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I think you should be notified if anything of yours is deleted or even flagged, preferably with some explanation (even if it's a simple categorisation like #rude, #irrelevant, #incorrect) and who did it.

Recently, a couple of comments of mine vanished without warning or evidence afterwards. I'm fine with deletion, but I think it should be used sparingly and be based on democratic decisions. What's the harm of letting a comment simply sit with no up-votes or responses rather than outright removal? Or allow downvoting and then negatively voted comments are hidden by default?

I get the impression that anything I post could be deleted. Very few people want to be unpopular or do the wrong thing. It takes time to understand what something is about and how best to use it (this site). Whether or not what I posted deserved to be deleted is irrelevant because I got no feedback. No-one can learn without feedback. The number of frivolous comments with many upvotes I've seen shows how inconsistently the rules are applied. A community that gives too much power to highly rated users won't grow but turn stagnant.

Sorry if this was rude, inappropriate or pathetic. I'm aware that similar discussions have occurred. In any case, I'll continue to use the site and move on...

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It would be great to have l have a "flag and notify" feature. –  örs Jan 4 '12 at 11:36
    
@örs Sounds good. Maybe also a "warning" thing where your stuff gets deleted until you edit it and have it approved as having been fixed... –  user826788 Jan 4 '12 at 11:49
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in before fifty million "why was my comment deleted by @ZYX? It was not #GenericReason!" –  Won't Jan 4 '12 at 18:09
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@Won't Sorry, your comment is confusing (especially the start bit). Surely this feature will decrease complaints not increase them. Maybe it should be anonymous if you think people will hold grudges or something. –  user826788 Jan 5 '12 at 3:59
    
I want to vote this up because my comment was deleted again somewhere and I didn't notice (and still had a thought thread concerning that comment) but I have not enough reputation for voting up. –  panny Feb 11 '13 at 15:09
    
...sad to say, but most of the answers below miss the point entirely! They are arguing for the ability to delete comments, whereas the question is about "what else should happen* if a comment might get deleted. Changing the system to notify people when their comments are deleted without telling them who did it, for example, would have zero effect on whether comments can be deleted! –  A.M. Jul 18 '13 at 21:09
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On top of that, a little feedback to people whose comments get deleted might have a positive impact on their commenting! –  A.M. Jul 18 '13 at 21:11
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I can't upvote @KonradRudolph's answer enough, because he is the only one who grasps that silent destruction of anything you create is a bad thing. Ideally you would have a notification so that (a) you can learn from it and (b) you can revisit the topic if appropriate, and the notification would contain the text of the comment so that (c) you can more easily learn from it (otherwise if the reason is unclear or the comment long ago...tough luck) and (d) you can hold onto anything in the comment that you may want...maybe even keep a record of all comments that were deleted. –  A.M. Jul 18 '13 at 21:16

4 Answers 4

Well, these were the comments:

Ctrl+c, ctrl+v.

@Jaseem Maybe you should direct that question to the man with 20 Classes and 10 Activities...

Quite clearly unconstructive. Can you really be so shocked that your comments were removed?

Comments are third-class citizens in our system by design; they are little more than post-it notes on the units of real work, questions and answers. As such they are afforded little protection and the burden of proof is on the comment to be useful and constructive.

If you see other comments that you feel are unconstructive, flag them.

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Fair enough. I just want notification so I don't have to join meta and ask a question to find out. I'm not in the business of flagging other comments, I generally feel deletion is completely unnecessary - just let the popular ones shine. Also, it seems contradictory to say comments are merely minor little notes and yet expected to be provably "useful" and "constructive". On the topic of constructive, let's see this get implemented. –  user826788 Jan 4 '12 at 14:52
    
provably should be probably. –  Marcelo Jan 4 '12 at 18:35
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@Marcelo No. "Provably useful" as in "it can be proven that they're useful". –  Anna Lear Jan 4 '12 at 21:52
    
@Anna thank you, found my thing to learn for the day. –  Marcelo Jan 4 '12 at 22:10
    
Jeff, great explanation. But do you agree that there are two types of bad comments - 1. Mistakes/errors/typos/spam and 2. Hurtful/malicious/rude/anti-community ? And that maybe the latter type can be dealt with through a notification? If I'm a mod, and I delete a mean comment, I'd feel better if that user got a little messag like "your comment was deleted because it was deemed offensive to the community" ? thanks –  Adel Apr 26 '12 at 15:34
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@Adel comment deletion should not result in more comments. Comments are to improve the post. That's it. Get used to disappearing comments. –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 15:53
    
