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Would it be alright if the mods cleaned up comment clutter?

Is it just my imagination, or are comments deleted on this site far more zealously than they are on others in the SE network? I participate quite a lot on English L&U and SO, and have also posted a little at Jewish L&L. I don't think I've ever seen as many deleted comments (sometimes making the remaining comments seem incongruous).

More importantly, some comments pointing out problems with the basic premise of an answer have been removed without explanation.

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    this comment has been deleted
    – a_hardin
    Commented Sep 15, 2011 at 14:40
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    This might relate to the nature of comments on this site. Commented Sep 15, 2011 at 14:41
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    Not only do the moderators delete obsolete and resolved comments, many of us remove our own comments zealously. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 8:32
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    Yes dancek makes a good point, I've looked through deleted comments and quite often the OP has cleaned up their own trail once a point has been made and addressed. <A+ to the users>
    – Caleb
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 11:33
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    I'm finding comments, and answers, being deleted far more frequently on this site than any other. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 15:08
  • If you have a specific instance where we made a mistake and you want to bring it to our attention, a separate meta post is fine (although a ping in chat is preferred) but as a general discussion thread, this will be covered in discussion elsewhere as we seek to follow SE recommendations and make this site a better place for the whole community.
    – Caleb
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 23:09

5 Answers 5


Comments are deleted zealously across the network. This post on MSO outlines why.

Comments are disposable and intended for question clarification, if they go beyond that purpose they should be deleted.

Obsolete comments should be deleted.

Moderators regularly go through old posts and delete comments, or respond to flags and delete comments. This is part of our job. In fact if you are part of a conversation and it is resolved you should feel free to remove your own comments.

Edit: Anna Lear on programmers also wrote a great post about when and why comments are deleted. Some relevant quotes:

The design of each site places primary focus on questions and answers. We want all useful information required to answer a question to ideally be in an answer. How that answer was developed is largely unimportant so long as the final product of that development is valuable. How valuable it is can be determined through up and down votes on the answer.

Stack Exchange set out to "make the internet better" by creating an environment where the best information rises to the top. Asking the user to dig through a lengthy comment thread on the off chance that the information they're looking for is there goes completely counter to that mission. If we're going to allow that, we might as well just abandon this whole Q&A idea and go back to forums where readers can already sift through pages of unrelated or possibly contradictory information.


It's been repeated multiple times:

Comments are disposable

They're meant to be used to help improve answers and questions. They are like miniature meta discussoins.

From your first edit of the question:

In this particular instance, two comments were deleted because they added nothing to the answer and could be construed as rude.

From your second edit of the question

These comments were removed because an edit had been made to the answer that addressed these comments. (Indeed, the scripture you quoted was used in the answer for support of the answer.)

Let me give you some general guidelines of why and when moderators delete comments (not just me, but all moderators). Comments are often deleted when:

  • they are rude (or could by any stretch of any imagination, be conceived as rude).
  • they are flagged as rude by someone else.
  • they are too chatty (or flagged as too chatty)
  • they are obsolete (or flagged as obsolete)
  • the wind is blowing out of the southwest
  • the lights are too bright
  • the moderator hasn't had their morning coffee.
  • someone leaves a comment

Comments are temporary and are meant to point out flaws with the answer. Any and all comments can be deleted at any point, without justification, without reasoning, and without consent.

I do my best to be both fair and respectful. But comments are temporary.

Having said all of this, it bears repeating:

Comments are disposable

You cannot trust them to stick around.

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    [comments removed since they were obsolete.]
    – Richard
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 20:10

In regards to the case study in your edited question:

  1. The comments deleted involved rude and/or non constructive language that did not need to be left around for site visitors to visitors to wade through.
  2. The OP had adjusted his answer taking into consideration the constructive bits of the comments.
  3. Comments are disposable and not the place for presenting other views. If somebody thinks an answer is based on a false premise, they are welcome to work up an answer of their own based on what they believe to be true premises.

Comments should not be deleted willy-nilly, whenever a moderator feels like it. There are very clear guidelines in place for when comments are deleted, and comments should be deleted only when at least one of those conditions is clearly and unambiguously met.


  • rude or offensive
  • not constructive/off-topic
  • obsolete
  • too chatty
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    At least 95% of the comments I've deleted have met one of these criteria. I can only speak for myself though, but I'd wager that the other mods also delete mostly - if not always - when a comment meets one of these criteria. Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 18:46

I've been involved in the startup of several SE sites, and I was an early adopter of StackExchange. I've never seen a site with a deletion rate - comments or answers - as high as this one. Comments are an important part of setting the culture and atmosphere of a new site, and a high deletion rate indicates that this culture is not being allowed to develop naturally.

Robert Cartaino said that "The moderators and community are only more recently getting better at enforcing that (keeping comments on topic). Comments are being increasing viewed as transitory." In other words the moderators are deliberately deleting more. I'm not sure this is desirable behaviour.

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    Totally agree. Deletion rate here would spark a revolution on other SE sites.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 20:47
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    Ha! To back up all the other answers saying comments are disposable, we've deleted over 5,000 on Programmers, largely from community auto-flags—where the system alerts us to long comment chains—alone. They're entirely disposable, and while these types of discussions about the value of comments happen a lot, it really doesn't change the focus for SE on the answers, not the comments. If you have something important to say that should be preserved, make sure it's a question or answer.
    – user72
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 21:31

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