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This is a feature request to offer an alternative to moderators cleaning up comment noise as suggested by Robert in this question, which I'm not entirely comfortable with for these reasons.

Add a "recycling" symbol underneath each comment thread that exceeds two or three comments.

Like so:

enter image description here

If all participants of the comment thread click the flag, the conversation is removed.

Pros:

  • Participants remain in control of their conversations, but get a real opportunity to clean up noise - this was very difficult until now (people had to @ each other to delete their comments now, something that was so difficult to do that it was almost never done in practice)

  • Participants can @username each other to initiate thread recycling

Cons:

  • Older conversations are unlikely to be cleaned up this way

  • Only whole comment threads can be cleaned up. Suggesting selective, "range-oriented" cleanups would be more desirable, but would add a lot of complication to the UI

Just thought I'd throw this out there as an alternative possibility.

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6  
Nice idea, but I'm afraid con #2 kills it. In my experience, at least, it's rare for the comments to only include a single conversation once they exceed three posts. –  Pops Feb 1 '11 at 17:10
    
@Pop fair enough. I could see a "suggest range deletion" function, but I think it would be too complex to implement. Maybe it's worth suggesting any way –  Pëkka Feb 1 '11 at 17:24
1  
I like it, and I'd extend this to "auto-enable" on mobile devices to save space. –  Moshe Feb 1 '11 at 17:32
    
@Pekka users with how many rep points? really high? intermediate? –  Trufa Feb 1 '11 at 17:54
    
@Trufa the barrier could be very low because all participants would have to agree to delete. –  Pëkka Feb 1 '11 at 18:00
    
@Pekka ok, fair enough! –  Trufa Feb 1 '11 at 18:05
    
@Pekka nice artwork by the way (to be recycled later) ;) –  Trufa Feb 1 '11 at 18:26
    
I've often wanted such a feature (over at tex.sx), but most of the time "range-oriented". And that'll be difficult, yes. I just tried a completely different idea: I left a comment "Can you please fix ... (and not answer to this comment so that I can delete it later on)?" And -- it worked! OK, this only helps experienced users, and only in special cases. But I think I'll do that more often in the future. (I can edit myself over at tex.sx, but sometimes there's the danger to make the post CW, so leaving a comment can be better.) –  Hendrik Vogt Feb 1 '11 at 20:23
    
@Pekka, I think a range delete function could be done to escape Con #2 if you change comments to allow branches. I am suggesting it here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/77420/… –  jzd Feb 1 '11 at 20:50
    
The easiest way to remove comment noise is to add code, if(userID == 2915) comment.discard(); –  Adam Davis Feb 1 '11 at 23:42
    
would have been useful here :) stackoverflow.com/questions/4870138/… –  Trufa Feb 2 '11 at 2:51

4 Answers 4

Just throwing it out there: how about a "delete if another comment is deleted."

So if you respond to a correction, mark it with (insert better wording for "delete if the comment I am responding to is deleted"), and if the original commenter deletes their comment, yours gets cleaned up as well. Avoids the whole chicken and egg situation, while not needing any threaded or hierarchical structure.

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It would help if the recycling can be auto-timed, such as being rolled into the periodic culling phase of the SE engine. This allows users to comment on and clarify questions, debate merits of a solution but click on the icon because the comments become moot after the moment has passed. If users feel their comments mean something beyond the current moment, they can refrain from clicking on the recycle icon.

It is not uncommon to comment on answers as they develop and see it being incorporated into the answer, sometimes invalidating the comment itself. An auto-cleanup-after-a-while feature would be nice.

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I like the overall idea but I think con#2 does matter, as already mentioned there's a lot of comment threads that also have useful information and this would either get rid of things entirely or not at all (probably the latter case, which is better than the former but still not great.)

It won't help with past comments, but for future comments perhaps "suggestions" and actual "comments" could be separated in some way? If there was a way for a user to mark their comment as a suggestion, it could be discussed / marked as resolved separately at which point the thread for that suggestion could disappear or be archived somewhere. I do admit though that's not trivial to implement!

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I don't think Con #2 matters, because if it was important at least one of the users wouldn't click the button. There are a ton of two-comment editing type comment threads that it would be great to get cleaned up.

I also think that it could be applied to older comment threads, and that if one participant in the thread has clicked the recycle button, then it would notify the other participants so that they could join in the dogpile cleanup.

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