I recently asked a question. I got some valuable comments, but the commenters and I disagreed on a few things. After like 5 comments we reached agreement.

Then @ACuriousMind stepped in and moved almost all comments to the chat. I didn't knew it at the time, but it seems that comments that are moved to the chat get deleted after some time. This makes sense for a chat. But certainly not for comments.

I recently read something new about the topic and thought I could add something to the discussion. However, before that I wanted to reread my question, the answer and the comments. But the now the comments are gone. A valuable piece of the puzzle is now simply missing.

More importantly, the first commenter, whose comment is now upvoted three times and appears undisputed, even agreed that his line of though was wrong - in a comment that is now gone. The content of the discussion has been seriously altered.

What sense does it make to move valuable comments to the chat? I get it, when just two people exchange like 20 four-word sentences. If the conversation is "chat-like" and certainly not valuable in the future, it surely can be moderated. However, when there are long comments that add new perspectives to the question or an answer this is simply ridiculous. Especially, given the fact that the comments that are moved to the chat get deleted after some time. It is not as if these comments would take up space and thus need to get removed.

This type of overeager moderation does not help anybody, except maybe the moderator, who can feel some sense of accomplishment, because he "cleaned something up". It discourages scientific discussions, creates a hostile atmosphere and smells like censorship.

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    $\begingroup$ Not all chatrooms are deleted: from the chat FAQ, chatrooms are preserved (though possibly locked if inactive) if they have more than 15 messages by at least 2 users. $\endgroup$ Apr 10, 2017 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ Chat is actually far more permanent than comments. $\endgroup$
    – TRiG
    Apr 12, 2017 at 9:47
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    $\begingroup$ I have not come across too many comments, I am let down by seeing a "comments should go to chat warning" and am most irritated if I have to click through to chat to see if the comments may contain something more I want to read. - I am prepared to say that folding comments so only the top 3 are visible by default (if there are more than say 6) is a acceptable compromise. I am also mighty irritated that the new comments get injected into the sequence and as I do not have photographic recall to see where in the mix they get inserted before the highlighting fades away, leave the highlights on. $\endgroup$
    – KalleMP
    Apr 14, 2017 at 9:06
  • $\begingroup$ I agree this in the case if the comments are valuable. Beside that, note: chat is useful for unbounded talks, it is underused, it may be because it is not very ergonomic, but its function is very useful: you can make unbounded talks with your pals there. Use it, it is important and useful in the community building. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Apr 14, 2017 at 23:51
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    $\begingroup$ I've been yelling at mods all over SE for this for a while now. They just don't seem to get it that they're being actively harmful. $\endgroup$
    – user541686
    Apr 23, 2017 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Mehrdad We could probably go back and forth for quite a while about why you're not going to make any progress on that no matter how much you yell at the mods, but this is not the place. (Nor the time, really.) $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Apr 23, 2017 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZ: Yes I'm aware, if SE wasn't so stubborn life would be way too easy. $\endgroup$
    – user541686
    Apr 23, 2017 at 18:54

2 Answers 2


I've un-deleted your two chat rooms and made you an "owner" of each, so you should be able to mine whatever information you'd like from the old comments. Check the chat FAQ to understand when a room will be automatically frozen or deleted again.

Comments are intended to be temporary:

Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer. They can be up-voted (but not down-voted) and flagged, but do not generate reputation. There's no revision history, and when they are deleted they're gone for good.

If you have a discussion in the comments that clarifies a post, please edit the new information into the post, or use the new information to write an answer to your own question. Don't rely on comments hanging around for ever, even if you like them.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for un-deleting the chat room. However, I'm still curious where the idea that comments are temporary comes from? Comments are often as valuable as questions and answers. In the concrete example of my question, how could the comment discussion be incorporated in my question? John Rennie had an idea how to solve my problem that, according the upvotes, others like and agree on. However, after discussing it with me, he agreed that his line of thought was wrong. Thus the comments are certainly also valuable for others that think the questions can be answered this way. $\endgroup$
    – jak
    Apr 10, 2017 at 8:48
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    $\begingroup$ New answer: "From a comment discussion, here's a plausible-sounding line of reasoning which doesn't work for an interesting reason: [summarize]." There are many meta discussions about the temporariness of comments. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    Apr 10, 2017 at 8:56
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    $\begingroup$ @rob I find it telling that you responded to JakobH with a comment instead of incorporating the issue he raised into your answer. $\endgroup$ Apr 12, 2017 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ @NowIGetToLearnWhatAHeadIs I think that's not so: I edited in a source for "comments are temporary," and my answer already suggested summarizing a comment discussion in a new answer. If you think this post could use further improvement, please edit it. :-) $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    Apr 12, 2017 at 17:32

As a complement to rob's answer...

