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Currently, as I see, when a comment is deleted, it leaves no traces of its existance at all. This can lead to somewhat confusing "discussion remains", where a followup comment is non-understandable (whereas in reality it was answering a later vanished comment, only you don't have any ideas about that).

So, for instance, discussion:

See, 2 + 2 = 5
No, actually 2 + 2 = 4
That's right!

if the second comment is deleted turns into this:

See, 2 + 2 = 5
That's right!

Please leave some placeholder in place of deleted comments, so that it can at least be guessed that further comments now lack some context:

See, 2 + 2 = 5
[comment deleted]
That's right!
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Why would someone delete that second comment? –  jmfsg Apr 19 '10 at 19:49
    
Well, more likely situation is that someone posts a wrong/misguided comment, which is then critiqued by a followup. Now if the wrong commend is deleted, it can appear as if the critique is directed at some different previous comment. –  doublep Apr 19 '10 at 20:08
3  
@Down: agreed. 2 + 2 = 5 for extremely large values of 2. –  squillman Apr 19 '10 at 22:07
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related: the Obama problem –  balpha Apr 20 '10 at 9:39
    
@balpha: +1. i'd no idea there was an obama problem here on Meta. now i know. –  quack quixote Apr 20 '10 at 10:03

5 Answers 5

One possible implementation is to simply add a small reddish line where the comment had been, easy to ignore, yet still giving you the idea of a placeholder.

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COLOR VALUE PLEASE. –  bobobobo Dec 29 '11 at 13:06

I think this would get too "noisy", especially on meta where people tend to comment, then think. In the case where something is confusing, I think you should use the notification feature for comments to ask the person for clarification.

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5  
Wait, people think on meta now? –  Aarobot Apr 19 '10 at 21:21
    
Unicorns are very thoughtful when eating waffles. –  Josh K Apr 20 '10 at 0:43

I don't think I'd like to see this:

Can you help me with X?
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
Thanks!
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10  
Well, maybe it could be [42 intermediate comments deleted] –  doublep Apr 19 '10 at 20:01
1  
While I originally agreed with the concept of the placeholder, thanks to finding myself greatly confused by a number of disassembled comment strings, this answer really does illustrate a large problem. Also take into account what it would look like if every other comment in a sequence was deleted. –  Grace Note Apr 19 '10 at 20:05
    
Also, to be fair, I didn't know it was that widespread. –  doublep Apr 19 '10 at 20:05
    
@doublep - I can see it now. We'll get little contests to see if we can make patterns out of the comment deletes. [comment deleted] comment here [2 intermediate comments deleted] comment here [3 intermediate comments deleted] comment here.... –  tvanfosson Apr 19 '10 at 21:52
    
Well, comment deletion is that widespread then the request probably makes little sense. If such cases are rare, it could look like Comment 1 | Comment 2 | Comment 3 | [42 comments deleted in this thread] | Comment 5 | Comment 16 | Comment 48. I.e. add placeholder in place of the first deleted comment only. –  doublep Apr 19 '10 at 21:57
    
I think this is a very rare case, except when a moderator has had to step in. –  mmyers Apr 19 '10 at 22:37
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@mmyers: i hear there's a magic gong that when rung wipes away all comments on a post. –  quack quixote Apr 20 '10 at 10:05

Nah. It's kind of like having a spoiler tag, only there's no way to view it. Rather disallow deletion than have all these "comment deleted" markers.

Usually it's pretty clear when something's been deleted, or you don't care to know:

I don't understand the question - ralph
Shut up ralph - MeanJohnston
He's just asking how class Foobaz from library Foobiz can integrate with a Foobar. - bob

deleted:

I don't understand the question - ralph
He's just asking how class Foobaz from library Foobiz can integrate with a Foobar. - bob

isn't that better than

I don't understand the question - ralph
[comment deleted] - MeanJohnston
He's just asking how class Foobaz from library Foobiz can integrate with a Foobar. - bob
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Better we don't allow the comment to get deleted if there were comments below. Only the last comment can be deleted.

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