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Posting comments, like posting questions, should be seen as a consumable resource that can in fact be depleted. We should be encouraging users to post questions or answers, not comments.

Some Background

There has been a lot of meta discussion lately regarding moderating comments. For example, the +1/-1 debates, the reworking of comment flags. Issues with comment flags are not a new thing.

A year prior to posting this, in 2014, a similar idea was proposed to implement a selective comment ban. The similar proposal included a moderation tool which when manually applied would limit the user to not posting comments on other's answers, 1 comment per question, and only 3 comments allowed on each of their own post. It also included an automated metric to limit users @replies at a certain point and cut off comment use once the chat migration was offered.

Issues with previous suggestions

Previous suggestions were good, and I very much agree with their underlying theme, but there are several flaws with them. I don't think sending angry users to chat is a good idea, it is a little too instant if tempers are flared. It doesn't go far enough to prevent comment posting and it is possible limited users would barely even notice. It still requires a lot of manual handling.

We should focus more on content

Any clarification for a post can be edited into the post. That is where the information is supposed to reside in anyway. I see no reason to force post-significant information into comments as opposed to adding that information directly to the post.

Deleted comments can only be seen by moderators, and apparently they can be pretty toxic according to some of the moderators who see them often. So toxic in fact that there is even doubt 30k users should have access to them.

There should be more of a penalty for creating this kind of toxic content.

Any removal of a comment by flag other than "It's no longer needed. This comment is outdated, conversational or not relevant to this post." should come with immediate consequences towards posting comments.

There used to be a system which would give an error on posting a comment. "Please wait n seconds". Each deleted comment which had an associated flag (other than no longer needed) should come with a 5 minute delay that lasts for 30 days and stacks. So if a user has had 7 comments removed due to flags (other than no longer needed) in the past 30 days, they must wait 35 minutes in between posting comments.

A total of deleted comments should be compared with using some of the metrics the anti-recidivism considers for questions.

Sometimes users may foresee their comment being removed by a flag and delete it themselves. This may not be an issue for small amounts, but large amounts should be captured. If a user is removing 2 comments or more per day, that is a lot of clutter. For every deleted comment (regardless of how it was deleted) over 60 in the past 30 days they must wait 5 minutes in between posting comments. So if a user has 70 deleted comments in the past month, they must wait 50 minutes in between posting comments.


In today's environment, this is needed so much more than it was in 2015. While the original posting of this feature request foresaw the rise in problematic material, there is no longer any time to delay. Wild comment chains are now prolific and causing issues to the stability of the exchange as a whole.

