11

Lately, I have quite often noticed that comments seem to be more or less arbitrarily deleted (both mine and others) without anyone leaving an explanation of why. I assume that only mods have the privileges to do so. Often some comments are left standing, which now remain difficult to understand, since they refer to issues pointed out in the now deleted comments.

Is it for a 'normal' user possible to find out which mod has deleted comments on a particular question or answer and is it reasonable to ask for an explanation?

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    Comments are second class citizens on StackExchange and can disappear without warning at any time for a multitude of reasons. I will post a detailed answer later if nobody else does. – JonathanReez Nov 15 '17 at 9:55
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    @JonathanReez But I assume that they don't disappear on their own and that deletion is an active decision by a moderator? If so, an explanation of the 'multitude of reasons' should be available somewhere and comprehensible. IMHO, the deletions are starting to get out of hand and the reasons seem, as I already wrote, more or less arbitrary. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Nov 15 '17 at 12:35
  • It's all defined by StackExchange itself: travel.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/comment. Mods just follow the current practices. – JonathanReez Nov 15 '17 at 13:55
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    @JonathanReez And what is the process if some moderator seem to have a disputable interpretation of the 'should and shouldn't's and arbitrarily or without comprehensible reason deletes comments? I honestly disagree with you that the moderators are currently following the guidelines. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Nov 15 '17 at 16:09
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    You go in chat and ask why a particular comment was deleted. – JonathanReez Nov 15 '17 at 18:00
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    I would say, by definition, there is no such thing as an arbitrary deletion of comments, because comments themselves are to be treated as ephemeral. This has been constantly and consistently stated by TPTB since comments were created in the first place. – choster Nov 16 '17 at 19:43
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    @choster Indeed. That policy, along with complete lack of transparency or accountability when it comes to moderator actions on comments, often leads to absurd abuses by moderators across the SE network (I am explicitly not blaming the moderators here for anything, given that there's no context attached to this question; this is an SE-wide problem), such as moderators repeatedly deleting all comments that raise any kind of reasonable questions about an answer. It is a policy that begs for abuse. – Zach Lipton Nov 17 '17 at 5:03
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    I agree with Zach, I've had countless of the issue comment deletion across the Stack Exchange network, e.g. Why did these comments get deleted? Someone else wrote the same afterward and got over 20 upvotes and as a result I tend to ignore comments (since my replies may be removed anytime) – Franck Dernoncourt Nov 19 '17 at 0:04
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    @JonathanReez and then if the chat message is inconvenient then that gets deleted too. – chx Nov 20 '17 at 7:20
  • @chx feel free to take a screenshot of your deleted comment and post it in Meta for discussion. You have my word such a post won't be deleted and others could say if the deletion was justified. – JonathanReez Nov 20 '17 at 9:36
  • @JonathanReez Third class citizens even. – Mast Nov 21 '17 at 11:53
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    @JonathanReez: How does one take a screenshot of something that has been deleted? – WGroleau Nov 21 '17 at 21:43
  • @WGroleau you can link to the deleted thread and a mod will be able to look up what was deleted – JonathanReez Nov 21 '17 at 21:48
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    Ah, I don't know how to do that, but a link isn't a screenshot. – WGroleau Nov 21 '17 at 21:52
9

Comments are not meant for conversations, so a common reason for them being removed is when 20 or more appear on a post - they'll get auto-flagged for removal - sometimes into a chat room if need be, sometimes just removed to prevent the ongoing comment conversation.

Other comments get flagged as old/redundant (eg a user has updated his question to clarify a comment raised).

And some are flagged as rude/too chatty/offensive/spam/etc.

So like Jonathan said, no one reason exists - a multitude of possible reasons. (you'd need to give us some details on the ones you mean for us to investigate them in particular). Please do raise in chat if you want - we can see if we can get you some more info.

See also: A guide to moderating comments

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  • Agreed and StackExchange also migrates long comment threads to chat – Ankur Banerjee Nov 17 '17 at 9:31
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    My question was not directly related to a specific situtaion, it is more a general matter. Moving extensive dicussions to chat is of course acceptable, but the new 'phenomenon' I have experienced lately is that I get notifications about new comments and when I open the answer, both my comment and the notified reply have been deleted. I might agree that I tend to be too chatty sometimes in the comments, but often my comments have been deleted from the middle of a block of just as chatty comments. This lack of transparency is quite annoying. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Nov 17 '17 at 18:51
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo totally fair point on that about getting notifications - but that's the SE system. If you get some notifications about pending comments for you to read, but the thread gets deleted, really it should remove your pending comments? I guess? Might be worth raising on meta.SE. – Mark Mayo Nov 19 '17 at 9:52
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    There is a fix that does not involve changing how SE works: when a moderator deletes comments, they should leave an explanation. If comments simply disappear without notice, it is difficult to appeal, understand, or even notice when it happens. So "raise in chat if you don't like it" does not seem a good policy to me. – Federico Poloni Nov 19 '17 at 21:39
4

It does not seem possible. The moderation tools available to users with more than 10000 reputation points include tools to review recently deleted questions and answers but not comments. Clearly, comments are by design somewhat transient and can be deleted easily. Whether using that possibility aggressively is a good thing or not, I don't know, it could be valuable to ask a question to discuss our policy in this respect.

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4

Is it possible for a 'normal' user possible to find out which mod has deleted comments on a particular question or answer

No.

At least, I'm unaware of any such facility available to 'normal' users.

and is it reasonable to ask for an explanation?

IMO No.

AIUI the primary purpose of comments in SE websites is to assist the author of a Q or A to improve their Q or A. If, after a short while, the author then chooses not to change what they wrote, the comment serves no further purpose.

