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SE has a pretty well-defined concept of low vs high quality questions and also answers. See, e.g. this discussion and also this blog entry and also the tag. The general layout, voting apparatus and community involvement seems to do a decent job of optimizing the site for good questions and good answers. However, although there are general heuristics for deciding whether or not a comment is good or bad (e.g. this discussion and the comment policy), I get the impression that many people in the community feel that comments are largely irrelevant (e.g. this discussion, this discussion and the plethora of moderator-deleted comment threads)

Despite these indicators that the community may feel that comments are largely irrelevant, there seem to exist no statistics about the matter or direct community input on the scale of relevant vs irrelevant comments.

So, do you feel that comments are mostly irrelevant or not? In what ways are comments relevant/irrelevant and what proportion of comments generally fit this description? For example, an irrelevant comment may be irrelevant because it has simply outlived its usefulness, or it may be irrelevant because it was never useful and is either off-topic discussion or rude or etc etc. A relevant comment may be relevant because e.g. it provides "a link to a related question" or because it suggests a clarification in a post and is relatively recent ("should"s from the comment policy).

To clarify, I am NOT asking "what makes a comment a good/bad comment?" as this has been thoroughly hashed out, I think, in other threads pointed out above. The question is specifically about the rate at which good/bad comments are posted/deleted/continue to exist on the SE network. This may take the form of non-numerical input such as "the correct amount of relevant vs irrelevant comments given the nature of comments" or "too many irrelevant comments" or "not enough irrelevant comments I love comment thread off-topic discussion."

Also, I am NOT asking whether or not and when it is appropriate to delete a comment. This has also been addressed in other discussions. This is only about how many comments are irrelevant, and not about what we should do about them.

To reiterate, the question here is how many of the currently existing set of comments, as viewed from the perspective of the present (e.g. previously useful comments may now be un-useful), are relevant vs irrelevant?

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    Comments should not be high quality anyway. If a comment is really high quality, i.e. explaining something not clear in the post itself, it should be edited into the post and be deleted. – Shadow Wizard Mar 18 at 14:59
  • As for link to related question, it can be also edited into the post, e.g. "See also" section in the bottom. – Shadow Wizard Mar 18 at 15:59
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    Links to related questions in comments are a bit of hack anyway. I'd be pleased to see specific UI support for this function rather than (mis)using comments. – Paul White Mar 18 at 16:41
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    Comments, when successful, turn into edits that have a lasting impact on any given post. Good comments are suggested edits that needed a little discussion prior to being applied. When they become part of the post, they vanish. So .. how do you define quality, if adhering to the designed purpose also means deletion? At least not toxic or argumentative? Clever punditry? What's ... quality? – Tim Post Mar 18 at 17:50
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    @Scott a better term is: "still relevant" (keep), "already serves the purpose" (delete), and "irrelevant" (delete). And that's the point of comment flagging. – No Distraction Wizard Mar 19 at 11:05
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    I understand what you’re asking but not why you are asking. Can you clarify what you hope or intend to do or suggest as a next step when you receive answers? – Dan Bron Mar 19 at 14:36
  • Irony alert: the comments here just tripped the "too many comments" auto-flag. Are any of these no longer relevant? – Monica Cellio Mar 19 at 19:12
  • Probably all of them. Let's do an experiment. – Scott Mar 20 at 2:51
  • @Monica 1:0 to you. ;) – Shadow Wizard Mar 20 at 7:25
  • @DanBron given the community feedback from the current question and this question, I have proposed this feature-request. – Scott Mar 25 at 18:45

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