I made a comment, that received several upvotes on this question, yet some mod chose to delete it. It is germane to the topic, is referenced multiple times in the comment chain, and has spawned some conversation, which is rendered incomprehensible without it. One user even wanted me to post it as an answer.

I can understand unstarring my chat messages—that can be explained by simple spite and malice—but spite goes a bit far in this case, don't you think?

I also recognize that lengthy comment chains are discouraged, but this was one of the first comments posted, if not the first.

  • Maybe it was flagged. I haven't seen it, so I can't imagine why.
    – herisson
    Nov 29, 2016 at 18:04
  • If it was flagged, did no one investigate and evaluate the flag? The comment was informational and innocuous?
    – Robusto
    Nov 29, 2016 at 18:20
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    I wish SE reconsidered its policy on giving moderators the right to delete comments, especially on a language site. Say, 3 (when not upvoted) to 5 (when upvoted) flags or votes delete comments unless they are rude/offensive/spam? Do any other comments harm the post? I don't think so. I think this issue should be raised on Meta SE.
    – user140086
    Nov 29, 2016 at 18:55
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    I think the unnecessity of comments is disingenuous. No, comments are not answers, and answers are primary currency. But the supposedly site specific expectation for having comment threads deletable is just silly. Some things belong as asides. And they are integral as asides.
    – Mitch
    Nov 29, 2016 at 20:37
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    What does it really hurt to leave comments in? Deleting comments seems like it's just a tool at hand that people feel like using with an extremely low threshold for using.
    – Mitch
    Nov 29, 2016 at 20:38
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    Apparently, certain "trigger words" allow a comment to be deleted automatically with a single flag. I don't know exactly how this works though.
    – herisson
    Nov 29, 2016 at 20:42
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    @sumelic I suspect "f**k" in Robusto's comment might have triggered it. I flagged one comment a few days ago which contained the word and it was deleted right after I flagged it. What I am really wondering is who could have flagged it and for what reason.
    – user140086
    Nov 30, 2016 at 8:31
  • I have to agree -- the arbitrary and random deletion of comments is a big problem here. It's doubly problematic since the author gets no notification and has no way to access the deleted content. Lots of good information is lost when comments are mass-deleted, and many nuances are lost when individual comments are deleted for no apparent reason, other than they somehow offended some individual.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 9, 2016 at 22:12

1 Answer 1

  1. OK, you just haven't read Lawler far enough. ^_^ Try his post on conversational deletion. This happens when material understood from context is removed without lost of communication. Note that "Are you doing?" is not possible because material is removed that is essential to comprehension. Whereas the "what" in "The f**k are you doing?" is obvious, "Are you doing?" can have any number of introductory fragments.

    – Robusto 2016-11-28 22:21:42Z (my bowdlerization)

The comment was not deleted by a moderator. As the person who is recorded as deleting it is not a moderator, it will have been deleted by flags from the community.

Sumelic has commented that it may be possible for a comment to be deleted with a single flag; normally it takes two, or even three. At present, the information available to me is anomalous — it appears that the comment was removed by a single flag which should not (to my mind) have had that result.

Apart from the fact that it should have been an answer, I can't see anything objectionable in the comment. I would have restored it with this Meta answer, except that the system doesn't make that possible: we can only undelete mod-deleted comments. I'm investigating how that might be achieved in this case.

This may be an opportune time to remind members that this site exists to serve an academic interest in the English language. English contains words which in some circumstances can be offensive. However, the academic discussion of offensive words is not, of itself, offensive. If you find you are offended by the mere mention of such words, rather than their use, just walk away from the question.

This is also an opportune reminder that content — comments, posts, or entire questions and their answers — can be removed without any moderator intervention whatsoever. And to say again that comments are ephemeral and can be removed at any time. As it stands at the time of this answer, I can't see a reason that the comment should be removed, but that doesn't mean it's immune from the normal operation of the site. It may end up deleted by further flags, or removed from the post but preserved in a chat room, or just deleted anyway. If a comment is worth preserving indefinitely, it's worth expanding into an answer, especially since it may not be possible to restore a comment if it's deleted.

  • 2
    Addendum: SE staff have been able to restore the comment. But (a) that won't happen in every such instance; it's not a precedent to be relied on, and (b) it doesn't make the comment immune from future treatment.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Nov 29, 2016 at 21:59

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