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If a comment is flagged, do moderators normally look at only the comment, or also the general context of the comment such as what the comment was replying to?

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Given that I am the current grand-champion for deleting comments, perhaps I should address this. Note that other mods may hit your flag though and have other strategies. Hopefully it all evens out in the wash.

Yes, when I field a flag for a comment, I look at all the other comments on the same post.

For one thing, sometimes a person simply doesn't like what a comment has to say and wants to trick me into deleting it. I'm looking for that.

Other times, the comment may have become obsolete, so I'll check to see if the post has since been edited in a way that essentially surrendered to the comment. In that case, the comment should go.

Other times, the comment is chatty. Usually this will trigger a move to chat, and deletion of it, all other chatty comments, and all comments in the same conversation.

Sometimes the comment is "not nice". In that case it gets deleted, responses to it get deleted, and any less-than-fully-nice comments leading up to it get deleted.

And sometimes it is just such a huge mess that I'll "declare comment bankruptcy" and delete them all. If I can move them to chat first, I might.


That being said, if some injustice is done to a comment, well that's the way the cookie crumbles. Comments aren't our product here, questions and answers are. Don't expect comments to last forever.

I once had a friend who made a distinction between "house cats" and "barn cats". House cats are pets you care for. Barn cats can be cute and helpful with pest control, but they have all sorts of misfortunes befall them; stepped on by livestock, eaten by wildlife, run over, threshed, baled up, etc. That's just life. You don't get attached to them.

Comments are our barn cats.

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    I disagree with your second point -- that a comment that was actually helpful to improve the question / answer "should go". For one, it removes a positive example from the site. Second, that's what comments are for, and what StackExchange actively honors with the "Commentator" and "Pundit" badges. It's somewhat like removing all other answers once the OP has chosen the "correct" one... – DevSolar Feb 27 '18 at 14:23
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    @DevSolar - Comments' chief function is to help improve the post. The problem is if you have so many that someone has to click "more" to see them all, later comments get missed. So if a comment has served its purpose, and it is obscuring later ones that have not yet, it really ought to go. (And no, comments are simply not on the same level as answers. That's why editing and versioning tools aren't available for them, and that "more" link exists in the first place.). – T.E.D. Feb 27 '18 at 14:36
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    Still it's something other users can upvote (which somewhat alleviates the "missing" of later comments), and something the SE framework explicitly honors. I fully agree with the other points on your list, but that one I feel is a bit heavy-handed. – DevSolar Feb 27 '18 at 14:40
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    @DevSolar - ...and sometimes that upvote is a valuable contribution to the question itself, in which case I will try to keep it. But if its of the form "This post completely overlooks ....", that comment gets 57 upvotes, and the "..." is then taken into account properly and completely in the answer, then not only has it served its purpose, but it is now likely hurting the post unfairly because there is still a very highly-rated comment saying the post needs work, when it no longer does. – T.E.D. Feb 27 '18 at 14:46
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    @DevSolar (Realize we are talking theoretically here. I believe I deleted nobody's comments yesterday but my own, and haven't looked at the one you created a meta question over). – T.E.D. Feb 27 '18 at 14:48
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    Barn cats are people too. ;-) – TheHonRose Feb 28 '18 at 2:44
  • Yeah I agree fully with the points made in these comments. Comments do not hurt anything by being present. If a comment is not actively against the rules or damaging the site it should not be removed. The site rewards people for making helpful comments. By deleting the comment you are claiming the comment was not helpful and punishing them. Unless the site has changed it so that deleted comments are merely "invisible" and not marked as "bad" (unless some special mod thing is marked) deleting helpful comments is actually harmful to the commentor. – The Great Duck Oct 26 '18 at 1:06
  • Plus if someone makes a point and the answerer moves it into their answer without giving proper credit then by deleting the comment it makes it look as if those were the answerers thoughts and not something given by a comment. I think you might need to elaborate a bit further on that case.... it just doesn't seem right for SE in general. – The Great Duck Oct 26 '18 at 1:08
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I may not be the ideal person to answer, because I have only been moderating for a week or two. I need to understand the context of the comment before acting. On the other hand, in my limited experience, context has not been a discriminator. That is to say if a comment needs to go, it needs to go. While I have consulted context, it hasn't been relevant.

The comments I've deleted have either crossed the line into acrimonious debate, (in which case I'm going to delete the comment without reference to context), or have digressed beyond the attempt to clarify the question - in which case I'm going to delete without reference to context.

That answer feels a bit like Tevyev from Fiddler on the Roof - "they're both right.", but like Tevyev, it is at least sincere.

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