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Okay, the single largest thing that I have been surprised at since I became a moderator is the large number of comments which are flagged. So, what do we do about comments which are:

  1. Jokes
  2. Off topic.
  3. Conversations, at least in short order.
  4. Generally not helping the author in some way?

I've been using my best judgement on most of them, but I would like to get some larger consensus.

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    I would think if it's in those categories, simple deletion would work. If they're flagged, then someone feels they're out of order and, as I understand it, the idea is to keep chat to a minimum in comments. Is there a reason you don't want to just delete? – Tango Mar 10 '12 at 2:39
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    If it is funny joke (gets a few upvotes), leave it. We don't hate fun :) – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Mar 10 '12 at 7:44
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    @Wikis: That's a good point. But I think you also have to look at flagging -- are there enough flags to show the joke offends? Look at votes and flags to see which way things are going. – Tango Mar 10 '12 at 16:37
  • @TangoOversway: yes, I agree. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Mar 10 '12 at 17:37
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    This is an example for a comment that should be removed. – bitmask Mar 13 '12 at 17:15
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There have been many debates on Meta Stack Overflow, with no firm consensual guidelines. Here are mine:

  • If it's offensive or likely to provoke angry responses, delete.
  • If it's likely to generate a lot of replies, only keep if it's firmly on-topic.
  • If it's a standalone joke or other by-the-way item, remove only when the number of comments approaches the limit after which not all comments are shown, to leave room for possible future more useful comments to be visible. It's more important to leave room on questions than on answers.
  • If someone took the trouble to flag it, and it's not obviously relevant (e.g. pointing out a mistake in a post), delete.
  • If a conversation is starting up, leave a comment telling participants to go to chat. Unfortunately, there is no tool to migrate existing comments to chat.
  • If there is an ongoing conversation, especially if it's underneath an answer and the answerer isn't participating, possibly lock the post for a short duration (1 hour or 1 day). This must be done very sparingly, because locking also prevents editing and voting (more granular locks have been requested).
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