Possibly related to can we prohibit erasure of comments?...

On the thread Asserting that Atheism and Theism are both faith based positions, I posted an answer. There was a short exchange of questions in comments, as normal, which was approaching the point I thought we should move it to chat.

Then a moderator decided unilaterally to delete all my reply comments (and only mine), which left the comment thread unintelligible. A few hours later, all other replies were deleted. A few more comments were then made, but today I've found they've all been deleted.

Moving a comment thread to chat is absolutely normal when it becomes a discussion. Permanently deleting abusive comments is absolutely normal too. Permanently deleting comments after a few short, polite questions and answers though is unacceptable behaviour from a moderator, especially when they only delete one side of that thread so they destroy the value of that interaction for readers.

Ideally I would like the person responsible to justify why they did it, but I know that's unlikely. More practically, I'd like to ask how the site prevents rogue moderators from arbitrarily deleting comments, or puts some kind of penalty on them doing this? Downvoting or deleting questions and answers is handled well, but there seems not to be a good mechanism for dealing with inappropriate moderator behaviour.

This allows a rogue moderator to shut down any line of questioning on an answer which they disagree with, or simply to randomly delete comments for no reason other than to cause a nuisance. Whilst comments are not intended for extended debate, of course, they are intended for questioning which may improve or extend the answer; and moving those comments to chat is intended as a way of allowing this to take place without "polluting" the main thread. The value of SE is knowledge transfer through human interaction. If rogue moderators shut down that human interaction, then we lose what makes SE valuable.

Is there any way to solve this problem?

  • If you think a mod is behaving inappropriately you can report it to the SE staff (through the contact page). But I can guarantee you'll get nowhere on this issue with them. Comments are intended to be transient. If a comment thread no longer makes sense the best thing to do is write a custom flag asking for the others to be deleted too. Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 13:46
  • 2
    Comments being transient is not such a big deal. But being deleted almost immediately whilst the comment thread and the main question are very much active, that's pretty clear abuse of mod powers. I'll flag it to SE staff, thanks - it may not go anywhere, but at least I can try.
    – Graham
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 16:35
  • 4
    Comments are supposed to suggest improvements to the post, not to discuss the subject of the question itself. If they do not meet this goal, they can (and indeed should) be deleted. If you like to discuss contents, head for the chat. That being said: Moderation of comment threads is indeed more important the more active the comment thread and the question in general are since that tends to be when things go wrong.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 19:32
  • @PhilipKlöcking Agreed, and as I said, I've no problems with comments being moved to chat. A straight delete of active comments seems counter to this policy though, at least as I understand it.
    – Graham
    Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 12:29

1 Answer 1


Keelan's answer to the related question you linked to may be worth noting:

Originally, comments were meant for short-term discussion in order to improve the post. They should not contain anything valuable (if it is valuable, it should be incorporated into the post), and can hence be deleted.

If the comment contains a link I often add that link with reference to whom provided it in the post (question or answer) so it doesn't get lost. Otherwise comments should be viewed as temporary.

It looks like there are recent comments from you and another user that still appear below your question. At the moment it doesn't look to me like there was any foul play going on.

I up-voted your question because I think users should be encouraged to bring these concerns to this meta site without fear of down-voting. However, that does not imply that I agree with the position.

  • Thanks Frank. There are comments now, yes. However the original comments which I raised this about have gone, which is why I raised the point. That comments are now not being deleted may just mean that rogue moderator has moved on to griefing someone else on another thread. :-/ CoC says moderators should explain why they've deleted anything, so members know and can avoid repeating it in future. That hasn't happened here, even in spite of me posting a comment on the question asking why.
    – Graham
    Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 12:37
  • @Graham There may have been a problem. I assume what you saw originally was true. However, I don't know if the moderator(s) intentions were malicious or not. For what it's worth the comments under my answer to the same question were also removed. One moderator, Philip Klocking, in a comment above, did provide an explanation for why the comments were removed in that particular thread - the thread was very active and that is when things can go wrong. What can go wrong? The main thing would be rude or unfriendly exchanges. These should be flagged to bring moderator attention to them. Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 12:49

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