I posted a comment on this question: What is a word for someone who tries to comfort their mistakes by trying to reason with him or herself?, and I think someone even upvoted the comment, but my comment disappeared soon after.

The comment was "The person is rationalizing" -- or something like that.

Yes, I could have developed the comment into an answer had I not had a life apart from ELU, but leaving an embryonic answer as a comment has never been a deletion-worthy offense before.

Have the standards changed, post-mod-election, or is there is glitch in the system?

The same thing reportedly happened to a very early comment on Rosa Parks is a [symbol?] for the civil rights movement?. The user (whose name I have forgotten) was upset and there was some discussion about the deletion; the entire discussion was eventually (and understandably) deleted.

  • Richard Kayser's answer seems to provide basically the same suggestion. Had it been posted at the time when you noticed your comment was deleted?
    – herisson
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 19:25
  • @sumelic: I posted the comment before RK posted his answer, but I am not sure of the time lag. He could have been composing when I posted. In the Rosa Parks case, I never saw the other user's comment; I was probably composing my answer when it appeared. Is it possible that posting my answer (icon) caused the commenter's comment (icon) to disappear and similarly with RKs answer and my comment? Nobody poached from anybody -- these are just two mysterious disappearances.
    – ab2
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 19:45
  • 4
    It wouldn't happen automatically, but I expect the moderators would delete a comment-answer that is identical in substance to an actual answer. I don't approve of the idea that it's possible to "poach" an answer from a comment anyway--I personally would give attribution if I learned of an answer from a comment, but I wouldn't criticize someone who didn't, partly because it's hard to tell if two people just came up with the same suggestion independently by coincidence, and partly because people writing comments really shouldn't expect to get credit for providing an answer.
    – herisson
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


You write:

leaving an embryonic answer as a comment has never been a deletion-worthy offense before

You might be using the word “offense” tongue-in-cheek, but just in case you are serious, I want to be clear that comment deletion does not mean there was an offense, and posting an embryonic answer as a comment is not a problem. Love that term “embryonic answer”, by the way.

Generally speaking, comments are deleted because comments are temporary “Post-It” notes—they are ephemeral. There’s no organized cleanup effort, but if a post ends up in a moderator queue for any reason, the responding moderator often tidies up that post’s comments. I did not delete your comment, but I believe it is what happened in your case. This is why it’s best to assume comments are short lived, even though you might have seen many comments that stuck around for years.

You can give an embryonic answer much more sticking power by posting it as a partial answer instead of a comment. If you want to post a partial answer without taking credit or affecting your reputation, you can mark it Community Wiki. This is also a great thing to do with other peoples’ good embryonic answers, when you happen on them in comments.

  • 3
    A major reason people comment-answer is that answer-answers require substantiation, often in the form of sources, which require effort to find and cite. So the risk with your suggestion, though it is common enough across SE, is it'll leave our little site with a series of unsubstantiated answers, which don't provide readers with sufficient reason to know if they're right or wrong.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 23:20
  • 1
    @DanBron Votes signal readers that there's something wrong.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 16:04
  • @MetaEd The problem is without sources, there's not enough data to make an informed vote.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 16:19
  • @DanBron If an answer is not useful (because it is opinion or lacks substantiation), that's enough right there for a downvote.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 16:21
  • 1
    @MetaEd I'd prefer not to encourage people to post answers which are downvoteable by definition
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 16:33
  • @DanBron That's desired in principle, but hard to put into practice given that, since voting recognizes a variety of opinions, 'definition' is up to interpretation. One person's closable/deletable question or answer is another's upvote. Applicability of definition is up to interpretation. (that said, boy does it rile me when someone answers what I think is a totally off-topic question!)
    – Mitch
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 12:23
  • @Mitch That's a reasonable way to look at it, for sure. But still, encouraging behavior which is, as you say, "desired in principal" (I'd say expected by our standards), seems counterproductive to me. But hen again, supposedly "comment answers" themselves are a breach of standards, so I suppose six of one, half a dozen of the other.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 13:14
  • I sometimes post an answer-comment when unsure of solid citations, hoping to spark a better "expert" answer. Usually when I don't yet see a good answer. Deleting the comment seems appropriate when that expert answer shows up. Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 5:49

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