In the 2015 community ad proposal thread, I posted an ad for physicsoverflow. Then I posted a comment under it to provide some extra information. Here I'll try to reconstruct the deletions in chronological order from memory, if there is anything not factual, I welcome corrections:

First time I commented

I'm surprised by the number of downvotes, in case of misinformation and with no intention to start a debate, here's a mathoverflow link containing a brief introduction:https://meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/1608/physicsoverflow-just-went-live

The above comment disappeared when I checked the page a few hours later, and I assumed it was an error, so I posted a comment again

Related: https://meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/1608/physicsoverflow-just-went-live

This got deleted again. So I made the inquiry

I'd like to know in accordance to which rule my comments got deleted twice with no notification, whereas for other ads some comments adding information are perfectly ok.

This time I monitored my post, and this inquiry got deleted in a few minutes after I posted it.

Hence here I'd like to use this meta post to make a formal inquiry:

(1) In accordance to which rule my comments got deleted thrice?

(2) Is it common practice for moderators to delete comments without notifications to the author? Is it justified by any policy?

Followup: According the answer by David Z and Kyle Kanos, the reason is Qmechanic posted a link and asked people not to discuss under the ad. To defend myself I must say I did not ignore Qmechanic's comment, the reasons I posted my comment despite it are:

(1) Qmechanic's link is not the mathoverflow link I gave, and I do think mathoverflow information has more merit since people there are more experienced with a research-level site. And if my memories serve, originally Qmechanic did not post the link of the PSE meta post and only the chat room was given, only after the deletion of my first comment did he post the link of PSE meta post. Please correct me if this is not factual.

(2)I did not consider my link to be a "discussion", but only an announcement. But I won't tangle with you on this, I am willing to follow your definition of "discussion" and let it go.

(3)To me notifications have usually been given before deletion on PSE, but now I know that's out of courtesy, and I guess there's a difference between the PSE main site and meta. I'm fine as long as it is written in the rules, thanks for the clarification.

After the clarifications, now what makes me curious is why my ad deserves the special treatment? That there is no such mandate like Qmechanic's imposed on other ads?

Addition: After the conversation with Kyle Kanos, it becomes clear that moderators are not violating any rule set by Stackexchange; what is also made clear is that moderators have unlimited power at comment zone with 0 restriction, in accordance to the rule. This is a very unjust rule, and it would be humane for moderators to refrain from wielding this power. However, the current situation suggests the unreasonable(but again, not illegitimate) power is being very actively exercised. I rest my case.

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    $\begingroup$ I would note that the idea that moderators' ability to delete comments is unjust is entirely your opinion. You're certainly entitled to hold that opinion, but I suspect you will not find many other people here who agree. If you think the power to delete comments is being abused, you should raise the issue in a separate meta post, or contact the SE team, who provides oversight of the moderators. If you think moderators' power with respect to comments should be restricted, please do bring it up on Meta Stack Exchange. But trying to pass off your opinion as a higher truth in this way helps nobody. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jan 5 '15 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZ “....is entirely your opinion. ” That's by default whenever one speaks, no need to state the obvious. "trying to pass off your opinion as a higher truth", sorry to cause that impression, I certainly don't imply it's a "higher" truth, but I thought my tone was as soft as it could be without compromising the opinion. $\endgroup$ – Jia Yiyang Jan 6 '15 at 2:38
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    $\begingroup$ Hm, well we could have some discussion over this convention, but as far as I'm concerned, if a person says something without marking it as their opinion, it constitutes an attempt to represent it as a fact. I think this makes sense for a site in which technical questions get answered by experts. Besides, we've seen it happen before that people call moderator actions unjust, or some such thing, in an attempt to cast themselves as objectively right. Those of us who have been here a long time have learned to be very wary of such things. (Anyway, it's good to know that wasn't your intent.) $\endgroup$ – David Z Jan 6 '15 at 2:51

There is a comment directly under your post from Qmechanic that states,

Please avoid discussion and comments here. Use instead the related meta post and its chat room.

So basically, you were asked to use the two linked resources to discuss anything, rather than the Community Ads thread, and you ignored that message.

Note also that comments are considered "second class" citizens and can be deleted without approval/consent of the posted user. You can read more about it here.

