I put a lot of effort in writing comments in a conversation, arguing against one initial comment made by another user. That user finally deleted her original comment, as well as an ulterior one, rendering the whole conversation meaningless to any other potential reader.

I can understand that one would not like traces of its past errors to remain forever visible on the Internet, but it is obvious that everybody is exposing himself to that when posting on Stack Exchange, and should accept the risk. The conversation was polite and, to my mind, interesting – deleting it does not do any good.

I find it rude and disserving to the community to thus break a whole conversation. My comments now seem to spring out of the blue – you can guess what that makes me sound like.

If the deleted comment doesn’t come back, I’ll have to delete my comments and consider my time lost. Maybe I’m wrong in caring about that, and I got too invested in commenting what went a bit off-topic (but not that much).

Still, I find this pretty rude on the part of the deleter – although she did post a comment saying that she deleted her comment (actually, she deleted two).

The conversation is here, right below the original question: Should we use "in terms of"?

I did read Edit makes comment meaningless: Now what? and Flagging makes comment meaningless. So deleting or flagging my own comments as obsolete seems to be the right thing to do now.

But I’m unhappy with the time wasted, and, most importantly, I disapprove of that user’s behaviour. What can I do? Would I be right to comment that such a deletion is rude?

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    I pretty commonly delete my own comments, and flag the other ones, where I'm not a mod. Sometimes it takes a while. Getting invested in comments... eh, not worth it man not worth it. Comments are not conversations anyway, comments are clarifications. Nov 11, 2017 at 11:34
  • @JourneymanGeek Well, I think I got baited by a comment that actually should have been an answer. But what to do when such comments spread misconceptions? Guess I’ll have to accept that state of things. : ( Nov 11, 2017 at 11:51
  • Is there something wrong with my question, or am I being downvoted because I’m considering speaking my mind to the other user? That would not be fair: I’m asking for advice, not doing the thing; furthermore, judging this is not the purpose of votes. Nov 11, 2017 at 12:00
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    Meta voting is.. odd. I do find sometimes people do get a bit annoyed at certain issues that constantly come up, or presumably affirmation for getting annoyed at something that's part of the normal way of doing things. I for one didn't vote either way. Nov 11, 2017 at 12:05
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    Deleting comments is never rude. Comments are temporary, never meant to be permanent. Nov 11, 2017 at 15:07
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    You're probably being downvoted because it isn't uncommon for people to complain about deleted comments. Searching first probably could have answered 90% of your question. Tl;dr: comments are meant to be temporary. Nov 11, 2017 at 15:23
  • I did search, and did mention some results in my question. If there is already an answer to “I disapprove of that user’s behaviour. What can I do? Would I be right to comment that such a deletion is rude?”, I’d consider the right thing to do not to downvote, but to mark as duplicate, as downvoting is supposed to mean: “This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.” I do understand I’m not the first user to complain about comments rendered useless (nor about obscure downvoting), but my question was about how to deal with some specific behaviour. Nov 11, 2017 at 18:24
  • So it seems that the consensus is as @ShadowWizard says: it wasn’t actually bad behaviour. But I can’t agree that “deleting comments is never rude”. We’re having conversations in comments, and shutting down an ongoing civil conversation without the consent of the other participants, without proper closure (“OK, we won’t agree on this”, “Well, I realize I was misleaded”, etc.), is rude. I consider this the equivalent of turning your back to someone while they are talking to you. Maybe I’m just being oversensitive. Nov 11, 2017 at 19:37
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    @Pal Don’t have conversations in the comment section take it to a chat room.
    – Ramhound
    Nov 12, 2017 at 0:39
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    @Pal yes, oversensitive indeed. When things get heated in comments I'd usually back off, sometimes deleting my previous comments. Not to be rude, just to not leave my mess behind for others to clean up. Nov 12, 2017 at 10:24
  • It seems not all of us are using the word “conversation” in the same sense here. Indeed we are having a conversation right now. And keeping conversations in comments readable is the main purpose of the @user syntax. Nov 12, 2017 at 14:47

3 Answers 3


So deleting or flagging my own comments as obsolete seems to be the right thing to do now.

That's exactly the right thing to do. Yes, it sucks that you've been made to look a bit foolish or potentially rude, but comments are, as we keep saying, not meant for ongoing discussions. They are ephemeral and can be deleted (for various reasons) with no notice.

If there are a lot of comments it might be better to raise an "Other" flag on the post explaining that all of the comments are obsolete. Don't say anything in public, but in the flag say something along the lines of

"can you clean up the comments here because X deleted their comment making the rest useless".

Then the moderators will be able to spot if there's a pattern and deal with it.

