I am probably going to get massively downvoted for this but I feel strongly about it.

First a bit of background:

As a modern programmer you frequently work in a collaborative environment, not in a dark, dank broom closet. In this environment you get questioned about your tactics and methods continuously and are expected to always produce meaningful, constructive advice in return, even if the other individual imposing a question has flawed logic.

This is why I refuse to downvote on SO stating that I would rather talk to the OP/answerer and tell them what I see as wrong and work it out with them, concluding that downvoting creates an environment where knowledge is not passed on in a constructive manner. That is my own personal opinion and I expect no one else to share it.

However, back to the point:

Questioning and providing feedback has been going on fairly well for about the last 1 1/2 years until about now when moderators seem to be deleting my comments to a certain individual who basically finds my comments either non-constructive, offensive or spam.

I am not going to beat around the bush about this and instead just come out with it, this is a follow up to this: How to deal with "serial" detracting commenters and the entire situation that surrounds it.

I seem to have a misunderstanding of what exactly is constructive.

You see a couple of times today I have commented on answers by this guy asking about his logic, i.e. https://stackoverflow.com/a/22375506/383478 I asked him why he said that distinct() was out dated without documented reason and why the aggregation framework was better despite distinct() being able to use indexes while $group in the aggregation framework not.

And here: https://stackoverflow.com/a/22377123/383478 where I reasoned that the answerer did not truly read the question properly and that the OP was looking for a specific scenario.

In the end both of these threads were moderated, essentially (I believe) because I was able to prove my point so instead of launching into verbal abuse he just got a moderator to delete the comments.

He, however, didn't flag when he proved me wrong and questioned my logic on this question: How to compare mathematical expressions in Mongo

In all fairness I flagged his comments on that question asking the moderators why he was allowed to flag my comments, get them deleted but then do it to me.

I didn't flag them because I was offended or found the comments non-constructive. I wanted to show that this is part of SO.

But even here: MongoDB - How does it avoid full collection scan? he seems to think he is right to do it while others are wrong to question him.

At the end of the day I feel as though sometimes moderators should tell people that if a comment is not specifically offensive, spamming or non-constructive it should be left alone.

I could have just downvoted and not told the guy nothing what was wrong, but I didn't. I decided to reason with him and for it I am the one being moderated?


2 Answers 2


You seem to use and interpret SE very differently from most of its users. Certainly from me. Some points (the bolded text below is a literal answer to your title question):

  • downvotes are temporary. You don't have to choose between permanently hurting someone and making them better. You can downvote, explain why, and if the person changes their post, remove the downvote or even turn it into an upvote. Downvoting serves a useful purpose to everyone on the site who isn't you or the OP - it tells them there might be a problem with the post. It's a good deed and you should do it.
  • comments are temporary, ephemeral things, that you can remove when they have served their purpose. They are not a "discussion thread" or a place for debate
  • some people come to SE sites to learn and get better at what they do, but not all do. Those who don't want tutoring and coaching from you are not obliged to accept it
  • offense is in the mind of the reader, not the writer. If your comment offends someone they can flag it. If a moderator feels it isn't helping the post (whether it's true or not, and whether it's offensive or not) the comment will be removed. This is not a sign of anyone winning or losing
  • nobody is obliged to prove you wrong in order to hold their own opinions. The SE mechanism supports conflicting opinions wonderfully: both people post an answer and everyone else votes. Badgering another answerer to change their answer to match your opinion is unnecessary and usually futile.

If you feel somebody is wrong on the Internet post your own answer, add one comment to the answer you think is wrong pointing out what's wrong, downvote it and then move on. Do not have a conversation in the comments and do not try to fix everyone you meet. You'll be happier and so will the people you're trying to fix.

