I just finished locking a question pertaining to the death of Hitler. I did this because there was a high volume of comments being made that were not really relevant, and to make matter worse, they were starting to take on a very personal slant, and that is simply not acceptable. I left the comments there for now so that others can see them, but I plan to go back later and remove some of them.

It is a shame to see this happen, because the question has considerable merit and deserves to be a part of this site. It is the responsibility of the community to help police this site, so if you see an answer that is clearly inaccurate or is totally unrelated to the question at hand, then downvote the answer. I strongly encourage you to leave a comment to explain why you did so, because it helps everyone to understand how to improve the site.

However, comments that are directed at the person asking the question or others who have commented are not going to be tolerated. Personally, I feel that some of the negative votes were not justified and the explanations were weak, but I'll let them stand.

Having said all this, the question I would like to pose to the community is this: Should we have a specific policy for deciding to lock a question, and if so, should there be a standard period of time for which it should remain locked?

Edited to improve comments. The following content was modified above, because a downvote really should NOT be based on your opinion of the answer or the person answering.

If you find that you disagree with an answer then it is your responsibility to vote down that answer.

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    Don't disagree with the actions, or the merit of your question. However, I would quibble a bit with your wording about voting. For myself, I'm uncomfortable with downvoting an answer I disagree with, if I know that answer represents a valid school of thought. A lot of what is asked for on this site is theories about the Why of things, and just because I personally find some other explanation far more likely doesn't mean an otherwise good answer itself is bad enough for a downvote. I'd prefer to just upvote (or create) answers I agree with. – T.E.D. Jun 14 '12 at 14:35
  • Excellent distinction, and I totally agree! A downvote really should only be used if the answer has no merit or is completely unrelated to the question being asked. I myself was victimized by a number of downvotes on one of my answer simply because some people disagreed with what I said. – Steven Drennon Jun 14 '12 at 16:03

In answer to my own question, I believe that any time we get to where we have at least a dozen comments, we need to consider locking the question. My reason for suggesting this is because 1) the comments will not be displayed anyway, and 2) if we get this many comments, then we need to look at other options, such as the Meta area or, preferably, the chat room. Any time we find ourselves having a lengthy discussion in the comments area, it really should be moved over to chat.

As far as the time frame, I believe we have to option of one hour, one day, one week, or permanently. I chose one week for this particular question because I wanted to give everyone time to calm down and consider other options (like chat), and I also wanted to give people time to see what was going on and use this question as an example.

I didn't want to lock it permanently because we are not allowed to vote, andswer, or comment on any question that is locked. This question deserves to be here,a nd I feel that it will merit additional voting. Furthermore, I believe there are still other possible answers out there, so I didn't wnat to lock it indefinitely.

I would also like to remind people that you should vote a question or answer down because it doesn't have merit, is poorly worded, is off topic, or generally just doesn't belong here. I didn't see any comments for the question itself to indicate reasons for voting it down, and that is unfortunate because I feel that althought the question could be worded a little better to make it more appropriate, it is still a valid and pertinent question.

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    Note that my workplace blocks the SE chat tools, and I doubt I'm alone. So moving a discussion there isn't always an option. That's not SE's fault though, so I can understand the policy. This sounds like a good general policy. – T.E.D. Jun 14 '12 at 14:39

I know that the purpose of the site is Q/A, but I'm going to disagree slightly and say that lots of commenting alone should necessitate a lock. I completely agree that if things get personal then a lock is warranted and appropriate. My fear is that by locking questions that have lots of comments (not of a personal attack nature) it could stifle site interaction. Once the site has been around for a long time questions/answers may naturally acquire many comments. Are we then going to go back to old questions and lock them solely because they have reached a 12 comment limit? I think that personal attacks should be a hard standard, and spam commenting a loose standard.

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    Good point. As long as the comments are relevant to the post and provide meaningful input, they will be accepted. However, if it becomes an open discussion between two or more people who are trying to sway opinion, then that needs to go to the chat room. If the comments add value or additional information that is one thing, when it becomes a debate, that is another. – Steven Drennon Jun 15 '12 at 14:21

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