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So, someone deleted a couple comments I made in response to someone else's comments. There was no messaging to me about when or why. That is totally uncool. This is cencorship, pure and simple.

Yes what I said was argumentative. I provided a rebuttal to a viewpoint I disagreed with. I was not trolling, I did not flame, I did not use Bad Words.

I admit to the possiblity that how I said what I said may have contributed more noise than signal to the conversation. I was looking for information and people were giving me assertions, assertions that run against my own experience. I was defending that experience. I may have been hasty in my response. I have used language not totally in keeping with diplomacy.

Even if none of what I say here were true, even if my comments were groundless, mere diatribing. It is wrong to silently delete them.

I feel violated and my trust in the system is eroded. A system I have willingly contributed to and helped build over many years. How many other things which I've contributed to the network have been quietly removed while my attention is eleswhere?

Stack Exchange has a feature for coping with a comment run that turns debateable, this common feature of human conversation, it's called "move to chat". Use it please.

Note: I'm aware of and make a distinction for outright bullying, swearing, ad-hominen attacks and similar dirty rotten bastard behaviour. I've no problem with quietly removing those. What I'm talking about is censoring difference of opinion.

Now I don't care enough about these particular comments to have them reinstated. The point of raising in this in Meta is that the practice of silent removal of comments that are not abuse is wrong.

I used the word "practice" because I've read similar complaints by other Stack Exchange users, some of which are now former users, in a number of places. I don't believe my experience represents a one-off mistake. This is also why I'm not linking to the question directly in post.

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So, someone deleted a couple of comments I made in response to someone else's comments. There was no messaging to me about when or why. That is totally uncool. This is censorship, pure and simple.

Your comments were flagged as no longer being needed by a community member. Since they were directed at a specific user, and that user read your comment, they were no longer needed to answer your question.

Yes what I said was argumentative. I provided a rebuttal to a viewpoint I disagreed with. I was not trolling, I did not flame, I did not use Bad Words.

I flagged the comments due to the fact they were argumentative. If I recall the situation properly, at least one of the comments, indicated that I had no read your question. From what I recall from our brief conversation, you didn't actually find my commentary particularly helpful, and you made that point clear.

I admit to the possibility that how I said what I said may have contributed more noise than signal to the conversation. I was looking for information and people were giving me assertions, assertions that run against my own experience. I was defending that experience. I may have been hasty in my response. I have used language not totally in keeping with diplomacy.

The comments that were deleted served their purpose. I read every single comment directed towards myself. You admit your comments were likely not part of civil discourse.

Here is the description of the flag I used on the comments in question.

"This comment is outdated, conversational or not relevant to this post."

Even if none of what I say here were true, even if my comments were groundless, mere diatribe. It is wrong to silently delete them.

Comments are designed to be temporary. Honestly, your comments were less than respectful, and I came to consider mine unhelpful. I have a certain understanding of the Registry based on my personal knowledge about how it works. Your comments indicate that understanding was incorrect, since you believed my commentary to be incorrect, and I wasn’t going to agree with that fact I deleted my commentary.

Since I had read your commentary directed towards myself, and no amount of discussion would change either of our minds, the conversation we had in the comment section wasn’t productive. Since the tone of your commentary was degrading, I decided to pull the rip cord, in a very uneventful attempt to help steer the discussion back to simply answering your question.

Stack Exchange has a feature for coping with a comment run that turns debatable, this common feature of human conversation, it's called "move to chat". Use it please.

Since I was 51% of the problem, and I didn't see any future in the conversation were having, I flagged the comments. If you want somebody to blame for the comments being delete you can blame me.

Now I don't care enough about these particular comments to have them reinstated. The point of raising in this in Meta is that the practice of silent removal of comments that are not abuse is wrong.

Delete comments cannot be restored. Commentary is temporary and once they are no longer required should be deleted.

I used the word "practice" because I've read similar complaints by other Stack Exchange users, some of which are now former users, in a number of places. I don't believe my experience represents a one-off mistake. This is also why I'm not linking to the question directly in post.

