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I've noticed quite a trend over the past few months. While not meant for long discussions, occasionally the comments for a question/answer can extend into 10-20 comments.

I see this is often a benefit because additional points are brought up, clarification is provided in some instances, and even disagreements are civil and show both sides of a more subjective question/answer.

In most instances I simply bow down to what moderators have decided upon and leave things at that. However, it seems surprising to me that moderators are apparently finding it necessary to remove comments when they aren't in any violation of the terms of service. Even disagreements are kept civil in most instances. And discourse DOES breed ingenuity. There's nothing wrong with disagreements. I've seen this happen several times over the period of a few months and simply kept my mouth shut. However, it's getting increasingly annoying.

It is my opinion that unless a comment directly violates the Stack Exchange terms of service, the comment should be left in tact. There is no benefit to removing them. In fact, quite honestly, there's more harm when users realize that the site is being pruned and maintained silently behind the scenes to promote what a moderator feels is valid, not what the community feels is valid.

I think there is far too much comment pruning occurring. I can't state which moderator may be actively doing this. But I am certain it's a moderator since users do not posses this power.

  • upvote, this comment can be deleted for sure. – Ilan Apr 17 '14 at 8:51
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There is a reason behind each one that gets deleted: To avoid an endless comment exchange that should be taken to chat, for example, or generally because they become obsolete, like "upload a picture" "done" "thanks". Comments are meant to be used for clarification or to add relevant information.

Relevant SO meta post: How do comments work?

Comments are often used to ask for clarification on, suggest corrections to and provide meta-information about posts.

Even more relevant, about comments:

Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer. You should not expect them to be around forever: Once a clarification has been made, an edit added to the post to include new information, or the issue in the comment is otherwise resolved, it is subject to deletion. In reality, many obsolete or chatty comments remain untouched due to the high volume of comments posted, but this does not mean that they can't or shouldn't be deleted in the future.

Of course there is benefit in deleting them, most are like the ones above. We get new comments all the time, to new and old questions. Old questions don't get bumped, so those comments - lots of spam too - if lucky, are automatically flagged as low quality and we get notified. We (mods) get around 20 flags per day, most are comments.

In reference to your answer to my other meta question, some comments were deleted in this one here, and as I wrote in your answer, that exchange was turning into a flame war - Citing: the first comment, your comment, started with "thanks for the laugh". Then it got progressively passive-aggressive. A mod deleted them.

I don't mind sharing the details of each deleted comment. I think very well about them before I delete them, I only do it it it will benefit the question and the site. I think all mods in SE have similar numbers on edits and deletions. I delete and edit a lot so I take responsibility.

I visit the site each day and spend a long time reviewing, editing, leaving comments and when I can, answering. If you go through my log and feel I have edited too much, I am more than willing to review those comments and adjust my deleting.

But if I am doing too much pruning, I will have to repeat myself that moderation should be about doing as little as possible. When I visit SO I go straight for the answers and look at the comments for clarification, exceptions and such. We do design, so maybe we should allow more 'noise' in comments.

  • 2
    Yes. More 'noise' as you put it should be allowed. GD.SE is, in nature, more subjective than SO... well, at least the non-Adobe questions. When a question is so blatantly bigoted, I see no harm in pointing out the bias as long as it's not a direct attack on the user. That particular question was nothing but bait. And it remains.. and continues to gather users who want to jump on the bandwagon. – Scott Apr 17 '14 at 18:32
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I disagree entirely. I find the comments to be detrimental to the entire experience. Its getting increasingly annoying how many comments are going unchecked. It loses all of the quality that makes StackExchange network great and enjoyable to me.

Taken from https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/comment


When should I comment?

You should submit a comment if you want to:

  • Request clarification from the author;
  • Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post;
  • Add relevant but minor or transient information to a post (e.g. a link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the question has been updated).

When shouldn't I comment?

Comments are not recommended for any of the following:

  • Suggesting corrections that don't fundamentally change the meaning of the post; instead, make or suggest an edit;

  • Answering a question or providing an alternate solution to an existing answer; instead, post an actual answer (or edit to expand an existing one);

  • Compliments which do not add new information ("+1, great answer!"); instead, up-vote it and pay it forward;

  • Criticisms which do not add anything constructive ("-1, see previous comments you scallywag!"); instead, down-vote (and provide or up-vote a better answer if appropriate);

  • Secondary discussion or debating a controversial point; please use chat instead;

  • Discussion of community behavior or site policies; please use meta instead.


For the record I've flagged mods saying thanks and people saying thanks on my own answers. I'm not singling anyone out, I just want it to stop. I'm sure I've done some, if not all, of these. You're welcome to flag my comments too. Certain members over the last few months have noticeably increased the debates and discussion going on in the Q&A format. It needs to be taken to our chat, Ink Spot.

Here's a quote from another member:

Our unique position in the design world is the objective Q&A format. There are many great graphic design forums out there, but not all questions lend themselves to the forum format. The capacity to provide answers without the unnecessary discussion fluff that is often found on forums is what I like best about the Stack Exchange format.

-JohnB, from his Moderator Q&A

In recent months many members have started posting and treating more and more questions like open discussions.

  • I would perhaps agree with your last paragraph, Ryan. But perhaps not everything proceeding it :) – Scott May 8 '14 at 10:24
  • @Scott Then I think a better question for you to start is whether our own community is able to and majority wants to change our guidelines for comments. – Ryan May 8 '14 at 10:26
  • I find the need to comment on this answer pretty ironic, but well: I fully agree. With the last paragraph and everything preceding it :) – Yisela May 8 '14 at 10:31
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The RPG.SE community has been struggling with comment growth lately, and this meta answer (along with a lot of the rest of that thread) does a good job talking about comments. I think it's a useful thing to look at, so I'm sharing it here. Obviously this site needs its own policies, but looking at other sites which have gone through similar challenges can't hurt as a starting point, or reference, for our own decisions.

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I have of course also had my comments deleted. I rarely notice (I think?). Though I initially can get surprised/mildly irate, I take a moment to think what I actually wrote. Wrote being the operative word. Written words lack subtlety of oral.

Then usually I see that my comment might have been misunderstood, that I might have come across as an imbecile cow, a nitpicking git or straight up annoying. I can of course still disagree with deletion, but I choose to move on.

Another solution is to extract the essence of the points from the comments, and include as a paragraph in an answer ("..your premise that xxx is the cause of xxx does not.." then move on). The answer format is inherently different.

As @user568458 points out in a comment here it is easy to seem more confrontational than intended. This is partly because of the comment format: the need to be short. As in super-short. As in more than two sentences is almost always too much.

And finally. I do not envy our moderators their job. They get flags, they have to relate to all sorts of stuff all the time. Trying to keep something like this site clean is not easy. I think SO is an example of how things often get out of hand.

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