Often a question that hits the hot network questions list or otherwise becomes controversial, attracts a lot of low-quality comments. I understand that this puts the moderators in a difficult position, but what I'd like to propose is that once it becomes clear that removing large numbers of comments is needed (beyond one or two problematic commenters), the moderators do so in bulk rather than selectively.

That is, either we should put the Controversial Post mechanic into effect, or there shouldn't be wholesale deletion of relatively normal comments.

I had a highly upvoted and on-topic comment on this answer deleted ostensibly because "it mostly reinforced the answer and being prone to misunderstandings." This is a very weak reason for deleting comments, and I think it should be quite obvious that many other comments on that page have not been deleted even though they too "mostly [reinforce] the answer and [are] prone to misunderstandings."

I'm all in favor of moderators acting aggressively on comments (which aren't a core part of the Q&A format) on controversial questions. I just don't think it makes sense to be really aggressive in deleting some comments but not others. So I'd like to propose that on questions that are protected the moderators go ahead and delete all discussion-y comments.

  • I'd say that of all the stacks I participate in, Academia tends to handle comments more reasonably than any other. That doesn't mean there couldn't be improvements to the process, but it's hard to find a good balance, and controversial/HNQ posts are particularly difficult. The weak reason you refer to is in fact a valid comment deletion reason in the SE format.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Sep 4, 2018 at 18:31
  • There is surely selective deleting of comments.
    – Scientist
    Sep 5, 2018 at 14:49

1 Answer 1


In general

what I'd like to propose is that once it becomes clear that removing large numbers of comments is needed (beyond one or two problematic commenters), the moderators do so in bulk rather than selectively.

As elaborated here, one of the main points of deleting comment or moving them to chat is to make important comments visible instead of being drowned in long discussions, monologues, or similar. If we deleted all comments or moved them to chat, there is little gain in comparison to leaving them all standing (except offensive ones).

This specific post

Before your comment was deleted, comments were deleted on said answer as follows:

  • Five comments that were posted by a single user were deleted by me because they violated the code of conduct.

  • Two comments were deleted by their authors.

  • Four comments were deleted by me because they replied to the above comments and were obsolete after their deletion.

Note that this was not a typical move-to-chat situation. All of the comment deletions were independent of the total amount of comments on the post. After this, the only comment left standing was yours, which read:

Reading “I couldn’t resist her” made me get pretty angry with OP, and I didn’t sleep with him! Yes you could have, you didn’t want to. Take some ownership and responsibility for your actions. This answer is good.

This comment is basically:

Good answer, in particular the eighth paragraph.

It does do a little bit more, but that’s mostly taking a harsher tone. It does not fulfil any of the criteria for worthwhile comments outlined here. If there are not many other comments on a post, I usually leave such a comment standing because highlighting the highlight of an answer has some value. However, otherwise I would delete it or move it to chat without hesitation. I first left your comment standing because it was the only one.

Then your comment attracted strong criticism in further comments and in chat. One reason I see for this is that the part of “Take some ownership and responsibility for your actions” could be interpreted as referring to the blackmail – if taken out of context.

I therefore deleted this comment (and the comments in response to it) with the rationale you quoted. From another point of view, I found myself debating about the offensiveness and intentions of a comment that was in the greyzone for deletion anyway. Hence, to avoid further debate, I deleted your comment.

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