At Aug 7 at 1:46 (2017-08-07 01:46:18Z) The Dude asked the question Is there a verb form of the word “agenda”, as in, to create a political agenda for or against something?:

Is there a verb form of the word “agenda”, as in, to create a political agenda for or against something?

It doesn’t have to contain the root word, but I would like at least a synonym.

At Aug 7 at 2:23 (2017-08-07 02:23:21Z) Phil Sweet posted this comment:

If one person sets the agenda, its called demagoguery. If a few people do this, its called oligarchy, If someone gets a bunch of people together and lets them decide the agenda, its called political organizing.

Some time, probably between 3:00 and 3:30, I posted a comment.  It was probably the fourth or fifth comment on the question at the time.  To the best of my memory, it was:

Maybe “plot”, “scheme”, or “strategize”?

I believe that these were valid, constructive suggestions for answers to the question — assuming that it means developing (conceiving) an agenda, and not manufacturing a document — but clearly not developed well enough to be posted as an answer — and definitely in the spirit of Phil’s comment.

At Aug 7 at 3:44 (2017-08-07 03:44:28Z) Yosef Baskin posted this comment:

I hear what @Scott hears, that the OP is asking about activism, not the open agendas of meetings. More like angling, jockeying, politicizing, planning behind the scenes, and conniving for hidden agendas.

So I got a ping in my inbox.  So I came back to the question to see how the conversation had proceeded, only to find that my comment was gone.  Why was it deleted?

P.S. Phil’s comment has three votes at the moment, and Yosef’s comment has one.

P.P.S. It’s sad how many questions similar to this one there are just on EL&U Meta alone.


3 Answers 3


Comments aren't always compared one against the other to decide if one should stay or one should go, or even if other comments need to be cleared. If it's flagged and the flag seems appropriate, it goes, either because enough flags were generated on that comment or because a mod pushed a button. It's a comment. Comments are transient bits of information, and unless they truly serve the purpose of a comment (to ask for clarification, etc.), then don't invest in them emotionally (take it personally when it gets deleted.) They may go; they may stay. It's not personal. There's no judgement on its value. Flagged comments are flagged by users, not mods, and users are legion and have their own reasons for flagging comments. (If the flags are declined often enough, the user will be penalized.) If multiple flags are raised on that post's comments, the mod has the choice to remove the flagged comments, move the whole kit and kaboodle to a chat room, or to delete the entire comment thread.

It's not personal. It's just the "mechanics" of Stack Exchange. (I'm not tech-savvy. There's probably a much better word for how a piece of software(?) is written(?).

Sometimes it might seem biased, but honestly, mods don't have a lot of time to check out every flagged comment for how it relates to others. Mostly it's chance.

What probably doesn't happen is that a mod looks at a comment thread they're interested in and decides, "Hmm. I don't agree with this comment, so I'm going to delete it." Mods are supposed to be impartial, and exception handlers, and for the very greatest part, most mods are just that.

So when a comment is deleted, it's best to just assume someone flagged it for some reason you can't understand and the process just worked the way its supposed to work when a comment flag is raised.

  • 1
    'Mechanics' is a good word for 'how the system works' to contrast with user behavior.
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 17:42

There is no "why" for comment deletions. There's just "comments are ephemeral".

While it's usually tolerated on ELU, it's not technically allowed to post answers in comments. Even if they're unsupported suggestions, technically they're still answers to the question asked, albeit of poor quality. Clearly, such suggestions are not asking for clarification or adding more information to the question.

And comments do not have the feature to properly vet whatever you say here so, without features like actual voting and wiki-style editing of content, answering in the comments defeats the purpose of having this Stack Exchange site. (paraphrasing Robert Cartaino's comment after purging a comment thread elsewhere in the network)

All that said, I do post suggestions in comments, like you and many other senior users here. What I keep in mind is that these comments can disappear any moment, and all I want is for somebody to make use of that information before it disappears, to post their own answer, which will then be vetted by the community.

I refer you to Tonepoet's answer here. It's something I fully agree with.