  • OK, but should I stay silent about the deleter’s behaviour? If I do, this will happen again. Nov 11, 2017 at 11:18
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    @Pal - Don't say anything in public, but say something along the lines of "can you clean up the comments here because X deleted their comment making the rest useless". Then the moderators will be able to spot if there's a pattern and deal with it.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Nov 11, 2017 at 11:23
  • Well, I’ll follow your advice. Thank you. Nov 11, 2017 at 11:43
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    Since the link explicitly says "add a comment" and given that comments on most popular websites (and in the English language) actually mean ... comments, I can see why new users would get confused when we say, "comments are not meant for posting comments". It would have been much less confusing if the link said "suggest improvement" and/or "request clarification" (rather than burying it under meta and help pages). Then there would be no reason for anyone to complain about their comments getting deleted.
    – Masked Man
    Nov 11, 2017 at 17:50
  • @ICanHazUpvotzPleez where do I say that "comments are not meant for posting comments"? We say that they're not meant for ongoing discussions or answers, but requests for clarification, pointing out errors etc are welcome.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Nov 11, 2017 at 17:52
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    @Chris You don't say it. The SE site does. A comment could be anything. "I love this answer.", "The weather is good today." are also comments. If we want to restrict "comments" to specific use, we should make that clear to the users, otherwise it is just bad UI. Is there any reason why "suggest improvement" should be labelled as "add a comment". I don't see any. That was my point. I wasn't trying to criticize your answer.
    – Masked Man
    Nov 11, 2017 at 17:57
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    @I Can Haz Upvotz Pleez It does say it once the comments reach a certain length. It points you to a chat room. Nov 11, 2017 at 19:42
  • If you are submitting “I love this answer” as a comment expect it to be flagged and deleted
    – Ramhound
    Nov 12, 2017 at 0:40
  • @Ramhound That is my point. Their UI asked me to add a comment, so I added a comment. What is the problem? If they want "comments" to contain only suggestions for improvement, label it as "suggest improvement", not "add a comment".
    – Masked Man
    Nov 13, 2017 at 18:26
  • @Carcingenicate Why not say it right away? Besides, it only says comments are not for extended discussion, which also makes no sense, because in the real world, comments could be for extended discussion, among many other things.
    – Masked Man
    Nov 13, 2017 at 18:28
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    @ICanHazUpvotzPleez - You have been notified that "thanks for the answer" is the type of comment that will be removed. The fact you don't read the documentation is perhaps the reason you were not aware of this fact. Compliments which do not add new information ("+1, great answer!"); instead, up-vote it and pay it forward; every single SE website as a similar page within their help center.
    – Ramhound
    Nov 13, 2017 at 18:53
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    @Ramhound I am well aware of the fact. Nonetheless, it is bad UI to use misleading text on your link. Burying the details in the documentation when it could just as easily be made obvious from the get go and then trying to justify it by blaming the users is poor design as well. I still do not see any reason why the link should not be 'suggest improvement', how about you specifically answer that?
    – Masked Man
    Nov 13, 2017 at 19:01

You need to write comments knowing that they could be removed at any time, by different parties. If you want to chat with someone, open a chat room (although I think that has a rep requirement).

If the other person deleted their comment after being corrected, they were in the right since their comment no longer contributed to the question/answer. You should have then deleted your comments as well since they were no longer contributing. Comments are meant for clarifying the question/answer. Wasted time sucks, but heavily investing in comments isn't a good idea in the first place.

If you have a large contribution in the comments that you don't want removed or taken out of context, consider making it an answer. Many times I've converted comments I've written to answers, since I felt they by themselves were a positive contribution. Bonus: you can get rep for answers; although of course the comment has to be a possible answer for this to apply, correcting a misconception is a potential case. You didn't say if your comments were actually ontopic to the question or not.

Case and point, I wrote this over two comments, then decided to make it an answer.


I put a lot of effort in writing comments in a conversation

And that's pretty much where I stopped on this one. As the site will doubtless have told you many times "Comments are not for extended discussion; would you like to move this to chat?"

If you'd said Yes, the site would have stripped the entire fracas between you and Mr Wrong into a chat room where you could have gone at it hell for leather until the internet was fixed, and future users wouldn't have to suffer a litany of arguing

Think of SE sites as like "a dictionary of problems and solutions". If you flip open the Oxford, you don't see wads of small italic text under a definition, where two learned peers debate the etymology of every single word. SE is for facts, and answers are facts. Comments that are facts should be part of an answer. Comments that are opinions are weeds; pay no mind if they are removed

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    Never seen that message in five years. Again, the fact that comments get deleted wasn’t my complain. But you say you didn’t read my question before answering… Nov 12, 2017 at 14:36

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