At one point, I had posted two comments on this answer. As of this meta question, one of those comments, the later one, is now gone.

What happened here? The comment was (I thought) a germane and innocuous expression of appreciation for the writing of Derek Lowe. I have no idea why it would have been felt necessary to remove it, at least not so soon after I posted it.


Did someone (a mod, I guess?) delete one of my comments for no apparent reason?

Yes, but no. The comment was deleted by a moderator, but not for no apparent reason. It was flagged and there was no good reason to keep it. Your other comment was also flagged, but this was declined as it contains a suggestion to improve the post.

As Jan pointed out, comments are not meant for eternity. (I'm personally not a huge fan of comments.) It is a routine task for us to clean them out, regularly and including our own. Usually when we have a look at a post, we read through the comments and clear whatever is distracting from the answer/ question. Most of the times these are old posts; I try to not clear any comments within the first day. Sometimes this also means merging two comments, adding a title to a link, etc. We are basically doing, what you are doing when flagging comments, only that our flag is binding from the start.

Keeping questions and answers focused is one reason why I like this site. I am glad that we are not academia, where every post needs to be commented a hundred times, basically turning everything into a discussion.

P.S. I have no idea why the flagger flagged the comment though, but since the question was "hot" there might have been many regular irregulars coming in for the show, trying to earn a helpful flag.

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    $\begingroup$ As Jan pointed out, comments are not meant for eternity. And yet, most comments do linger indefinitely on most posts. SO overlords should make them automatically self-delete after a few days, if they really want them used only in nonpermanent ways. $\endgroup$ – hBy2Py Dec 14 '16 at 5:10
  • $\begingroup$ That said, your explanation makes sense. (I'm not upset, btw, just a tad befuddled.) It's just inconsistent with 99%+ of my interactions with SE sites centered around comments. $\endgroup$ – hBy2Py Dec 14 '16 at 5:12
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    $\begingroup$ @hBy2Py I'm almost certain that auto-destruction of comments has been discussed on meta.se. However, there are certainly new problems coming along with that. Ideally a comment should lead to an edit and after that should be deleted. However, sometimes it just adds another factoid or source that the OP doesn't want to include, then they should probably stay around longer. Academia is a nice site to check what happens, if comments are treated like raw eggs, i.e. there are various forms of "I agree, it is my experience, too. <insert anecdote>" $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Dec 14 '16 at 5:20
  • $\begingroup$ @hBy2Py I understand that this is befuddling, just see it as a refreshing change to the surrounding SE sites: Whenever you read a comment on chemistry.se; it's probably important. Hence minimising wasting your time reading anecdotes. And if you read something you'd rather not have read, because it's too chatty/non-constructive/obsolete, flag it. We're happy to remove the noise. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Dec 14 '16 at 5:25
  • $\begingroup$ I'd love to have a privilege out there where I could vote toward bouncing a comment conversation to a chat room. Flagging often doesn't bring intervention soon enough. The logistics of that kind of feature would be really messy, though. $\endgroup$ – hBy2Py Dec 14 '16 at 5:27
  • $\begingroup$ Here's the meta.SE discussion on auto-deletion of comments. It's sitting at a healthy -27. And anyway, just to chip in: this is pretty representative of SE's stance on comments. $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Dec 14 '16 at 5:35
  • $\begingroup$ @orthocresol Some of the discussion at those links would seem to argue that, in fact, comments are not meant for eternity is not, in fact, accurate. $\endgroup$ – hBy2Py Dec 14 '16 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ @hBy2Py ‘And yet, most comments do linger indefinitely on most posts.’ — If nobody is flagging them, the mod team don’t know they exist and can’t remove them. Simple as that. $\endgroup$ – Jan Dec 14 '16 at 23:41

Only mods can delete comments, so it will have been a mod.

Understand that as per the SE model, comments are never meant for eternity. They are meant to point out issues in posts or to suggest adding additional information. They are not meant to say thanks or for fun, even though we all are guilty of using comments in such a way.

If a comment got flagged as obsolete or too chatty, then the mod handling the flag will have to have a good reason to decline it; if they just robo-declined comment flags they would be going against SE’s intention. Thus, most comments are deleted upon flagging.

Nobody except mods can see deleted comments, so only they will be able to tell you what it was flagged as and/or why they chose to delete it.


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