If there is a discussion in comments for clarifying an answer or question that are made irrelevant by updates to the Q or A, should all the comments in the discussion then be flagged as noise?

By irrelevant I just mean comments that no longer make sense since the original content they referred to has been changed. I don't mind light-hearted or slightly off-topic comments that otherwise make sense in the context of the latest version of the question or answer.


There are now more options for flagging comments, e.g.

comment flagging dialog showing options

Hopefully that clarifies comment flags a bit, we saw a very low "hit rate" on comment flags and we think asking people to provide a reason has helped a lot.

  • So in this specific case, "obsolete" would be the flagging reason? – Kate Gregory Jun 4 '11 at 23:46
  • @kate yep that's why we included it – Jeff Atwood Jun 5 '11 at 3:05
  • Should comments containing broken links be flagged as obsolete? posts? – Nikana Reklawyks Nov 7 '12 at 0:35
  • @LeVieuxGildas sure, why not? – Jeff Atwood Nov 7 '12 at 1:33

Be consistent with what you consider "noise."

In-taste jocular comments shouldn't be flagged as noise, in my opinion.

Just beware of stripping the site of personality by excessive flagging and removal.

  • I'm only concerned with references to content that has been updated and made irrelevant, so that would only include joke comments that no longer make sense as a result of an edit. – Mark Cidade Feb 8 '11 at 3:38
  • 3
    Agree, too many people want drain all the fun from the site :) – Nikita Rybak Feb 8 '11 at 3:38

If there's only one or two comments that are no longer needed, then flag them individually as noise.

If there are many comments (such as part of a long discussion) then flag the answer or question to which they are attached for moderator attention and add a note indicating that many of the comments are no longer needed.


Mainly, because you seem to be solving an imaginary problem. I've never heard anyone complain about few slightly digressing or not relevant comments.

Also, because half of the questions have somewhat off-topic comments and we don't have nearly enough moderators to handle them all. Especially, because detecting spam or abuse is a matter of seconds, but detecting relevance requires reading whole thread and deep understanding of the subject.

In general, comments on SO have always been on the verge of 'noise'. Of course, you're free to solve this 'problem', but you can't expect moderators to approve them all.

  • I've updated my question to clarify what I mean by irrelevant. – Mark Cidade Feb 8 '11 at 3:43
  • @Mark Still, I see no problem. And still, forming your own impartial opinion about whether discussion is still relevant is... wearing. IMO, members of discussion are in much better position to negotiate removing of the thread. It's easy to do through the comments. – Nikita Rybak Feb 8 '11 at 3:47
  • How can they negotiate removing discussions without further commenting? – Mark Cidade Feb 8 '11 at 3:49
  • @Mark "@A question was updated, I delete my comments now" If I'm user A, I have no option but to delete my comments also. I don't want it to look like I'm talking with air :) – Nikita Rybak Feb 8 '11 at 3:52
  • I've considered that but I'm concerned that some people wouldn't realize that they're left dangling and wouldn't clean it up themselves. – Mark Cidade Feb 8 '11 at 3:54
  • @Mark And in any case, communicational problems is no reason to shift this job onto moderators. They already have enough to do. – Nikita Rybak Feb 8 '11 at 3:55
  • @Mark Again, they would just look silly, not much harm :) – Nikita Rybak Feb 8 '11 at 3:56
  • It's potentially confusing and even more noisy to have broken discussions in the comments. I agree, re: moderators have enough to do, but @Pollyanna suggested that in lieu of a new feature to automate this, that I should notify moderators. – Mark Cidade Feb 8 '11 at 3:57

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