(Yes, I know this will be instantly marked "dupe", but if I ask my question on one of the "dupes" it will almost certainly be ignored.)

I understand why the person who deleted a comment is not identified, but I don't understand why there's no way to tell why a comment was deleted. Surely one can see that if a commenter keeps making the same faux pas and keeps getting comments deleted, it would be good for them to know why.

Yes, I know that often comments are deleted during "clean-up", but sometimes it seems like "clean-up" occurs within hours of the question being posted.

Can we have some way to know why deletion occurs??

  • 5
    It'd be too much of a hassle for mods.
    – herisson
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 0:36
  • 2
    How? It would be automatic. I assume that whenever a comment is deleted a reason is given -- at least when one flags a comment the reason is given. Just report that.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 3:13
  • 3
    You must know the reasons for comment deletion: comment may not be constructive, may be too chatty (for example, a joke that contributes nothing to the answer), may be rude/offensive, became obsolete (which happens when a comment you've responded to has been deleted, or "other" - anyone can flag a comment and complain to a mod why it should be removed. Comments get flagged. Mods have to deal with most flags. This is a busy site. Expecting a mod to explain to you is unreasonable, but you should ask in a private chat if you really need to know. You'll only get standard answers here. Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 3:13
  • @medica - How do you know who to ask, and how do you set up a "private chat" with them? And, yes, I know there are maybe a dozen different basic reasons for deletion -- that's what I'm saying. Tell us which reason was clicked. No need to write a dissertation about each one, just give a one-click reason. To do less is extremely impolite.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 3:16
  • It's not extremely impolite; it's simply impersonal. "Tell us which reason was clicked." The automated system is not set up that way. Mods can't do that, never mind "simply". To get a private chat room, go to chat, ping a mod, and ask if they can set up a private room. There, the two of you can examine the issue (if there is one) with more openness, honesty, and privacy than on the main site. The private chat room is open to all the mods; one might be willing to be pinged to the chat if you need to talk to one in particular. Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 3:19
  • Well, let's see. First I have to remember what the wording was of my comment, so I can describe it. The set up a chat (which probably takes several minutes at least, and likely an hour or more), then get the mod to somehow look up the comment and see what reason was somehow attached to its deletion. But of course you tell me there is no reason attached, so the mod can't tell me anything. Not much help.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 3:25
  • It would be good for them Well, there's your basic mistake.
    – deadrat
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 5:42
  • 1
    Maybe you should ask about the software capabilities on SE Meta. If you do, please link us to it. Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 7:33
  • 2
    I am considering proposing a comment should be deleted automatically after a certain period of time, not by a mod arbitrarily. A mod should not have the right to delete or move the comments to chat as they don't harm the community and it's extremely difficult to keep the same standard to all the comments. Some threads of comments were moved to chat 11 months after they were posted while others were deleted right away (not consistent). It's reasonable to delete a comment automatically after 6 to 9 months. Mods should not interfere with other users' comments unless they're rude/offensive/spam.
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 8:56
  • 2
    @Rathony - There is the point, though, that some comment chains are quite significant and relevant to the question, and when they are deleted important information is lost. Yes, folks here will argue that these significant comments should be incorporated into answers somehow, but there is not an established way to do that -- if simply moved into an answer they would be deleted as "not an answer".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 13:24
  • 4

1 Answer 1


To answer this, I’ve deliberately not just gone and looked into your particular comment record to prime me with concrete knowledge. That way I can speak in broader generalities. Here are some common reasons why comments get deleted by a moderator:

  • Comments that aren’t seeking clarification from the poster.
  • Comments that have drifted off into discussions.
  • Comments that no longer apply, like a question of the post owner which has been answered and incorporated into the post.
  • Comments where people aren’t being nice.
  • Comments that are actually answers and not comments at all.
  • Comments that have any number of flags on them, from Not Constructive to Obsolete to Comment As Answer.
  • Comments that just make jokes.
  • Comments that just complain.
  • Comments that contain inappropriately personal material.
  • Comments addressing now-deleted comments.

Those are just off the top of my head, so please do not think any of those reasons are why yours in particular shall have gotten themselves deleted on you because of. They are not, save by coincidence. I haven’t looked at yours because I wanted to be able to write this answer without that bias coloring what I talked about here. Rather, these are all simply general reasons that apply to everyone, and I do not currently know which ones applied to yours.

Comments tend to be deleted by a moderator when they visit a post that has garnered flags. When there’s a flag on anything, we’ll normally also look at all posts not just the one that drew us there, so the question and all its answers as well.

If you spend time in the Low Quality Review Queue, you’ll have some insight into how often posts get kicked there, whether through a low quality flag or not-an-answer flag. These flags always gather like flies whenever one our site’s questions hits the Hot Network Questions list.

Additionally,the Community♦ Mod-Bot flags a huge whole lot of things, things moderators need to look at. Some of these are directly related to comment issues, but many are not. Still, it brings us.

And our users can and do — and should — use flags on comments themselves. Sometimes these are from the standard set, but we also get custom comment flags. Some of those custom comment flags’ wordings basically say “comment as answer”; I’ve seen a fair number of those sort over the past month. I have a suspicion that the evil single-word-requests and the even eviller hot-network-questions list may be driving those sort up.

