It's very common for users to ask questions which require clarification, elaboration, an example etc. More experienced users often comment on the question, asking for just that. Then the OPs comment, drawing previous commenters' attention to their amendments to the question; and so on.

Thus it is often the case that after 3–4 such rounds, the question is now in good shape, but it has 5–10 comments which only regard previous editions of the question and are entirely useless and confusing to future readers.

What I personally do sometimes is add more comments, asking previous commenters to remove all their comments, promising to do the same, then doing the same when they've removed everything. Surely there's some less cumbersome mechanism for all this?

One possible idea — which is not the reason I'm asking this question, just a possibility — might be the following: When editing a question, allow the OP (and/or the user reviewing the edit) to indicate which comments have been obsoleted by the edit. The user approving the edit (either the OP if s/he has enough reputation or the reviewer) also decides which comments to declare obsolete; and these will be removed. Possibly, with comment removal, commenting users can be notified about the edit.

(Maybe this should be a feature request, I'm not sure.)

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    and/or the moderator reviewing the edit ... mods do not review edits. – Aziz Shaikh Dec 20 '13 at 12:26
  • allow the OP to indicate which comments have been obsoleted by the edit ... by "indicate" do you mean that those comments will not automatically deleted? – Aziz Shaikh Dec 20 '13 at 12:28
  • Also, when post owner edits a post, the changes are instant, meaning there is no review for it. – Aziz Shaikh Dec 20 '13 at 12:32
  • @AzizShaikh: So maybe this will always need review? Or at least up to something like a Gazillion reputation (e.g. 10,000)? – einpoklum Dec 20 '13 at 13:40
  • possible duplicate of What are valid reasons for flagging comments? – gnat Dec 20 '13 at 14:02
  • not a dupe of that – Lance Roberts Dec 20 '13 at 14:29
  • @LanceRoberts 5 of my last 50 helpful flags tell me "duplicate" quite loud and clear – gnat Dec 20 '13 at 14:52
  • Even if it is a dupe, it isn't a duplicate of the question linked... I have my reopen vote ready ;) – Mołot Dec 20 '13 at 14:57
  • @gnat, It's definitely a dupe, just not of that question. – Lance Roberts Dec 20 '13 at 15:17
  • @LanceRoberts in addition to 5 mentioned flags at SO, 11 of 50 of my last flags here at MSO tell me, "dupe of that question", pretty load and clear. At Programmers I have like 50 flags telling me the same, but these are buried deeper in my flagging-summary, because there I focus more on other kind flags – gnat Dec 20 '13 at 15:24
  • I upvoted your question because I appreciate your desire to prune obsolete comments. However I can't endorse the method you suggested. – HansUp Dec 20 '13 at 18:24

The "designed" way is to delete own comments and flag other ones as obsolete. But it is a lot of clicking. Alternative might be, if there is more than 3 comments like that, to just flag a question with custom reason. After all comment flags are resolved by diamond moderators too, so flagging once may save their time. Moderators on Drupal Answers once told me to do just that.

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Less cumbersome for you (but otherwise for the moderators) is to flag each comment as "obsolete" and add appropriate information in the flag dialog.

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  • Suggested something more, umm, methodical maybe at the bottom of my question. – einpoklum Dec 20 '13 at 12:23

"When editing a question, allow the OP (and/or the user reviewing the edit) to indicate which comments have been obsoleted by the edit."

I don't believe we should allow the question author the privilege to unilaterally decide which comments will be discarded. More than once I've commented like "In order to help you, we need to know this, and this and this." Then the questioner clarifies one of the three, but ignores the other two. There is no way the questioner should be permitted to discard my comment as obsolete.

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I have seen suggested (more than once) when there are a lot of obsolete comments on a post, to pick one (the latest one is good) and flag it with a custom reason:

This comment and all those before it on this post are now obsolete.

Moderators have the tools to remove all comments from a post in one swell foop.

(If only some of the comments are obsolete, it's probably best to flag them as such individually. Adding more comments to get people to delete comments is probably self-defeating.)

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I think it's up to the commentators themselves to decide whether your edit provided sufficient data and their comments are obsolete. What if you still left something out?

Taking that privilege from them after they bothered reading a question (let alone one poorly explained or missing some data) is bad form, IMHO.

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  • Well, if they're notified about the edit they could remake/restore their comment on the new version. – einpoklum Dec 20 '13 at 13:41
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    @einpoklum, why should they have to work so hard? It's not their fault the question doesn't have sufficient data, they just wanted to help. – Leeor Dec 20 '13 at 13:45
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    And they did help, and now their comment's help is done. It's not as though the comment is supposed to be eternal, it's essentially something transient. Also, there's the question of commenter-benefit-vs-future-reader-benefit: The latter are many... – einpoklum Dec 20 '13 at 14:00
  • @einpoklum, i'm not saying the comment should be left indefinitely, i'm just saying it might be bad manners to delete it without having them involved. If you make a good argument they'll remove them by themselves (if they don't - then flag for a mod), so the future will be fine without having to satisfy someones' OCD. – Leeor Dec 20 '13 at 16:41

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