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I had comments deleted on a question, losing some interesting information, which prompted me to raise this meta.vi question about how to see comments.

This meta.SE question shows that there is indeed no current way of viewing deleted chatty comments.

I understand that some comments containing sensitive information shouldn't be shown after they are deleted by a moderator, but in the majority of cases, it would be show how the question and answers developed if the comment history were viewable.

So I propose:

To implement a way of allowing users to see the history of deleted comments, and for those with delete comment privileges to be able to opt-in to hide the deletion from this history.


Also note that this related request is about users seeing deleted comments on their own posts, and doesn't mention sensitive information. This is about users being able to view all comment history except comments marked as sensitive upon deletion.

  • or those with delete comment privileges they are called "♦ moderators" and they already have the option to show deleted comments. – Glorfindel Sep 28 '17 at 7:15
  • @Glorfindel Sorry, I intended that users be able to see history of deleted comments, and have updated to reflect this. – Tom Hale Sep 28 '17 at 7:19
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    Well, all I can say it that's not the point of comments: meta.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/comment They're meant to be temporary, and any meaningful information should be in the post itself. – Glorfindel Sep 28 '17 at 7:22
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    @Glorfindel In my experience, this roll-in to the question is not done - I see many useful answer upgrades kept in comments. Useful information can be lost. – Tom Hale Sep 28 '17 at 7:32
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    That's true, but that means that you're now trying to solve a possible symptom and not the root cause. – Glorfindel Sep 28 '17 at 7:34
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I talk about this in an answer to a related question, but allowing people to view deleted comments would cause problems. The vast majority of comments that are deleted contain no useful information whatsoever, and many are abusive in various ways.

Moderators have operated under the assumption that deleted comments will not be visible to anyone, so we have not done anything to redact or otherwise remove the most vile of these. If this was made retroactive, we'd have to go back through hundreds of thousands of deleted comments and find all the slurs, personal threats, doxxing incidents, medical records posted as sample data (yes, this happens), and so on hidden within them in order to mark them as sensitive.

That's not going to happen, so this measure would need to only occur from this point in time forward, and moderators would need to change our workflow to accommodate this.

I have observed that deleting rude comments helps stop fights before they begin, and making these visible to members would work against that. It would allow people to revisit grievances and would perpetuate feuds. No comment deleted as being rude should be visible using this measure.

This process would also be introducing another step in the handling of comments. Moderators would not just have to decide if a comment should be deleted, but whether it should be hard deleted or deleted and kept around. This would slow down comment handling and would be yet another source of potential arguments with the community. "Why did you hard-delete my comment instead of soft-deleting it?", etc.

While there are benefits to allowing people to see deleted answers and questions, I don't see those same upsides to making deleted comments visible.

  • In addition to this, moderators already have the option to soft-delete comment by moving them to chat. – Martin Tournoij Sep 28 '17 at 16:48
  • Totally agree it would be for future comments only. No point in going back in time. Thanks for the perspective you gave. – Tom Hale Sep 29 '17 at 4:07

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