I've noticed that a couple of my comments on a question have been removed. Up until now I thought this site was pretty laid back with comments. Has that changed?

FWIW the comments were on this question saying how great the story sounded. So, nothing I can't live without but it seems a shame when my only goal was to encourage a new contributor.

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    I know someone was auto-flagging any comment with the word "+1" in it.... – Valorum Jul 3 at 18:30
  • @valorum really? Well mine didn't contain that but perhaps the same person flagged my comments? – Wikis Jul 3 at 18:31
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    Frustratingly that individual's efforts resulted in multiple useful comments (specifically those on Story IDs confirming that an answer is correct) being deleted. – Valorum Jul 3 at 18:34
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    @Valorum It's not the same flagger as the one who was flagging any "+1" comment, though I suspect the flagger(s) are querying for comments with certain keywords. – Null Jul 3 at 18:36
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    @Null - Systematic flagging of any sort (going out hunting for things to fix) should be discouraged, imho – Valorum Jul 3 at 18:38
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    Possibly related to the network-wide comments scour: Let's hold language in comments to the same standard as posts – Möoz Jul 3 at 21:56
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    @Möoz: Are we OK with people from Meta Meta coming in and enforcing their policies over here? I'd lean towards no. – Kevin Jul 4 at 0:03
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    @Kevin Well that particular post is by an SE employee for something about SE as a whole so in regards to that we have no choice. As for in general yes, if they know our communities culture and specific policies, else no. As a case study we also said no to the auto flagger for spam (well raising it to 5 flags) but I believe it is set at 5 anyway (gut feeling, no evidence). – TheLethalCarrot Jul 4 at 8:11
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    @TheLethalCarrot The Smokey autoflags did increase, everywhere on the network except SFF. So they respected our meta consensus. – Rand al'Thor Jul 4 at 12:01
  • @Randal'Thor Ahh okay, like I said was just a gut feeling rather than anything concrete, glad to hear it. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 4 at 12:03
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    @Valorum Say what? How could a user's flag result in the deletion of a comment indicating that a story-ID answer is correct? Which of our moderators would delete such a comment? – user14111 Jul 4 at 23:11
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    @user14111 It was not a mistake made by a moderator. Moderators can undelete any comment deleted by another moderator, so if a moderator mistakenly deleted a comment then any other moderator could undelete it to correct the mistake. However, moderators are not able to undelete comments that were deleted by a non-moderator (usually the comment's original author, though sometimes by multiple non-mod flaggers and in rare cases by a single non-mod user... – Null Jul 5 at 14:47
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    ...In this case, a single user was able to flag-delete certain story-ID "thanks" comments and, since the deletion was not attributed to a moderator, no moderator can undelete it (we can only see it and confirm that the OP accepted it). There is an open feature request on main meta to correct this bug (i.e. allow moderators to undelete comments that were flag-deleted by a single user). – Null Jul 5 at 14:47
  • @Null Oh. I didn't even know that users could delete comments. Well, if you can't undelete comments, I guess you can achieve the same effect by quoting a deleted comment in a new comment in your own name? That might be worth doing in case of a valuable comment that should not have been deleted, e.g., a comment by the asker confirming (or rejecting) an answer to a story identification question? – user14111 Jul 6 at 4:46
  • @user14111 Yes, if I come across such a deleted comment I put some sort of comment of my own explaining that the OP indicated acceptance in a deleted comment. It's hard to find such deleted comments, though. – Null Jul 6 at 5:03
up vote 19 down vote accepted

It's not so much that the policy has changed, it's that certain users have been aggressively flagging comments lately.

Some of the comments that were flagged on the linked question included:

It sounds fantastic!

I remember reading a short story online about this but I can't remember what it was called or where it was.

I wanna read this, identify please.

The help center's information on comments says:

Comments are not recommended for any of the following:

...

Compliments which do not add new information ("+1, great answer!"); instead, up-vote it and pay it forward;

...

Since those comments don't add any new information and were flagged, I deleted them in accordance with the help center's guidance on commenting.

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    I flagged at least one of those comments (I believe it was the first one) and have been flagging more nowadays in general so my comment flags have generally gone up. I'd just like to point out the following (after reading the comments on the question and the way it's worded here): I, myself, do not go out hunting for comments, everything I flag I've come across organically. Also that a lot of these comments, especially the linked 3, are just pointless noise. The first and last can be UVs or favourites and the middle one could be the same or a future answer. They don't add anything. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 4 at 8:06
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    @TheLethalCarrot - thank you for the explanation. It's a separate question but... isn't this a bit too much? Part of the "fun" of this site is in the comments. – Wikis Jul 4 at 14:02
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    @Wikis Yeah but we don't need pointless noise cluttering the comments like "It sounds fantastic!" Especially when there are a few comments. I don't think I personally would have flagged the second comment (depending on when I saw it and the context of it). Though if you want fun the only "joke" comment on the post is still around. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 4 at 14:06

Additionally, while the policy itself hasn't changed, there was a meta post about the need to apply as high of standards to comments as to posts.

While comments are treated differently than standard posts when it comes to their expected life span, the tone and civility of comments should be no different than what we expect in regular posts.

Admittedly, this is a different area of exploration than your comments, in that they're exploring how negative comments ("Did you even try Googling it?" "We don't do your homework here" "Die in a fire, n00b") have been shown to discourage not only the original querents, but also people visiting anonymously, but having a meta post that was Featured, and therefore showed up on the sidebar for several days, with a title of "Let's hold language in comments to the same standard as posts" is bound to make an impact.

  • Also this is a useful point in terms of the general question here, I had forgotten that post was so recent. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 4 at 14:21
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    This is not really what I was asking. I was asking more about comments in general (eg "chatty" comments). Rude comments should always be nuked from space... it's the only way to be sure. – Wikis Jul 4 at 15:00
  • @Wikis: {nods} Yeah, as I noted, it's a different area of concern, but people tend to summarize in their heads, so I could readily see someone taking away the title text of "Let's hold language in comments to the same standard as posts" and more broadly flagging comments that don't seem to be of as high quality as posts. – FuzzyBoots Jul 4 at 15:07

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