What is the time-tested and moderator-approved way for soliciting cooperative deletions of comment noise by the participants themselves?


This evening I experienced my first extended comment exchange. All of the people involved are more than capable of cleaning up their own comments, and may do so on their own, but it occurred to me to be proactive about it to limit comment noise, and simply request their help.

I shortly realized that there's no easy way on SO to request that other participants cooperate to clean things up after a comment-fest. In particular, the inability to mention more than one user in a comment means that comment cleanup-up requests involve adding to the noise level in before one can reduce it. Instead of being able to make one comment to five people, I found myself having to post five messages with mentions, and will obviously need to go back tomorrow to clean those up.

Creating meta questions for this sort of thing seems wrong, too. Comments are short-lived, and (relatively) easy to delete. Questions aren't supposed to be ephemeral, but they can certainly be deleted when their utility is done, if that's the "right" way to do it.

Question Details

There are a number of related issues with this question, so please give the issue a thorough and thoughtful response.

  1. What's the most effective way for comment participants to communicate with one another about comment cleanup?
  2. Are comments or meta questions preferred for cleanup discussions?
  3. Are cleanup discussions likely to bring down a wrath-hammer of some kind?
  4. If none of the available options are ideal, is there another alternative that should be made a ?

1 Answer 1


It's noble that you're trying to do this cooperatively, with help from the community. It might be nice to do it on your own, but it's OK to ask the mods to do this for you. At least, this is what I'd prefer on the 4-flags-per-day SE 2.0 site I moderate, and I imagine that this is also what the SO mods would prefer, especially since they'll have extra help after the current election.

  1. Instead of trying to ping everyone, and have them all respond, then remember to delete your ping, a simple comment flag with "these comments have degenerated into noise" is all you really need to do. A mod can then come along, click mod->purge all comments->submit and away they go. It doesn't get more effective than that.
  2. Referencing #1, neither comments nor meta questions are preferred. Flags are preferred.
  3. Cleanup discussions are likely to simply be deleted. We're thankful they're happening, they just don't need to stick around.
  4. I think a the current flag system is adequate, A feature along the lines of "delete this comment if the pinged comment is deleted, or send a message to my inbox if the pinged comment isn't deleted within 48 hours" feature might be interesting, but it's certainly not necessary.

Flag away!

  • 1
    We can't always use the purge comments option. If there's at least one comment worth keeping around, we have to delete the rest manually :( Jun 8, 2012 at 3:19

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