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We have an enormous number of bronze badges on StackOverflow to help new users learn the basic functionality of the site. I propose a bronze badge for deleting a dated comment one has left:

Deleted your own comment which was at least 15 days old.

This does several things:

  • It adds badge consistency.
  • It's a basic and relevant feature of the site which new users should know about.
  • It indicates to users that deleting irrelevant comments is not only accepted, but generally requested.

Since many of the basic functionality bronze badges are about teaching new users basic site use, it seems useful to point out the ability to delete comments. If anything, it would be consistent with the current badge-quo. Thoughts?

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  • I think this would serve as a means to just go for a once only badge. What if there was a set amount of comments you had to delete? It would encourage people to consistently come back to the site and it would help police some of these unnecessary comments. – SomeShinyObject May 30 '13 at 3:36
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    I like the idea, but I'm worried that this will encourage users to post crap comments just so that they can delete them later. – hammar May 30 '13 at 3:38
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    @hammar prntscr.com/17cmf6 – user206222 May 30 '13 at 3:39
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    @hammar: I'd be more afraid of it encouraging users to delete comments which are still valuable to the post. "Oh, if I delete this comment I'll get a bronze badge." But what if that comment should still be there? – animuson ModStaff May 30 '13 at 3:40
  • @animuson Comments by definition shouldn't be all that valuable to a post anyway, beyond their transient assistance in solving a problem. – user206222 May 30 '13 at 3:42
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    That's a risk you have at any time @animuson, there's no restriction in deleting your old comments, however valuable they might be. Also, I think the value of teaching people that cleaning up after themselves is a good thing outweighs the risk of losing a valuable comment or two. – yannis May 30 '13 at 3:43
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    @KnightswhosayNi: That doesn't mean we should encourage users to delete them. We want users to delete useless comments (just like we want users to delete useless posts), but since we can't vote down comments, it's not really possible to encourage that with a badge like it is with posts. Just because comments are transient and less important doesn't mean they should all be deleted. If this badge were implemented, I'd recommend it stick to the original one comment, to minimize the potential amount of useful comment loss. – animuson ModStaff May 30 '13 at 3:46
  • @animuson While I see your point, I more favor Yannis' position here. There is benefit in encouraging users to clean up after themselves. However, I think you do have a point about the badge - only one comment. – user206222 May 30 '13 at 3:48
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    How about a bronze badge for deleting badges. Can we implement that? I imagine only admins could earn it, but I can live with that. – Anthony Pegram May 30 '13 at 3:52
  • It should be left to the users discretion to determine if the comment is a good caveat to the answer/question, has already been appended by the poster (thus nullifying the comment), or just serves as noise to the entire post. I would hope that us users can determine when we have made an unnecessary comment or when we have actually helped the question's OP. – SomeShinyObject May 30 '13 at 3:58
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    The Pundit badge should help prevent badge hunters from deleting valuable comments since good ones will likely have up votes. – psubsee2003 May 30 '13 at 9:16
  • @ChristopherW What if you get a bronze for one, silver for 80, and gold for 500, like (helpful) flags? – MTL Jan 16 '15 at 2:51
  • I agree with a bronze badge only (for the first comment), but I would shorten or even remove the time limit and change it by 'after another user (or the OP only?) added a comment or edited the post' 15 days is quite long to wait before cleaning up your comments. I normally clean up my comments directly once the OP edited his question or added a comment making my original comment irrelevant. – m7913d Jul 17 '17 at 21:59
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I really like this idea and do not understand why it received so little attention.

At the moment SO lacks documentation which makes users aware that posting comments also leads to some kind of responsibility for these comments. Especially there is no real hint in the documentation that comments may often become obsolete after some time, which potentially leads to additional work for the community and moderators who need to flag/delete these obsolete comments. Obsolete comments are only briefly mentioned on the "What if I see someone doing something bad?" help page (a horrible title btw) under "Flagging a comment". (Actually, even though I did read the entire help when I got a member here, and even though I did read quite a lot of the meta discussions, I only recently became really aware of the possibility to flag comments as obsolete.)

In my opinion adding a badge for deleting comments could greatly improve this situation by showing the users early on what is considered good commenting practice. In addition to the badge there should also be some documentation added to the Commentator badge, which encourages users to look through old comments now and then and delete obsolete ones - at the same time mentioning the new badge.

I would even go a bit further with this badge request and not reward it for deleting a single comment but instead for deleting say 10-30(?) comments which could also considerably reduce the number of existing obsolete comments on SO. If only 1000 users would delete 10 obsolete comments, this would mean 10000 fewer obsolete comments to handle for the community and moderators!

But as argued in the comments here, there would need to be some constraints for such a badge, because otherwise it would be too easy to cheat.

These are some suggestions:

  1. Deleted comments only count toward the badge, if one currently has a certain minimum number of comments (20-30?).
  2. Only comments deleted after a certain time count (a month?).
  3. Only comments with fewer than 2(?) up-votes count.

I believe constraints like these would greatly reduce the chance, that the system gets cheated or that actually useful comments get deleted just to get the badge - discuss...


Some interesting discussions about obsolete comments in general:

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    There was a Winterbash hat for deleting old comments, presumably to test this out. Wasn't a lot of discussion, but the results sounded mixed. – Troyen Jan 15 '15 at 21:27
  • @Troyen Very interesting, thanks for sharing. The possibility of deleting comments from a discussion and then flagging the no longer needed comments of the other side could of course also lead to a lot of additional work for the moderators in the first place... – Balder Jan 16 '15 at 7:29

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