The author of a comment always has the option of editing the Q or A themselves (admittedly only if they have enough rep). They also have the option of adding another answer - which can reference another answer if need be.

Consequently, I think it reasonable to consider comments as completely disposable. If anything, more comments should be deleted to help avoid people attaching too much importance to them. Maybe they should auto-implode after some period! :-)

It is of course very unpleasant to feel that your contributions have been singled out for deletion in some vindictive way. In the case of comments, I doubt the value to the site of increasing the opportunities for deletee and deleter to wind each other up.

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2

I'm reading this "complaint" with a smile. As an old timer on the Internet I have see every so many discussion board go overboard and users leaving in frustration. There are trolls and rude people everywhere, moderation is important to prevent things from spinning out of control. The worst of all are "discussions" spinning out of control. The reason Stackexchange is relatively resilient to trolling is that discussions are not allowed (in the QA section) and moderator delete seemingly rude and inappropiate comments fast! A certain amount of randomness is certainly possibly but not a reason for concern. Remember that this is not a political discussion. This palce is about facts. Overall I plead users here not to be concerned about comments being deleted. Go to other forums and have fun with the trolls. Then come back and complain.

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-5

Some mods have the nasty habit of deleting comments, because comments are only meant to be as good as answers (in their opinions), even when they are not a part of long conversations. I guess they love to use the delete button, so do not bother, you will never get the comments back, nor will you stop them from overdoing that.

My long term plan is to vote for totally new moderators, that's the only way to make this stop. Fresh blood is important. I hope many other users do that.

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    1) Mods (well me at least) hate using the delete button, it's a nuisance every time there's a flag. We'd prefer to discuss travel. 2) It's got nothing to do with our opinions, comments are second class citizen status by design on Stackexchange. 3) Mods on all SE sites operate the same policy, not just travel. And community mods (SE employees) do so as well. 4) Replacing all moderators would not change the SE policy. We're volunteers. We follow the policy and (semi)frequently get apparently controversial decisions checked and valided by SE staff in the moderators chat room. – Mark Mayo Nov 17 '17 at 2:29
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    @mark I said "some mods". Take it easy boss. – Nean Der Thal Nov 17 '17 at 4:14
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    Most comments that come through the queue are not arbitrarily deleted but often due to flags attached to them from the community. Quite often the guiding principle is that the community has raised multiple flags on a comment, which is the standard I tend to use with deletions (could be automatic "too many comments in this thread", etc) – Ankur Banerjee Nov 17 '17 at 9:34
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    I am sorry but I think you are wrong, sometimes they are deleted way too quick.. anyway, enjoy the delete button guys, no need to defend yourselves. – Nean Der Thal Nov 17 '17 at 11:59
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    Not just comments, chat messages too. Censorship drove me away. – chx Nov 18 '17 at 14:35
  • @NeanDerThal you said "totally new moderators". – Mark Mayo Nov 19 '17 at 9:49
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    @MarkMayo yes, we can't be selective, what's wrong with giving the moderation to totally new people? it's good to have new blood in the site from time to time. – Nean Der Thal Nov 19 '17 at 9:57
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    Because it's a massive time-suck and the new moderators would be expected to handle flags just as the current ones do and they wouldn't have the same experience dealing with whiny malcontents. So no, we're not replacing the mod team to fix some trivial complaint about comments; either discuss it on meta and help folks settle on rules for commenting, flagging and deletion... Or live with what you got. – Shog9 Nov 22 '17 at 17:11
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    @Shog9 "No, we're not doing that for all sorts of reasons" makes a great deal of sense, yes, but I cannot understand how it is helpful to have SE staff pop in to declare one or more longstanding members of this community "whiny malcontents." If the problem here is that concerns aren't being discussed constructively, then why not focus on that, in the hope of addressing them and improving the community, rather than stooping to insults? – Zach Lipton Nov 25 '17 at 7:05
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    I think concerns are generally discussed and resolved here already, @zach; most of the folks here strike me as pragmatic individuals who know how to identify a problem and work together to get it fixed.. My concern is with a couple of people who've been actively trying to screw that up lately; I don't see any value in giving them a fig leaf - they just need to stop. – Shog9 Nov 25 '17 at 20:39
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    @Shog9 Asking me to stop just because you have a diamond next to your name and expecting me to comply is nothing more than an imagination from your side. I decide what to do next, if the some of the mods started to act better I will stop, if not I will keep using the appropriate channels, such as meta posts and so on. It's not vandalism or something, it's basically speaking my mind.. unless you want to use some mod buttons to block me or something boss, just don't ever try to look tough and ask us to stop this way. Learn to accept other opinions even if they were against yours. – Nean Der Thal Nov 25 '17 at 22:51
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    Let's be clear on this: I'm not suggesting that you stop because I have a diamond. I'm suggesting that you stop because you've disrupted two different threads with this nonsense and your attitude is getting in the way of folks who actually want to solve problems here. The moderators take their lead from what y'all write here: reasoned arguments for specific methodologies help them serve the site better. Y'know what doesn't help? "Teh mods ain't reading my mind - BURN IT ALL DOWN!" ...so, yeah... Cut that out. – Shog9 Nov 26 '17 at 1:17
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    @Shog9 whatever man, comments are not meant for long conversations, do not break that rule boss, and thanks for making a practical example of "disrupting posts".. – Nean Der Thal Nov 26 '17 at 7:53
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    @Shog9 As one of my fellow community members has noted, the "be nice" policy literally includes "whiny" as an example of unacceptable name-calling. – Zach Lipton Nov 26 '17 at 23:56
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    Fair point, @zach; I should have phrased that differently. – Shog9 Nov 26 '17 at 23:58

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