Since I feel it’s important the community is aware of what exactly you are talking about I will link to the post in that case: Windows registry has hundreds of near duplicate entries

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Ramhound has already provided a very useful answer as to context and reasons behind the comment removal, and I won't reiterate that here.

However, there are a couple of other aspects to your question and answer here that are worth addressing.

There was no messaging to me about when or why.

(from your question)

I can sympathise here; there are times when a notification about this would be useful.

However, most of the time comments are cleaned up because they're outdated, no longer needed etc, and notifying someone of that would just be noisy an unnecessary. Comments are explicitly temporal, and can disappear at any time and for any reason.

Most notably, SE have stated that there will be no notifications for comment removal:

There are no comment removal notifications, nor will there be.

Why? Because comments are second class. We don't see them as important - if you think a comment is important enough, it should be rolled into the post it is commenting on.

(ref)

This is cencorship, pure and simple.

(from your question)

This is where we diverge, and part of the reason I disagreed with your meta post. I can see where you're coming from, but I think calling what happened censorship is to vastly overstate the intent. This is taking down an outdated post-it attached to a poster on a notice board.

There are other places to have debates and discussions over differences of opinion. Chat may in some cases be that place, but if the other participant doesn't want to keep talking, you can't make them.

As above, most of the time notifications aren't necessary. There is some merit to saying that there are times and places where it would be useful to say "this conversation has stepped over the line" when removing; but... in my experience, things like that tend to fan the flames of dissent rather than douse them. As a sensible, reasonable person you may differ -- and kudos if so! -- but the system is built to deal with the 99%, rather than the 1%.

you put me into the category of troublemakers for which there is no hope and flicked the delete button.

now I know where I stand in the community's regard (from your answer)

These too seem to overstate the situation. Perhaps you did that intentionally, to make a point or for comic effect?

99.99% of the time, community moderation actions are not about the author. Putting a question on hold because it is too broad does not mean "we think the user is stupid"; closing a post because it is unclear does not mean "this user cannot write"; removing comments certainly does not mean "we think there is no hope for this user".

Can it be frustrating when the above -- on hold/closed/comments removed -- happens to you? Absolutely! But personal judgement on you it is not.

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@Ramhound I commend you for standing up and walking into the fray when I purposely and obviously gave you leave to keep on walking (by not calling out the sparking incident). I also thank you for your detailed and thoughtul response. It is helpful for me to understand your thinking process and how those became expressed in action. After time and reflection I agree on the whole, that those interactions served their purpose and did not need to remain live on the site.

However I remain strongly opposed to the manner in which the clean up was carried out. My voice was quietly, firmly, and secretly silenced without my involvement or knowledge. Instead of talking to me, like you just did here in an exemplary fashion, instead of guiding towards a common understanding of what the moderating community consideres appropriate discourse, you put me into the category of troublemakers for which there is no hope and flicked the delete button.

Looking at the votes, within a day 80% of you agree with this practice and find my objection without merit. I'm deeply saddened by that, but now I know where I stand in the community's regard.

