7

What is the correct way to get rid of old unnecessary comments?

I often visit one of my old posts and see that the comments have become "unnecessary", I then want to get rid of those comments.

The problem

If I want to get rid of an old discussion where I’m the author on some of the comments, what is the correct way to flag the comments?

  1. Delete all of my own comments and flag all other comments as "No longer needed".
  2. Flag all comments (that are not mine) as "No longer needed" and wait to delete my own comments.

My thoughts

Approach number 1: By doing it this way, the discussion will not make sense if the reviewer decides to keep the flagged comments.

Approach number 2: By doing it this way, there’s a big chance that I will forget to go back and delete my own comments.

What do you think is the best way to do this?

  • 5
    You somehow missed the obvious option 3: flag for a mod and explain which comments to delete to cleanup the obsolete discussion. Flagging multiple comments just creates more tasks in their review queue and doesn't add context why the comment should be deleted. – Tom Jan 1 at 22:28
  • @Tom - That's what I do, too. Jdrupal, you have the time to read through the comment chain carefully and figure out which segment should go. A mod will be pressed for time and won't be able to take the time to figure it out. And yes, a flag on the first comment, or on the post, works well in my experience. – aparente001 Jan 2 at 7:56
  • If there is a total of more then 4 comments and all of them needs to go, flag the post for mod attention and ask to nuke all comments with a small motivation. Efficiency for you and the mod. – rene Jan 2 at 9:37
14

I think the best way is to delete your own comments first because:

  1. You can, and you are already reviewing the comments on that post
  2. That makes the other comments obviously unnecessary and easy for moderators to delete when flagged to review them

Doing it the other way means moderators may spend more time trying to figure out whether they really are unnecessary.

Any time comments are being used for discussion rather than seeking post clarification I think they are on borrowed time.

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7

I'd go with 1 - that's kind of the least workload involved.

Practically for me the 'ideal' workflow is

  • If its your answer, or you have an answer, to try to work in pertinent information in there. If its not your posts, see if you can work in information from the OP's comments respecting the OP's intent. Comments are primarily intended for clarification after all. One often finds that its possible to distill down a fairly large comment thread to very little.

  • Delete your own comments. This way you don't need to wait for a mod or the OP to review, then review again. Mods have visibility to deleted comments so we can review the fuller context of the comment thread.

  • Flag comments no longer needed. Whether its one comment or everything - depends. I tend to read through and selectively delete anything that's obsolete. Some mods prefer you flag specifically what needs to go. Some tend to just purge, and undelete as needed.

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  • 1
    How about flagging first comment with custom flag saying complete discussion is obsolete? If there are 5+ comments this seems easier than flagging each comment individually. Even if you remove your own comments before flagging. – Resistance Is Futile Jan 2 at 9:33
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    That works too. But I'm not going to chew out someone for a single no longer needed or a custom comment. I suspect a majority of comments deleted are from standard flags – Journeyman Geek Jan 2 at 9:37
-2

I usually follow a different approach than the two listed ones: I keep my comments and flag the first comment of the discussion for mod intervention. This enables me to explain which comments are part of the discussion and explain why I deem them obsolete now.
The acting moderator, on the other hand, still has the full discussion, thus the context of each comment, and can then decide what to do. Maybe nuke all comments, preserve some important information from the discussion, move them to chat instead, etc.

I would also assume that this has the advantage of adding only one item to the mod-only review queue instead of multiple ones. But that alone isn't a strong argument against option 1 or 2, though.

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  • 4
    Moderators can easily see deleted comments, so it helps to see which ones you’d like to remove. Also, the community can help get rid of obsolete comments by flagging them as “no longer needed”, so by deleting your comments and making it obvious which parts of the conversation are no longer needed, and then flagging the obsoleted comments, you may help move things along without moderator intervention. – ColleenV Jan 2 at 17:48
  • When you organize the cleanup in a chat, then this might work, but I don't think enough users will flag those (old/obsolete) comments, when they are just "passing by". – Tom Jan 2 at 17:52
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    It depends on the size of the site. I was surprised by the number of community handled comment flags in the end of year stats posted in the site metas, although that might have been mostly SmokeDetector. Regardless, it works the way you do it, but you don’t have to hold off deleting your own comments for the mods’ sake. – ColleenV Jan 2 at 17:55

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