The more active meta postings on MSE have often had hijacking problems, such as
Controversial comments on issues incidental with the topic of the meta post
This, of course, happens a lot on the internet, but IMO has been particularly problematic here. Restarting debate on controversial topics has the effect of making it difficult to discuss the actual topic of a meta post, fragments the discussion on the controversial topic, and just makes the overall meta environment more hostile.
Comments that would make more sense as a whole new question
These don't just derail the original topic: they also obfuscate the new topic of discussion as well: they do not appear in the question list, are difficult to search for, cannot be answered, do not have full featured voting, and while they can be commented upon, the comment thread is not clearly visible, especially if entangled with on-topic comments.
Comments that are really answers
These have similar features as comments that should be new questions.
In an ideal world this could be dealt with via self-discipline, and inviting off-topic discussion to go someplace on-topic; but in practice this doesn't happen, and the invitations have even been outright refused -- commenters sometimes refuse to bring up their pet topics of interest in a meta posting and instead prefer to discuss it across comments of loosely related topics, or absolutely refuse to post an answer to a question, instead preferring to post their answer in the comments of the question (or even another answer) and discuss it there.
If we do not accept the hijacking, the only real recourse is to appeal to moderation; e.g. users should flag the comments prompting off-topic discussion and refraining from contributing to the new topic, but this can only work if moderators commit to actually cleaning these things up properly. (as an example of improperly, in some forums the comments that start an off-topic discussion are treated as if they are not actually off-topic, but merely provoked the discussion, and moderators will leave the provocative comment up but remove all of the replies)
So I have up to three questions:
- Do others agree that this is a problem?
- If so, should we try doing something about it?
- If so, will the moderators commit to it?