I don’t usually overrule a comment flag, because most of them our members are right that there’s an issue with the comment or comments. Of course if they’re just flagging someone they disagree with out of spite, this is a different problem altogether and will be dealt with differently. But the vast, vast majority of comment flags are valid flags, or at least ones cast in good conscience.

There are only so many things one can do with comments. Sometimes we copy their discussions to a chat room, although that we can do once only. Sometimes we edit out the not-niceness if there’s salvageable content there. Sometimes we copy answers-as-comments into Community Wiki posts.

But if the answers-as-comments don’t make the least attempt at trying to meet our site standards for what we expect of answers, such comments will probably simply be deleted as noise. They aren’t actually helping anyone, and they run counter to the Stack Exchange founders’ goals for why SE should be useful and different from chat forums.

Comments can become a distraction, and wading through them doesn’t help anyone. They are meant to be things that can go without affecting the post. If they can’t, then they should be incorporated into the post or made into their own answers. That way their content can be indexed and linked, searched and found, curated and updated, and voted on by the community at large.

Those are really important features of SE.

Comments lie outside that system and those “features” of our community. Those capabilities are too integral to the SE experience to have ramifying content that exists apart from them. We need to be able to do those things with the content, and it is in no small measure because we cannot do those things with comments that they are held to be of no lasting consequence and value.

  • 1
    Comments that are actually answers and not comments at all. But I've seen hundreds of comments that provided a quick, undocumented solution to the OP's question. This sounds more theoretical than actual. But if you're serious about this, then I'll say, how can someone repost a comment as an answer, if it's gone forever? Wouldn't it be better to leave a footprint somewhere with the text of the comment included? Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 7:26
  • 1
    The key issue regarding mod's deleting comments is this: You mods think you can delete anything you want, move any comments you want and undelete anything you want. No, that's not right. Why did only one thread out of three move to chat in this Meta post? meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/9679/… I don't undestsand what's the urgency, especially on Meta, and why did you decide to move just one thread leaving two threads. I don't think mods should be involved in deleting/ undeleting/moving unless they are offensive/rude/spam.
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 7:49
  • 1
    @aparente001 anyone can post another person's comment as an answer if he feels it is appropriate. Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 13:22
  • 3
    @AlanCarmack - Except if the comment is not a "properly documented" answer it will still be deleted.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 13:41
  • Sorry to come so late to the party. I think Hot Licks' concern is still wholly justified and no-one's said anything that really justifies or even explains the problem. If I Edit anything, up pops a little Dialog asking why. It doesn't demand an explanation but it asks for one, and offers a few suggestions. How could something similar not be appropriate for Deletions, please? Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 14:05
  • @RobbieGoodwin Deleting comments is a routine duty required of moderators. The system does not provide a way for us to say why this was done in some revision log, nor is any notification of comments deleted or edited ever provided for good reason. It would be much, much too noisy, because we do it all the time. You just are not aware of this. Because long comment chains are completely counter to the Q&A model, and indeed a reason for SE’s creation, this is unlikely to ever change. See Meta Stack Exchange for more. We are not a discussion forum.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 15:17
  • Thanks tchrist and if I had no experience of forums in general, or this one in particular, I might have sympathised. Why, for instance, did you not bother to address the comparison of pop-up dialogs on Edits and how they can't apply to Duplicates? Was that beneath you, or did you think it would be above me - and others? Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 22:21
  • @RobbieGoodwin I encourage you to post a discussion or feature-request to Meta Stack Exchange if you would like to better understand or even to change the networkwide policy on comments. It is not within moderators' ability to change these things because it is a network policy, so you must go there if you want things changed.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 22:52
  • Thanks and how strange that after a dozen comments what previously couldn't be done for technical reasons has suddenly changed into something that might be possible but isn't your responsibility… Still why do we not know your reasons for ignoring the comparison of pop-up dialogs on Edits and how they can't apply to Duplicates? Was that beneath you, or did you think it would be above me - and others? It's true you weren't first to fob the OP off without in fact addressing the issue. It's also true your Answer went to greater length than any comment, and still didn't in fact address it. Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 23:02
  • @RobbieGoodwin It still won't be done but I want you to be told this by an employee so you'll finally take no for an answer. Go post your feature request over there. Let me know how that works out for you. Hope this helps and have a nice day.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 23:05
  • Oh, right! 16,502 items on Meta Stack Exchange refer to Duplicate. This tells us two things. 1) No such comment, request or question is likely to get anywhere 2) Large numbers of contributors question the policy. Some might claim those questions include any number dealing not with policy but specific alleged Duplicates. I suggest the question is, if the policy is so good, why so many questions on specific Duplicates? Some might claim 16,000 contributors isn't many but kindly consider what percentage of people with any opinion, go to the trouble of posting about it? Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 23:13
  • @RobbieGoodwin You seem to have lost the thread. This is not about duplicates but about comment deletion.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 23:16
  • Uh… Ouch! Thanks and you're entirely right. That was a user headspace error; mental equivalent of a typo. Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 23:20

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