  • But if I comment after making a downvote whats the difference to not downvoting and just commenting instead?
    – Sammaye
    Mar 13, 2014 at 16:07
  • 5
    @Sammaye The downvote is the difference. It lets others know that there's something wrong with the question/answer.
    – Clive
    Mar 13, 2014 at 16:08
  • 3
    It tells other people that this answer is not generally accepted. This affects sorting order and a number of other things as well. There is also a difference between a one time comment that points out a problem, and a bickery ongoing comment that asks questions like "what makes you think that is right?" and invites a reply. Mar 13, 2014 at 16:09
  • @Clive OK it just seems like the downvote is used as a trolling method, I mean I don't pay attention to upvotes/downvotes when looking for info on this site anymore cos I know they arent right
    – Sammaye
    Mar 13, 2014 at 16:09
  • 2
    @Sammaye as I said, you use these sites differently than many people do. Your choice. Mar 13, 2014 at 16:10
  • 1
    @Sammaye Fair enough. I know they are right, so where does that leave us?
    – Clive
    Mar 13, 2014 at 16:10
  • @Clive Dunno I guess I just gotta do what the majority want me to
    – Sammaye
    Mar 13, 2014 at 16:11
  • @Clive Well I mean if you know they are right then you must think that "MongoDB is a in memory database" is right too cos that was deemed right by upvotes/downvotes but if you google it you find out it isn't, that's why my faith in the voting system is gone. There are so many cases of it
    – Sammaye
    Mar 13, 2014 at 17:37
  • @Clive you have also got to consider if downvotes get lost in upvotes since by default SO shows an aggregate, that answer I just mentioned had 9 upvotes so making one downvote would have done nothing
    – Sammaye
    Mar 13, 2014 at 17:45
  • @Sammaye I've lost track of what point you're making here - are you arguing that voting shouldn't be allowed, because a comment will suffice, or that most/all current voting is being undertaken incorrectly?
    – Clive
    Mar 13, 2014 at 17:56
  • @Clive no I was arguing that a downvote should come with a comment, the exact comment I am being deleted for by the moderators
    – Sammaye
    Mar 13, 2014 at 17:57
  • 1
    Ah ok, I get you now. This has been discussed/requested to death around here and declined every single time for the same reasons. Not a reflection on you at all, who's to say you've seen the other questions (there are a lot of them though), but if you don't find people to be particularly receptive to the topic, that's why.
    – Clive
    Mar 13, 2014 at 18:06

I deleted some of those comments.

I delete comments for a lot of reasons.

  • It's Thursday
  • Two users are having a discussion in the comments
  • An argument
  • because power corrupts
  • someone asked for clarification, got their answer
  • tangents
  • old comments that are superseded by answers or just aren't relevant to the question
  • +1
  • me too
  • some rant about the subject

Don't take it personally.

When two users are following each other over the site and flagging each other's comments, there's a bit more going on.

Since comments can be deleted for just about any reason, we may not always see the connection between deletions. In particular, when flagging a comment, you need to be crystal clear about why you're flagging and what action you want us to take, otherwise the comments may just get deleted because comments really are red-headed stepchildren.

In the future, flagging that user's post and explaining the situation is a better approach than engaging in flagging their comments because they flagged yours.

Personally, I'm of a mind to delete comments whenever I get the chance. The fact that your comments were deleted isn't a reflection on you. They were flagged and we saw those flags. It's a very rare comment that should stick around.

  • "red-headed stepchildren"? Mar 13, 2014 at 16:08
  • Not meant to offend actual step-children who are redheaded, of course. Mar 13, 2014 at 16:10
  • what about when It's Friday?
    – Taryn
    Mar 13, 2014 at 16:15
  • 5
    @bluefeet When it's friday, we get down. Mar 13, 2014 at 16:18
  • 1
    Ok I have had a misconception on how SO works since I joined
    – Sammaye
    Mar 13, 2014 at 16:38
  • 1
    @Sammaye The main focus of Stack Overflow is asking questions and answering those questions. What does this error message mean? It means that the fooble is broken. Question. Answer. That's it. It's not a starting point to have a discussion. Mar 13, 2014 at 18:17
  • @KevinPanko If knowledge can never be questioned how can we be sure it is true?
    – Sammaye
    Mar 13, 2014 at 18:35
  • 1
    @Sammaye Question. Incorrect answer. Clarifying comment. Downvotes. Mar 13, 2014 at 18:41
  • @KevinPanko this question has arisen through single comments asking for clarification
    – Sammaye
    Mar 13, 2014 at 18:42
  • 1
    @KevinPanko OK I see what you mean the comment shouldn't be a question, ok kool
    – Sammaye
    Mar 13, 2014 at 18:44

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