27

From time to time, when we get either the "too many comments" autoflag or someone raises a flag to tell us that there are a lot of comments on a post it would be useful to be able to add a comment or notice along the lines of:

This post is generating too many comments. If there is anything worth saving please post it as an answer or an edit to the post. All the comments will be deleted in due course.

This is not the same as the "move comments to chat" option. This is for the times when the discussion people are having ends up answering the question in comments.

It needs to be pinned so that people see it and have a chance to act on it before the comments are deleted.

  • 3
    Can the post notices be customized? – Mysticial Oct 18 '14 at 21:01
  • Not right now, @Mysticial. – Undo Oct 18 '14 at 21:02
  • 6
    customizable post-notices... that would be my preference – rolfl Oct 18 '14 at 21:04
  • @rolfl - now that's a good idea, though I do sort of mention that... – ChrisF Oct 18 '14 at 21:05
  • 2
    Related: meta.stackexchange.com/a/191984/241497 – rolfl Oct 18 '14 at 21:06
  • @rolfl I suggest you add an answer, I think post notices would work better than pinning comments. – ɥʇǝS Oct 20 '14 at 14:20
  • @ɥʇǝS - thanks, and done. – rolfl Oct 20 '14 at 14:33
  • 1
    Also related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/182239/… – George Stocker Oct 20 '14 at 19:23
10

On Workplace we sometimes wipe entire comment threads of 20+ comments and post a comment like:

*comments removed* Remember what comments are for. For extended discussions, Get a Room (a chat room).

Very often people continue to post after these comments are the sole comment left in comment threads.

Our struggles with people overusing comments and a SE test project haven't really helped. The core problem is well described here and here.

This suggestion does not get at the core problem, and as a result, will not be overly useful in stopping people from commenting.

As long as "comment" means to users what "comment" means on every other site on the internet (rather than "request clarification/suggest improvement" as is unintuitively used here) people will continue to comment, rather than request clarification/suggest improvement.

  • Normally I do do this, but from time to time there's stuff that might be useful as an answer and I'd like to give people chance to move it before I wipe the comments. – ChrisF Oct 18 '14 at 21:39
  • Can we get a comments only lock? – yannis Oct 20 '14 at 13:28
  • 1
    See my answer, here. I do think it is a good idea to leave automated signposts rather than emptiness in the wake of mass deletion. – Jeff Atwood Nov 22 '14 at 5:42
8

Here are some more reasons that this would be a useful feature to have:

  • Whenever a specific post is the subject of heated debate / discussion, a "this question is being discussed [on meta](meta link)" comment is typically posted. The ability to pin these would be useful for extra visibility.

  • I almost always leave an explanatory comment whenever performing a moderation-related action (close, delete, etc.) on it. In the case of locking posts, this is even more important as nobody can ask why or for what reason a post has been locked, unless they want to go through the hassle of posting on meta. However, comments on locked posts cannot be voted on, so it would be nice to be able to pin them. (Editing something into the post itself is a less-than-perfect solution.)

Both of these problems could also be solved by giving us the ability to apply custom post notices, so that's a solution too.

8

This should arguably happen automatically. If comment chains get too long, simply stop the proceedings (don't allow more comments) and add that alert in code to explain why comments were paused.

Alternately, start adding more friction to the comment process the more times someone has commented, with a multiplier for total number of comments. For example on Hacker News I've noticed that if you reply a few times rapidly the system there will delay showing you the reply button a bit, as a natural "whoa nelly slow down there on the conversations, pal" function. I think it works well and it's not onerous.. The delay is fairly mild, on the order of minutes.

  • I'd favour the second option. A few times I've seen comments where the OP has added huge amounts of information in comments and while they can be edited into the Q/A it would be a bit annoying not being able to add another comment to explain it until the other comments have been cleaned up. – PeterJ Nov 16 '14 at 11:02
  • What if additional comments cost 1 rep, just like downvoting? – fredsbend Jan 15 '15 at 19:38
  • not a bad idea @fredsbend – Jeff Atwood Jan 17 '15 at 0:06
  • @JeffAtwood Do you want me to suggest that as a feature request? – fredsbend Jan 17 '15 at 0:33
6

This requirement would be solved by moderators having the ability to add 'custom' Post Notices, and being able to have an expanded set of (site specific) default versions.

In your use case, the notice you suggest would be a good 'default' comment, and I can see this other feature request being useful too: Give mods a “flag for followup” flag ability.

In other words, add the post notice, and schedule a future-flag for the post to remind you to do the clean-up too.

Having a collection of moderator-editable default post notices similar to the off-topic close reasons, in addition to the standard ones, and then having the 'other' reason too (like off-topic close), would be ideal.

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