In particular I am concerned about the comments on (removed). Some of the comments pointed out that the answer was off base. The number of comments grew quite lengthy and so a moderator indiscriminately removed all the comments and put them in chat, with the end result being that the answer ostensibly looks like an excellent answer from the high vote count and lack of comments saying otherwise.

Shouldn't moderators abstain from removing such valuable comments?

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    @Muhd Although I won't hide that I think that the ability of the moderators to remove comments might be a little too discretionary at times, in this case moving the comments to a chat room & providing a link keeps them accessible for anybody who wants to see them, while also freeing up space for the comment space to be used for improving suggestions. It's also virtually the same as it was before anyway, since most comments are hidden behind a link anyway. Also "Comments are not for extended discussion", so moving the chat over to where it should be also seems like a fairly good practice. – Tonepoet Aug 15 '16 at 22:22
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    @Tonepoet I agree that moving the comments freed up space and helped clean things up. But within that massive array of comments there were a few that contained valuable information. It would have been nice to leave a comment or two containing the main criticisms of the answer. – Muhd Aug 16 '16 at 16:59
  • @Muhd - I don't understand what point your are trying to make here. My answer says that the English version of the expression was secularised since the adjective "Saint" was removed from the original Catholic version. I suggest (in a comment) that the reason is probably the Protestant tradition but since there is no real proof about that, it is only a speculation which I prefer not to add to my answer. What we know is that, whatever the reason, the expression lost its clear "religious" reference and became a "secularised" expression. As for the removed comments see the answers below. – user66974 Aug 16 '16 at 22:11
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    @Josh61 The point of this meta discussion is not the actual content of your answer or any of my comments made on it. The point is that, in stack exchange as a whole, current policy is obliterating useful information and decreasing signal-to-noise in certain edge cases. Namely, when the OP doesn't incorporate a valuable comment, for whatever reason (inactive, disagrees, or answer is just completely wrong). Even if people here don't think my comment on that particular answer has value, the point still stands. – Muhd Aug 17 '16 at 1:18
  • @Muhd - comments are not meant to post valuable information about questions, if anybody think that they have something relevant to say they should post an answer. That's how it works here. – user66974 Aug 17 '16 at 6:21
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    @Josh61 I know that's not how it works. Why does everyone keep saying that? I'm talking about how it ought to work. – Muhd Aug 17 '16 at 14:53

I suspect your 'question' here will soon be closed as a duplicate. Misunderstanding of the answer you linked aside, comments at ELU (and, I presume, elsewhere on StackExchange sites) are explicitly ephemera, subject to removal at any time. So the answer is no: moderators should use their best judgement when removing comments, but I suspect the relative value of the comments is not much of a consideration, because that value is highly subjective.

In the case you've cited, if the comments were truly valuable, they could've and should've been reworked into an answer.

From the help page: "Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer." Note the "temporary". Also, from the same page: "Comments are not recommended for any of the following: .... Answering a question or providing an alternate solution to an existing answer; instead, post an actual answer (or edit to expand an existing one)".

See this meta question and its answer: Why was one of my comments deleted on this question? (also, request to add a feature to the site to be notified of post and comment deletions).

This meta question and answer may also be useful: Why are my comments deleted?. The answer is provided by a moderator, and is in my opinion more cogent and complete than the answer given for the first meta question I linked.

The answer at the first meta question I linked notes, mistakenly in my opinion, that comments "do not add value to the site". In my experience on this and other StackExchange sites, comments add the only value available, but my opinion is pragmatic rather than theoretic.


No. By definition, comments aren't 'valuable'. If they are worth keeping, they need to be edited into a real post. The comments were moved to a chat room instead of being deleted, so they are still available.

My suggestion to those who disagreed with the correctness of the answer is to post their own 'correct' answer instead.

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    I have to disagree in this example. A comment that points out that the answer is wrong is valuable on its own and doesn't imply that the author of the comment has a better answer or should write one. Example: If someone asks for a proof of some math theorem, someone might be able to find flaws in a posted proof without having a better proof of their own to post. Aside from comments, SE doesn't give a good way to handle this sort of situation. Downvotes don't always cover it and they don't really explain anything. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 16 '16 at 15:52
  • @Mr.Shiny One comment to say that it's not secularization is sufficient to convey the useful part of the 24-comment digression into ecumenical hermenuetics. – Kit Z. Fox Aug 16 '16 at 16:05
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    Agreed, an entire discussion isn't necessary, however, I think in principle it's wrong to treat all comments as not valuable. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 16 '16 at 16:07
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    I think that if the attitude is that comments can be removed at any time, there ought to be an official place to put important criticisms where they won't be removed. Perhaps a wiki at the bottom of each answer. When comments get cleaned up, criticisms of the current answer could be summarized and added to the wiki or something. – Muhd Aug 16 '16 at 17:37
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    @Muhd There is an official place. It's the special chat room created and referenced in its own comment on the post. To summarise criticisms is not part of the process. It's not how Stack Exchange works. You are welcome to suggest (on Meta.StackExchange.com as a site-wide thing) that it should be. – Andrew Leach Aug 16 '16 at 18:38
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    @AndrewLeach I agree with the start, but that summary neglects to note that criticisms seek to improve an answer by urging errors to be corrected. There was a recent instance when I suggested that "missile weapon" was a poor choice of words to exclude guns. Using N. Webster's Dictionary and the Encyc. Britanica. The answer was removed after I made my comment. Was that improper of me to do? – Tonepoet Aug 17 '16 at 3:19
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    @Tonepoet No: the author obviously felt (however justifiably or not) that you had pointed out a fundamental flaw in the answer which meant it could no longer stand. Comments on deleted posts are visible to those who can see the post — a privilege at 10k rep. – Andrew Leach Aug 17 '16 at 8:24

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