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Since recently moderators can see a list of deleted comments. There should be a possibility to undelete these comments as well, at least for a certain period of time. Sometimes moderators delete the wrong comment by accident and then can't do much about it.

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@George Totally agree, all other actions are reversible so why not this? That should be strong incentive in my humble opinion. –  Shadow Wizard Mar 6 '13 at 14:05
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sometimes, it really strikes me how little SE is willing to invest into usability of moderation tools. * Ability to comment to deleted posts to communicate authors and guide 10K-readers, no freaking way, let them mods invent their creative weays to do this. * Broken formula brings much crap answers into hot questions, no need to fix, let them mods handle consequences. * Dedicated flag to simplify handling link only answers, no need, let mods sort it out... somehow. * Undelete comments to simplify cleaning long discussions - no, if you need to keep 2 of 100, just delete 98 one by one... –  gnat Mar 6 '13 at 14:25
    
...It just strikes me. Hey Stack Exchange, hello. Hello-o-o-o! They say mods are supposed to handle exceptions, have you heard of that? why loading them with routine stuff. As if they don't have anything better to do! –  gnat Mar 6 '13 at 14:25
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@gnat - remember, it took quite a bit of convincing that even MSO was necessary. Part of the problem then was explaining why you would want to do something like that. OTOH, I understand just how hard it can be to explain the why behind something that seems patently obvious. :-) –  GlenH7 Mar 7 '13 at 12:05
    
I strongly disagree with your idea. I am not sure if it is the right word, but only the OP (commenter) should be allowed to undelete/delete their own comments. –  xxmbabanexx Mar 9 '13 at 2:05

4 Answers 4

This is now implemented.

On a Question/Show page (not the mod dashboard), moderators can now quickly delete a comment without getting a prompt. After deletion, the standard "deleted content" styles will show the just-deleted comment, along with the "undelete" link.

Also, the "X deleted comments" right side-bar quick link will now load deleted comments inline, allowing for undeletion (in certain cases):

enter image description here

We're discussing if this functionality needs to be in the mod dashboard.

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I already gave 500 to this feature request, so I figured I'd temper the bounty with the actual relative effect of its implementation. –  George Stocker Mar 6 '13 at 19:43
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The feature I'd like to have is an "purge comments" with exceptions, so that I preselect all comments for deletion and can then select the one or two that are actually useful. Undeletion of comments is one way to implement it, but some integration into the "purge comments" tool would also be nice. –  Mad Scientist Mar 6 '13 at 19:52
    
Being able to un-delete comments that were auto-deleted from flags would be very useful. We've had issue with sock puppets spamming flags to remove comments of other users. –  Byte56 Jun 16 '13 at 14:12
    
Ooh, shiny. I don't see any immediate uses except "purge w/exceptions" and to correct mistakes, for me, though. Still, good to have –  Manishearth Jul 4 '13 at 2:53
    
"purge w/exceptions" is the primary use-case for this everywhere, @Manishearth - that's pretty much the only thing I've ever used comment undeletion for. That said, a nice side-benefit is the ability for moderators to undo accidental clicks - and to emphasize this, Jarrod helpfully made it easier for a stray click to delete comments! –  Shogging through the snow Jul 4 '13 at 5:02
    
Ah, I see. Makes sense. –  Manishearth Jul 4 '13 at 5:04
    
Why can't we undelete comments which a user deleted? I'm thinking of using that functionality if the user rage-quits and deletes a lot of useful comments. (I know comments are supposed to be ephemeral and all..) –  Double AA Jul 4 '13 at 13:36
    
Want to upvote. Don't want to ruin the beautiful answer to the universe. –  Second Rikudo Jul 5 '13 at 13:31
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@DoubleAA: because in practice that almost never happens, and normally folks should be able to delete their comments without worrying that they'll come back up like too-spicy chili. If you do happen to encounter a user deleting tons of super-valuable comments that simply cannot be worked into an answer, let one of us on the team know - we can probably restore them prior to deleting that user's account. –  Shogging through the snow Jul 8 '13 at 23:10
    
Request: If I undelete a comment another mod has deleted, both events should show up in the "flag history" for the post. As it is now they cancel each other out. –  Double AA Jul 9 '13 at 6:45
    
@DoubleAA I'm working on a much improved mod-only post timeline that will handle this case. –  Jarrod Dixon Jul 9 '13 at 6:50
    
