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In this this question, Federico Poloni's wrote an answer:

You can write an e-mail to the authors and ask for a copy of their published paper. Almost everyone will be happy to send you one. [...]

which is a very good answer. However, as an academic, I wanted to share my experience on when I would use the suggested solution. I added a comment in line with:

I would only write to the authors if Sci-Hub dies.

This is not only my choice. For too many fellow academics and scientists, Sci-Hub is the first option, even when legal access exists.

Unfortunately, my comment was deleted. It was by no way unconstructive, offensive, or rude.

Would the moderators kindly justify the deletion? Wasn't it opinion-based?

  • I like your comment ("I would only write to the authors if Sci-Hub dies"), but I wouldn't discourage e-mail requests in favour of potentially illegal activities. – user2768 Dec 20 '17 at 17:20
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Let me start with I did not delete your comment and you are probably not going to like this answer ;)

Comments are the bane of the SE system in my opinion. We need them, but we don't like them. Quoting the help center

Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer.

As you say, we try and delete comments that are unconstructive, offensive, or rude. But we also try and deal with cases that violate

When should I comment?

You should submit a comment if you want to:

Request clarification from the author;

Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post;

Add relevant but minor or transient information to a post (e.g. a link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the question has been updated).

Your comment was flagged as no longer needed. As it wasn't really doing any of the above and may have actually fallen into the When shouldn't I comment category of Secondary discussion it seems like it really wasn't needed.

Of course as you are probably aware, there are tons of comments that are not good comments and we have not deleted them all. As I said, you are probably not going to like the answer that your comment was deleted because it wasn't needed despite the fact that lots of other comments that are not needed do not get deleted.

As for what you should do. You should really turn that comment into a new answer that can be properly voted on and evaluated.

  • I actually liked your answer - specifically the acknowledgement that "lots of other comments that are not needed do not get deleted." ;) – Orion Dec 14 '17 at 22:19
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I was the moderator that deleted your comment. StrongBad's answer explains the reason very well. I would just elaborate on the following:

Of course as you are probably aware, there are tons of comments that are not good comments and we have not deleted them all. As I said, you are probably not going to like the answer that your comment was deleted because it wasn't needed despite the fact that lots of other comments that are not needed do not get deleted.

This site is primarily moderated by the community. In the case of comments, that means that diamond moderators review a comment if it is flagged by one or more members of the community. If the comment should be deleted (according to the criteria explained in StrongBad's answer), and it is brought to our attention via a flag, then we delete it.

The reason why so many deletion-eligible comments are not deleted, is because they haven't been flagged, and so they haven't been reviewed by a moderator. (Contrary to popular belief, it is not because moderators read all comments and delete the ones they disagree with, while leaving the ones they agree with.)

Your comment was flagged, I handled the flag and reviewed the comment, and since it met the criteria for deletion, I deleted it. It really had nothing to do with my opinions about Sci-Hub (for the record, I have no strong opinions about it one way or the other).

  • What do you mean when you speak about the "criteria for deletion" that the comment met? – Federico Poloni Dec 15 '17 at 19:41
  • @FedericoPoloni see my answer and the help center for what comments are about. – StrongBad Dec 15 '17 at 21:17
  • @StrongBad Nothing in the help center mentions comment deletion, as far as I can see. You mean the "when should/shouldn't I comment" part? That's why I am confused; I don't know of any particular guideline about comment deletion. – Federico Poloni Dec 15 '17 at 21:27
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    @FedericoPoloni I think I summed it up when I was elected academia.meta.stackexchange.com/a/1009/929 it seems ff524 has changed her views to include flagged comments academia.meta.stackexchange.com/a/1000/929 but yeah, basically comments are temporary post its and should be deleted. – StrongBad Dec 15 '17 at 21:42
  • @FedericoPoloni Generally if a comment is flagged and it falls into the "when shouldn't I comment" categories, I'll delete it. – ff524 Dec 17 '17 at 1:03

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