The feedback post for the moderator review and reinstatement processes has been up for multiple days, and after refreshing my page this morning, I noticed that the majority of comments on the thread were deleted.

To show you what I'm talking about, here's an archived version of the thread from yesterday. It shows that yesterday there were approximately thirty comments on the thread, including a largely significant one with 620 points that read:

It's like Monica doesn't exist and you never hurt her badly. Before trying to fix the least of our concerns, come clean with Monica. Either prove she did something terribly wrong justifying what you did, or make a public apology. Continuing to the next phase of discussing theoretically what you should do in the future, means you don't even care about the past. – gdoron

Only five original comments on the thread remain and none of them were posted after October 21st.

Now, I'm not a high-rep user and I can't confirm who deleted these or why, so here's my questions:

  • Why were these legitimate community concerns deleted/censored?

  • Who deleted these comments? Was it a staff member or a moderator?


I'm going to explain something. I'm not asking about how the comment system works. I'm not asking if a certain number of flags could cause a comment ot be automatically removed.

For twenty-five comments to get removed at once seems like more than flagging could handle. All I want to know is the reason they were removed. If it was some crazy coincidence, then feel free to close this question.

  • 17
    comments are transient. It's easier to delete all of them than some of them. I bet a lot of them were unpleasant … that's certainly been the case on all the other posts in this clusterwhoops. Oct 27, 2019 at 12:23
  • 1
    The FAQ How does comment voting and flagging work is relevant.
    – Raedwald
    Oct 27, 2019 at 12:24
  • 8
    Comment upvotes don't make a comment exempt from deletion.
    – rene
    Oct 27, 2019 at 12:25
  • 3
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of How does comment voting and flagging work?
    – Raedwald
    Oct 27, 2019 at 12:28
  • 11
    Allow me also to say that the question reads a bit as a threat. You seem to assume bad faith with words like "censored" and making a distinction between if a staff member or a mod deleted those comments. Does it matter? I don't think so, unless you (or you expect others to) plan on doing harm to that individual. It is unlikely they are coming forward if question is stated this way.
    – rene
    Oct 27, 2019 at 12:32
  • 2
    See the FAQ How do comments work. Comments are disposable and can be deleted without warning.
    – Raedwald
    Oct 27, 2019 at 12:34
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of How do comments work?
    – Rob
    Oct 27, 2019 at 13:55
  • 5
    We all understand that comments are transient. That doesn't mean regularly nuking them for no reason and with no warning and on items of substantial controversy is a good idea. You'd be better off just turning comments off if you're going to do that. Oct 27, 2019 at 17:42
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit there's no way to turn off comments while still allowing answers on a question. There's no comments-only lock. Oct 27, 2019 at 17:44
  • 1
    @Rubiksmoose They've had over a decade to code that feature. It'd probably take, what, a day? Sorry, no, I'm not buying it. Oct 27, 2019 at 17:46
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit Um I'm not quite sure what exactly you aren't buying here, my only point was that currently there is no such option available to moderators CM or otherwise. There's pretty much nothing in that statement "to buy". Here's that FR though if you wanted. Oct 27, 2019 at 18:09
  • @Rubiksmoose I'm saying the best thing is to do is to implement the feature, not continue on this ill-advised policy of CMs deleting everything all the time. Defending the latter with "they cannot currently do the former" is vacuous, and that's what I don't "buy". Thanks for linking me to the FR though; I'd never seen it before (jokes: you'll notice I posted on it six years ago!) Oct 27, 2019 at 18:14
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit actually I don't see your name there at all! But I'll trust you if you say it's there. Regardless, glad you found it helpful. Oct 27, 2019 at 18:47
  • @Rubiksmoose I've deleted it now. It was there when you linked to it. Oct 27, 2019 at 19:09

2 Answers 2


If the comment in your question is an example of the comments that were removed I would say they were removed correctly.

The question and answer is about a new process to re-instate moderators. On Stack Exchange comments should never have been implemented but once they were we agreed that those comments should be used to ask clarification or point out problems.

I don't see how comments that try to have an argument / show disgruntlement about a strongly related but for the Q/A in question off-topic debate needs to be entertained. Those shouldn't have been posted in the first place. Now complaining the comments are deleted is a bit counter intuitive. If anything I would ask: What took you so long.

It doesn't matter who handled the comment flags. All users with diamonds here are capable of judging if a comment fits the goal stated earlier. If they don't get passed that check, they are gone.

If you think those comments hold valuable insights / (counter) arguments to any related issue, I invite you to summarize those comments and post an answer on one of the already available questions on the topic those comments seem to discuss. And answers are, assuming they are meant to have a reasonable exchange of ideas, less likely to be deleted with a few flags.


Flags without moderator action (DEBUNKED)

Why were these legitimate community concerns deleted/censored?

The simplest explanation, I thought, would be a number of flags. This means it may not have been a moderator or a staff member who initiated the deletion.

