# Comment removed bizarrely and unprofessionally

I clearly remember posting to ask @Qmechanic whether their (novel to me) Dirac delta appears in the context of HEP or GR or string theory, which are my areas of interest and, I gather, also Qmechanic's.

I actually was looking forward to receiving some context from Qmechanic! The fact that someone deleted my comment addressed to Qmechanic with no reason given is rude, but doing so without notifying me is plainly unprofessional. For example if I knew Qmechanic personally I could have thought they were ignoring me for some perceived slight. (I do not in fact know them personally.)

Anyway this prompted me to delete my account which I understand will happen in a few hours' time. I'm sure on some level that a mistake was made in this instance (as opposed to my comment being in violation of whatever policy) but it is frankly an enormous waste of my time to post any content on a website that can just lose my contributions either due to error or due to bad policy.

• Don't rage quit! Log out and take a wikiholiday instead (say, 2 weeks). Jul 17 at 20:14
• To paraphrase a line from "A Man For All Seasons" : “For a Comment ? Why Alexarvanitakis, it profit a man nothing to give his Account for the whole world. . . but for a Comment!”. The comment by @PeterMortensen makes sense - I sometimes do this myself. Jul 19 at 8:28

First, I can't help but comment on OPs (over)reaction. We get people complaining about deleted comments very often, but this must be the first time someone deletes their account because of it. OP has contributed to the site for more than eight years, and this was the last straw? What really happened here? It baffles me that you chose to delete your account before even posting this question on meta, before getting any feedback, and before you had time to think about what happened. Is there any chance you could reconsider? Hopefully it is not too late to cancel the deletion, and it would be sad to see you go because of this.

Second, let me show you my sympathy. Getting your comments deleted can indeed be bizarre the first time it happens. Now, it turns out that this is a by-design feature: SE wants comments to be temporary, so you should very much expect your comments to disappear eventually. But, indeed, if you are not familiar with this aspect of the site, it can be very confusing when it happens. I already got used to it and I think it is a useful feature, but I was also uncomfortable at first. All I can say to you is: it will take some time before it feels natural, but eventually you will hopefully agree that it does more good than harm.

• I appreciate the consideration that went into this answer. Don't read too much into the deletion. As far as I'm concerned, I am committed to physics rather than SE; if SE and its policies get in my way, SE gets axed. If I feel like compromising with respect to the unfit-for-purpose SE policies again, I'll make a new account.
– user21299
Jul 17 at 15:57
• This is not an option for regular users, so it should not be one for moderators either. Using this logic then really there shouldn't been any special moderator privileges. The moderators could abuse any number of their privileges; I'm not sure why this particular one shouldn't be allowed because of that. Based on ACM's answer it doesn't look like power was abused in this instance anyway. Jul 17 at 16:35
• @BioPhysicist I think that your first claim is really a non-sequitur. There are many instances where moderators (and other users with special privileges) are expected not to use their powers if it affects them directly. For example, in voting to close as a duplicate of a question where they have an answer themselves. This is no different. I am not claiming that moderators should not do things regular users can't -- indeed, what would be the point of moderators then! (1/2) Jul 17 at 17:37
• 2/2 My point is that they should not use their powers to have an advantage when acting as regular users, e.g. when interacting with their answers/questions. An extreme example would be banning users that are competing against a moderator for a bounty. This is an action they should not perform, because it provides an unfair advantage to the standard site mechanics. (Also, I don't see how ACMs answer shows that power was not abused here. The answer seems the standard response to comment deletion, but this example is special because it involves an answer by a mod, which is what I'm addressing) Jul 17 at 17:37
• @alexarvanitakis In any case, I just wanted to say that this is a loss for the community and I wish you didn't leave. You will be missed. Jul 17 at 17:40
• Thanks; that's a better argument/reasoning. Jul 17 at 17:44
• It wasn't Qmechanic who deleted the comments, it was me (I've edited my answer to make that clear). We indeed usually refrain from acting with mod powers on our own posts. The comment in question was not critical or anything - it simply asked a follow-up question about the content in the answer, and so I deleted it together with an obsolete discussion about what 'OP' meant. (As for why I was looking at that post in the first place: it's HNQ, and HNQs oftren require comment pruning)
– ACuriousMind Mod
Jul 17 at 18:03
• @ACuriousMind 1) I assumed it hadn't been QM who deleted the comment. But I shouldn't have to guess, or to trust your word. To some extent, all moderators are a single entity, and it doesn't really matter who does what. 2) The content of the deleted comments is secondary, and it doesn't really change the issue in principle. Also, given the info in the OP, one could also imagine that the comment was actually asking for a reference, which is a good purpose for a comment. Alas, I cannot see the original comment anymore, so again I will have to take your word for it. (1/2) Jul 17 at 18:13
• (2/2) 3) I understand that curating HNQ posts is not an easy task and I wouldn't want to be in your shoes. But one could also argue that moderators should be specially careful when dealing with such posts. I can imagine a situation where a mod purposefully deletes comments that question their answer, thus giving the false impression that the answer is undisputed and hence maximizing the upvotes of the HNQ. Of course I trust that none of you would do something like that but, again, things shouldn't have to depend on trust. Jul 17 at 18:13
• @AccidentalFourierTransform Mods also delete comments on other answers which e.g. explain upvotes (and then lead into a discussion, which sometimes also gets the initial comment deleted). This could equally give the impression that the question is undisputed. I don't see the difference in the effect, except the motivations behind the action might be regarded as different. Jul 17 at 21:18
• @NorbertSchuch "I don't see the difference in the effect, except ..." why yes, the key is precisely that "except". This is exactly my point! Mods should try to avoid these situations where one could accuse them of conflict of interest. I honestly trust our moderation team but, again (x2), things should not have to depend on trust. Their actions should be sufficiently transparent that, at no point, should one be guessing whether they did something unethical or not. Jul 18 at 9:41
• @AccidentalFourierTransform Comment deletion is almost never transparent. Jul 18 at 9:56
• @BioPhysicist I don't follow your logic at all. Suppose (1) Someone posts a question. (2) A moderator answers it. (3) Someone else posts a duplicate question. Why on earth should the same moderator not be allowed to process the second question as a duplicate? Either the second question is a duplicate or it isn't. The name (or the age or the eye color) of people who answered the first question is irrelevant . Jul 19 at 12:25
• @alephzero I can't find where I said anything related to what you are talking about. Can you please bring me up to speed? I agree in that scenario the moderator should close it as a duplicate. Jul 19 at 16:38

