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Yesterday I've made a comment on Meta Stack Overflow expressing my objection to being classified by generalization as a rep*****. Later on, the answer got edited by bluefeet, which is fine since the user gets notified of this and can react however he or she believes is appropriate (e.g., accept the edit, roll-back or delete the answer). The edit is also clearly attributed.

However, my comment got edited too. And I got no edit notification and the comment is fully attributed to me. It's bad enough when my comments get deleted because some of the delicate flowers that post the well-written questions we see in such abundance are offended by German directness, but I would really prefer if my comments don't get changed without at least notifying me (or even better not changed at all). So please implement user notification for this or take away the ability to edit comments from moderators.

  • Nah, if you need to redact comments, just nuke them altogether and let the user try again. No new features needed. – Bart Jul 28 '16 at 10:39
  • @Bart Then the last half-sentence of my question applies. – Roland Jul 28 '16 at 10:40
  • Correcting a mistake you made: we don't get notified when a comment we posted is deleted, or even when a post is deleted. What gave you this wrong impression? – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Jul 28 '16 at 11:17
  • @ShadowWizard Where did I say that? (And I'm also not happy with that.) – Roland Jul 28 '16 at 11:20
  • @Roland "which is fine since the user gets notified of this" – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Jul 28 '16 at 11:21
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    Wait, I missed this on the initial pass over your link, but someone used an offensive term. You object to being referred to like that in your comment, but choose to repeat it. And now you're upset a (possibly) equally offended moderator sanitizes both posts, yet doesn't harm your expression of displeasure ... you've lost me here. – Bart Jul 28 '16 at 11:21
  • @Roland also, you're using wrong term here. "redact" means hard delete a revision of a post, it's not possible for comments as far as I know. They can only be soft deleted. – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Jul 28 '16 at 11:22
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    I don't know why this is so heavily downvoted, as it makes perfect sense to me that comments shouldn't be edited by other users (even if they are mods) without leaving any evidence. It is bad enough that my comments keep being deleted on a daily basis because some crybaby didn't like something I said, but completely rewriting a comment and leaving it under my name is absolutely ridiculous and seem not appropriate even for an overly moderated site such as SO. – David Arenburg Jul 28 '16 at 11:23
  • @Roland I will, while you can try and learn the terms. Cheers, and I'm out. – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Jul 28 '16 at 11:23
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    @Bart First of all, I have no problem with the word itself. It accurately describes the behavior of some users. Then the mod replaced it with something that I wouldn't have chosen. That's the only reason why I've noticed at all. I don't see the need for any moderator action at all in this case. – Roland Jul 28 '16 at 11:26
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As a moderator, when I come across a comment that contains an insult or offensive wording, I have three options: delete the entire comment, edit the comment, or leave it alone.

If there's little redeeming value to the rest of the comment, and its removal won't tear apart a conversation, I usually delete the comment. It's the easiest way to deal with rudeness or offensive material, and 80+% of comments flagged for rudeness are simply deleted.

In the rare cases where the insult or rudeness are somehow core to the conversation (this is almost always localized to discussions on Meta about someone's behavior), I'll leave the comment alone.

I am reluctant to edit the comments of anyone, because I am afraid of putting words in your mouth. However, I will edit a comment if there is redeeming value in it that makes me hesitant to delete, and there's a clean way to remove an insult or offensive content without altering the intent of the comment. For example, I frequently come across comments like this on Stack Overflow:

You're an idiot. The C specification states on page 123 that the behavior of the froop function is undefined under the following conditions: [conditions].

The first sentence can easily be removed without changing any of the wording in the remainder, preserving that useful information without the insult. I'm not altering someone's phrasing, just cutting out an irrelevant insult.

Again, almost all of the time we'll just delete any comment containing insults or offensive wording, but there are rare cases where I feel it is justified to edit comments to preserve content.

Comment handling is by nature quiet. You don't get notifications on deletion or edits of your comments largely to prevent fights over trivial matters from escalating. It's my experience that silently removing arguments and insults is extremely effective at stopping feuds before they begin. Providing notifications to remind people of arguments is a surefire way to cause them to blow up.

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    Instead of silently removing it, you could replace it by [rudeness redacted by Brad Larson]. – Roland Jul 29 '16 at 9:29
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    @Roland - That still draws attention to the fact that there might have been rudeness. As I state above, I've found that it's more effective to quietly remove rudeness in order to take the oxygen out of arguments. I don't think we need placeholders for every future visitor to see that someone was being rude. – Brad Larson Jul 29 '16 at 15:08
  • "It's my experience that silently removing arguments and insults is extremely effective at stopping feuds before they begin." I agree there, but what if the involved parties have already viewed the comments? It feels like rugsweeping at its finest. – Emilie Sep 17 '18 at 15:15
  • @Emilie - It's more about preventing future flare-ups. The deleted comments are still accessible by moderators and staff if long-term behavior needs to be taken into account or acted on, so they're not hiding from their history. It's more to prevent the parties involved from being reminded of past insults or rudeness and reigniting old fights. – Brad Larson Sep 17 '18 at 16:33
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Moderators really shouldn't edit offensive or just non-constructive comments at all. Because there is no history available, editing them is inherently problematic. It is also not necessary as simply nuking the comment entirely is usually an acceptable choice anyway.

There are a few good reasons to edit comments as a mod, e.g. to fix broken links in an answer converted to a comment. But I don't use the ability at all for actual moderation, I simply delete comments.

So I don't think notifications makes any sense, instead we should make sure the moderators know the disadvantages of editing comments and avoid it in any potentially problematic cases.

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    Sorry, but not good enough. I generally trust moderators, but nobody should have the means to change my words without me getting notified if they are signed with my name. – Roland Jul 28 '16 at 10:50
  • @Roland so you'll be horrified to know that changing less than six characters in a post (by 2k user, not suggested edit), also doesn't send any notification to the author. (it's known as "trivial edit") – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Jul 28 '16 at 11:14
  • @ShadowWizard I'm not exited about that, but there is a fundamental difference between question/answer posts and comments. The latter express my personal views and are not generally subject to edits. – Roland Jul 28 '16 at 11:17
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    @Roland on the contrary. Comments are minor. Not important. Temporary. – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Jul 28 '16 at 11:20
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    @ShadowWizard There are many comments on this site that are 3-6 years old. And who cares if they are "minor" or "temporary"? Would you agree that I'll login into your account and spread comments under your user names all over SE? I don't understand what's going on here. – David Arenburg Jul 28 '16 at 11:27
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    @David of course not, but that's never the case. As the author of this answer (who is long time moderator on several sites) said, this power is used only to correct small issues or remove obvious offense from a rather good comment. They should never totally rewrite a comment. (And if they do, it's cause for reporting them to SE team. They won't risk losing their diamond for something like that.) – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Jul 28 '16 at 11:30
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    You can't report what you don't know ... – Roland Jul 28 '16 at 11:33
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    @ShadowWizard Comments have never been that. That may have been the intention of Stack Overflow, but that completely failed. – Konrad Rudolph Jul 29 '16 at 13:03

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