After being pointed to the appropriate FAQ on deletion of comments from flags, this seems unlikely to be the case.

From the FAQ:

  • If a comment is flagged by a sufficient number of users, it will be automatically deleted. There is no penalty for this. Flagged comments will be surfaced to moderators, so if you have a problem with a comment, flag it.

    • If the comment has no upvotes and no "trigger" keywords, three flags from users will delete it.

    • If the comment has upvotes, it will require more flags to be automatically deleted: one more flag for every 3 upvotes, rounded up. (For example, a comment with 1 upvote requires 4 flags to be auto-deleted, and one with 8 upvotes requires 6 flags).

    • Comments containing certain "trigger" keywords are deleted instantly after a single flag, regardless of upvotes. The list of trigger keywords is kept secret, and may differ per site.

    • A single flag from a moderator will instantly delete the comment.

A number of posts here have indicated that there has been coordinated flagging. That's normally accepted, but it may cause flags too appear so fast that posts are deleted before any mod even notices the flags in their moderator tools. This was explained to me in a comment by shog9♦:

How do you think I saw the flags come in, @jjj? There was an 'other' flag, and while I'm reading the post suddenly 5 abuse flags. – Shog9♦ Oct 24 at 3:14

Coordinated flagging has happened a lot recently, according to a comment by shog9♦ (emphasis mine):

Rude and offensive is a high bar, @srid - particularly when it's obvious that flags are being coordinated in chat to force deletion. That's been happening a lot lately, and it's gotta stop: there's gotta be more wrong with the post than an unpopular opinion or observation."* – Shog9♦ Oct 24 at 2:59

Coordinated flagging has been common practice here, according to an answer by Rene under the Looking for stats related to possibly coordinated comments flagging question:

You don't need all these stats. Coordinated flagging of dubious posts and comments has been done and is still done by at least some of those that watch / visit the Tavern on the Meta.

  • 5
    I think it should be nice to note that the comments Shog made were on a post about a flag of yours being declined... so about a post where you flagged rude/abusive in combination with 4 others, apparently within seconds. So, unless you also targeted the Moderator review post with comment flags... I don't think you have anything to fear :)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Oct 27, 2019 at 14:14
  • 4
    We are talking about a comment that: (1) Though pointed, is far from being rude, offensive or abusive; (2) Is aimed at SE Inc. generally, and not at a specific employee, user or group of users; and (3) Stayed up for five days before being deleted. Taking all of that into account, it is very unlikely that specific comment was automatically deleted through flag accumulation.
    – duplode
    Oct 27, 2019 at 14:14
  • 4
    @JJJ Well, I'm going by a bit more than just this answer here (you link to several posts and comments after all, which give me the impression you're a bit worried people are targeting things for flagging), but if you'd rather hear it rephrased: Relax, there's nothing fishy going on with targeted r/a flags on the now-deleted comments and you took Shog's comments (which were about your declined flags seemingly being targeted) out of context to imply others are doing this too.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Oct 27, 2019 at 14:20
  • 6
    @JJJ Well, hence me trying to satisfy your curiosity by confirming that there wasn't anything to see on that particular comment thread. I'm not sure what more I can do if replies to people's curiosity are only raising higher levels of curiosity :|. Talking about that, you link to posts about post flags, and to comments about declined post flags. Remember this is about comments, and the flag rules you quote in your answer aren't even applicable to comments and comment deletions. It kinda makes this not an answer, even though it's accepted :/
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Oct 27, 2019 at 14:49
  • 3
    If you really feel there's targeted comment flagging, perhaps raise a few custom moderator flags on posts. We can save those up and inspect them more easily than having to go searching for questions, answers, and possible comments that express worries about targeted flagging.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Oct 27, 2019 at 14:49
  • 10
    The backstory here: I've seen folks posting links in a few different chatrooms along with explicit requests to flag. This is dangerous; we should never be asking people to act blindly. If you're gonna ask for help, identify a problem and ask folks to use their judgement in helping you to resolve it - and be willing to accept that they may see it differently and offer alternative solutions. Related: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/256501/…
    – Shog9
    Oct 27, 2019 at 15:08
  • 4
    @Tinkeringbell Sklivvz's comment also points to targeted flagging and I will also add my voice to seeing this in at least one chatroom (I cannot state whether the targeting was deserved as the ones I saw were deleted so fast I rarely got to actually see the comment itself - the ones I saw 1 was obvious, most others were questionable - not the start but I started seeing it here).
    – LinkBerest
    Oct 27, 2019 at 15:20
  • 9
    This meta is the FAQ reference for comment flagging. A comment with 620 upvotes would require hundreds of flags to automatically delete (3 + score/3 = 210) - at that point I think you can be pretty sure a mod manually reviewed it.
    – Em C
    Oct 27, 2019 at 15:36

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