@JarrodDixon Looking forward :) –  Double AA Jul 9 '13 at 7:00
    
Every time I need to undelete some comments, I have to search back for this question to find how to do it. (Of course, now that I've written about it), I probably will remember.) Please don't hide functionality outside the window. The logical place to undelete comments would be from the deleted comments view, but I can't find how to do it there. –  Gilles Mar 21 at 11:29

There are lots of problems with the current method of deleting comments. Our choices are:

  • Nuke all comments
  • Spend a lot of time going through and pruning the discussion out of comments and leave the 'clarifying' questions/answers

I'll give you a guess as to which one I do more often, especially faced with hundreds of flags in the moderator queue, and a limited amount of time per day to moderate.

We need a better method of deleting comments. Whether that's being able to select a large swath of comments at once (click and drag?), or to nuke all comments and then selectively undelete the ones that could stay, I don't know. What I do know is that the current method is unsustainable if the argument is that some comments should stick around.

If your comment:

  • Asks for clarification (and has not yet received it)
  • gives a workaround (that is not an answer)
  • provides a link for the OP to check out

then it will stay around... for a while. In the long run, all comments are eventually useless, so don't expect to put good information into a comment, it should be in an answer.

Stack Overflow is not a place for extended discussion, that's why we have chat. If you want to have a discussion, take it there, or take it to meta as appropriate.

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I'm definitely favoring the first suggestion for the better method. There's got to be a better way to clean up the aftermath of even a slightly controversial post. –  Tim Post Mar 6 '13 at 18:57
    
A checklist for which to keep/burn would be cool, or something like the chat's message admin interface –  Ben Brocka Mar 6 '13 at 20:33
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Yeah, I agree with @Ben here. Currently, the workflow is: Click teensy delete button. Click OK on the annoying modal dialog. Watch comment disappear. Feel disoriented. Look for next bad comment. Repeat. –  Manishearth Mar 9 '13 at 8:08

If a comment is accidentally deleted, it's no big deal.

If you accidentally delete one, delete them all and let them start it over in chat. Roll up any comments that clarify the post into the main body of said post.

Comments are no big deal and should not be treated like real posts.

Nothing important should be left in comments in the first place.

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This is an asinine statement - I very often see important clarifications in comments. –  Lawrence Dol Jul 10 '11 at 17:55
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So why not roll these important clarifications into the main post? @sof –  random Jul 10 '11 at 17:56
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@Soft: You may not like it, but this is the correct answer. Comments are a very dangerous place to store anything of value, and moderator-undeletion won't do much to change this. –  Shogging through the snow Jul 10 '11 at 18:13
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Especially now that anyone can edit there's no reason to not merge such important information into the answer. If its really that important nobody should object to it. –  Ivo Flipse Jul 11 '11 at 8:16
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Often stuff that fits in comment will be rejected in edits as "changing the post too much". Even though sometimes it just add important information that should be there. –  Hugo Dozois Mar 6 '13 at 13:52

First off, why do moderators have the power to delete comments in the first place? While questioning the moderator George Stocker on his answer my comments were deleted. In fact, everyone's comments were deleted.

Moderators should not be able to "undelete" a comment deleted by the user. What happens if someone said something stupid, realized their mistake, and deleted it? I wouldn't want some "all powerful" moderator to delete comments which after further thought, I realized were wrong.

On the other hand, while mods are allowed to delete comments, they should be allowed to undelete, with with certain conditions.

  • The should only be able to undelete their own deletes - not other mods, and definitely not the commenter's deletes.

Lastly, why is the commenter not allowed to undelete their own comments? They were the one who said it in the first place...

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Your comment was deleted because I purged all the comments in that answer. It wasn't anything directed at you. Once you received clarification, the comments became useless. You're welcome to post an answer -- those have permanence, and comments are meant to be temporary. In fact, the reason the comments were purged had nothing to do with your comment -- the rest of the comments centered around a discussion Marcus and I had -- they were irrelevant to what I answered. If you'd like, you could upvote my answer, it should address your concerns. –  George Stocker Mar 9 '13 at 3:22
    
@george Hmm... So, are mods not able to delete particular comments? If so, that functionality should definitely be added. –  xxmbabanexx Mar 9 '13 at 3:34
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See my above answer. Our options are to nuke the whole comments, or to delete individual comments. At a certain point, it becomes unwieldy. –  George Stocker Mar 9 '13 at 3:36

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