@Manishearth - Got it, the logic clicked with me now. with comments It's like if I wrote a random poem or quote on the bathroom stalls - since I did not write it in a more permanent fashion, it is unprotected. OK cool beans. thanks –  Adel Apr 26 '12 at 16:12
    
@Manishearth - How about the idea of disallowing commenting if a user has X-number of consecutive flagged comments? Say Mr. Dodo starts making lots of bad comments, after 5 in a row shan't we just block him? –  Adel Apr 26 '12 at 16:14
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@Adel I've explained this a bit more in my answer below. –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 16:14
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@Adel i've mentioned that too below.. Mods notice and can privately messsage. Also, the system blows up part of your rep if you get too many spam/offensive flags –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 16:15
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Ok but, some people delete useful, constructive comments that other people found useful. This really is irritating. –  bobobobo Jun 3 '13 at 0:56

I’ve recently noticed this happen to two of my comments. Both in cases in which I don’t agree with the deletion. Deletion without giving the possibility to appeal is unjust; but without notification is vile.

I immediately need to apologise for the strong language, and I’d like to stress that I don’t want to accuse or insult anybody. Nevertheless, I feel quite strongly that it’s a morally flawed system that should be fixed.

Let me explain why: Both of these (presumably flagged and then) deleted comments were in the context of discussions in which my interlocutor was probably wrong.

Of course I’m biased. But in one of the cases my interlocutor went so far as to revenge downvote several unrelated answers (the downvotes were later automatically undone, of course), and, after I alerted him to the fact that he was displaying inacceptable behaviour, he deleted his own offensive comment and … “vanished”.

In the second case I don’t recall what I could have written that would trigger flags (this alone would make it important to notify me of deleted comments! If only so I could see which behaviour is deemed unacceptable). But the interlocutor played me off with a (in my opinion) tacky

your comment was funny […] I think you misunderstood the question intent completely”

(I don’t think I did. The question was also subsequently closed as “not constructive”.)

I do understand that comments will be flagged and/or deleted, and that I don’t have to agree with that for it to be justified. But I do request the fairness and courtesy of being alerted to this fact.

Finally, an objection to the objection:

Comments are third-class citizens in our system by design

That’s all fine. But by not notifying the user you’re making the user a third-class citizen of the system. And if comments are outside the rules of fair play, then they are not a legitimate citizen of the system at all and should be removed completely.

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By the way, I can link to the discussions in question but I intentionally didn’t because my objection is not about these discussions in particular. Again, I accept that my comments may have caused objection. –  Konrad Rudolph Feb 28 '12 at 23:13
    
this sounds to me like question(s) which were controversial (closed as not constructive) and problematic from the start. I'd likely delete both questions if you had linked them. Problem solved. But seriously, if the question is a trainwreck does it really matter if a few comments are removed? –  Jeff Atwood Feb 29 '12 at 10:37
    
@Jeff One of the questions was in the Stack Exchange charts and the comments revolve around a technical point which started out completely fine. The subsequent bickering comments could now be deleted (in fact, since my interlocutor has deleted his comments I will do the same with mine; I trust you can look them up in some kind of log?). –  Konrad Rudolph Feb 29 '12 at 11:02

I am with Jeff on this one - comments should not contain important or vital information that you worked hard to gather. It's just a comment, and for something more simply post full answer, which unlike a comment can't be deleted without a trace. (You'll see it even when deleted and 20K+ members can undelete it)

Why so many comments are deleted you may ask? To keep the place clean.. having lots of comments clutter the post itself.

Referring something you said:

A community that gives too much power to highly rated users won't grow but turn stagnant

In case of comments deletion it's really not relevant, as only moderators can delete comments, not any highly rated users. Ordinary users with lots of reputation can at most delete posts (questions and answers) but again, they can also undelete them and author of deleted answer can still see it and even know who deleted it and when.

The above appears to be incorrect, see comment below - just in case the comment will get deleted here it is:

If a comment has X number of flags it gets deleted, with or without mod intervention... See this answer on one of my questions.

