Note: I do in no way want to say that the current moderators somehow do a "bad job" at moderating Physics SE. I think that they do a great work at, well, moderating this network and my full respect goes to them because I cannot even imagine how much work goes into this.
I often read comments something like this:
I have removed some comments that were trying to answer the question
posted by a moderator (of course, since they are as of my knowledge the only ones who can delete comments).
While I agree that comments are not for answering questions (they can be used, for example, to ask clarifying questions or give hints - I believe this does not count as an answer attempt), I disagree with how these comments are handled.
At least on my questions (when I see answer-like comments on other questions, they are most often already deleted (so I don't actually see them, but you get the point)), the comments often add valuable information. Sometimes, it is just some short explanation or links for further research, but they can still help a lot.
When the comments are deleted, this information is permanently gone. So I propose one of the following:
- The writers of answer-like questions should be notified that their comment should be an answer. They will have some time to either a) write an answer or b) if appropiate, add the content of their comment to an existing answer. If they don't do this in the given time, their comment will be deleted.
- Answer-like comments should not be deleted, but either hidden or moved. For example, discussions are often moved to chat; I think we've all seen this comment:
Comments are not for extended discussion. This conversation has been moved to chat.
I understand that this site and thus also comments have to be kept organized; but in the end, SE is a Q&A site. The goal is that users can ask questions and get answers - i.e. users help other users. I think that comments which do help should not be deleted (immediately or permanently).