  • Will other types of comments be affected by the suggested system, (such as partial answers that don't cause serious problems)? – Tautological Revelations Oct 29 '19 at 21:54
  • "It also included an automated metric to limit users @replies at a certain point and cut off comment use once the chat migration was offered." ~ Travis J (user). Basically, I mean minor or even trivial comments. – Tautological Revelations Oct 29 '19 at 21:55
  • @TautologicalRevelations - Not really, considering that those types of comments do not pose a problem, and should be easily avoided by the system. They would not rise to the sheer volume required to hit the throttle. Mostly, this would be in reference to users who have literally dozens of comments deleted by moderators on a semi regular basis. Further, it could also be prudent to note that answers in the form of comments are problems in and of themselves. There is nothing wrong with posting an answer which addresses a question, even if it is not a complete solution, so long as it is "useful". – Travis J Oct 29 '19 at 21:57
  • @TautologicalRevelations - I tried to edit the post to make it clear that I was referencing the other proposal to show that this is not similar, and that my qualms with the other similar ideas just increase such distance. – Travis J Oct 29 '19 at 22:02
  • Toxicity is never a good thing. People should be civil with each other. So, I like this question. The question is fleshed out. Thank you for your time. – Tautological Revelations Oct 29 '19 at 22:03
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    I'm not generally against that. But seeing how arbitrarily comments (by certain people, saying certain things) have been deleted recently, I'm afraid that any countermeasure may be abused, and if something may be abused, it will be abused. – Marco13 Oct 29 '19 at 22:09
  • @Marco13 - Moderator deletion from custom flags would simply go towards the total count. If someone has 100 comments deleted in 2 days, why should they be allowed to comment so prolifically at that point? They should be posting answers. Comments on own posts (where you are the author of a question or answer) are not subject to the throttle. – Travis J Oct 29 '19 at 22:38
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    So Shog's actually proposed something pretty similar before... more recently than this: meta.stackexchange.com/a/309344/284336 I've also been kicking around (internally) an idea for a "recently deleted comments" page to match the "recent deleted posts" page that will let users see their comments that were deemed worthy of removal along with any reason for removal but not who removed or flagged the comment. – Catija Oct 29 '19 at 22:45
  • @Catija - Yeah, I really liked that post as well as the question. The first comment on the question was me linking back here. As well, for a long time I pestered Shog about doing this (sorry Shog). Recently, I have moved on to pestering him about close reasons. Either way, I am absolutely not hardline about the structure being exactly as laid out here, only that it should really go in that direction. Any progress will be beneficial in my opinion. Comment throttle, Ask question duplication detection, close reason revisions; let's get back to basics :) – Travis J Oct 29 '19 at 22:50
  • @Catija - Also, just realized from looking a bit closer, the bounty on Shog's answer was from me :P – Travis J Oct 29 '19 at 23:19
  • HAHAHA. Well, there you go. :P It's kinda sad that we all have such awesome ideas for fixing things and we're so backlogged with other stuff that getting to the cool ideas is hard. But I'm looking forward to the next year. I think there's a lot of good stuff in the pipeline. – Catija Oct 29 '19 at 23:22
  • One thing that needs to be resolved before we start adding negative impacts for comment flags is that authors of posts can resolve their comment flags they’ve raised by deleting their posts: meta.stackexchange.com/q/280413/273494 – ColleenV Oct 30 '19 at 1:16
  • @ColleenV - I disagree. That issue you highlight can be abused to trigger catastrophic system actions against user accounts already. Using it to trigger a few minutes of delayed commenting at worst is not going to compound that issue. While it is important to fix security concerns such as that one, that should not detract from being able to move forward in other avenues. Moreover, while having a minor delay in comments will be inconvenient, the user will still be able to alert staff and easily locate the other user abusing the system without having suffered much consequence. – Travis J Oct 30 '19 at 17:22
  • @TravisJ That’s fine. I linked it because it was relevant, and it was pointed out that it wasn’t a big deal because comment flags have no real consequences. If that’s going to change, automatically resolving flags upon post deletion should be re-evaluated as part of that. – ColleenV Oct 30 '19 at 17:26
  • @ColleenV - I don't necessarily disagree with that. I mean, personally, I would rather that the auto resolve issue be handled regardless of other feature progress since it seems rather important and as demonstrated by others, kind of dangerous. – Travis J Oct 30 '19 at 17:29
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I like the idea, but see several issues with it as it stands:

  1. What about user's deleting their own obsolete comments? I shouldn't be penalized for cleaning up after myself.

  2. "Non-constructive" comments could simply be "You should do it this other way". Such comments are usually not "toxic".

  3. "Too chatty" could be construed as bad enough to warrant a rate limit, but the threshold should be much higher.

Basically, the only way I see this working would be on rude/offensive/spam comments. One may question the value of implementing that, as repeat offenders of such flags usually get handled manually by moderators and possibly suspended.

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  • I specifically outline not counting obsolete questions from flags. Are you honestly deleting hundreds of obsolete comments on a monthly basis? – Travis J May 1 '15 at 18:42
  • As to non-OP users, that isn't the case. The previous proposal includes the ability to respond on own post situations and that was what I was addressing. – Travis J May 1 '15 at 18:44
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    "You should do it like this" is probably going to be declined if flagged as non constructive. It is also a waste of time for mods to constantly deal with that type of comment, especially if one user produces comments which are being deleted of that type at a constant rate day in and day out. – Travis J May 1 '15 at 18:48
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    @TravisJ Hundreds? No. At the same time, it seems silly to penalize me for cleaning up my obsolete comments, but not for making a mod do the same thing. Points (3) and (4) were meant to address "It also included an automated metric to limit users replies at a certain point and cut off comment use once the chat migration was offered." and " It doesn't go far enough to prevent comment posting". For normal use cases, I don't think we should be trying to prevent comment posting unless the user has a history of offensive comments. – BradleyDotNET May 1 '15 at 18:56
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    As a moderator, I would like to have a finer-grained tool than suspension to slow down prolific posters of inappropriate comments. – Monica Cellio Jan 22 '17 at 2:33

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