I do not know if many comments are actually flagged and deleted. But if many are deleted due to flagging, then what about showing those using some strikethrough and an explanatory tooltip for (say) one more hour? That way, everyone can learn from it:

Mockup of deleted comment

Some thoughts on that:

For example "+1" and "belongs on" comments may be flagged for automatic removal without the commenter being notified, nor punished. For the "+1" comments Jeff wrote in August 2009:

I'm actually ok with flagging meaningless comments like this, since

  • there's no actual penalty to the user when a flagged comment is removed
  • the flagging comment process is basically 100% automated and doesn't require any mod intervention

[..] added "noise" as reason for comment flagging. Please use it on egregious non-value add comments that are noise and not signal.

I assume this works fine, but neither the original commenter nor the rest of the audience might notice that things have been deleted. Also, temporarily showing the deleted comments might make some more people start flagging noise, in due time resulting in less new noise being posted by oblivious users who think they're doing great by copying behavior?

I think that even showing plain offensive comments for some longer time won't hurt, would it? And do we expect that showing strikethrough comments makes people post new comments about the deletion?

It's not a big issue at all, but currently deleted comments are not deleted from the database, hence showing them for some more time might not be too difficult?

  • Note: I removed your comments from the question I migrated back to SO, since they have no need for our 'internal' discussions.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jun 27, 2010 at 20:01
  • I changed my mind after what you said, so I moved it back :-P
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jun 28, 2010 at 5:56

3 Answers 3


Is 1 hour sufficient, though? Is it perhaps too long, in fact? You can't really predict how many people will run across a particular post for a period of time. Moreover, how many of those people will already know of this fact. Often enough, "belongs on" comments are probably seen more often by the people who already plan to flag them. It's likely they're also seen just as often, if not more, by the people who could learn from their deletion, but there's no real method of knowing when those people will hit the right posts.

If "some time" is too short, then no one gets the message and it's meaningless (mostly derived from how SO has visitors every hour of the day). Likewise, the original author of those comments (whom you state may learn from seeing their comment visibly deleted) isn't necessarily going to be around on the period of time a comment is flagged.

And if "some time" is too long, then it undermines the entire purpose of flag-based deletions (which is to get the 'offending' material off the site as soon as understood, offending being used loosely here). One hour, I can't even tell whether that's too short or too long, myself. If it's truly offensive material then it's too long, and if it's potentially useful to know about it not being allowed, then it can be too short.

I think that while the goal of this proposal is good in intention, I don't think it particularly yields well in practice. It is a good idea to know what should not belong on the site, but I don't particularly find it a good idea to keep undesired things on the site in order to instruct that message.

  • Agreed. Even more: the timer would probably not start until the final (I think I read 6th somewhere?) flag for deletion is submitted. On the other hand: off-topic questions are not deleted for at least 48 hours either. Is that just to avoid confusion for the question asker? Or maybe there's something educational in there as well? (Just being curious; not saying some statement is true while another is not.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Jun 27, 2010 at 19:29
  • @Arjan The 48 hour delay on closed questions being deleted, as I've understood it, is to allow appealing the close. It's that 2 day period for people to keep the question alive. Comparatively, a question flagged for offensive content gets deleted and locked immediately. I guess comments are treated like that, because the flagging is for offensive and spam just the same as posts. Noise comments really are also useless for the most part, so I can't see any such being appealed. Not to say that people haven't appealed comments on Meta before.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Jun 27, 2010 at 20:22

I'd rather that these comments were permanently visible (with a strikethrough, and perhaps a darker background colour) to 10k+ users and the comment author, just as deleted questions and answers are visible now. It would provide for a more clear indication of what happened to the conversation.

  • 1
    I'd get on board with the modified background colour; strikethrough is tough to read. I think there would need to be additional control over this, though, as some people may not want to see deleted comments, particularly in very active questions.
    – Jon Seigel
    Commented Jun 27, 2010 at 20:35
  • If (optionally) seeing deleted comments wouldn't bother you, or would even help you, then maybe that's a different feature request?
    – Arjan
    Commented Jun 27, 2010 at 20:56
  • I don't see much utility being present in giving this ability to 10k users. 10k users can see deleted posts in order to moderate them, that's the primary purpose. But 10k users can't vote to delete or undelete comments like they can posts, so there is little benefit from the viewpoint of policing. Likewise, you don't get community-deleted comments the way you get community-deleted posts. There are just flagged comments and self-deleted comments, neither of which I really think serves the 10k officers any useful purpose by being visible.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Jun 27, 2010 at 21:49

How about adding a message to the thing that has been commented on, and provide a mechanism for displaying the deleted comments, for example:

"This question / answer has had some of its comments deleted. Show them."

  • This function exists for moderators.
    – user157130
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 11:46
  • 1
    @Tim, Is there any reason to not allow it for all users? (or users with a certain amount of Awesome Points?).
    – Spycho
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 12:19
  • I'd like that, but only if it would not include comments that the author deleted themselves.
    – Arjan
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 16:20

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