Should comments that have been made partially obsolete (e.g., by clarifications that were requested in the comments subsequently being incorporated into the question) be subject to deletion by moderators, if the comments also include relevant information to the final version of the question? (I ask because I just observed this occurence.)

  • 1
    Technically, anything not obsolete ought remain, but comments, being second-class citizens on SE, are not required to be given the benefit of the doubt by a volunteer mod doing janitorial work. So in your case, if there's lot of cleanup going on, they will probably just get thrown in with the rest of the trash. If something is really relevant you can flag the post for it to be undeleted, but if you remember what it is you can save the mods some time but just adding it again as a new comment.
    – Double AA Mod
    Dec 2, 2015 at 5:03
  • @DoubleAA Not "required" to be given the benefit of the doubt, but encouraged to be: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/237978/…
    – SAH
    Dec 11, 2015 at 15:40
  • @SAH Which of those lines encourages comments to be given the benefit of the doubt?
    – Double AA Mod
    Dec 11, 2015 at 16:24
  • @DoubleAA "If it doesn't immediately appear to be useful, remove it; if it might be, leave it."
    – SAH
    Dec 11, 2015 at 16:34
  • @SAH Sounds like one shouldn't think to hard about a comment if it doesn't seem useful. Just get rid of it. Guilty until proven innocent. I'm not seeing any support for your claim. There is nothing that encourages me to say "well I don't see any reason this is useful, but I guess it's possible as I haven't checked everything". Such a thought process actually seems discouraged.
    – Double AA Mod
    Dec 11, 2015 at 16:35
  • @DoubleAA "If it might be, leave it."
    – SAH
    Dec 11, 2015 at 16:43
  • "Guilty until proven innocent" is your moderation policy? Have you checked that with anyone at StackExchange?
    – SAH
    Dec 11, 2015 at 16:43
  • @SAH In context that is clearly referring to cases where there is reason to suspect it might be. That's not what benefit of the doubt means.
    – Double AA Mod
    Dec 11, 2015 at 16:44
  • @SAH It's an approximation of the attitude towards comments described in your link and in my comments above. "Guilty until suspected innocent" might be more precise. Forgive me for using an idiom.
    – Double AA Mod
    Dec 11, 2015 at 16:46
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    @SAH The whole point of that passage, as is very clear from the context, is that moderators are expected to make a quick judgement call, one way or the other, about whether to keep a comment, and then to not worry about it, because comments are not meant to be part of the permanent record. All this second-guessing of these calls by the moderators seems inconsistent with that spirit of "do it, move on, and don't worry."
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Dec 11, 2015 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


Obsolescence can be hard to judge sometimes. We mods try not to delete still-relevant comments, but we might miss sometimes. This is particularly true if, as DoubleAA mentioned in a comment, a big long thread is being cleaned up. (Which usually comes to our attention via flags.)

Here's a scenario that has happened to me several times: big long comment thread with back-and-forth between the post author and somebody else, the post is edited, optionally the editor says "thanks I fixed it", and when I look at the revision I see edits that seem to be related to the comments. So I delete the obsolete comments. (If I really can't tell I'll leave the flag for another mod, but sometimes that just leads to nobody handling it.)

While all the moderators are reasonably knowledgable about the topic of our site, we're not all experts on everything (and I am but a grasshopper compared to the others). But that's ok, because moderators are not called upon to be adjudicators of correctness. If we miss something important, please bring it up -- but the best way to make sure important information isn't lost is to get it into the body of a post. Comments aren't meant to be permanent; important information should be in posts (questions or answers). If you have something that can help a question or answer and that doesn't go against the author's apparent intent, edit it in. If you have a major disagreement with an answer, write an alternative answer where you make your case.

  • I have recently made an effort to respect the now-ubiquitous "important information should be in posts" stipulation. What I did--because frankly I did not have all the time in the world--was dump text from useful-but-deleted comments into an answer. (The comments were highly relevant and moderators didn't want to restore them.) The answer was promptly deleted by a moderator. What is one to do?? It's incredibly frustrating.
    – SAH
    Dec 8, 2015 at 6:43
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    @SAH I'm sorry you're having a frustrating experience. I only saw this comment now and have responded to you elsewhere, but to sum up: relevant information from comments should be edited into posts, but just dumping the comments without some curating doesn't help. If the comment thread were valuable as a whole thread it wouldn't have been deleted in the first place; copying it without refining it down to the stuff that fits the question and answer doesn't help. Sorry for the confusion. Dec 8, 2015 at 16:40

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