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I haven't found an explanation on Stack Exchange about what's the difference between the concepts of answers and comments. If we can edit answers, why can't we edit comments too?

For example, I've found a comment (the second one in this answer) which has an incorrect link (the comment author states this himself), and we can't edit that incorrect comment. Why?

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    Note that even Trusted Users cannot edit the comments of others, only moderators can.
    – janos
    Jan 8, 2017 at 19:36
  • @janos what about 5 minute period for own comment? Jan 8, 2017 at 19:36
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    @SouravGhosh I think the question concerns correcting the comments of others (updated my comment now, within the 5 minute grace period ;-)
    – janos
    Jan 8, 2017 at 19:38

3 Answers 3

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Comments are supposed to be a lightweight mechanism to request clarification or otherwise suggest improvements to the post. They are not meant to be maintained as part of the canon of the answer itself.

As such, comments do not have the accountability and revision tracking of regular posts, so if a third party were to edit somebody's comment, there's no way for anyone to know what they edited or even that an edit has been made at all (i.e. there is no bumping of posts when a comment is edited).

At the root of what makes SE work is accountability and peer vetting. Comments are supposed to be a lightweight commentary mechanism, so we don't want to burden that system with the history tracking and user notifications needed whenever someone goes in and changes the words of another user. That is outside the purview of how comments are meant to be used.

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Comments are not meant to hold permanent information:

Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer.

If that's a valuable link (which helps in answering the question), it should be part of an answer (the current answer or a new one). A good alternative is to delete it and post the comment again, this time with the correct link.

Edits to comments are only possible by their author (until 5 minutes after they're posted) and later by nobody else but ♦ moderators; and they will do so only in very rare cases.

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First, the rules:

  • You can always edit your own comments for a period of 5 minutes.
  • You cannot edit (to be clear, nobody can, except for diamond mods) either your own comments after 5 minute or comments by others (any time), unlike a post.

Now, the justification:

Comments are second class citizens, they are there to serve temporary purposes, like

  • asking for clarification
  • proposing minor corrections (to avoid edit conflicts) etc.

A comment, on its own, is not supposed to hold any valuable information. If it is worthy of keeping forever, better to edit the post and add the information in the post itself. Otherwise, the comment can be deleted.

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  • What you say might be correct, but how is it answering the question?
    – yannis
    Jan 8, 2017 at 19:37
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    @Yannis I believe OP is under the impression that comments are also collaborative effort, they are not. Jan 8, 2017 at 19:38

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