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From time to time my comments get deleted (sometimes right after being posted). For me it is very frustrating - I feel chaotic in an environment in which my things change without a notice. I refresh things a few times, double check if I posted a comment on the right post, question my sanity for a short time... and then only realize that it has been removed for a reason I do not fully understand.

Please, if you have to remove my comment, DO inform me. I don't claim that all of my comments have high value. I only claim that I don't want to participate in a place where my things disappear at random.

And for the last 2-3: could you write them (I don't have access to them) and present some rationale? (Hopefully the benefit for the community is bigger than the cost of frustrating a user (i.e. me), and potentially discouraging him for good.)

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    Notifications for deleted comments have been treated at meta.SE here and here. – Stephan Kolassa Sep 18 '15 at 11:34
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And for the last 2-3: could you write them (I don't have access to them) and present some rationale?

I think it's useful for the the community to see what kinds of comments get flagged, and why. So here goes (these are listed most recent first):


Comment: "@DeboraWeber-Wulff It would be cool to carry a scythe."

Post: Presentation time is out in a scientific conference

Flagged as: too chatty


Comment: "[Best wishes for the overzealous comment deleter.]"

Post: PhD application denial - Is it usual to ask reasons/recommendations?

Flagged as: not constructive

I handled this flag, so I can comment further on the rationale. This post is not an appropriate place for a complaint about comment deletion. It's entirely possible that the "comment deleter" would never even see it, since it's not directed @ anyone. Instead, every future visitor to this post would have to read it... for what purpose? It does not improve the post in any way. If you want to start a constructive conversation about comment deletion, meta is the place to do it.


Comment: "You don't mention a country/system in which you applied. If you applied to a particular professor, you can get some informal feedback; if to a university/department - it's unlikely to get any feedback (see answer)."

Post: PhD application denial - Is it usual to ask reasons/recommendations?

Flagged as: It wasn't flagged. It was deleted after the user added the requested information to the post, presumably making the first part of your comment obsolete.


Comment: "@xLeitix I turned it into an answer, thanks."

Post: Is there a lack of oversight of how professors interact with students?

Flagged as: obsolete.

I handled this flag, too, so I can comment on the rationale. This comment is meant to notify a user of something but has no additional purpose beyond this notification. Generally when handling this kind of flag, , I check to see if the user it's directed @ has been on the site since the comment was posted. If so, I will delete it. Otherwise, I wait a little longer.


Please, if you have to remove my comment, DO inform me.

Since the purpose of removing comments is to remove "noise," it would be counterproductive for moderators to inform you by adding a comment. Also, there is no way in the moderator interface (when dealing with comment flags) to add a comment, so it would involve extra work to go to the post and add a comment.

I think a better way would be for the website to notify you automatically when a comment of yours is removed. If you want, you can suggest this as a feature request on Meta Stack Exchange (if it hasn't been suggested already).

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    Thank you a lot for gathering them and commenting! The "too-chatty" thing was my single interaction in that post, with at least +2. While I understand the rationale, for me it does more harm than success. "Best wishes for the overzealous comment deleter.]" was indeed non-constructive, but it happened just after my constructive comment was deleted (and the edit solved 1/2 of the issues raised there). With adding noise - you are right, and the best way would be automatic SE notification. In any case, I will try to refrain from commenting at all (since there is a risk of a silent deletion). – Piotr Migdal Sep 11 '15 at 0:57
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    @PiotrMigdal - The "scythe" one was mine, I deleted based on the flag and the fact that it was, in fact, just discussion. However, looking back at it, I did violate my own policy of leaving those types of comments up for at least two days. My fault, I should have left it there for the duration of the discussion. – eykanal Sep 11 '15 at 13:22
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    Generally when handling this kind of flag, , I check to see if the user it's directed @ has been on the site since the comment was posted. If so, I will delete it. What if I'm on the site and haven't read the comment yet? – Joel Reyes Noche Sep 17 '15 at 4:50
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    @Joel That can happen. If you delay reading comments for some reason (for hours, days, weeks, whatever), you may find that they're no longer there when you go to read them. Such is the nature of comments, as we don't have any more reliable way to tell whether the recipient has actually read them. – ff524 Sep 17 '15 at 4:58
  • @eykanal I guess, if you need to wait for two days for safely take action, you can propose a feature-request in the Meta to make another flag that inform you to return to the comment/post after two days. – Ooker Sep 19 '15 at 17:24
  • @ff524 SE is not a real-time interaction, so delay does not happen "for some reason", but it's by design. While it's not possible to cover some cases, but I guess a day is a sensible threshold (IMHO it should capture most of the cases). – Piotr Migdal Sep 21 '15 at 7:50
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    @ooker: Sounds like you are talking about meta.stackexchange.com/q/119096/135695 ? – Ben Voigt Sep 23 '15 at 5:30
  • @BenVoigt precisely that. +1 on here and there – Ooker Sep 23 '15 at 7:06
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There's a general principle on Stack Exchange sites that comments should be considered ephemeral and will be removed without warning or notification when the community feels they are not helpful or no longer needed. This is global across the whole Stack Exchange network and the SE staff have shown no signs of considering changing this. So if you want to participate in SE sites at all, I think you have to live with "your things disappearing at random".

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    Upvoted since this is a correct description of the state of affairs (not because I believe this should be the policy). – Anonymous Mathematician Sep 20 '15 at 22:57
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    I know this rule, and don't mind if they are being deleted some time later. But deleting them just after they got created makes question my, my computer's, and SE's sanity. And while I am/was active on other sites (Physics.SE, TP.SE, MathOverflow) I only experienced such frustration on Academia.SE. – Piotr Migdal Sep 21 '15 at 7:45
  • This is a terrible and entirely sub-optimal way to go about comment noise. Comments get votes. Let comments that rep'd users wish to delete go towards the site's background color, becoming less visible (or simply add a downvote button). Upvotes can return it to greater visibility in either event. It does indeed present a type of unearned censorship and just like the problems of censorship can produce events where unpopular but important texts get removed from history. – TheDoctor Sep 27 '15 at 23:08

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