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I just had a very dirty trick played on me by another correspondent. I was having a discussion about the Stern Gerlach experiment where I claimed that you cannot split a ray into two dots. First people said I was a crackpot (and that was OK with me). But then when I started to gain traction and show that I was write, one DMcKee posted a comment saying essentially "So what? Everyone knows that the two dots are just a simplified explanation. No one claims the experiment has actually been done".

So I wrote back and said, "I love this site. First they call you a crackpot, and then when you prove you're right, they say "so what? everybody know's that's true."

This apparently embarassed McKee, so he took down his comment! Now my comment is just sitting there by itself not making sense.

I think that is a very dirty way to play the game. You make a post, you should stand by it. When someone proves you wrong, it is the height of cowardice to delete your post. I am disgusted at this kind of behavior on this site (and it's not the first time.)

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    $\begingroup$ I took down my comment when another commented with a link to an example of exactly such a thing. I was simply wrong. That happens. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Oct 6 '16 at 17:14
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    $\begingroup$ THEN ADMIT IT BY LEAVING YOUR POST WHERE IT STOOD. You award "reputation points" for showing off how right you are, and then you hide your own mistakes. That is disgusting. $\endgroup$ – Marty Green Oct 6 '16 at 17:16
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    $\begingroup$ And why is my question being downvoted? $\endgroup$ – Marty Green Oct 6 '16 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ @MartyGreen Downvotes on Meta signify that people disagree with the position taken (and do not affect reputation). Downvotes here simply mean people disagree with your post for whatever reasons they may disagree. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Oct 6 '16 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ Concerning the votes here the only thing I can tell you is that I did not vote on this post. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Oct 6 '16 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ dmckee realized he was wrong. He withdrew his remark. That seems to be precisely the right thing to do, not the wrong thing. Why should someone "stand by" their remark if they know it's wrong? Also, for the record, official Stack Exchange policy says that comments are temporary. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Oct 6 '16 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ I don't give a damn what your policy is. The right thing to do is admit that you're wrong. Not to hide it. $\endgroup$ – Marty Green Oct 6 '16 at 18:40
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that if you make a comment that turns out to be wrong, and if others have responded to that comment, then it is much better to post a new comment acknowledging your error than to delete your comment, rendering the responses (which people might have put some effort into) incomprehensible. Yes, I know that in principle, comments are meant to be ephemeral, but in practice, people do sometimes work hard at crafting comments that are illuminating and to the point and I think it would be much better to preserve their value. $\endgroup$ – WillO Oct 6 '16 at 22:47
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    $\begingroup$ @WillO If comments are illuminating and add substantial value, then why not edit them into the post on which they are made? Clearly the post was lacking some information that led to the discussion/misunderstanding/error to begin with -- so if the content is good and adds clarity, it should become part of the original post and removed from the comment threads. The site isn't a forum -- people shouldn't have to trawl through loads of back and forth discussion to get a clear answer. It should all be the answer and that is it. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Oct 6 '16 at 23:32
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    $\begingroup$ Hi @MartyGreen, it's good to know that you don't give a damn what the policy here is; I like that kind of honesty and I don't mind being very honest with you (which is probably the best reason why l shouldn't be a moderator here): your outrage, judgment, and opinion is of no value to me and the reason is simple - you've (on my judgment) willfully destroyed your rational faculty and joined the ranks of the eternally victimized. Sure, some will say Alfred, you're too harsh. Bah, I can smell the formula from miles away. $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Oct 9 '16 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not a question, but rather an (undisguised) rant. $\endgroup$ – Danu Nov 19 '16 at 18:18
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Frankly, if you're disgusted by that kind of behavior, you should not be participating on this site (and probably not on SE sites in general).

To elaborate, comments are ephemeral. They can and should be deleted once they no longer have a purpose to serve, with respect to improving the post they are attached to. They may be deleted for many other reasons, or for no reason at all (i.e. simply that the commenter didn't want to have the comment up in public anymore). If you respond to a comment that you later find out is deleted, the proper response is to delete your own reply. If you see that someone else has posted a reply to a deleted comment, the proper response is to flag the reply as obsolete. Same goes if you delete your own comment and there are replies to it; you should flag the replies (at least the first two or three, if there are many) as obsolete.

You can complain about it, but you will find that any argument for preventing people from deleting their comments will not be well received.

