# A feature request:Blocking the removal of a comment which was already quoted

It happens sometimes that a user removes his comment(s). I think it is okay when nobody replied to them. However, when other people already replied to them, their time writing the replies was spent for nothing. To avoid this, I would like to suggest a feature request that blocks the removal of a comment by the author which was already quoted.

• If you disagree with the request, I would like to hear the reason why, instead of just down voting. – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 5:22
• Would you also want this to prevent moderators from deleting comments? Because that is fairly common. – Alex Becker Aug 16 '13 at 6:04
• @AlexBecker That is a different problem. I'm talking about only blocking the removal of a comment by the author of the comment. – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 6:11
• A bit off topic, but don't take downvotes so personally! It's most likely that people simply don't like the idea, and agree with one of the answers already posted. It'd be redundant for them to state the reason for their downvotes when it was already stated. – Ataraxia Aug 16 '13 at 7:02
• @Ataraxia I just want to know the reason(s) for the down votes. Some of them down voted when there was no answer. – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 7:10
• You should know by now that downvotes on meta are a sign of disagreement. People disagree with the feature request, for example if they think it's not a good feature. – Asaf Karagila Aug 16 '13 at 7:12
• @AsafKaragila Please see my last comment. – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 7:13
• No one really owes you an explanation. I don't see the point in adding a comment "I don't think this is a good feature request". Instead, a downvote says exactly that. – Asaf Karagila Aug 16 '13 at 7:16
• @AsafKaragila What's wrong with my first comment? – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 7:20

• Difficult to decide when a comment should be considered as quoting another comment.
• Not an expected behavior - we'd get endless meta threads "Why can't I delete my comment?"
• Too easy to abuse (one could maliciously prevent someone else from deleting comments).
• Not worth the SE team's time and effort to implement this just to save you the inconvenience of writing a new comment.
• "Difficult to decide when a comment should be considered as quoting another comment." This is only a problem of software. I believe the problem can be solved without a hassle. – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 6:43
• "the" Have I now quoted your comment? – Zev Chonoles Aug 16 '13 at 6:55
• I might add to the answer that the SE model puts "negative value" on comments, and sees them (more often than not) as temporary post-it notes. Making comments permanent goes against all that philosophy. – Asaf Karagila Aug 16 '13 at 7:11
• @ZevChonoles Of course not. So what? – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 7:25
• @MakotoKato: My point is that it is "not. So" obvious whether one comment should be considered as quoting another. – Zev Chonoles Aug 16 '13 at 7:36
• @ZevChonoles How about introducing a quoting syntax? Like [quote=my name]TEXT[/quote]. In any case, how to implement the feature is a pure software problem. I think we don't have to worry about it. – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 9:48

If one of the users in a comment conversation decides that his part should be removed, it is usually a sign that the comments have become either obsolete or non-constructive. Removal of the whole comment thread is a good thing in those cases.

Prohibiting the removal of quoted commments would make it impossible to ever remove any conversations except for laboriously removing the comments backwards, one at a time (which would have to be coordinated between the participating users).

Your proposal would make it effectively impossible for the community to remove any longer comment threads, which is rather harmful in my opinion.

Sometimes this feature would be fine - particularly here in the discussion threads. However, on the main site this would have a negative net effect.

I have been a party to many an exchange of the following kind (at both the giving and the receiving end): 1) somebody posts an answer that is of a high quality, but has a minor mistake, 2) somebody else points it out in a comment, 3) the original author fixes the error and leaves a thank you note. Often enough at this point the sequence of comments no longer serves a point, and is deleted in its entirety.

There are longer versions and variations to this basic exchange.

I view the removal of such exchanges as a form of professional courtesy. I feel that leaving those comments would distract future readers. The comment served its purpose, the help was acknowledged, pleasantries were exchanged - time to move on.

I'm sad to say I may not have remembered to remove all my comments that would fit this description. May be one party or the other had to do something else, and the matter was forgotten?

If this (math.SE that is, not meta) was a discussion forum, I would agree with you. I'm a new user to stackexchange, but have some experience from various forums. In the beginning I found it confusing when comments had been removed and answers to non-existing questions popped up out of the blue.

I was also confused by the selection process for comment previewing when there are a lot of comments to a post. I still don't really get it, but it definitely have something to do with the number of upvotes. Nevertheless, it chops up the discussion thread and it's hard to follow what's being debated unless you view all the comments.

I think the important issue here is that this is not primarily a discussion forum, it's a Q+A site. I guess one important goal is that a future visitor should quickly be able to find the answer to his/her question without needing to go through several pages of discussion.

With this in mind, I think the way it works today is fine, primarily because it kind of discourages (or at least does not encourage) the use of the comment field for permanent discussion.

• A meta thread tagged as (discussion) is a discussion thread. – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 8:28
• I was under the impression that you were disussing math.SE and not meta. Am I wrong? – Daniel R Aug 16 '13 at 8:30
• I meant the both. – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 8:40
• Then I'm not sure what you mean. Would you like to have a [discussion] tag at math.SE too? – Daniel R Aug 16 '13 at 8:43
• No. I'm asking the feature request both in MSE and meta. If you agree with the feature only in meta, please say so. – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 8:48
• Maybe in theory. But I think @ZevChonoles reply is good and applies also for meta. – Daniel R Aug 16 '13 at 9:03