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Currently moderators have the ability to lock posts, for any of the following reasons:

  • Content dispute (~ edit wars),
  • Historical significance (to prevent great but off topic questions from being deleted), and
  • Offtopic comments

The locks can be applied for an hour, a day, a week, or permanently. This is all great, but:

  1. Locking a post also prevents voting and (more importantly) editing, and
  2. If the locked post is a question, the lock also prevents new answers from being posted.

Those side-effects aren't always desirable for posts that generated a lot of "offtopic comments" and I think we could use a lock that would only lock the comment section. The lock message should point to chat, and ideally should also give the option of migrating the comment thread to chat automagically.

Additionally the comment lock, being a lesser lock, could be available to the OP as well, not only to moderators. Perhaps only after a certain rep level (3K? 5K? 10K?) and perhaps without the option to lock permanently. Getting spammed with inbox notifications on an irrelevant discussion happening on one of your posts isn't fun, and it's perhaps the only thing I truly hate on Stack Exchange.

Similar feature requests:

Relevant discussions:

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3  
Similar feature request I posted a while ago: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/124749/… –  Mad Scientist Mar 10 '13 at 21:29
    
@MadScientist Thanks, included it to the question. It's very similar indeed, almost a dupe. –  Yannis Mar 10 '13 at 21:50
    
+1 for nice request. –  Abdul Rahman Jul 8 '13 at 0:35
    
FWIW: there've been 110 "off-topic comments" locks on SO, 15 on Programmers, 4 on Politics and none on The Workplace. –  Shog9 Jul 8 '13 at 3:53
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3 Answers 3

The ability to stop comments (without stopping other activity like voting, editing, or answering) would definitely be useful. We see questions on Server Fault where the comments are used to extract troubleshooting information, but the person asking the question is not familiar with the "Edit the important information into your question" etiquette of Stack Exchange sites.

Locking comments (after a mod leaves one saying "Please edit your question") in such a case would encourage them to use the site in a way that more closely maps to its intended functionality.


Yes, we could just do this for them - but frankly I don't want to wade through 30+ comments picking out what's useful, what's not, and figuring out how to work it into the question. That's really the job of the person seeking an answer, not the rest of the community.

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Honestly, I think that this would be better addressed by a more streamlined diamond-mod only "create Meta discussion about this question" and "migrate comments to chat" functionality, and an improved visibility of chat and chat room creation to the allowed users (associating a chat room with a question, a tag, or a set of tags, and having it visible on the appropriate question and tag pages, for example).

Something that would help would be to reduce the barrier of entry to Meta (let 1 rep users post on Meta) to encourage people to bring their discussions about questions from the comments onto Meta.

In short: Make the non-comment options for discussing questions more visible, reduce barriers to discovering and using them, and let more users have access to these options.

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2  
If your "migrate to chat" functionality also includes preventing further comments from being posted (at least for a certain period), then we're talking about the same thing. –  Yannis Mar 10 '13 at 21:54
    
@Yannis I would like to see a "migrate to chat" without preventing further comments as well. Right now, creating an appropriate venue for discussion (in a chat room or on meta) is a manual-process. If necessary, locking it down, too. But I think that improving access to Meta and chat for lower-rep users and increasing visibility would help address a lot of the instances where you would want to prevent only comments. –  Thomas Owens Mar 10 '13 at 21:57
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There's a lot of stuff "just take it to chat" doesn't solve, so I'm still more a fan of Yannis' idea –  Ben Brocka Mar 10 '13 at 22:02
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No. Just flag the comments if they're in the wrong place. I don't see this happening very often any more.

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Perhaps it's not happening very often on Stack Overflow, but I wasn't really thinking of Stack Overflow when I posted this. Extended discussions in comments are common on the more subjective sites. Also, on the two specific sites I had in mind, I don't have to flag, I can purge ;) –  Yannis Mar 13 '13 at 19:53
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Extended discussions in comments are also common on Server Fault when troubleshooting happens. Sometimes the "migrate to chat" functionality doesn't meet the need of telling everyone to "shut up and migrate this noise into the question / answers where it belongs" –  voretaq7 Jun 17 '13 at 19:13
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