What sense does it make to move valuable comments to the chat?

It makes sense to add them to the chat because this allows people to continue the discussion therein without distracting from the question and answer.

It makes sense to delete them from the original post because the purpose of Stack Exchange sites is to allow people to ask good questions and get good (e.g. correct) answers. Our purpose is not to host interesting discussions for people to read. Discussions are distracting.

Some other functionality has proven to be necessary to support the core goal of Q&A, and that includes commenting, but it still takes a back seat to questions and answers.

This type of overeager moderation does not help anybody, except maybe the moderator, who can feel some sense of accomplishment, because he "cleaned something up".

Actually, it helps all the readers who find a question here and can directly get the answer without having to delve into caveats, discussions, and arguments that go beyond the scope of the answer. We have seen it happen in the past that people get confused by comments.

It discourages scientific discussions

Yes, that is the point. We want to discourage discussions, except to the extent that they improve the questions and answers.

creates a hostile atmosphere and smells like censorship.

Well, that seems like a stretch to me, but if you really think so, that's an opinion you're entitled to hold. If you really do believe comment deletion is so bad, this may not be the site for you. That's okay. Stack Exchange is not trying to please everybody; some people are looking for something that they just won't get from our Q&A-focused model.

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    $\begingroup$ I disagree with the claim that too many comments would be a distraction. Indeed, only a few comments (the most upvoted ones first, seemingly) are shown in any case, so uninterested readers don't have to even look at the other ones. Comments often (but of course not always, and not even most of the time) contain useful complementary information, and occasionally a complete answer to the question. If I can somewhat see the point of having "answers in comments" discouraged, I really don't see the benefits of getting rid of the comments (except for trivial ones). $\endgroup$ Apr 17, 2017 at 13:00
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose you haven't seen the people who get confused by comments and even mistake them for answers, leading them to miss the actual answers. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Apr 17, 2017 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ No, I confess I haven't seen that happen. And I have difficulties to imagine this happening, except when the only comments are to the main question, and no other answers are present. In which case the comments are probably better than nothing. $\endgroup$ Apr 17, 2017 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ I have seen it happen. Or I should say I have seen people admit it. I don't know how often it happens and we never hear about it. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Apr 17, 2017 at 19:41
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    $\begingroup$ " the purpose of Stack Exchange sites is to allow people to ask good questions and get good (e.g. correct) answers. Our purpose is not to host interesting discussions for people to read. Discussions are distracting." -- this makes me sad. That's not how science works. Sometimes the process of arriving at the answer or questioning and debating the answer is even more important than getting the correct answer, if there even is a straight answer in the first place. So it's actually very beneficial (at least to me) to be able to see the top few comments to make me think beyond what is simply $\endgroup$
    – nervxxx
    Apr 22, 2017 at 10:15
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    $\begingroup$ (continued) presented as the right answer. Which I would not bother to do with chat simply because it's on another link. The philosophy of discouraging discussions is actually quite detrimental to science, because it conveys the message that there is a textbook answer to a question and that is that, 'nuff said. I suppose that is why physics stackexchange has become somewhat of a 'homework' Q&A site. $\endgroup$
    – nervxxx
    Apr 22, 2017 at 10:20
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    $\begingroup$ @nervxxx Your points are all fine, but you're just misunderstanding the purpose of the site. It was never meant to help "science work", or to even stimulate something which may lead to the progress in science. It's a Q&A site for things to which there is a "textbook" (or rather "widely accepted") answer. If you are looking for interesting discussions on science, the main site is not the place to be (though Physics Chat is often pretty good, if you know who to talk to!) $\endgroup$
    – Danu
    Apr 23, 2017 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Danu Shrugs. It just sounds pretty ironic: explicit homework questions are discouraged and flagged, but then you say the purpose of the site is to encourage textbook Q&As. To me that's just... confused. But hm, perhaps I wouldn't know: I'm not an active user anymore. Maybe something changed in the policies from the time I was a rather active user in '13-'14 to now. Back then it was an exciting time to use physics stackexchange with high level Q&As and the likes of renowned people like XG Wen contributing, but I stopped using the site when I found I wasn't gaining much out of it anymore. $\endgroup$
    – nervxxx
    Apr 23, 2017 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ @nervxxx Not all textbook Q&As. To oversimplify it a bit, we want those questions that fall in a middle ground of complexity - neither simple straightforward applications of basic undergraduate physics, nor intricate problems that require extensive original research to answer. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Apr 23, 2017 at 15:02

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