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It seems like, in the past few weeks, suddenly lots of questions are being "locked" to disable/hide comments. (Eg) To my knowledge there was no "comment war" or such for these questions, they were just arbitrarily locked.

Is there some reason for this change?

Can anyone explain what metrics are being used to decide which questions to lock?


My main complaint is that all comments are (at least temporarily) erased, hiding valuable contributions to the discussion.

But there's also the point that this change in policy occurred rather suddenly, with no explanation. It leaves contributors feeling that management of the site is incredibly arbitrary, turning on the whims of a few big-wigs.

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    My interpretation is the mod team, or specific members of it, have started taking a harder line on forcing people to post answers proper and not create long comment chains. I don’t agree with it, but I think that’s what’s happening. – Dan Bron Jul 11 at 17:21
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    Posted just two days ago: Why are we moving all the comments to chat? – Mari-Lou A Jul 11 at 17:56
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There are no metrics. There is only the decision of individual moderators. If this were something an algorithm could do without human judgement in the loop, it would. But it is not.

The aim is to encourage actual answers to questions asked. We are a question and answer site, not a question and comment site. Comment abuse breaks the SE model.

Just as soon as people stop abusing the comment system by putting answers there and getting into long chats, then comments will no longer need to be deleted, moved, locked, or all of those. But while this abuse continues, they will.

This is the standard answer to all gripes about comments, and it will not change until the commenters do. Probably we should dupe-close all such questions.

We will not fight the forever war. Expect future answers to be shorter than this one.

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    Neener neener, beat you to it, in a comment. – Dan Bron Jul 11 at 17:22
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    Is it absolutely necessary to lock comments for as long as 7 days? Would not one day achieve the same thing? – Mari-Lou A Jul 11 at 18:22
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    @Mari-LouA Nothing is “absolutely necessary”. Available options are for an hour, for a day, for a week, and for an ever. :) It's not rigorous, but the more the commenting, the longer the locking. A day is usually good enough because it stops folks who are sitting around for new questions to appear so that they can be the fastest one to answer those questions via comment-abuse from doing so. :) – tchrist Jul 11 at 18:29
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    I agree with @Mari-LouA's hint... a week is too long. Consider for just a day. – Mitch Jul 11 at 21:29
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    Yeah...it's a newbie. That is basically a death sentence. Comments are intended to help out the noobs. – Cascabel Jul 11 at 22:12
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    @Mitch I've fixed that one now. I remembered that there was one where my finger mashed the wrong part of the phone, but it's much easier to figure out which one when you go back to find it if you use a real computer. – tchrist Jul 12 at 2:33
  • While it is true that 'comment abuse breaks the SE model', commenting itself doesn't; the possibility of commenting is a feature of the SE model. It is understandable that moderators intervene when there is actual abuse, but the OP says 'to my knowledge there was no "comment war" or such for these questions' which suggests that the moderators are also intervening on the basis of a mere suspicion that a particular question might provoke comment abuse. – jsw29 Jul 14 at 15:58
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    @jsw29 Absolutely. People keep answering in comments, there end up being no actual answers which means that we have failed as a site, and the asker goes away with the end-result there are no new additions to our library of expert answers. We might as well not exist at all as a Stack Exchange site given that terrible situation. It is impossible to keep up with this. So I've been putting brakes on it for a day when new questions appear that seem destined to draw those and break the model. Would you prefer that we suspend people instead? – tchrist Jul 14 at 16:21
  • @tchrist, when the question was raised in December, you said that 'nearly every question I've locked already had comments when I locked it', presumably of the offending kind. Now you say that you do so 'when new questions appear that seem destined to draw' such comments. To make the Hot Licks' question more focused (and not a duplicate), has anything in particular happened between December and now that prompted that change in policy? – jsw29 Jul 15 at 15:31
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    @jsw29 More comment abuse. It's almost like it now happens on every single question. Questions don't get answered. It's a problem. – tchrist Jul 15 at 20:46
  • @Cascabel I don't understand the reason behind editing your answer but keeping it deleted. What are you saying that is so controversial that only 10K users can be trusted to read it? – Mari-Lou A Jul 17 at 6:03
  • @Mari-LouA When I realized the question was a dupe I deleted the answer...I thought it wasn't ethical to post answers to Qs we VTC? – Cascabel Jul 17 at 12:41
  • It's not an abuse; it's a legitimate response to the poor design fit of the SE model of Question-Answer to the discussion topic of "English Language and Usage", where there are no answers because only the wrong questions are being asked. I like the 3-vote close rule, but I prefer to answer when possible in comments because nobody ever finds the multiple answers I've made to similar questions. Answering questions in official Answers is pretty useless. – John Lawler Jul 17 at 14:33
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    Would it make sense to post a comment, migrate it to chat to create a room for discussion, then lock the comments? It’s not ideal in a lot of ways, but it might be better than no way to post discussion at all. I personally think comment locks and the way they’re being used here are good, although I understand way it upsets sone folks. It would be nice to have a way to link a related question without having to leave a comment though. – ColleenV Jul 19 at 16:56
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First and foremost:

This is not a discussion site, by charter.

In the past, the common failing of other sites for hackers was that good suggestions were often hidden in the flow of comments from well-intentioned contributors.


This is a Question/Answer site, created with the idea of providing real and workable answers--not just suggestions buried like tiny flecks of gold in a never-ending stream of dross.

If you go back into the history of the site, you will see that SO was designed to resolve this issue, and we are only a minor subsidiary of Stack Overflow. A user should come here looking for a specific answer to question; if the question resonates with many other users it gets up-voted.

We accept that question provided it is not already here as a duplicate, or easily found in General References, and is absolutely off-topic based on "gimme da code".

Answers get up-voted if they are helpful for other users.


Comments are supposed to help provide clarification. On other sites that I participate on, comments are just deleted, without even being archived in chat. I think moving to chat might be a better solution.

That said, I think chats get deleted after a few months if there is no activity.

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    @HotLicks...Random thoughts...I miss the to-and-fro of puns and witticisms, but we need to accept that that chit-chat belongs in chat, and not in comment. On the other hand, some ripostes have been classic, and I hope will be preserved ...some of my favorite moments recently include your comments; however, it occurs to me that many users consider this site to be a home...but unless we are actually librarians, we are still only visitors – Cascabel Jul 11 at 21:36
  • Although this is, indeed, not a discussion site, but a question-and-answer site, comments do have a role to play on it. It may be debatable what precisely that role is, but they cannot play any role when commenting is disabled. It is not obvious that preventing some arguable abuse of comments is worth the price of precluding them from being used in worthwhile ways (whatever precisely they are). – jsw29 Jul 18 at 15:59

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