There are quite a lot of apparent monologues in comments which where actually replies to other comments leaving an incomplete conversation. If the original commenter wants to delete his comment, those who replied should be notified and be required to agree so they can delete their possibly then obsolete reply.

Since comment-replies are detected this should not be too hard to implement. However, if the original commenter changed his username, this change would somehow need to be detected - maybe see here for a possible solution.

edit Notification separated here, feel free to vote this down if you do not like the veto-part.


2 Answers 2


Your suggestion would require that the way comments are implemented be changed. Currently, the @reply system attempts to match the first three characters against the list of people who have commented on that post. It notifies the most recent commenter that matches (and the post author). It does not save that information, which means that if a user changes their name, it is impossible for the system to determine who the @reply was for.

That being said, I'm still against your proposal. If I post a comment in the heat of the moment, or post something laughably or rudely incorrect, I want to be able to delete it. Especially if someone else comments on it and points out the error, then I want to be able to remove the offending or problematic comment. I should always be able to do that, because if it is bad for SO then I should be able to get rid of it. Especially items that make me look stupid, if someone could just type "@Devin" and then lock my comments in permanently, that's not really fair.

I think it IS a reasonable suggestion to notify those who have @replies that a previous comment was deleted. But as mentioned earlier, with name changes and name collisions, this is nearly impossible. The other side is that sometimes people have conversations in comments without the @reply syntax, so they would still be out in the cold. Unless you notified everyone on the comment thread after the comment. And that would be annoying.


Your proposal seeks to make it harder to delete comments. Instead, we should make it easier to remove now-obsolete comments. If comment authors could validate obsolete flags against their own comments, then somebody deleting his half of a conversation could flag those comments. If the author agreed, they'd get deleted -- but you have to allow authors to object, because sometimes we see people try to use flags to remove content they disagree with, and that's not really in the spirit of the flagging system.

Comments are meant to be temporary. If the author of a comment wants to remove it, we shouldn't be discouraging that. If the information has lasting value it should be in a question or answer. Yes, occasionally people rage-delete comments that were useful but not answers -- for example, links to related information -- but most of the time, in my experience, people deleting their own comments are trying to improve the site, not damage it.

  • I agree the commenters themselves should be informed about obsolete flags, but maybe on the other hand there should also be a "convert into answer" flag to prevent said information loss. Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 6:54
  • @TobiasKienzler it's usually a pretty weak answer that can fit in one comment. Answers can be downvoted (which might be why people leave comments), so letting anybody other than the user impose that rep penalty by converting his comment into an answer feels questionable. If somebody wants to answer he should answer; if he commented and his text isn't there any more when he decides to write an answer, well, he'll just have to do it again in the correct place this time. Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 14:46
  • You should spend some time on math.SE ;) There are many "answers" which unfortunately do fit into a comment, and some users there out of some weird sense of modesty don't post them as answers. My personal opinion: Anything you put out on the internet can and will be judged, whether there's a vote button next to it or not. So users shouldn't abuse comments for non-clarification to start with, and it's a shame that some information can be banned into oblivion so easily... Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 7:59
  • @TobiasKienzler I wouldn't understand the vast majority of math.SE's content. :-) I thought most math answers would require both the space and the formatting of answers (y'all do expect people to prove and not just assert, right?), but maybe my impressions are being unduly biased by university calculus. Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 12:58

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