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I think the title says most of it, but when you follow a post you get notifications in your inbox about comments made on those posts. These notifications persist even after the comment is deleted even if you no longer follow that post.

For me I can see comments on this RPG.SE post in my inbox, even though they've since been deleted. The comments are from June 7th so I doubt it is any sort of timing issue. Assuming I have understood the following post, what I'm experiencing should not be happening:


Currently I do not want to share screen captures (I shouldn't be able to see these comments at all), but if those would be required I can do so.

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    Did you view the inbox notification before the comment was deleted? If so, then it's following the same practices as the OP's inbox. If the OP has already viewed the notification, it sticks around. If they haven't viewed it, it disappears when the comment is deleted. I'm pretty sure this is intentional so that people don't get confused about why something they'd already seen is now missing... but I'll see if we can look into whether this should be identical for followers rather than the OP.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jun 22, 2020 at 14:54
  • @Catija I viewed the comment from the upper-right inbox drop-down thing (though not from the actual "all items" inbox if that makes any difference). Have I understood what you've said correctly: If I post something and somebody comments on it and I click through to the notification, that comment will persist in my inbox? Meanwhile if somebody pings me in a comment on a post I do not own that comment will not persist? Jun 22, 2020 at 15:01
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    Not quite. If you create the post, follow it, or are pinged in a comment, the behavior is the same - if you view the notification in the inbox while the comment exists on the site (before it's deleted) the notification will stay around in your inbox. If the post the comment is on is deleted or if the comment is deleted but you had not viewed the inbox before that deletion happened, you will not see the notification the next time you view your inbox. This means you can continue to see the comment in your notifications if you'd already seen it but you won't see it if you'd never seen it.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jun 22, 2020 at 15:08
  • @Catija My experience doesn't seem to fit that description but oh well, I think I'm just misinterpreting things. I also don't need to understand all the specifics so it's alright. If this post should be deleted or edited in some way, that can certainly happen Jun 22, 2020 at 15:15
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    It's a valid question so I wouldn't delete it. It's possible that we should reduce the noise of deleted comments for users who are following rather than pinged or the OP. It's worth thinking about.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jun 22, 2020 at 15:16
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    Getting back to this: I've added this for us to revisit. When the product team addresses this, they'll have more updates here.
    – Jon Chan StaffMod
    Aug 5, 2020 at 21:39

1 Answer 1

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I tested this out and it appears to be working as designed:

  1. If you follow a post and someone else comments on it, you are shown that there is a new item in your inbox (through the red number indicator)
  2. If you view the notification for the comment in your inbox and after that the comment is deleted, the notification stays in your inbox. We don't delete notifications that you have already seen.
  3. If the comment is deleted before you view the notification, then the item is deleted from your inbox, and if you click on the inbox you will not see it.

I am pretty sure that the scenario that you described is #2. I have not been able to reproduce unintended behavior here.


user followed post
comment then access inbox
deleted? it stays

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  • If the comments were deleted because they violated the CoC in some way, is it safe to assume they would be deleted even if they have been viewed?
    – ColleenV
    Jan 18, 2021 at 16:31
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    @colleenv we do not have any extra provisions in place to delete inbox notifications related to coc violating material if they were seen prior to the relevant content being deleted. So that is not a safe assumption to make.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Jan 19, 2021 at 1:25
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    It would really suck to have an abusive comment that I reported stuck forever in my inbox where I can stumble upon it over and over just because I followed a post. I don’t see any way to clear a notification I don’t want to ever see again. Am I missing something?
    – ColleenV
    Jan 19, 2021 at 2:30
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    @ColleenV I understand your concerns. Please submit a new feature request if you feel like this is something that we should consider addressing.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Jan 19, 2021 at 7:04
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    I don’t see removing content that has been identified as violating your CoC from every place where it occurs as a “feature”. That seems like something SE would want to make happen. Are you saying SE wouldn’t close that hole if someone doesn’t ask you to on meta? I’m not going to file a ticket. This doesn’t affect me. I feel really bad for the person it might affect in the future though, especially when I look back on some of the drama folks had to suffer through last year.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 19, 2021 at 12:02
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    @ColleenV you can call it a feature or a bug. I would be happy to see it happen. And if it was a trivial amount of work, it would be relatively easy to do. However, it will be quite complicated. Would require adding in the facility to define a comment as CoC-violating (this is not included in current deletion functionality) and then monitoring this to change the inbox deletion criteria. (1/2)
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Jan 19, 2021 at 14:20
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    @ColleenV This is weighed against other work in the pipeline, how often something like this occurs, and how much it might affect folks if it were to occur (given that the inbox only shows a certain number of characters, as well as items falling off the top of the inbox after a certain period of time (depending on the user) and therefore no longer being visible. Not impossible for this to be done without a post, but given all of the different things that we are working on, it is more likely for something like this to be completed if there is lots of support for it as a Community Request. (2/2)
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Jan 19, 2021 at 14:23
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    I understand. I know there’s probably all sorts of reasons it’s not easy to do. It just seems odd to me to put the onus of prioritizing removing abusive content from inboxes on the community. I’m not trying to beat any one up here or demand any commitments. Just expressing my opinion from the outside not knowing anything about the constraints the dev team is under and pointing out a problem y’all might not have noticed.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 19, 2021 at 16:38

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