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Uh, I believe if a comment has X number of flags it gets deleted, with or without mod intervention... See this answer on one of my questions. –  Won't Jan 4 '12 at 18:13
    
@Won't didn't know that! Well.. that's just sad anyway edited my post accordingly. Thanks! –  Shadow Wizard Jan 4 '12 at 18:19
    
@won that threshold is almost never met, though. It's quite high, arguably too high. (Also note the threshold increases if the comment gets upvotes, etc) –  Jeff Atwood Feb 29 '12 at 10:36
    
@Jeff 3 flags are too high? Or has the threshold increased since that post was made? –  Shadow Wizard Feb 29 '12 at 11:06
    
@ShaWizDowArd - I thought comments could be used to clarify the answer, or add something to the answer (with the hopes that the author of the answer will edit it in). In this case, I would consider this information just as important for the reader of the Q&A as most of the answers. It has not seemed right to me to make my "comments" into an answer before, as in many cases this would leave two answers that have almost the same information in them both, which would like take up more space than a decent number of comments. –  user66001 Aug 24 '13 at 5:08
    
@user66001 true, but still it should not stay forever as comments. Something that clarify the post better be embedded into it, I do it many times. –  Shadow Wizard Aug 24 '13 at 11:02

You're caring too much aout the comments.

Comments (except on MSO), have the sole purpose of improving the respective post. Or that's the intention behind the comment system anyway. Of course, we can have a few jokes and all. And we sometimes get discussions, which are OK if they are short.

IMO, even the constructive comments can be deleted after they serve their purpose (resulting in a relevant edit to the post). Discussions should be deleted once completed. But that's just my opinion, it may not be shared by others.

As Jeff said, Comments are third-class citizens here. If a comment deletion results in a notification, this may start an argument unrelated to the post. And mods do delete comments often once they have served their purpose. This will just lead to inbox clutter.

As for rude comments, notifying the user leads to whining and unnecessary noise. Same reasons as "compulsory commenting for downvotes" was rejected. If a user recieves enough flags, a mod will contact him/her privately (there also is an automatic system rep deduction or something for xyz flags). But doing this for each rude comment will be annoying and will lead to a whine fest.

Just get used to comments disappearing. I have :)

Oh, and by the way @Adel, I fail to see how this qualifies as "not enough attention". You got an answer from Jeff which the community agrees with. Could you please explain what you're looking for in the question?

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This answer pretty much just reiterates what the other answers have covered =) I agree with your last paragraph (which should probably be a comment on the question), I don't see the purpose of the bounty really. –  jadarnel27 Apr 26 '12 at 16:15
    
Touche.. honestly I needed to have the issue cleared up in my mind, about why we should not slap foul-mouthed users on the hand. But i got it now. I feel so spoiled now, gettin all this special attention ^_^ . I can only hope that by bounty-ing your answer you forgive me. thanks s much! –  Adel Apr 26 '12 at 16:18
    
@jad actually, this answer was a detailed response to this comment: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/117854/… , which seems to be the reason for the bounty (not sure). And, I didn't want to go "this is an extension of all of the above answers", so i reiterated to keep it complete. –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 16:19
    
Regarding Jeff, well yeah I know but we all like to challenge the big boss ya? –  Adel Apr 26 '12 at 16:21
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@Adel the system does lots of ninja stuff to bad users--reversing vote fraud (@jadarnel, I'm looking at YOU :P). Similarly, mods have ninja powers. A lot of this can only be found out if you carefully read the mother faq meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7931/…, and a lot more if you hang out at meta. Most of SE functionality isn't explicitly advertised. –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 16:22
    
Don't know why you'd look at me when discussing vote fraud O:-) –  jadarnel27 Apr 26 '12 at 16:23
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@Adel yep :) But usually the "not enough attention" bounty crops up on questions where Jeff has recieved a millyun downvotes. In this case, the community agrees with him--not much you can do. And don't feel spoiled and apologise, this is all part of meta :) –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 16:24
    
@Manishearth- That's reassuring, and makes me a lot more comfortable with SO now! Awesome - thank you very much! –  Adel Apr 26 '12 at 16:24
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@jadarnel27 does the word "waffles" mean anything to you ? chat.meta.stackoverflow.com/transcript/89?m=946696#946696 I'm on to you ;-) –  Manishearth Apr 26 '12 at 16:26
    
I definitely prefer the term "cosmetic-voting", in that case. –  jadarnel27 Apr 26 '12 at 16:29

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