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This evening I commented on an answer before I left the office and later I found that I might have been too hasty in my efforts. It was pointed out to me, in a comment to my comment that I didnt allow the original poster the 5 minute edit pardon. Maybe obvious, maybe not, my intention was not to instigate wrath, etc. However, once my comment was pointed out and the answerer corrected his post, ultimately my comment was rendered obsolete. I would at that point prefer not to seem to detract from an otherwise helpful post.

What is the best practice at this point?

Should I leave my comment up and seem like a vengeful a**, even though I might have been good intentioned, or should I delete my post and leave incongruity in the comment list (ie, '@akf: i have updated my post' with no comment from me).

I could then come back with another comment stating that I have deleted my irrelevant comment, or I could retain the comment, believing that the viewer would know enough to look through the edits and timestamps to understand the context of the comments.

To reiterate, what is the best practice on revisiting your own comments? To delete or not?

(disclaimer: i looked for this in recent posts, couldnt find it. please let me know if this is a dup)

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Apart from your actual question: I think it's fine to comment within the 5 minute grace period. –  Arjan Mar 31 '10 at 15:30
    
(Maybe rename the title to "Comment deletion conventions"?) –  Arjan Mar 31 '10 at 15:31

6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Delete your comment if it no longer applies. Usually the person that replied to you will see that your comment is gone and delete their reply as well. I've been on both sides of this and it works pretty well.

The alternative of leaving a false or misleading comment is worse, because although you've maintained comment continuity, you've also created unnecessary noise below the question.

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When I comment, I create my own context. I comment as if the answer weren't even there because it could change.

For example, I will not say,

Your answer is wrong because ...

I write:

It's best practice to do this ...

Or another example:

Your query would return duplicate results because you're using UNION ALL.

Should be:

UNION ALL returns duplicate results. Use UNION if you don't want duplicates.

The comment will always be true, regardless of the answer.

If they modify their answer so that it agrees with my comment, my comment will simply appear as consensus, otherwise, it will appear as a caveat.

This has the added benefit that the comment is less likely to be perceived as a personal attack. Instead, I am merely adding value to the answer.

Of course, we should do the same for comments on questions.

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If your comment is obsolete and no one else has referred to it, then you should delete it.

However, if someone else has responded to your comment, then I would say that you don't want to orphan that person's comment either. In the past I have done things like:

DevinB: (-1) Your answer is needlessly hateful against "M$oft".

[. . . ] Time passes, post edited

SomeRandom: DevinB, there are no references to "M$oft", maybe you should be nicer.

DevinB: The answer has been edited, so I've removed my downvote.

If you add a clarifying comment, then you still leave the original timeline/conversation intact, so it isn't confusing, but you can also save some of your dignity.

I've also apologized in comments for my earlier behaviour. Because, rather than pretend I didn't say those things, I'd rather say mea culpa and admit that I've learned my lesson.

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Your answer is needlessly hateful against SomeRandom. –  Adam Davis Mar 31 '10 at 18:20

I think you should never leave a comment that "makes you seem like a vengeful a**" in the first place.

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I agree with this statement. The point I was trying to make was that sometimes users put constructive criticism in comments which sometimes reads only as criticism. Leaving that comment in could ultimately detract from an otherwise helpful post (once edited). –  akf Jul 24 '09 at 11:23
    
True, but everybody screws up sometimes (at least I do), and under some circumstances it's really easy to leave something that looks like I'm a thoroughly unpleasant jerk. –  David Thornley Jul 24 '09 at 15:31

Delete it and leave another comment clarifying the situation.

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I will generally only delete a comment if I catch it immediately. If I make a boo-boo and notice it too late, I wallow in my own failure, because I feel that deleting the comment (especially after people have replied to it) will cause a good deal of confusion in others trying to follow the conversation.

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I wouldn't worry about it, really. People delete comments all the time and most people reading a comment thread will be cognizant of this and won't really be fazed if there's a hole in the conversation. –  Kyle Cronin Jul 24 '09 at 4:19
    
It is interesting, though, that we have two very opposing philosophies when it comes to this. I guess this will almost act as a poll and allow people to vote on which strategy they prefer. –  Kyle Cronin Jul 24 '09 at 4:20
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Ha! Screw you both - i'll delete my comment and wallow in my own failure... –  Shog9 Jul 24 '09 at 4:28
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did Shog9 just own us? –  Jeff Atwood Jul 24 '09 at 4:48
    
asdfasdfasdfasdfasdf –  user145515 Apr 1 '10 at 14:34
    
assssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss –  user145515 Apr 1 '10 at 14:34
    
It is interesting, though, that we have two very opposing philosophies when it comes to this. I guess this will almost act as a poll and allow people to vote on which strategy they prefer –  user145515 Apr 1 '10 at 14:35
    
g, though, that we have two very opposing philosophies when it comes to this. I guess this will almost act as a poll and allow people to vote on which strategy they p –  user145515 Apr 1 '10 at 14:36
    
at we have two very opposing philosophies when it comes to this. I guess this will almost act as a poll and allow people to vote on which strateg –  user145515 Apr 1 '10 at 14:36
    
ng, though, that we have two very opposing philosophies when it comes to this. I guess this will almost act as a poll and allow people to vote on which strategy they prefer – user145515 46 secs ago edit [delete this comment] It is interesting, though, that we have two very opposing philosophies when it comes to this. I guess this will almost act as a poll and allow people to vote on which strategy they prefer g, though, that we have two ve –  user145515 Apr 1 '10 at 14:37

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