Comments are great for annotating questions and answers but are lousy for dialog between users to pin down clarifications that may ultimately be reflected in the question or answer itself. Unfortunately comments are currently the best that there is so far, so until a new feature is added there is going to be an unmaintainable build-up of comment cruft, including comments that are made irrelevant by later edits to questions and answers.

There have already been feature requests here on meta for things like threading comments, notifying comment authors about comment deletions as well as automatic comment deletions. I understand why these have been rejected. The fact of the matter is that discussions-via-comments often lead to improved question and answer quality but I think that there needs to be a way of removing discussions and references to outdated versions of Q&As after the question and answer has been improved upon clarifying what the author was trying to convey.

As an example of what I mean, have a look at question 4928930 where an ill-posed question was salvaged by a dialog that forced the asker to have a good look at his code but now all these irrelevant comments everywhere remain.


Flag questions or answers for moderator attention when the comments are no longer needed.

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  • For long discussions (more than three comments), I don't want to wait 5 seconds between flagging. – Mark Cidade Feb 8 '11 at 3:22
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    @Mark - Flag the answer or question itself, with the note that many of the comments attached to the question or answer need to be removed. Don't bother flagging every single comment. – Pollyanna Feb 8 '11 at 3:24

Comments on troubleshooting questions like this one often have value and shouldn't be deleted. They are useful to future visitors because they show how to react to problems of the same nature as the question, and what kind of debugging steps are useful, and (if the visitor ends up posting a new question because his problem isn't completely identical) what information needs to be in the question.

When comments purely lead to clarifying the question (as opposed to adding more information), they are often superfluous, and you can flag them (or the question, if there are many comments) so that a moderator will remove them. But that's a decidedly low-priority action compared to improving questions and answers.

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    I just meant clarification comments. – Mark Cidade Mar 14 '11 at 22:10

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