Recently I asked a question and criticism was brought forward in terms of very condescending comments, that were later removed. (Timeline follows.)

First question: Does every user with sufficiently many rep points has the power to delete comments that are not his own?

Tempers flared during the comments, as one can see by reading through them and I felt pretty insulted, being called essentially stupid and that I should answer the question myself (what's the point in asking one, if the answer you get is "just look at a simple example, it's obvious" - well it's not obvious to me), which resulted in me not reacting well to his comments.
In the spirit of the openness of the site I put the above link to the printed pdf as a "full disclosure" link as a comment. Then there was a pause of roughly a day when the question was left alone.

But then the comment with the link was also deleted (I will insert one more comment to my question containing to a link to this meta) and the question was put on hold for being unclear, by this user and later some other users. This is suspicious, since if the question was truly unclear, why not put it on hold immediately ? If just the link with the comment would have been deleted, I would have left it at that, but this leaves me with the feeling that they ganged up on me to put on hold, as a kind of weird revenge from keeping the comment there with the link.
(As it stands, I still agree that the question ask a very plain, standard yes-no mathematical question and is not unclear.)

Second question: Is this kind of behaviour -making nasty comments, then deleting them all and then putting the question suspiciously late on hold- acceptable behaviour on this site?

  • $\begingroup$ FYI: Putting a question on hold requires five users with the required privilege to vote that way. It often takes a while to find the necessary numbers of users who A) care enough, B) find the time to visit the relevant review queue. Therefore your argument based on the question not getting put on hold immediately has no basis. FWIW the user you are criticizing voted to put your question on hold 12 minutes after it was posted. Granted, your tit-for-tat had already commenced at that time. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 11:48
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    $\begingroup$ I checked the comments. The user you complain about is known to have an abrasive style, and occasionally overdoes it and forgets that putting students in the defensive is not conducive to learning. Anyway, to me their first comment looks innocent enough. May be I missed something, but it sounds like you also wanted to be offended and escalate things. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen I didn't want to be offended. Above I already explained why I reacted the way I did. Also, I didn't flag that user immediately -which I would have, if I wanted to escalate things- but I rather chose to resolve this here, on meta, by checking with the community. But what is the reason you removed the link to the printed pdf, containing the comments? (You know it can still be found in the edit; I'm not sure if that was what you intended.) Shouldn't there be some proof of the fact? Otherwise people might think I made this up... $\endgroup$
    – user52145
    May 2, 2017 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Jyrki. The user in question can be gruff but his comments are usually spot on; I think they were perfectly reasonable in this case. More generally, this is a large site with participants from all over the world and with many different backgrounds interacting with other people that they generally don't know at all. You should anticipate differences of opinion and styles of interaction and not too quickly conclude that someone is a jerk when they might just be different from you. Just roll with it. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ I can't see the comments, so I am unable to offer my opinion. However the fact that this question on the meta has $3$ close votes seems pretty wrong to me. Isn't the meta exactly for discussing these types of things? $\endgroup$
    – mrnovice
    May 2, 2017 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ @mrnovice Make that 4 close votes. :) Yes, I think it's fine to ask this sort of question on meta but I also think it's fine to close it. My specific choice for closure reason was "Unclear what you're asking", because I think it's unclear what the problem is. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ @mrnovice If you look in the edit of this question you will find a link to them. $\endgroup$
    – user52145
    May 2, 2017 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkMcClure, unclear really ? There are two questions made in bold! $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 23:27
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    $\begingroup$ @ZaidAlyafeai Yes - I am unclear on why the OP had a problem in the first place. $\endgroup$ May 2, 2017 at 23:29
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    $\begingroup$ Well, if I'd respond to @MarkMclure by "Hmmm, guess why I had a problem? Hmmm, think a bit and then rejoice when you find the answer." (which I'd never ever do, just to be clear) I'm pretty sure he'd have a problem with that. Yet this is exactly, almost literally, the tone from the comments that I received... $\endgroup$
    – user52145
    May 3, 2017 at 11:35
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    $\begingroup$ Gruff & correct is better than polite & wrong. I can understand an emotional reaction to an interaction (having being on both sides many times) but generally it is a sign that one needs to step back and have a pint. $\endgroup$
    – copper.hat
    May 3, 2017 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ @copper.hat I don't see why being correct and gruff or polite and wrong have to come together. All combinations are possible and are independent of eachother. While being correct or not is difficult to achieve, controlling the slider on gruff <-> polite is easy, so there doesn't not really exist an excuse for not being polite. $\endgroup$
    – user52145
    May 4, 2017 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ (And I well include myself when I say that.) $\endgroup$
    – user52145
    May 4, 2017 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


Comments by others can be deleted by the following means:

  • by accumulating $3 + \lfloor \frac{\text{score}}{3} \rfloor$ flags, except if they contain certain words/phrases where they will be removed by a single flag; or
  • by a site moderator.

In fact, deleting comments is one of the most common activities of moderators. And for completeness, I was responsible for removing most of the comments from that question.

Making "nasty comments" is not acceptable by anyone. If you come across nasty comments the appropriate action is to flag them: the "not constructive" or "rude/abusive" options are there for a reason. This is especially true when these comments are directed at you. The Stack Exchange Be Nice policy has the following instructive advice:

If you see a hostile interaction, flag it. If it keeps up, disengage — we'll handle it.

And to be clear, by "handle it" we mean remove at least the offending comments (and likely the entire exchange), and possibly contact users involved with a moderator message that will read, in part

I wanted to let you know that we've observed some rudeness in your latest activity. We get it; anyone who's ever tried to engage with others online has probably been tempted to lash out at someone else. This is just a friendly reminder that we require all participants to act in a professional and civil tone when using these sites. If another user has wronged you in some way, please do not respond in kind. Simply flag the content for moderator attention and move on.

(This message may also come with a timed suspension.)

Rude or belittling or snipy comments should not be tolerated. They are of no value to the site or future visitors. If someone is being rude to you, that is not permission to be rude in return. Flag and cease interacting with the user.

  • $\begingroup$ Ok, thanks for letting me know about the comment policy and clarifying that you deleted the comments (which -thankfully- invalidates my suspicions). Should that occur in the future, I will use that (but I hope I won't have to). $\endgroup$
    – user52145
    May 2, 2017 at 15:47

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