Typically, questions involving Physics Overflow quickly degrade into "not so nice" comment threads. Qmechanic's comment was a warning to prevent such a new thread from occurring by diverting people to a channel where it is more appropriate (i.e., chat). As an aside, the Meta post gives some information about Physics Overflow written by one of their founders, who also wrote the MathOverflow post you wanted to link.
None of the other posted Ads recommend such a controversial topic, so no similar warnings are necessary.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, I have updated my question. $\endgroup$ – Jia Yiyang Jan 5 '15 at 4:42
  • $\begingroup$ @JiaYiyang: I've updated my answer to reflect your new questions $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jan 5 '15 at 12:42
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your updates, you've made a point on moderator's motivation, though it does not convince me such deletion is legitimate. $\endgroup$ – Jia Yiyang Jan 5 '15 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ @JiaYiyang: Why wouldn't the deletion of comments be legitimate? DavidZ & I both provide links stating that comments can be deleted by the authors or moderators at any time, as stated by StackExchange employees! If that is not legitimate, I honestly have no clue what is legitimate. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jan 5 '15 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ Now I'm not saying moderators are against the rules. I'm using illegitimate in a soft sense. As I have come to understand after the clarifications, the rules basically say comment zone is where moderators can exercise their free will, with almost 0 restriction. I only want to say it is not a good thing to wield this power with so much ease. $\endgroup$ – Jia Yiyang Jan 5 '15 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ Then our expectation is very different. People have debated over it last year, around the almost single issue of niceness rule. I don't think there's much left to be debated once people saw last year's post. I'm not asking to remove the PSE meta post linked by Qmechanic, and I'm fine with a comment like "notice the site does not mandate niceness rule.", but a deletion of a link providing more information(and I freely admit that I'd like to inform people about perception of physicsoverflow at mathoverflow) isn't the way to go. $\endgroup$ – Jia Yiyang Jan 5 '15 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ Again, it falls back to your ignoring explicit directions left by a moderator: Please avoid discussion and comments here. It does not matter what content you were trying to provide, since your actions were disobeying directions. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jan 5 '15 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, and I replied to that already: "As I have come to understand after the clarifications, the rules basically say comment zone is where moderators can exercise their free will, with almost 0 restriction. I only want to say it is not a good thing to wield this power with so much ease." , the rule is not a justified rule. We probably disagree on this fundamental issue. $\endgroup$ – Jia Yiyang Jan 5 '15 at 14:08
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    $\begingroup$ No, your opinion is not backed by any data. Please see this thread for more on Moderated-deleted comments. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jan 5 '15 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand what you meant by "your opinion is not backed by any data", the link you gave basically reiterates the fact that moderators have unrestricted power on deletion, which I have come to understand already, and I simply think there should be some restrictions to the power. And if I'm to take Manishearth's answer, neither of the situation he/she mentioned applied to my case: 1. Community ad post explicitly requires not to put links in main post. 2. My comment surely is not off topic. $\endgroup$ – Jia Yiyang Jan 5 '15 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ Note also that your position on comments depends on viewing comments add permanent objects like answers. This is contrary to the idea put in place by the StackExchange team. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jan 5 '15 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ "Note also that your position on comments depends on viewing comments add permanent objects like answers." Sorry that is not what I'm implying. You can still delete the comments if the discussion is done/obsolete, if the content of discussion itself is not offending rules. This is also said by user10001 in the link you gave, I see no satisfactory reply to him/her. $\endgroup$ – Jia Yiyang Jan 5 '15 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ This is outright distorting my view, it is clear in the context I'm asking for comment to stay but not asking for eternal stay, there's a qualitative difference between deletion after minutes(as made clear in my main question) and deletion after days. $\endgroup$ – Jia Yiyang Jan 5 '15 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think it's a distortion. Anyways, your view on it is irrelevant. It's a simple matter of not following directions. You and everyone else were told not to post comments on your answer, yet you thrice ignored directions, so why would you expect to like the outcome? $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jan 5 '15 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, that has been clarified, I'm content with the answer. But note in our conversation the topics had slided, I only felt compelled to defend my view along the slide. $\endgroup$ – Jia Yiyang Jan 5 '15 at 14:59
  1. The rule under which your comments got deleted is the following, which was posted right there on the post which you were commenting on:

    Please avoid discussion and comments here. Use instead the related meta post and its chat room.

    I'm sure you don't need me to tell you, but when a moderator leaves direct instructions not to do something and you go ahead and do it anyway, you're probably not going to like the outcome. (Same goes for when a site policy says not to do something and you do it anyway, although in that case you might at least have the excuse that you didn't know about the policy.) The proper way to ask why your comments were being deleted was to bring it up on meta, as you did, or to ask in chat.

  2. The Stack Exchange model is that any information worth keeping belongs in a question or answer; comments are meant to be ephemeral. Consequently, we (moderators) often delete comments for a variety of reasons. You're also encouraged to delete your own comments once they have served their purpose. You will find the following in the relevant Meta SE FAQ:

    Comments are disposable: unlike posts, there's no revision history, and they can be deleted without warning by their authors, by moderators, and in response to flags.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, I have updated my question $\endgroup$ – Jia Yiyang Jan 5 '15 at 4:41

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