Should we refer to a female "senator" as a "senatrix"?

I remember making a comment on why actor/actress and waiter/waitress are used but not author/authoress, but the comment is gone now. Who is responsible for its deletion and why was it deleted?

Also this is a second/third/(or perhaps even 10th, who can know, because we never get notified?) instance that one of my comments or answers was deleted without any notification, which frankly is such a nonsensical and counter-intuitive practice on this site that I'm frankly shocked it has not been addressed. How exactly are we supposed to improve our posting habits if we don't know the specific violations we committed? How exactly are we supposed to even know if the deletions were justified at all?

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    I think we are not notified in order to ease the burden for moderators. They already get so many flags and complaints, they would probably be swamped by complaints about deleted comments otherwise. Still, I think many SE sites delete comments too easily. But we can't change that. Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 20:46
  • @Cerberus ~ what burden would an automatic notification have on mods? Most sites already have a feature whereupon a deletion automatically notifies a user with no effort on the moderator's part. We live in 2016, not 1996
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 20:49
  • It would also decrease the amount of deletions because it would make the mod think twice before deleting perfectly suitable content. And frankly the mods are volunteers so if they don't desire a little more accounting for their own actions then maybe they shouldn't have signed up for the job.
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 20:59
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    I am surprised you have made it this far and yet seem to be unfamiliar with the SE comments policy, notably Comments are disposable… and they can be deleted without warning by their authors, by moderators, and in response to flags and Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer. You should not expect them to be around forever.
    – choster
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 21:18
  • @choster ~ are you implying that all comments should and have to be deleted? That would sort of defeat the purpose of leaving a comment, no? The post you linked to outlines the types of comments that are liable to be deleted. "In reality, many obsolete or chatty comments remain untouched due to the high volume of comments posted, but this does not mean that they can't or shouldn't be deleted in the future."
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 21:28
  • @Bobby''V0ight''Peru--------: More notifications for users → more complaints by users → more work for moderators? Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 22:19
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    @Cerberus ~ don't delete needlessly --> less notifications for users --> less complaints by users (such as this one) --> less work for mods (the people that volunteered to work on this site, of their own volition)
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 22:22
  • @Bobby''V0ight''Peru--------: Even if far fewer comments were to be deleted than now (which is a separate variable: we cannot influence it), notifications would still result in more complaints. Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 22:26
  • Per your feature-request, it has been made before as well: meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/3856/…
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 23:56
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    I remember that comment. It was to the effect that looks were important for actors and actresses and waiters and waitresses but no one cared how a senator looked. (I can't remember the exact words.) I found it (very) mildly offensive, but I never considered flagging it. Someone obviously has a thinner skin than I do, and a moderator agreed.
    – ab2
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 23:56

1 Answer 1


Our Help Center’s section on comments has the answers to some of your questions, including what comments are for and what they are not for. Did your comment fall into either of those two categories?

Understand that comments on Stack Exchange sites are unimportant ephemera that aren’t even searchable. They do not add value to the site. Comments are always subject to deletion without notice. Comments can be deleted by their owner, by the moderator team, or by the community at large.

First and foremost, asking "who deleted my comment?" is not productive. Even if could be answered — and many times it cannot — it probably should not be. Otherwise you fall into a fingerpointing game of public name-calling.

We do not discuss users here by name.

Even though the flaggers, the deleters, or both may choose to name themselves here in response to your question, there's no good reason for them to do so, and plenty of reasons for them not to. I recommend against it.

All that matters is why, and the reason why is virtually always readily inferable once you review the guidelines we are given regarding these matters.

The community is instructed to flag comments for deletion under a variety of circumstances. If enough of these accumulate, then the comment is automatically remove without further intervention.

Additionally, the site moderation team (appointed, elected, or employed) may take early action on comments, whether flagged or not. Moderators are given general guidelines for moderating comments, but other situations can and do arise beyond the ones spelled out there. Several options are available to moderators, but you will notice after reading the guidelines that the recommended action is to delete flagged comments that provide no lasting value.

