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I'm begging for a high-rep privilege to delete obsolete comments.

Things like "Hey, you forgot XYZ" -- "Oops, fixed; thanks" etc. I'm not talking about legitimate, information-rich comments not edited in to questions and/or answers.

As an alternative to straight reputation, perhaps a combination of moderator-eligible and reputation.

Q/A editing comes at 2K reputation. I'd argue Q/A editing can cause more mayhem than deleting clearly-irrelevant comments, although as has been pointed out, there's a visible audit trail.

I think the combination of a reputation far above "Trusted User" and moderator eligibility hits a "sweet spot" of users that are both heavily invested in site upkeep/maintenance, and have the ability and motivation to take on this relatively low-level maintenance work.

This would help clean up some Q/A noise, and off-load a small amount of work from the mods, and, I believe, increase overall quality of Q/As.

@Blahdiblah suggests:

  • Show deleted comments and who deleted them to the author, trusted users, and mods.
  • Let mods and trusted users undelete comments.

I feel this is a reasonable approach, when combined with rather high rep reqs and moderator eligibility.

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IMO comment flagging in theory works just fine for this, but we could use some comment flag revamps to make it practical –  Ben Brocka Aug 31 '12 at 21:17
    
@BenBrocka That feature request must be implemented, even if only because you posted it on my birthday. –  Yannis Aug 31 '12 at 21:22
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I have 50k rep (SO), which may indicate I know enough to be responsible. <rant> Yet you chose a horrible title for this, didn't bother to tag it appropriately, and confuse popularity with usefulness by excluding upvoted comments. 99% of upvoted comments are upvoted because they are pure snark, and these are the ones you'd want to exclude? </rant> –  Yannis Aug 31 '12 at 21:26
    
@YannisRizos That is an excellent point; if such an idea were implemented, it should most assuredly not exclude high-voted comments. Quite often, such comments are those most in needing of being deleted. Including obsolete ones; for example, "What have you tried?" variants, after the OP has edited in the things they tried. –  Andrew Barber Aug 31 '12 at 21:27
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@YannisRizos Edit and re-tag then; AFAIC it's a feature request. Personally, I would have read the part about "popular" comments to assume the comments would be useful, but I tend to assume the best, rather than the worst. A shortcoming of my personality, I'm sure, as is the occasional injection of some humor. –  Dave Newton Aug 31 '12 at 21:32
    
@DaveNewton but I tend to assume the best That's all good, now look at my rantish comment and how it got upvoted almost immediately ;) –  Yannis Aug 31 '12 at 21:34
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I can already edit questions and answers, which I'd argue can cause more damage than deleting clearly-irrelevant comments. This I also don't agree with, when you edit the question is bumped, someone will notice your damaging edit and revert it. But no one is notified when a comment is deleted... Don't get me wrong, I want this feature (or something similar), I'm being a bit harsh on you because I wouldn't want this declined just because it was poorly presented. –  Yannis Aug 31 '12 at 21:38
    
@YannisRizos I'm sympathetic to the lack of notification, which is why I'm putting the rep at a range casual users aren't likely to reach, and basically aiming at "can run for moderator" levels--which might be a better cut-off point than simply rep. –  Dave Newton Aug 31 '12 at 21:43
    
Writing as someone who is at "can run for moderator level" I'm not entirely certain I can be trusted to decide, on my own, what is correct and what isn't. There is a reason why I don't want to be a moderator... –  ben is uǝq backwards Aug 31 '12 at 23:25
    
@Ben Really? You can't identify an obsolete comment in your field(s) of expertise? I'm either skeptical, or depressed. –  Dave Newton Aug 31 '12 at 23:36
    
@DaveNewton, that's not what you're suggesting. You're going to give me the power, on my own, to delete comments, no matter my expertise. I would be in favour if it wasn't just one person doing the deleting. Yes, I could do it in my areas without much bother but I'm (I think) a good SO citizen and help close blatantly NARQ C++ questions when I don't have a clue what's going on. It's easy to tell that the question itself is a pile of crap though. Comments, because of their ephemeral status are more ambiguous, I think. –  ben is uǝq backwards Aug 31 '12 at 23:40
    
@Ben That's the point of limiting it to responsible people. Some comments are unambiguously obsolete-and I'd almost guarantee you that you know precisely what kind of comments I mean. –  Dave Newton Aug 31 '12 at 23:49
    
By "can run for moderator" do you mean the amount required to nominate yourself? (3k on SO) –  Jeremy Banks Sep 1 '12 at 17:59
    
@TheElementofMagic I mean the full mod requirements, including badges. I'll make that more clear; thanks. –  Dave Newton Sep 1 '12 at 18:17
    
I honestly don't think "noisy" comments are as much of a problem as people make them out to be. –  Purag Sep 1 '12 at 19:38

1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I think that this is a good suggestion, with one tweak:
keep a record of who deleted a comment and make deletion reversible.

Your comparison with edits is a good one. It's odd that an obsolete comment is harder to deal with than an obsolete question or answer, but because edits are visible and reversible, no one seems bothered allowing relatively inexperienced users to edit posts (current rep required: 2k). You're suggesting requiring more than twenty times as much rep for dealing with comments, and that's being poorly received so far.

This appears to be a case of the comment conundrum:

  • SO considers comments unprivileged ephemera.
  • Because they're ephemeral, they don't bump posts or have edit/history/etc. support.
  • Because they lack edit/history/etc. support, deletions aren't visible or reversible.
  • Because deletions aren't visible and reversible, regular users can't be trusted to delete them.
  • Therefore, comments are actually privileged and relatively permanent.

Even BenBrocka's suggestion privileges comments above other content on the site. Five 10k users can close and delete any question on the site in a couple days, and five 20k users can do it immediately, but he's still (implicitly) asking that six flags be required to remove a comment.

Either comments are actually ephemeral and we can trust "trusted users" to delete them, or we need extra history/audit/rollback support for comments so that deletion doesn't scare people about abuse. You suggested the first option, and it's going over a bit poorly, so how about the second:

Let some trusted users delete comments, but...

  • Show deleted comments and who deleted them to the author, trusted users, and mods.
  • Let mods and trusted users undelete comments.
share|improve this answer
    
Hmm, that's a pretty decent compromise/solution. –  Dave Newton Sep 1 '12 at 1:14

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