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    The only thing I did was walked away from a discussion that was starting to deteriorate, flagged comments that no long were required to answer your question, and delete my own comments (for the same reason). Here is the thing, if you agree the commentary wasn't required, then you should agree they should have been deleted without any fanfare. I didn't actually do anything except flag comments and delete my own commentary. However, you incorrectly assume that your commentary being deleted was a bad thing, or it puts in a negative light. It doesn't actually. – Ramhound Mar 3 at 18:43
  • @Ramhound I conflated flagging with deletion. I thought you had done the deleting. (The effect on my experience is the same, but I'm happier having a more accurate perception of what occurred.) I agree my commentary served it's purpose and be removed. I disagree that it's okay to happen behind my back. – matt wilkie Mar 3 at 22:28
  • It sounds like even if you were notified, that the comments were removed due to moderation, you might not have been happy with them being removed. The entire point of just removing comments without being notified is not to make a big deal of a comment being delete. In fact, you are not actually notified of any contribution being removed, through the notification system. A user is not notified if an answer is deleted, a question is deleted, or even an answer being deleted due to the question being deleted. Moderators try and only send you a message in the worst cases. – Ramhound Mar 3 at 22:53
  • Correct, my primary unhappiness is with the comment deletion, secondarily by the quietness. – matt wilkie Mar 4 at 20:43
  • You will have to accept that nobody is ever informed when one of their comments is deleted by a moderator so the removal of your comment wasn’t an attempt to censor you but was simply a result of your commentary being flagged by a community user – Ramhound Mar 4 at 23:59
  • @Ramhound I understand there is no backend system notification. That's not my point. I think there should be a user-space courtesy convention of "hey {@person} these comments aren't serving anybody anymore, let's us both delete our noisy stuff". instead of the behind-ones-back "hey Mod I don't think this should exist" followed by deletion, a process that should be reserved for nasty conflict, trolls and abuse. ... I've said my piece as best I can, no one has visibly come forward in suppport, it's clear to me that I'm in a very small minority, I resignedly leave the field. – matt wilkie Mar 5 at 1:04
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@berieb:

This is taking down an outdated post-it attached to a poster on a notice board.

The deleted comments were a day or perhaps two old. The Q&A were still active, as was I. I was updating my question as my understanding of it changed as part of the ongoing dialog. to That's not the mark of an outdated post-it on a board.

Comments are explicitly temporal, and can disappear at any time and for any reason.

Oh. ... I wasn't fully aware of this as an official stance. I'll have to let this gestate.

if you think a comment is important enough, it should be rolled into the post it is commenting on.

Sooo, if a person has something to say and isn't entirely sure yet if it's transient or solid they'd better put it in an answer?

...in my experience, things like that tend to fan the flames of dissent rather than douse them. As a sensible, reasonable person you may differ -- and kudos if so! -- but the system is built to deal with the 99%, rather than the 1%.

I can't argue hard against the experience you relate. I have been a moderator more than once in my life, and I cannot state with head-to-toe purity that I was maligned and there was no cause for corrective measure. Finding myself on the harsh side of the 1% knife is discomfitting and has me philosphically pondering the longterm cost/benefit of false positives on community.

...you put me into the category of troublemakers for which there is no hope and flicked the delete button. ...now I know where I stand in the community's regard.

These too seem to overstate the situation. Perhaps you did that intentionally, to make a point or for comic effect?

I wrote and deleted three variants of those two statements over several minutes before finally deciding they held enough of my personal truth to let stand. As I just did again now. I don't think it overstated.

It is slightly misfocussed though, as I don't truly feel it as "personal judgement against [me] ", rather something larger, subtle, systemic.

...now I know where I stand in the community's regard.

"I" here might be "this", or "this complaint", or "the category of interaction signified by...", or someother such awkward phrasing that uglifies even as it strives to clarify.

I appreciate you have taken the time to engage in this conversation thoughtfully, reasoning things out. I still find myself chilled and contemplating how this changes my involvement.

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    For the "comments are temporary" please read superuser.com/help/privileges/comment which explicitly states Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer. They can be upvoted (but not downvoted) and flagged, but do not generate reputation. There's no revision history, and when they are deleted they're gone for good. This has been rehashed and revisited several times here on meta: meta.superuser.com/search?q=deleted+comments – Mokubai Mar 4 at 13:29
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Ok, so here's a summary answer for the nice green check mark:

It is clearly stated in the help that "comments are are temporary 'Post-It' notes" and the long standing cultural norm on Super User is to delete them without notification. The nature of comment removal is primarily driven by other users flagging a comment for a moderator to remove (ie. there isn't a bot vacuuming them up) and thus haphazard and senstive to disagreement. There is no recourse, deleted comments cannot be restored.

If information in a comment should be retained it needs to be folded into a question or answer.

It just how things work around here and no one who matters agrees with you that it could or should be different.

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