Seeing that comment links now get one box support: Add chat oneboxing support for comment links, I think it would be wise to revise the way in which comment deletions are handled (or at least the explanation for their deletion needs to be revised)

If the one box support was declined and we were still stuck with it copying the content manually to chat I would be able to stay with this reasoning

@shog9 not every user-generated byte committed to memory is sacred. Particularly in comments, which are meant to be lightweight and ephemeral. If you want to post content more likely to survive, do it in an answer.. this is 100% [status-bydesign] and you are certainly an experienced enough user to know this by now, which makes this whole discussion perplexing.

Jeff Atwood♦ Feb 12 '10 at 21:43

If comments are lightweight, why add more features to support it? No, I am not against oneboxing comments. I am trying to show that adding features goes counter to the idea of lightweight and ephemeral. Think about it, I am quoting a comment from 2010 that has valuable content right now. You may say that this is meta, but I believe that to be moot. Meta and SO use the same backend, nothing is to say comments cannot stay as long on the main site.

I would like if someone could provide a revised reasoning for comment deletions (apart from long back and forth threads which automatically get hinted to be moved to chat). In my opinion, there should only be two these cases for comment deletion manually

  • obsolete comment that causes confusion or is no longer as it's content has been absorbed into the post
  • extremely obvious offensive comment e.g. f@# you m#@$!@@ w%$#@ unicorn (just offensive is subjective, we are on the internet and a lot of users are introverted and do not realize how they come across, those who are offended have to deal with it and suck it up) Any other flag should be declined
  • spam comments and comments that go against to "community policy" both of which should be deleted as noted by Conrad Frix

I think this here is actually a valid point

Comments are often immensely helpful for clarifying points, getting to a conclusion, reaching a consensus, explaining a decision, and for many other things. Sometimes they aren't necessary anymore after a conclusion has been reached (I then usually flag them as obsolete), and sometimes they should stay around, lest future visitors repeat the very same discussion. – sbi

I understand not wanting the comment section to turn into mini forums but I especially agree with not repeating discussion as well not ending up in Streisand effect when a question is closed or edited intensely or voted down.

I feel this is a duplicate of something but I am not getting the correct search queries

  • You forgot spam comments and comments that go against to "community policy" both of which should be deleted Apr 4, 2012 at 16:39
  • @ConradFrix correct I have updated the question to suit
    – phwd
    Apr 4, 2012 at 17:00

1 Answer 1


You're forgetting one big category of comments, the off-topic/chatty ones. A lot of comments are just that, more or less random comments on the topic of the post, not clarifications or specific criticism of it. Those comments add noise without providing much benefit, and while we tolerate the occasional witty one-liner, it can get quickly annyoing once you have 10 supposed-to-be-witty one-liners on a post.

I usually don't delete comments that provide additional information. But that can get difficult to avoid very quickly once you have to step in on a long comment thread. Extracting the important information from a 20+ post comment thread and deleting all the noise is often very difficult. If you have users arguing contrary viewpoints it's extremely hard to remove comments without favoring one side of the discussion. The much easier and fairer way is to just nuke all comments indiscriminately.

And I'll defend the canonical advice of putting the important information from the comments into the answer to preserve it here again. If we hide the important information inside a long comment-thread, we're no better than a forum.

There are many occasions where there are valuable comments on a post, they aren't deleted and will likely stay there indefinitely. They might not be suited to be added to a post, but they still contain information. This works fine as long as you have less than a handful of comments on a post. It doesn't work anymore once you have 20+ comments and that valuable comment is just drowned out. And those 20+ comment threads are where most deletions happen I suspect, as those are auto-flagged.

  • 4
    I've found that when you get 20+ comment threads, it's invariably when someone asks for clarification or refutes something in the post and the post owner disagrees so they spend 3 days going back and forth at each other because neither will concede the point. There might be valuable information in there, but it's so buried, and has very little chance of making it back into the original answer, it's as good as deleted anyway.
    – user149432
    Apr 4, 2012 at 17:32
  • 1
    That, and the "And while I got you all here, let me ask this other question ..." type of comment threads, which happens a lot. Apr 4, 2012 at 21:13

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