  • While what you say is true, it doesn't really answer why that specific comments was removed and others were not. I think comments should have an automatic expiry time ( sort of, after 12 hours they should all automatically disappear).
    – user66974
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 9:48
  • @Josh Ah, so others weren't removed you say. Strange. I see now.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 9:48
  • 2
    I agree with almost all of this answer, but not this: Even if they're unsupported suggestions, they're still answers. That statement is not true, and is actively harmful to suggest. If such comments were posted as answers, I'd immediate downvote, refresh the page so i could vote to delete, and flag as NAA instead. No, if such aids are going to offered, they are properly offered in the comments. If the comments don't want them either, then whoever would be helped by the information they provide, OP and those who come after, are SOL. But they are not answers.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 11:31
  • @DanBron The actions you'd take if such suggestions were posted in answer boxes, is exactly what the system wants you to do. Such suggestions should go through our reviews. Otherwise, someone coming here from Google or elsewhere would assume that those suggestions in comments are good solutions.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 11:53
  • 1
    @NVZ Yes, the system wants me to do it because we don't want such comments posted as answers in he first place. That is to say, your answer here should not suggest such comments should be instead posted as answers. They're posted as comments or not at all. That's the only point I was trying to make.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 11:54
  • 3
    @DanBron There is evidence which suggests otherwise: If you read the N.A.A. flagging text again, you'll see if it is an attempt to answer the question, it is an answer irrespective of any other considerations. If you read the editing guidelines, you will see that we may add related links and resources to a post, which makes no sense if it is already supported. Both the commentary and answer deletion guidelines make reference to some undefined concept of a "partial answer". Sometimes things need to just be voted against, and not deleted, and comments are really no better than answers anyway.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 11:57
  • I wish Robert Cartaino magically appeared here. He does so on IPS.SE, because it's in beta :)
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 12:01
  • @Tonepoet:  Thank you for your contribution.  There is an American comedian who has a running joke, “If something is in print, or it’s on the Internet, then it must be true.”  Let me emphatically repeat: that is a joke.  A definitive(?) reference is You’re doing it wrong: A plea for sanity in the Low Quality Posts queue (written by a moderator, with supporting comments by other moderators), which says that partial answers and even wrong answers should not be deleted from the Low Quality Posts queue  … (Cont’d) Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 15:05
  • (Cont’d) …  (although wrong answers should, of course, be downvoted).   (See also Should I be concerned about delete reviews on reasonable but brief answers?)  But, when you get the chance to spend a bit more time in the EL&U Low Quality Posts queue, you’ll see that coherent, constructive, and even correct answers with fewer than 200 words and three links routinely get ripped to shreds (i.e., deleted).  I invite you to join me in the EL&U LQP queue, voting “Looks OK” on partial answers. Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 15:05
  • 4
    @DanBron: Thank you for so eloquently articulating the very reason why a person who has something constructive to say about a question, but who doesn’t have 20 minutes to research it and polish it and pad it to a level where it can survive being posted as an answer, would choose to post it as a comment instead. Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 15:07
  • @NVZ: You agree with Dan Bron that unsupported suggestions that constructively respond to the question (posted as answers) should be flagged as NAA and deleted immediately? Have you read this and this lately? Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 15:08
  • @Scott I'm a bit tied up. I refer you to Tonepoet's answer here. It's something I fully agree with.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 19:27

First, regarding the other comments, they should probably be deleted too. The reason yours was singled out is probably because moderators usually delete flagged comments, because their attention is drawn directly to them and with enough flags a comment can be automatically deleted by the system too.

Comments are only supposed to be used for making suggestions, giving constructive criticism which relate to the post they address and giving hints that might lead to an answer, without answering the question. Attempts to answer a question have no place in the comments and there are many possible reasons for that. You should not be posting suggestions for the word as a comment. You should be writing answers, preferably with an explanation regarding why you prefer those suggestions and evidence to prove those points to make it useful.

The system is predicated on answers being posted as answers, and many forms of harm arise when they are posted as comments instead. Most of these harms probably will not make much sense to you, since you may not yet be entirely indoctrinated into the Stack Exchange philosophy but allow me to explain the most important one so it does not seem like an entirely senseless policy:

Comments which suggest answers clutter up space meant to address how the question can be made into an answerable question, and especially since they tend to elicit uninvited extended discussion regarding the validity of the answer. Also, once a certain number of comments are made, the rest are hidden from unsolicited viewing, and preference towards which comments are displayed are given to the ones most often marked as useful, as agreeable answers often are.

This combination of factors makes it harder than is necessary for people to find any comments which are actually serving the intended purpose of our commentary system and most especially the questioner, because they will have to read through all of the comments to see which ones are trying to address problems which may otherwise end up leading to the question's closure for any one of what I believe to be six or maybe seven common reasons. I would list those reasons, but question closure is beyond the scope of this question.

When an answer is posted as an answer, it gets its own commentary space for the comments it elicits which are less relevant to the question, and more related to the answer itself.

Now you may think you are helping by making quick suggestions which might solve the original poster's problem, but without explaining why those words are good suggestions, and how they can be used to solve their problem they probably will not realize why these words solve their problem or how they fit their given context. If it is a common word, they may have already considered it and dismissed it without understanding why it is the best word for their situation, and if it is a rare word, they probably do not know what it even means without needing to consult a dictionary and may still need further explanation to validate the answer. Anything worth suggesting here is probably only worth suggesting as a fully independent answer.

NVZ already mentioned that comments are only transient. It helps to keep the website looking neat, and the focus attention on the questions and answers themselves.

For more information regarding when you should, or should not comment, please read the help center's commentary guidelines.

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