I know that extended comment discussions are discouraged and by SE rules they should be continued in chat. A prime example of this situation was the recent I was caught cheating on an exam, how can I minimize the damage?

On the other hand, I consider Academia SE one of the more "civilized" SE communities, where trolls are almost non-existent and due to the smaller size of this community, they are immediately "shot down in flames" before even attempting to troll. On this assumption, deleting or wanting to delete comments, because they state that "a cheater should be punished" or "welcome to adulthood" as JeffE said, for me really has no meaning. This too-much moderation is unnecessary here and it only resulted that a valued member (at least for me) of the community (Omen) has left. Was it really worth it? It has happened before (I think Pete was a little bit offended after some of his comments were deleted) and it will happen again. I am not saying anything bad about StrongBad (get the joke) because he was very polite, but still why do we need this extended moderation here? Why can't we leave the comments as they are, if they are not simply trolling.

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    This too-much moderation is unnecessary here and it only resulted that a valued member (at least for me) of the community (Omen) has left. - Omen left because he wanted to leave. I don't think it's relevant to this question; we don't base site policy on whether or not someone once misinterpreted SOP as some kind of "singling out." – ff524 Oct 31 '14 at 21:32
  • The specific discussion of Omen is not really relevant for site policy (as @ff524 writes above). However, I just want to point out that from what I've seen, he has created, deleted, recreated and then re-deleted accounts on several SE sites over time, so he seems to be "ambivalent" towards SE, irrespectively of what happened in this particular question. – fileunderwater Nov 5 '14 at 10:48
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    I have noticed some comments of mine vanishing, too. It has not happend often enough and in such situations that I would be offended, but still: they were deleted without any communication in my direction so I can't learn why. (And, of course, I thought the comments were appropriate.) That said, in cases of comments moved to chat, maybe the affected users should get a notification? – Raphael Nov 6 '14 at 13:04
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    @Raphael In many cases, the reason why is one of (1) flagged as "chatty" (2) part of a conversation in which the other user deleted his/her comments, so they no longer made sense (3) entire comment thread was cleaned up because it was getting distracting, or (4) edits to the post it's on made the comment obsolete. None of these require a user to learn anything from the comment deletion; these kinds of comments are perfectly appropriate when they are made, but are removed because they are no longer helpful. – ff524 Nov 7 '14 at 16:24

Couple of things. I don't believe I deleted any comments. I simply moved them to a chat room. I left a few comments that I thought were directly relevant and not yet addressed by answers.

As for Omen. I asked in chat about the comments and what we should do since at that point there were not a lot of flags on the question, but I felt uncomfortable with the comments. I was not singling him out. He chose to delete his comment and leave. It would have been nice had some other community members jumped in at that point to help out and either let Omen know that we loved him and/or let me know that we wanted the comments left.

As to why I moved the comments to chat, it was in response to comments and flags. The question itself has been flagged 25 times and a number of the answers have had multiple flags also. To give you an idea of what 25 flags means, there have been a total of 127 flags in the past week on the entire site. Most of these flags are for either obvious spam or obsolete comments. Most of the flags on the question in question were for rude/offensive and not constructive comments. I took that as an indication that the community wanted to do something. I felt moving the comments to chat was a nice compromise as it cleaned up the question while still preserving the comments.

EDIT I just look through the comment history and I was wrong. I deleted half a dozen comments that were truly offensive and personal attacks. Those comments were so inappropriate that I will not repost them here, or even hint at the content. I what I will say is they were so bad that I also took additional moderator action at the time of deleting them and warned the user that future comments like that would result in a suspension.

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    I am sorry to say but you do not answer the actual question. You basically said it yourself. Rarely this community has had a problem with comments (this is why we get so little flags per week). This specific question was a little bit "provocative" and some comments were rude. So what? We are humans. Why do we need to moderate this one question among the thousands and drive people away? Why cannot we leave the comments for one week for example and delete them when everybody has cooled down? – Alexandros Nov 1 '14 at 15:46
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    @Alexandros I wasn't trying to avoid your question. As you said some of the comments were rude and many were not constructive or obsolete. No one responded to the meta question or my comment in chat with an out cry to keep the comments. Only one user suggested the comments were helpful. While there was limited public support, there were 25 flags and comments on both the meta question and chat asking for the comments to be dealt with. Had I left the comments I would have been letting down the people who asked for them to be dealt with. – StrongBad Nov 1 '14 at 19:29
  • I was one of the people who requested the clean-up for the comments. The tail-end of the comments was getting pretty inappropriate and likely to incite additional arguments. That, and it was getting excessively long to read and turning into a narrative of events rather than a discussion of actual problem-solving outside the vein of the author's sole purpose. – Compass Nov 3 '14 at 16:53

Comments are ephemeral. They are there to ask for clarifications on a question or an answer. Once they've served that purpose, they can be deleted. If they don't attempt to do that, they can be deleted.

That's how comments are designed here on Stack Exchange.

There are occasions where a comment can help point out an egregious error in an answer; often, a better route is just to post a better answer; that better answer could include a summary of why it is better, including mention of the egregious error.

Deletion of comments is a routine bit of tidying up.

Discussions belong in chat, nowhere else. Well, they belong here on meta, in contained form, if they're about the operation of academia.SE itself.

If something's worth preserving, find where it belongs, and put it there. Not in comments. Put it either in a question, an answer, or a tag-wiki. If it doesn't belong in any of those, put it in a blog post on your own site, or in a journal paper, or a monograph, or a book. But not here.

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    I understand that comments are ephemeral. But why can't we delete those comments two days later, when everyone has cooled down? – Alexandros Nov 3 '14 at 9:25
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    @Alexandros The purpose of comments on the main site is to seek clarification. Did these comments seek clarification? No. So they were suitable for immediate deletion. That's the system working just as it is designed to. This design makes for a very successful network of sites. – EnergyNumbers Nov 3 '14 at 10:00
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    "Discussions belong in chat, nowhere else." -- Then move the comments to chat. – Raphael Nov 6 '14 at 13:05
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    @Raphael no, that's just pandering to bad behaviour. The trick is to get people to post to chat in the first place. If they find their typing deleted, they'll be deterred from doing it again. If they find them moved to the right place, they can carry on putting discussions in the wrong place, knowing that someone else will clean up after them. – EnergyNumbers Nov 6 '14 at 17:33
  • @Raphael ummm, that is what I did. – StrongBad Nov 10 '14 at 9:58
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    @EnergyNumbers I don't think deleting content is the right way to shape behaviour. Mentioning in comment, chat, and meta (and in extreme cases through private mod messages) I think is a much better way to shape behaviour. – StrongBad Nov 10 '14 at 10:00
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    Really? I often find a lot of value in comments, which seems to have no better place than comments, even on very old questions. Comments often add useful, interesting, entertaining, or otherwise-valuable additional information that is not another question and is not an answer. – Dronz Nov 14 '14 at 20:23

In my relatively short experience with the site, I haven't noticed significant problems with comment deletion. I do, however, find chat very problematic to deal with. At least as my browser presents the site to me, there is no equivalent to the comment inbox for chat, and so I never know whether there is something worth paying attention to going on there.

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    Some browsers allow you to respond to chat messages in a way that the OP will get a notification. Not every browser and not everyone uses this feature so it is a bit problematic. Then again the SE network is about delivering top notch Q/A sites and not about discussion forums or chat rooms. – StrongBad Nov 3 '14 at 10:56
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    I believe the chat sends messages when you use an @ reference. I received one yesterday from Strongbad, for example. We can always test to make sure it's functioning, if that's necessary. – Compass Nov 4 '14 at 20:51

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