Comments are not for follow-up questions, comments are for clarifying or criticizing the post being commented upon, and hence your comment was removed (I deleted it together with some other obsolete comments). It seems likely that you expect comments to fulfill a different function than they do.

We - both SE at large ("Comments are disposable: unlike posts, there's no public revision history, and they can be deleted without warning by their authors, by moderators, and in response to flags.") and this site in particular - have always been very explicit that comments are temporary and ephemeral and so you should have no expectation of them lasting forever. It is neither bizarre nor unprofessional to follow through on this.

• Comments should be there to facilitate communication. Whatever aesthetic preconceptions the SE chiefs have about what comment sections should look like plainly do not interest me when they impede the exchange of ideas. I stand by my characterisation.
– user21299
Jul 17 at 13:02
• @alexarvanitakis so whatcha sayin’ is that the site rules shouldn’t apply to you (at least when it comes to comments)? Jul 17 at 13:22
• @alexarvanitakis … and if I may say so: I really believe you’re overreacting by cancelling your account over comments removed. You obviously contributed over the years, and your answers should matter more than your comments. Jul 17 at 13:28
• @ZeroTheHero No, I think this is an issue that could affect other people (as well as myself) on SE, hence why I posted about it instead of just deleting my account. One way to view this is as follows: I claim that my comment there was a Good Interaction; it it's forbidden by the rules, I then claim the rules should be changed so such Good Interactions are allowed for all users, not just myself.
– user21299
Jul 17 at 13:30
• @alexarvanitakis ‘still a pity to loose a long time user over this. The comment has been removed and I don’t have context, but even if the comment was hastily removed and it’s frustrating, the fact remains that comments are not meant to be permanent, can become distracting, and are not searchable. So even when I feel a comment of mine has been possibly hastily removed, I just eat it as I get more from answers than comments. Jul 17 at 13:34
• @alexarvanitakis A more profitable course of action for everyone (or, at least this community as a whole) would be to stick around and get QMechanic to calmly clarify their position through a chat conversation. Jul 17 at 13:40
• @ZeroTheHero Just to clarify i don't have a dispute with Qmechanic. I'm annoyed because (what I think happened is) somebody else deleted a comment where I asked Qmechanic a question, so Qmechanic never saw my comment in the first place.
– user21299
Jul 17 at 13:43
• @alexarvanitakis well… whatever. My point is: while I do not agree with every decision by mods to remove comments, I agree with most and I don’t think there’s any nefarious intent. As a user I would make different decisions in hindsight, I’m sure other users would be critical of some of my votes, and I recognize that my perspective is sometimes incorrect or not shared by others, even if I think I’m right. I still think I have something to learn from others, so I don’t sweat too much over occasional differences of points of view. Jul 17 at 13:51
• @alexarvanitakis one does not reach 2k rep without multiple well-received contributions, and I see no reason to believe there are not more good contributions to come. I still think you’re overreacting, especially over a comment (which admittedly I cannot see). Jul 17 at 13:54
• @alexarvanitakis This is a Q&A site. It isn't a site to "exchange ideas". From the context, it looks like your comment was asking a new question. Just post a new question then. New questions don't belong in the comments; there is a place to explicitly ask questions on the main site. Also, since QMechanic is a moderator, it could have been them who deleted the comment. Jul 17 at 14:26

There wasn't really a question in this meta, but I'll throw in that, with respect to deletion of comments, my primary issue is the opposite. I'd like the mods to delete more comments more often, especially on questions. I did a quick search, and it seems to me that thousands if not tens of thousands of unanswered questions are sitting on the site ineligible for Roomba solely based on having more than 1 comment sitting on them. (See criteria for RemoveAbandonedQuestions here https://physics.stackexchange.com/help/roomba .)

Some of these are surely good questions that just didn't get attention and might someday get an answer, but many of them are low-quality / off-topic questions that will never be answered and were asked by users who haven't returned in quite some time.

This is a particularly chatty community. Sometimes that is part of a constructive process, so it shouldn't be shutdown completely. At the same time, there comes a time for cleaning up partial work that isn't progressing. Within the structure of the SE sites, that has to mean deleting comments.