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I was in the process of cleaning up some of the older comments I made and came across this message:

You have already deleted your own comments from 20 posts today; further deletes are blocked

Simple question, but why? To the best of my knowledge, comments aren't supposed to be substantive material, so we should be allowed to cull them as needed.

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    Everything on the Stack Exchange platform is throttled. – Robert Harvey Oct 20 at 17:14
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    @AnneDaunted Oh no! Someone quickly deleting many rude comments! We cannot let that happen! (Eventually, someone might even start deleting ironic comments ;-)) – Marco13 Oct 20 at 17:37
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Simple question, but why? To the best of my knowledge, comments aren't supposed to be substantive material, so we should be allowed to cull them as needed.

We should be allowed to clean them.

On the other hand, without that you could potentially start harassing people leaving rude and abusive comments and cleaning them fast before they can be flagged. Another case is posting spam comments and also deleting them.

I suppose that allowing deletion of only certain amount of comments prevents potential comment attacks and allows that such users can be caught and dealt with.

Moderators can see deleted comments, so eventually such abuses could be caught anyway, but that would require much more work and detection tools.

  • Why would it require detection tools? As you said, moderators can already see deleted comments – dustytrash Oct 20 at 19:23
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    @dustytrash Because moderators would have to read all the comments to find bad ones. If you cannot delete comment, someone can flag it. That way, moderators only have to deal with flagged comments. – Her Majesty Queen of ARC Oct 20 at 19:26
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    We did actually have an instance of someone pinging someone with a harassing comment, leaving it long enough to show up in their inbox, then deleting it before it could be flagged for mod attention. It wasn't that hard to fix once the person being harassed figured out they should just flag anything for moderator attention instead of trying to flag the comments, but it was not a happy situation. – ColleenV Oct 20 at 21:25
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    @ColleenV that exact situation happened to me about one week ago on here, on MSE. There were even 1 or 2 former moderators who explicitly condoned the behavior (the person doing it was part of the LGBTQ+ community, and in their eyes he was just "lashing out at the oppressors"). I was called misogynist and racist slurs to my face. The user is now suspended but only for one month. – Hugo Zink Oct 21 at 7:28
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    @HugoZink I wonder what would happen if it was the other way around? – Her Majesty Queen of ARC Oct 21 at 7:31
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    @HugoZink A month is actually a reasonable suspension for a serious, but first time offense. Sometimes people get upset and do stupid, hurtful things. A month is usually enough time for folks to calm down. If the behavior repeats itself, most likely the suspension will be much longer. – ColleenV Oct 21 at 10:40
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Originally, self-deletion of comments was not throttled.

Instead, an automatic flag was raised when a number of comments were deleted in a short time.

This flag was shown to moderators and displayed in the 10k tools.

The flag was rare and not super-effective because even moderators cannot undelete user-deleted comments.

In 2013 the system changed to flag for moderators only, when upvoted comments on 20 posts were deleted.

The implementation was somewhat broken for a couple of years, but fixed in 2016.

In a comment on that answer, Shog9 said:

In the entire history of Stack Overflow, where millions of users have posted millions of comments, there are only a few dozen instances where anyone has deleted a significant number of upvoted comments in a day. ...
The only reason we even have a check for this is one time someone had to undelete a whole lot of comments and hated it.

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