13

"Comments are not for extended discussion" is in my opinion a very valuable thing to imbue in the community.

Occasionally I've been on one end or another of the following situation:

  • Person A makes a comment / statement
  • Person B leaves a comment / feedback
  • Person A resolves the issue and wants to say "thanks" or "done", etc... but refrains
  • Person B now has a hanging comment that should be removed, but they don't get notified that action has been taken

For example:

  • I recently commented on this question, with an initial "please note that shopping recommendations are off topic", followed by a brief answer in a single comment. I was in two minds about including the off topic note, but did so anyway.
  • grawity then (very fairly) pointed out that the OP did indeed ask in a compatible way.
  • At this point, I wanted to say something along the lines of "thank you for pointing that out, I've removed my comment and written a more complete answer", notifying grawity, and allowing them to remove their comment. In fact, I did that, but then deleted it ~10 minutes later... (indecisive much?)

Another common example is a request for more information... e.g: "Please share the output of x". Once the OP has provided the information, the comment is often stale and unnecessary - people typically comment again saying "done", or rely on responders coming back to the question to see if there is an update.


So... what is the most suitable resolution here?

  • It's not an issue that needs to be addressed.
  • Introduce a new feature such that authors and tagged users can acknowledge a comment, notifying the commenting user.
  • Person A responds with such a comment anyway, Person B is notified and deletes their comment, but then Person A has a hanging comment...
  • Using flags as suggested by Journeyman Geek below is suitable, despite the fact that users don't get notifications.
  • 1
    ...followed by a brief answer in a single comment. Please avoid putting answers in comments. As explained in the Help Center "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)." – I say Reinstate Monica Jun 18 at 8:25
13

Just flag them as no longer needed.

Assuming the commenter dosen't catch on and delete it first, a mod will.

  • Okay, now I feel stupid - I even checked the flag options, but must have spaced out or something - thanks! – Attie Jun 15 at 13:44
  • 2
    I always assumed using this was not exactly popular given how small the potential confusion about an unneeded comment was in comparison to how much more important flags mods would want to spend their time on.. – anx Jun 15 at 16:09
  • 3
    When a comment is flagged, I wasn't aware that the commenter could see any indication of that. When you say "assuming the commenter doesn't catch on", does the commenter actually get some indication, or do you mean a longer term effect that the commenter sees their comments disappearing and gets the hint that they should take more responsibility for their own cleanup? – fixer1234 Jun 15 at 19:04
  • Oh I mean they notice the missing comments and clean up themselves – Journeyman Geek Jun 15 at 23:14
  • 7
    I actually didn't know that my comment had been deleted until I had to dig through my browser's history to find where I had posted it (as it wasn't on my profile anymore either, unlike e.g. deleted answers). I think it's really confusing that the software doesn't generate any "Your comment has been cleaned up" nor "Your commend has been flagged as rude/junk/etc" notifications, and there isn't any way to distinguish between the two. – grawity Jun 17 at 13:29
  • @Journyman Geek - ah, my misunderstanding, I'm not sure that's a great expectation to have... In this case I suppose I'd probably re-iterate my question - should there be a better way to handle this?.. I tend to see flags as something to avoid unless the content / user is "bad", and moderator attention needs to be drawn. – Attie Jun 18 at 8:58
  • 2
    Drawing attention to comments being deleted would encourage additional comments being submitted, about the removal of those deleted comments. Comments are supposed to be temporary until they are no longer required. – Ramhound Jun 18 at 14:30
3

Note: I don't know what the comments were - partial answer or request for clarification.

In that type of situation, I would usually go with option 3...

  • say something along the lines of "thank you for pointing that out, I've removed my comment and written a more complete answer - feel free to tidy up this thread; I'll tidy this & other comments after giving you chance to read this.", notifying the author, and allowing them to remove their comment.

Whether or not that reaches the desired effect, I would flag it for myself [actually keep the tab open on a separate window] & come back to it up to 24 hours later [depending on how active the original conversation was] to tidy up my own comments.

At that point, any remaining comments that are no longer useful or relevant I would flag for a mod to tidy.

I'd also note that some stacks are much more aggressive/diligent at comment thread tidy-ups than others, so some of the above can depend on the stack.

  • And the mods I suppose. I personally don't really go hunt down comments to clear up, unless they're flagged. – Journeyman Geek Jun 24 at 9:13
  • @JourneymanGeek - nor would I expect you to have to :) Some stacks, though, do seem to have a policy of mass-tidy periodically. – Tetsujin Jun 24 at 9:33

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