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Anyone who has been participating on the main recently will understand what I am asking.

Comment sections for many Q&As are being inundated by 20-30 comments per.

In questions such as this, I have deleted recent answers because the number of inbox pings exceeded what I would like to see in the morning. Most had nothing to do with me, just cross-argument between experts who chose my thread to post on.

I spend a lot of time doing Search&Destroy on personal comments, and often on those of other users...but it is out of control.

So...What's going on?

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    I’ve often suggested that comments should be permanently abolished as a feature from main, but users appears to prefer to be inundated by useless stuff and let the mods do the dirty job. As an alternative comments should automatically be moved to chat so that they don’t litter questions and answers on the main page. – user 66974 May 9 at 4:09
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    Sometimes a simple reminder to users to get off your lawn is suffice for two users who are having a discussion or seem to be bickering between themselves. Then you could ask them to delete some of their obsolete and off-topic comments, I've done that in the past rather than flagging for removal because mods will, when faced with a railroad of comments either migrate it to chat (best scenario) or cull the entire fleet, and then you lose some wonderful insights and reflections. Forever. – Mari-Lou A May 9 at 8:16
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Caedite eos: novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

I can’t tell you. Perhaps moderators have been distracted by other things.

What I can tell you is that I just deleted nearly 300 flagged comments.

I didn’t look at them: ain’t nobody’s got time for that dreck. So I shot them all, sight unseen. Most went to chat rooms, and those that did shall never return — for such posts are forevermore barred from comment.

Amen.

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    Cue protests from users who will argue that their comments were helpful and/or were asking the OP for clarifications. However, I think it's a loss for the community when your comments, araucaria and that of John Lawyer's have to be deleted. But everyone's got to be treated equally, right? I mean each and every comment posted is always going to be rubbish and a waste of time. Right? – Mari-Lou A May 9 at 7:16
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    @Mari-LouA They're almost all in chatrooms, except mostly for ones that were flagged as offensive. – tchrist May 9 at 11:24
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    Thanks Tom..I just realized how thoroughly you have gone through some of my posts and their bloat... – Cascabel May 10 at 18:32
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TL;DR> Obviously, Cascabel here is flagging comments, and others do that too. But not enough people are chipping in to help.


In addition to tchrist's answer, note that moderators are exception handlers. The community is charged with moderation; moderators — unless they step in to nip something in the bud — deal with what the community cannot decide on.

If a comment is no longer necessary, flag it. Yes, it will go into the moderators' flag queue; but another flag (or maybe two) from members of the community will deal with the comment and remove it from moderators. If particular users get too many flags on their comments then moderators might get to know of that.

However, please don't search out comments to flag, particularly from posts which are years old. Those are unlikely to be flagged by others and will simply languish for moderators to deal with. Flags like that are more likely to be dismissed as unhelpful — the comments have been around for ages without harm and you've just dumped a load of ancient stuff on moderators' laps.

Of course, everyone would benefit if those who debate answers in comments actually wrote their own answer that could be voted on, and those who answer in comments actually wrote a real answer. If that's not done, then any pearls of wisdom may well be lost forever when moderators simply clear their queue. The community can help here by actively flagging recent comments which don't follow the guidance: it doesn't take many flags for a comment to be removed automatically, and after a while people may get the idea that comments are intended for a certain purpose.

Providing an answer which might "normally" go in a comment is still providing an answer. It may not be entirely complete, and others are free to build their own answer on that foundation; but if you're going to provide an answer, any answer, then put it in the answer box. Even if it's only a foundation for others, if it's actually useful it's unlikely to be voted down (I hope).

It's also possible to copy an answer-in-comment to the answer box and provide an actual answer; and flag the comment as No Longer Required. It would be good practice to acknowledge the source, but whether or not to make it a Community Wiki answer is up to the person who bothers to write the answer. Again, serial answerers-in-comments might get the message.

As Mari-Lou says, sometimes a simple reminder to users to get off your lawn is suffice for two users who are having a discussion or seem to be bickering between themselves. By all means flag such exchanges: moderators may deal with them before the community accumulates enough flags, but flags on comments are counted.

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  • Hi Andrew. Does this mean that comments that attract 3 or more flags will automatically delete without Mod participation? – Cascabel May 10 at 17:54
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    It is certainly the case that the system will delete comments with enough flags. I believe it's two flags in most cases. There's probably an MSE post about it. – Andrew Leach May 10 at 17:57
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    @Cascabel The more heavily upvoted a comment is, the more flags it takes to delete (it requires one more flag for every 3 upvotes, rounded up). There is a guide to comment flags on meta that has some good information. – ColleenV May 11 at 13:20
  • I flag a lot of comments. I think the system needs only 1 flag to immediately delete a brief "Thanks" comment with no votes. For "thanks" comments that don't fit this algorithm, & for similarly terminal comments, I reckon about half my flags result in immediate deletion, which suggests mine is the second flag. – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica May 12 at 0:53
  • But thanks @AndrewLeach for the encouragement to flag longer comments that are no longer necessary. If multiple users start doing this appropriately, then the system will delete the comments & thereby lighten the mods' endless review load. I'll now be similarly vigilant on the other 3 sites on which I regularly carry out community moderation tasks. :-) – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica May 12 at 0:58
  • Your one point I disagree with is "if you're going to provide an answer, any answer, then put it in the answer box". I find it endlessly frustrating to find certain high-rep users wilfully posting answers in the answer box on blatantly off-topic questions, and when challenged, they say they're just trying to help the OP. I prefer to post a comment explaining why I'm about to VTC, plus a link to the [Ask] and [Tour] pages, plus if I'm up for it, "FWIW: [brief answer]". I strongly believe that bad questions should NOT be answered in the answer box. – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica May 12 at 1:07
  • @chappo I agree bad questions should not be answered: they should be closed. In those cases, a comment might accompany a close vote. But if a question is good enough not to be closed, it should be answered. Where a poor question is actually answered, the answer will be deleted when the question is. – Andrew Leach May 12 at 6:55
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    I'd love to believe that incomplete (yet helpful) answers won't be downvoted, but honestly, that's not my experience. Unless you're 100% right and complete your answer will be downvoted. Heck, sometimes it's downvoted even when it is right, because it's not exhaustive. – FeliniusRex May 18 at 20:21
  • I tend to flag the last few comments in a chain - usually trying to hit both users. Are you saying we should go through and flag every comment? That's pretty tedious and uses up a lot of flags. – Azor Ahai -him- May 18 at 20:44

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