good or complete answers, they should be down-voted, not converted. – Robert Cartaino Apr 13 '12 at 13:28
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    If a link really is the "answer", explain why the link is the answer and give the relevant snippet of information from the link. – Rarity Apr 13 '12 at 15:16
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    Just realized the irony factor in this "answer." – Nicole May 17 '13 at 17:51
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    I have to agree with the disagreement of that bullet point. I find myself often putting answers in comments when I don't have time to sit down and write out a full answer or am not sure if it really would be the answer or not. I would rather the content exist in a comment to help both the OP and other answers, than not post it at all. And sometimes, I even come back later and convert the comment into a full answer. – Rachel May 21 '13 at 14:28
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Comments are not for voting

Voting is for voting.

I've seen a lot of "+1 great answer" or slightly disguised variant "+1 I agree with [echo some part of the answer]". These comments are more noise than signal. I know, I know, we all see those answers (or questions) that really get us excited and we want to +1000 them, but we can't, so we want to comment — but we shouldn't.

If you feel the urge, consider this advice from Shog9 (and Grace Note) before you hit the "Add Comment" button:

A good "+1" comment is one that would be just as good without the +1 in front of it.

If your comment doesn't do anything besides echo the original post or add agreement, chuck it.

The Workplace is already especially susceptible to comment noise. Please be mindful of the cost of your comment to others, and only post comments that really add value.

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    +1 I agree with this. – enderland May 16 '13 at 19:15
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    Sometimes I find that someone points out an interesting answer and makes me want to read it more by highlighting an important point mentioned in the answer. Some commenters also add an additional point or paraphrase the points to help clarify what the original author was saying. So I'm curious, do you see a separation between commenting to add additional points vs just simply copy and pasting a portion of the answer after a +1? Do you see any comments not specifically suggesting improvements or seeking clarification to be noise? – jmort253 May 17 '13 at 2:37
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    I guess to summarize what I'm interpreting from this: If the comment adds to the answer, keep it. If it just echoes or adds agreement, get rid of it. I've personally experienced some comments that reiterated a point from an answer that I originally disagreed with, but after seeing it written differently, helped me see the post author's point. I'd hate to see us lose that aspect of our site. – jmort253 May 17 '13 at 2:59
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    @jmort253: Great points. I really don't know how this militant stance on comments helps us. – Jim G. May 17 '13 at 8:15
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    @JimG. its not a militant stance, its standards to maintain the high quality and usefulness of the site in a way that provides the closest ratio of words / useful words which solve the problem or add clarification. Comments just saying "+1 good answer" add nothing to the site, as pointed out by NickC But as Jmort points out comments which say "+1, 'Quoted Text', really highlights points X, Y and Z" are ok comments to have – Rhys May 17 '13 at 8:32
  • @RhysW: I agree with this; but I thought that jmort253 was already upholding this level of quality. [Except for enderland's comment above.] – Jim G. May 17 '13 at 10:44
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    @JimG. Jmort shouldnt have to do it, mods are there for exceptional circumstances, hence why we, as a community, are deciding what is and isnt allowed – Rhys May 17 '13 at 11:23
  • @RhysW: Right, but it looks like NickC is asking for even greater discipline. – Jim G. May 17 '13 at 12:38
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    @jmort253 I didn't think my post here implied that only suggestions or seeking clarity were allowed. And yes (@JimG) I am asking for greater discipline. Comments with just agreement or quotes are mostly noise. But I think it's great when a commenter simplifies and summarizes an important point, or adds useful perspective in agreement with a particular point. – Nicole May 17 '13 at 17:05
  • @NickC: OK. Cool. Thanks. – Jim G. May 17 '13 at 21:10
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    @JimG. - I wasn't really implying that anyone was taking a militant stance, and I apologize if I was unclear. My goal isn't to call Nick or anyone else out. Instead, my goal is to clarify this stance so that other users don't take a militant stance on what comments they flag. No one wants to end up with a series of summarily dismissed flags on comments we don't consider harmful. In short, I don't think Nick was implying we should wipe them all out -- I just want to help clarify so no one gets surprised. Let's try to keep this constructive if we can. Hope this helps! – jmort253 May 17 '13 at 23:13
  • @jmort253: I totally agree. And if it helps, the comments attached to this answer helped me understand NickC's point of view as well. Emphasis: I don't want anyone to take a militant stance on comments. – Jim G. May 17 '13 at 23:33
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    @RhysW - This is why I'm glad we're having this discussion as it's helping us all get on the same page. I sort of agree that +1 [quoted text] could be noise. I wouldn't outright delete them. But I would if they were flagged. But if someone clarified something and helped make the answer stronger or less likely to be misinterpreted, I would find it personally tough to remove those. Does this help? – jmort253 May 18 '13 at 0:43

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