3

I commented on an answer, which caused the person who answered to edit his answer accordingly. He added a comment acknowledging my comment. The nature of the edit was such that (1) I didn't have confidence to make the edit directly, and (2) commentary about the edit holds no value to future readers.

The best final state is for both comments to be removed. They should be removed at the same time since neither comment makes sense without the other (now that the question has been edited).

What is the best way to atomically remove the comments?


Update:

So far the atomic aspect of this question has proven elusive to a fully satisfactory answer. Since you can't flag your own comment as obsolete, the next best option is deleting your comment and flagging the other. However, this leaves the comments in an inconsistent state (where the remaining comment makes no sense in isolation) until a moderator acts on the flag. Even if you could flag your own comment, since there is a minimum 5 second flag interval and since moderators can't atomically remove comments, there would still a period of inconsistency, albeit typically momentary.

This discussion reminded me that I'd run into a similar situation regarding a comment on a question. I found the related feature request: Support cascading deletion of comments.

  • I really don't think it's a big deal if the comments are temporarily in an inconsistent state. Quite often the other person will delete their comment before a moderator gets to the flag anyway. And let's not forget that comments are unimportant, and many people don't read them at all. The system is not perfect, and I'm afraid you're not going to be able to make it so. – Aaron Bertrand Oct 23 '13 at 14:25
  • @Aaron How would the second commenter know to delete his comment? I don't believe he gets a notification that the first comment was deleted. – Edward Brey Oct 23 '13 at 15:09
  • @Aaron "The system is not perfect, and I'm afraid you're not going to be able to make it so." True, but that's what people said about conventional forums before SO. – Edward Brey Oct 23 '13 at 15:10
  • that all depends on how involved he/she is in the conversation or post. If it's their question or answer, they probably aren't going to disappear and will probably see that you deleted your comment and/or the issue that the discussion involved has been resolved. If it's a fly-by comment, then it can wait until the moderator finds your flag, right? What is the true damage you see happening if there's a misplaced comment for a short period of time? As to improving things, I'm not saying don't try, just suggesting that in this case I don't know how you can make it less imperfect. – Aaron Bertrand Oct 23 '13 at 15:13
  • @Aaron The "damage" is indeed small; it's part of the "death by a thousand paper cuts" that causes comments to often be seen as unimportant and not get read, as you pointed out. That's too bad, since many comments are useful. As to what to do about it, the discussion gave me an idea, and upon searching, I found it's already been suggested: Marking comments as 'addressed by edit' to reduce noise. – Edward Brey Oct 23 '13 at 16:23
  • many comments are useful, but in a lot of cases they would be even more useful if they were edited into the post or converted to an answer. – Aaron Bertrand Oct 23 '13 at 16:40
9

You can flag both comments as obsolete. They'll appear together on the moderator comments dashboard since they're on the same post. Even if one of the comments is deleted first by the community, the other one will stay in the mod queue for removal, so it should be cleaned up sooner or later.

  • You can't flag you own comments... – sth Oct 23 '13 at 13:02
  • 1
    @sth but you can delete your own comments. – MikeTheLiar Oct 23 '13 at 13:03
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    @sth Ah, you're right. If one of the comments is your own you can just delete it and flag the other one as obsolete. – Bill the Lizard Oct 23 '13 at 13:08
6

There's a flag option for comments which is "Obsolete" which is exactly the situation you are describing. The comment is no longer relevant to the state of the post. Alternatively, you could flag as "Other" and enter a custom message, stating that the comments on the post need to be purged or at least examined for worth. Alternatively, you could flag the post itself with a custom message in the same manner.

Obsolete flag option

  • The "Other" approach seems like the best technical answer, since provides the best chance of both comments being addressed at an atomic unit. – Edward Brey Oct 23 '13 at 13:44

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