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What is the proper etiquette for a user to "warn" another user?

I frequently read "intuition" and "big picture" questions here and on mathoverflow. To facilitate finding them, if I find a one without those tags, I'll edit and add them. I was unaware that this would "flood" the front page again with old questions. I had only done it to about 4-5 questions when I randomly checked back to a previous question I edited and found a user commenting on that question but warning me about my behavior. This is that question. In preparing a "response" comment, I came across this question about tag editing, where the consensus seemed to be "as long as its not to much".

My question is not who was right or wrong. Rather its what was a better way to handle that? Now that question contains an unsightly "squabble" in its comments.

  1. How should the both of us have handled that situation then?
  2. Is there anything to be done now (delete those comments from the question)?

Thank you

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    $\begingroup$ You can always delete your own comment from that question. You can also flag any comment for moderator attention and make a case for its removal. As for how the situation should have been handled, if I think someone has gone on an editing/tagging spree, I post a comment to that effect, including @someone to notify the person – the person should get the notification, and be directed to my comment. In an extreme case, I may flag something for moderator attention, and inform the moderators that the person is on a spree, and leave it to them. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Sep 10 '16 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ This might also be useful: Preferred course of action for flagging of multiple obsolete comments $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 10 '16 at 23:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Diego Since the discussion in comments you refer to was related to tags, maybe it is worth adding that there exists tagging chat room. However, it is much less active than you used to be. So it is not sure whether you would receive any advice about retagging those question if you asked there. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 11 '16 at 0:29
  • $\begingroup$ thanks @MartinSleziak I will try it out next time $\endgroup$ – Diego Sep 11 '16 at 1:43
  • $\begingroup$ I think that the first sentence of this post would be a more appropriate title than 'User disagreement in comments'. $\endgroup$ – John Gowers Sep 24 '16 at 16:14
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To signal the (perceived) problem with an edit via a comment on the concerned post was the correct approach. The software allows to comment-notify editors of questions for this reason.

It is also alright that you replied there. Would a longer exchange start it would make sense that you agree to move it to some chat-room or to the meta site or just drop the matter.

It is true that the comments need not stay there indefinitely. There is a dedicated feature to get rid of comments that are no longer needed, it is the "obsolete" flag.

Once the exchange is over: delete your comments, flag the comments of the other users as "obsolete," move on.

Note flagging them as "obsolete" does usually not lead to instant deletion, but it will happen some hours later once a moderator handles the flag.

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    $\begingroup$ I will delete my comment, and mark his for moderator attention as well. Thank you for clarifying. $\endgroup$ – Diego Sep 10 '16 at 23:35
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As quid already said in their answer, it is perfectly fine to discuss in comments things which are not related to the question's content, but more to the issues of formatting, editing, tagging, closing, reopening (of the particular question), etc.

I will also add that the other user wanted to get your attention to some issue. They did not have many other options to do that rather than make a comment on some post where you would notice it (ideally accompanied by a ping). And if the issue was related to that particular question, it was the most natural place to leave the comment.

Personally I think that it is not always needed to delete all comments related to such issues, since they might be useful for other users, too. (For example, let us say there is a comment explaining that some tag was used incorrectly. This comment is useful for other users, which can learn from the comment about correct usage of the particular tag.) But in your question you are asking probably about longer exchanges which will look as noise and do not add to much information for other users.


If the comment exchange grows long, you will be offered by the software the possibility to move comments to chat. See here for some more details: What happens when the "move comments discussion to chat" link is used?

Or you don't have to wait, you can create a chatroom yourself. If it is useful (for archiving the comments or for giving some context to the conversation in chat), you can copy the comments from the site one by one.

If you continue in the discussion with the other users in chat, you can than agree there whether the comments on the main site are no longer needed and you can each delete your comments. (You can find here and here example of me doing something like that.)

The advantage of moving to chat is also that the comments are archived at least in chat after they are deleted on main site. (So it is useful especially in case where the comments contain some information which might be useful for you, some useful links, etc.)


Other option is removing your comments and flagging the other user's comments as obsolete. (Moderator will then handle the flag and delete the comments, if they agree that it is a correct thing to do.) Some useful advice about this can be found here: Preferred course of action for flagging of multiple obsolete comments.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is there a way to copy comments to chat manually that preserves their author attribution? $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Sep 11 '16 at 10:42
  • $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm You mean that the author of the comment is the author the same as the chat user posting the message right? I am unaware of such possibility. And the meta.SO posts mentioned here suggest that there isn't such thing. (One of those posts is feature request with score over 100.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 11 '16 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ x @Martin: Yes, that's what I meant. Your suggestion that one "doesn't have to wait" until the site offers to move the conversation sounded like one could manually replicate this effect of the automatic move too. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Sep 11 '16 at 11:48
  • $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm Well, you don't have to wait. But the comment will be posted with your name. (And the MarkDown code for the comments But at least the text of the comments is there) I guess the example I linked shows what I meant. An I'll add these comments as an example here. It is not the same thing, but the best I can think of. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 11 '16 at 12:14

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