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I'm probably missing something obvious here but why is it possible for comments to be deleted? I was recently engaged in a discussion on Stack Overflow and the other party later selectively deleted some of their comments. The context of the discussion thread then became somewhat ambiguous.

If a comment is deleted is a reason provided? Is the process of comment deletion peer reviewed? I appreciate it could be useful for good house-cleaning but it can also lead to disjointed conversations.

I know that commenting is intended to annotate rather than chatter, but there's still some back and forth involved. Sorry for the newbie question and please signpost me if this has been covered elsewhere.

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Why should it be disallowed? Comments are second-rate citizens. –  Martijn Pieters Jul 24 '13 at 10:20
    
@Martijn Pieters: Hell, posts are first-class citizens and even they can be deleted given the right conditions. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Jul 24 '13 at 10:22
    
@BoltClock'saUnicorn: Sure, and undeleted too. Comments, on the whole, cannot. –  Martijn Pieters Jul 24 '13 at 10:23
    
Perhaps I should have phrased my question differently. I have no problem with any sort of deletion as long as there's some sort of audit trail so we can see why the comments were deleted, perhaps this exists...I'm not sure? –  QF_Developer Jul 24 '13 at 10:28
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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I'm probably missing something obvious here but why is it possible for comments to be deleted?

Because there's no reason not to allow them to be deleted after being posted.

If a comment is deleted is a reason provided? Is the process of comment deletion peer reviewed?

No and no, because comments aren't nearly significant enough for that sort of process to be implemented.

That said, if a user is rapidly silencing themself by mass-deleting their comments, we will be alerted via an automatic flag. This is all transparent to users, but of course if there's a bigger conflict going on (as is usually the case with users silencing themselves), we'll have something to look into either way.

Deleted comments do tend to result in disjointed conversations. Your course of action, whether or not you're one of the parties involved, is to simply flag the remaining comments as obsolete (or if there are too many comments to flag, flag the post and explain the situation), and we can clear the rest of the comments. If there's any information that needs to be preserved you'll want to edit the post accordingly.

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Thank you for your clarification –  QF_Developer Jul 24 '13 at 10:30
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Some reasons to delete comments include:

  • they become obsolete, e.g., the OP answers a question posed
  • It was a "thank you" of sorts that was courteous but doesn't really need to exist for posterity
  • It was rude and deleted by moderators or via flags

But as Boltclock said, they're not nearly significant enough to have any sort of due process. See e.g.: Help us figure out a way to handle the explosion of comments on Stack Overflow

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Very interesting post, thanks. –  QF_Developer Jul 24 '13 at 12:53
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