There could be a check-box when you post a comment that says 'temporary'. It must be mandatory for you to ping someone in the comment to use this feature. You must also require a certain rep threshold to use this feature. Once posted, it will be visible to all that you have made a temporary comment.

When the other user who you have pinged sees the comment within a week's time, he has the authority to delete your comment. If the one-week deadline passes, it becomes an ordinary comment and you get a notification.

This can solve 2 major problems:

1. 'Thank you's - Many users like thanking other users, though SE policy does not recommend this. If you want to thank a user, you could just leave a temporary comment. Once he/she sees it, he can delete it, leaving no noise afterwards.

2. Clarifications - Often the OP is asked clarifications on his post. When the OP replies (and takes necessary action, such as editing the post), he could use a temporary comment. When the person who first asked the doubt sees this, he could delete both comments - his own as well as the OP's, leaving no mess afterwards.


I know that one could always flag comments to have mods delete them, but this is better since it reduces the work for the mods. Also people don't need to keep track of their past comments, since they have the assurance that the OP will see and delete the comments (or put another reply, which again notifies you).

  • $\begingroup$ For "thank you", basically everything you do here (ask, answer, comment) can be upvoted, so it's unnecessary -- it's not for nothing that thanking is discouraged (of course if you can make a lengthier comment than just "thanks", by all means, do it). If someone asked for clarification on something, it's likely that the clarification will help someone else too, so the clarification should at least be incorporated in the question or the answer before being deleted. In general, once it is, you can flag the comment for mod removal -- they are usually quite diligent about that. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi May 27 '15 at 15:52
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    $\begingroup$ You seem to posit someone marking their Comment for later removal by means of a novel "temporary" feature, but you don't address the existing ability of that poster of a Comment to simply delete their Comment at a later time. It's difficult for me to imagine the incremental value of implementing the proposed new feature. $\endgroup$ – hardmath May 27 '15 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi I saw a post somewhere that said that there were too many flags for mods to handle, so it is better to have users do it themselves. And valuable clarifications are supposed to be incorporated directly into the post. Further discussion, ofcourse, could be left in the comments (without deleting). $\endgroup$ – ghosts_in_the_code May 27 '15 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ @hardmath 90% of the time, people don't bother to come back to posts that are days old, just to delete their own comments. Also, if a person delete's his own comment, he also needs to flag the other person's comment for deletion, which adds to the workload of the mods. $\endgroup$ – ghosts_in_the_code May 27 '15 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ The thing is, 1. is most definitely not a problem. I don't really care what the SE policy says, it's often useful to know that e.g. OP found your answer helpful, even if they accept another. It also prevents being pinged 10 times about how helpful your answer was (people can just upvote the post and the "thank you" comment). Similarly, requests for clarification can make sense to stay even after the question was answered or the post was edited, just so that future readers can make sense of it all. So IMHO, there's no problem to solve. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin May 27 '15 at 17:58

This feature was proposed already more than five years ago Allow for setting comments to "auto-expire", to become "temporary comments" and several times since (see the linked "self-destructing" and "ephemeral" there).

There are some reasonable usecases, mainly in exchanges, like:

  • @A This is confusing could you clarify?
  • @B I tried to clarify. Is it clear now?
  • @A Yes it is clear now.

Where it would make sense to delete the first one, when posting the third, at which point the second can be deleted, too, but for getting rid of the third, one needs a flag or B to check back. (Or, one could not post the third and just delete the first as "reply" at which point one needs A to check back.)

With comments deletable as proposed this would run smoother. Yet overall it is little benefit for some added complexity and some potential for abuse. Or maybe not abuse, but say increased (mis-)use of comments as private messages.


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