Comments don't matter. If one or more members of the community felt that your comments fell outside the narrow bounds of what we're told that comments should be used for, then they flagged it and in due course it was deleted.

Stack Exchange does not notify the comment's owner when one of their comments is deleted for all the reasons spelled out above. Nor should they. I cite one of our moderators answering a duplicate of your question:

It is not within the scope of our duties to always leave a comment to explain why comments have been deleted. It rather defeats the purpose of comment deletion, and also it is quite time-consuming, as well you can imagine. Oftentimes, pruning comment chains is just a routine task.

I again stress that comments are ephemeral and unimportant, no matter how precious they are to their owners. After all, if they were important they would be in a question or answer, not in a comment.

Comments tax the system by demanding more moderator attention than they deserve, so if the community can handle it on their own, all the better.

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    I disagree here on your premise that comments don't matter; the majority of questions on this site have no reason to be answered with an actual answer, either because of a lack of research, or because the question itself is based on opinions. The question that I answered was a highly flawed and opinionated question, and I gave my opinion on why "senatrix" never popularized and why other sex-specific occupations did: such as policewoman, actress, and waitress. I feel that my comment did provide value to the question.
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 21:57
  • As for your claim that naming users that are responsible for deletions ultimately leads to more harm than good, I answer with this: how else are moderators supposed to think twice about their deletions if they are not held accountable for their actions? What is stopping a mod, for instance, from going into multiple questions that are 2-5 years old and actively defacing them, deleting comments willy-nilly, and trolling certain users without their knowledge?
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 21:59
  • I demand answers to these questions because this site is a question and answer site, not a site that should allow certain people to police knowledge without being held accountable for their actions.
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 21:59
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    In theory, comments may not matter; in practice, they often do matter. In theory, any useful information in comments should be incorporated into the respective answer or question; in practice, this very often does not happen. That is why I very often find interesting and valuable information in comments on SE sites. The voting may serve to cull the gems from the dross, so I think SE's policy about the usefulness of deleting comments is...exaggerated and often impractical. Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 22:25
  • @Cerberus ~ I agree with you there wholeheartedly
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 22:27
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    In addition, I often find it useful to read in a comment that a certain user I respect supports or disagrees with an answer, and why; that gives me more information than a mere number of anonymous votes. Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 22:29
  • @Bobby''V0ight''Peru-------- Please do not misrepresent that you answered that question when it's evident that you did no such thing.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 23:23
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    @tchrist ~ where did I do that? I said that I answered via a comment by giving my own opinion; I never said I provided an objective answer. But thank you for focusing on the most trivial aspect of my comment.
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 23:36
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    @tchrist ~ the difference between an answer and a comment is that a comment answers the question without any supporting evidence/sources, i.e. it's a user's own individual opinion/theory OR it's an answer to a question that isn't a valid question for this site in the first place. A valid answer would be one to a valid question, or one that answers a valid question with supporting evidence.
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 23:46
  • also, it's not so much one comment that I'm angry about but the implication that so many of my comments or answers could have been deleted without my knowledge, and I'm sorry but I cannot stand for that. I'm surprised that you can.
    – user180089
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 23:47
  • @Cerberus Maybe if the comments were deleted more rigorously, the reality would change to match the design. I worked in an environment where we were not permitted to store data locally, nor alter the standard configuration of our desktops. The way that we were encouraged to stick to the rules was that desktops were randomly re-imaged overnight. If you left stuff on there, you couldn't be certain it would be there when you came in the next day. I'm not suggesting we go to that extreme, but if people felt that comments were truly ephemeral, they might behave differently.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 0:43
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    @ColleenV: Sometimes it is desirable and practical to force social reality to match a design, but not often. In this case, I have provided two reasons why I think it would be undesirable to delete almost all comments, and unrealistic to expect that you won't lose valuable information in so doing. That said, I don't feel that users should be notified when their comments are deleted. Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 1:07