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This is from the comment guidelines in the comment privileges page:

When shouldn't I comment?

Comments are not recommended for any of the following:

  • ...

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

  • ...

That makes sense. But recently someone posted a four-part answer and I added a comment saying something along the lines of:

+1 for your point #4

The comment was later removed, so I guess a moderator decided it was unfit.

But I figured that pointing out why I upvoted is adding helpful information (whereas "+1, great answer!" adds no helpful information). Am I wrong?

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"+1 for your point #4, because [insert useful information here]" – Robert Harvey Mar 9 '12 at 20:55
+1 for Robert Harvey's comment. – user7116 Mar 9 '12 at 20:56
Other than that you don't consider points 1 to 3 worthy of your upvote, what other helpful information did your comment convey? – Yannis Mar 9 '12 at 20:56
@YannisRizos, I that was all the helpful information I supplied (that points #1-#3 were not what my upvote was for). But I guess I understand now that I need to explain myself if I'm going to make a comment like that. – Ben Lee Mar 9 '12 at 20:59
Note that if enough regular users flag a comment, it'll evaporate too. It doesn't have to be a moderator who removed the comment. (Though something as benign as "yay #4" doesn't seem worth the effort either way.) – sarnold Mar 9 '12 at 22:51
up vote 16 down vote accepted

+1 for your point #4

doesn't meet the standard of "add[ing] new information" that you quoted from the FAQ. In other words, it doesn't convey anything particularly useful to the person reading your comment. It just adds noise. We can tell it was upvoted by the fact that the post's score incremented by 1.

I suppose the implicit assumption on the part of the reader is supposed to be "Oh, he didn't specifically give 'props' to points #1-3, so he must not like those." But it doesn't actually say that, and it certainly doesn't tell us why you disagree with those points.

However, compare your comment to something like:

I disagree with your points #1-3 because those are implementation-defined. If you're targeting an embedded system, you shouldn't do that. But point #4 is very good and bears more emphasis, so +1.

I wouldn't delete that comment, and I'd have to take issue with any moderator who did.

This time, I've managed to express my agreement with point #4, but more importantly, I've conveyed some additional useful information. I've explained specifically what I dislike about or disagree regarding points #1-3, but still conveyed that point #4 was so good that the post merited an upvote anyway.

Alternatively, you could explain why point #4 was so useful or expand more on how it might relate to the question at hand. I do that a lot, perhaps because I don't know enough about the rest of the topic domain to post a full answer, but I can convey something additional about one of the minor points.

So basically, there's a right way and a wrong way to do this. The standard is whether or not you convey any additional, useful information beyond the fact that you upvoted (or downvoted).

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Excessive comments become a point of contention when a long thread of comments gets flagged by the system, half of them being "+1 for that," "Hardy har har, I like that show too" and so forth.

Judicial pruning by a mod can bring the conversation back into focus, but it's a lot of work to do that pruning, and if the conversation overall seems to have little value, a mod might choose to nuke the whole thing. At which point, one of the participants in the discussion says "Heeey! we were actually having a productive discussion about the post here! You destroyed valuable content, you despot!"

You mean there was was actually real content buried amongst all this flotsam?

Now, I'm not saying that's what happened here, but your comment did, in fact, get flagged by a community member as "Too Chatty." I appreciate your comment, but I had already read it, and since I figured it was directed only at me, I went ahead and deleted it.

Sorry about that. At least I didn't have to purge the entire thread. :P

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Thanks for the personal explanation! In this case, I actually agree that the resulting discussion made my comment more noise than helpful, but just wanted to get clarification on the rules in general. – Ben Lee Mar 9 '12 at 21:10

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