I've seen this many times, and have done it a few times myself. Someone might have some words they want to include in the comments which don't necessarily pertain to answering the question or maybe even are brief statements which seem chatty. Whatever the reason might be, the person who posts it deliberately includes something along the lines of This comment will self-destruct. Then, the comment is deleted soon after, as to not pollute the comments.

I'm just wondering how appropriate this is, especially since a majority of what I've seen are primarily based around sarcasm, and some people take offense to things like that. Of course I can't really provide any examples here, because they wind up deleted, but I'm sure you know what comments I'm talking about.

One example of a comment I posted once:

[This comment will self-destruct] "My car isn't running like it should. Please fix it Mr. Mechanic!"

I said this comment with sarcasm deliberately so that the OP could understand that the question they were asking was far too vague for anyone to be able to answer.

  • PS - I'm not talking about other prior mentions of "self-destruct comments" meaning they automatically expire. Different subject. May 4, 2013 at 23:25
  • What could we do about it even if it is bad? Flag them for deletion? May 4, 2013 at 23:30
  • @MichaelMrozek Well that's not necessarily my point, although creditable. I'm just wondering how "okay" it is. But yes, if the commenter says they'll delete it but they don't, then sure, flag it, if one seems so inclined to. May 4, 2013 at 23:33
  • My point was even if we decide "yes, they're bad, let's delete them when we see them", that's what the OP is going to do anyway, so I don't know what else we can do May 4, 2013 at 23:55
  • [This comment will self-destruct] The bracketed text is a lie.
    – Doorknob
    May 5, 2013 at 1:26
  • @Doorknob, you did it wrong: [The cake is true!] The bracketed text is a lie. May 5, 2013 at 2:08

2 Answers 2


I don't have a problem with users communicating in comments about slightly off-topic areas, with a couple caveats:

  • The comments must be promptly deleted
  • It doesn't turn into a long conversation (e.g. 15 comment thread; use chat instead)

So, I think in this case, it's okay. Comments are intended to be transient, so there's no real harm in indicating you plan to delete one. Humans sometimes feel the need to communicate. I suppose the rest of us have to accept that.

  • 3
    "Humans sometimes feel the need to communicate. I suppose the rest of us have to accept that." You mean you're not human? What are you robots doing reading the comments then? You can skip them :-). May 4, 2013 at 23:27
  • @beni I believe you call it "Laughing."
    – user206222
    May 4, 2013 at 23:29
  • If you type the tag "users" in a ServerFault.com question, you see the description: "Humans using a system. They try to break everything. Always handle with caution. Expect the unexpected." May 4, 2013 at 23:31
  • 1
    +1 Covered nicely. Although there was no technologic reference as to what users can do with a comment. Tut.
    – nickhar
    May 5, 2013 at 2:04

To build upon what the Knights of Ni says about comments being transient, it's perfectly okay for you, a regular user, to flag as off-topic or obsolete, comments which have served their purpose.

For instance, if I post:

Can you update your post with the PHP code too?

and then the op responds with:

Sure, done!

Then you and others could remove these simply by applying enough flags to auto-remove them or put them up on the diamond moderator's radar.

So, if you see a comment with a "self-destruct" message, you can help move the process along by flagging it as obsolete.

These types of flags do not show up on a user's permanent record, so you're not harming anyone by flagging in this manner. What's more, you may help remove something that the poster simply forgot to remove, as sometimes we do forget to come back and clean up.

Now, after rereading your question, I detect that there's possibly something you're not telling us about some of these comments. Perhaps authors are removing them because they're being extremely rude, and the authors remove them so that they don't attract any unwanted attention from moderators while still getting their jabs in at unsuspecting users.

If this is the case, if you see a pattern of certain individuals posting rude comments then promptly deleting them, you may flag the post for moderator attention, and then use the "Other" block to explain the behavior.

Moderators can see deleted comments, so if someone is doing something that is destructive to the environment, they can intervene.

  • I don't think Sure, done! meets the minimum length requirements :) May 5, 2013 at 0:10
  • 3
    I think you're right! A minor oversight on my part. :) (There's actually invisible spaces in the comment that you just can't see :D )
    – jmort253
    May 5, 2013 at 0:27
  • +1 For covering the different angles and invisible spaces
    – nickhar
    May 5, 2013 at 1:58

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