Questions and answers are a separate issue; there are more stringent rules about when we allow people to delete their own questions and answers. But in general, when someone proves you wrong, if you are able to delete your post, doing so is perfectly reasonable. While we wouldn't go so far as to force deletion of wrong answers or questions based on wrong information, if you choose to do so, you are presumably reducing the amount of wrong information on the site and thus making it a better resource, which is a good thing.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I thought you'd say something like that, since you've done the same in the past. $\endgroup$ – Marty Green Oct 6 '16 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ @MartyGreen It's been done in the past because that's how it is designed to work. Comments are intended to seek clarification on a post -- once the post is clarified, the comments should go away. Their purpose is served. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Oct 6 '16 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I understand that comments are meant to be ephemeral. But in practice, people do sometimes put non-trivial effort into crafting comments that are useful, illuminating, and to the point, and I think it would be a good thing to respect that effort. So if a comment turns out to be wrong, and if it's part of an illuminating discussion in which others have invested some effort, I for one would much prefer to see the commenter post an acknowledgement of error than to delete the comment. $\endgroup$ – WillO Oct 6 '16 at 22:51
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    $\begingroup$ @WillO Certainly a commenter can post an acknowledgement of error if they wish. My point is more that deleting the wrong comment is also a perfectly reasonable course of action, and I do not support any initiative that would change that. $\endgroup$ – David Z Oct 7 '16 at 13:18
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I don't like the attitude of this question. Don't forget that your ultimate goal when writing a question, answer or comment should be helping other people, not winning internet arguments.

So, you have found a comment that you know it's wrong. Since you want to help people, you respond with a comment pointing out the error in order to warn future visitors. You even ping the other commentator, so he can read your correction and learn from his mistake. That's fine. Now, the other commentator realizes that he was wrong, and deletes his comment. In that way, future readers don't need to waste their time digging in a back-and-forth only to found out that the original comment was wrong and not relevant for the answer at all. Therefore, deleting the wrong comment is the perfect outcome of your interaction in terms of the site's goals.

You shouldn't feel disgusted because someone didn't stand behind his wrong comment. You should feel proud because the site works as intended, and you've been a part of it.

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Can I point out that deleting a comment once proven wrong is a form of admitting one is wrong. The conversation is between the involved people at first. If one points out what they think is an error and the other points out that there is no error and the person is wrong, the comment should be deleted. The objective was to inform the author, but the informant was himself corrected. Everyone involved knows what happened, it doesn't serve anyone to keep the comment. The goal is not to keep something around to show that any person was wrong, it is to improve inaccuracies in the post. Keeping these comments around if they are wrong only serves to embarrass people with "see, people disagreed and they were wrong". That's not the point. It is spiteful and arrogant to force someone who disagreed with you when you were right to be put on display as an example of them being wrong. dmckee saw he was wrong and admitted it by removing the incorrect assertion. The only way he could have failed to admit his error is if he had left it there and either said nothing or continued arguing the same point. But that's not the case.

It should also be pointed out that had it been the case that he had deleted the comment and left you only with the comments from others that corrected it, other readers would see a response comment, not see the original comment and think "Oh, the other person must have realized they were wrong and removed their comment". The only problem you seem to have arises because you followed up his actions with a broad accusatory statement that intentionally attempted to further humiliate the person who disagreed with you. It was revenge (whether or not you intended it that way, this is the common unconscious motivation for such actions). They stood against you and tried to belittle what you said and in response, you attempted to point them out as fools. It occurs to me that had you not opted to act out of revenge and spite, there would be no issue.

The removal of the comment was justified and the most reasonable course of action. When the objective is not to point out someone's folly and only to improve the content on the site, it becomes logical that anything counter-productive to this goal be removed. The comment was wrong, it was removed. Keeping it around does not improve the quality of content on the site. Had the comment been correct, it could be left there until a corresponding change was made in the post. Once the issues addressed in the comment are dealt with, right or wrong, it can and should be removed. Obsolete or wrong comments only add to clutter and confusion. And for the record, I do strongly advocate removing correct comments if the issue was dealt with. The objective is not to showcase that one was correct in pointing out a fault, that is just as arrogant as forcing incorrect comments to remain. The correcting comment should only stay if the issue was not fixed in the post.

You can fight against this policy all you like, but the idea is to have good and correct questions and answers, not to have records of the myriads of discussions that led to a good answer. We are not here to show how well we can correct other people nor how often other are wrong. We are here to present correct answers to questions. If a proposed correction is wrong, there's no benefit in having it remain. If you don't like it, nobody is forcing you to utilise the SE network.

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I agree with the other users here, if you make a post, you think it is right, if someone shows that your post is incorrect then it is perfectly reasonable to take it down, there isn't some sort of contractual obligation to stick by something you know is wrong. It's much better to swallow your pride and just delete it.

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