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Could someone give me a pointer about the etiquette concerning comments that become "stale"?

If I add a comment pointing out a simple error in an answer, and that answer is subsequently edited to remove the error, it makes the comment look a bit spurious. So my question is this: should I then delete my comment, or is it considered better to just leave it there, even though it is no longer really relevant?

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5 Answers 5

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Deletion is fine, and even considered a good idea in my eyes, with one exception: when the edit refers to the comments.

In this case it is probably a good idea to leave the comment.

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I generally delete such comments (both mine and others).

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks - I will follow your example! $\endgroup$
    – Old John
    Commented Jul 7, 2012 at 16:54
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    $\begingroup$ I wish more people would do this. $\endgroup$
    – MJD
    Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 0:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark: you should feel free to flag stale comments if you come across them. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't know that. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – MJD
    Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 2:24
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If a comment becomes moot because you fixed an error, it is best to place a comment to that effect and notify (and thank) the commentor if it's germane. If he deletes, you should too.

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    $\begingroup$ I have to wonder, is there anyone here who doesn't acknowledge corrections given in comments, especially when they incorporate said corrections? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 15, 2012 at 1:41
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If I write "The correct spelling is 'differential'", and then the poster corrects the spelling, I normally delete my comment.

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  • $\begingroup$ 1. Do you do that even if the poster also posts a comment thanking you (so the effect of deleting your comment is leave that new comment dangling)? 2. Do you not just quietly edit the spelling, instead of making the comment in the first place? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 1:49
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson: For me, at least, I'd say yes to your first question, with the idea that the poster will probably delete their now-dangling comment. $\endgroup$
    – Isaac
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 3:51
  • $\begingroup$ How often does this exact situation come up? $\endgroup$
    – GeoffDS
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson : I don't recall that your first question has arisen. As to your second, I think I do this kind of thing only when some uncertainty arises about what was meant. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 19:26
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In the interest of keeping an accurate record of the conversation that took place, leave the comments alone. People can see that a post has been edited and check the edit history, but most can't see deleted comments.

Also, many people may be annoyed and/or confused if you delete their comments without asking first.

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    $\begingroup$ I disagree: when a comment is obsolete (as in that the proposed modification is already incorporated in to the post proper), what point is there to "keep an accurate record of the conversation"? Also, by last count there are only 6 people on this site who can delete other people's comments. Old John is currently not among the list. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 10:09
  • $\begingroup$ Well, stackexchange is a hybrid of two different online models of public communication - wikis, and forums. In a wiki, the goal is to collaborate and create the best possible document, whereas in a forum the goal is to facilitate a conversation and show who said what when. I guess one's opinion on the matter would depend on which end of the spectrum - forum vs wiki - you think the site should be closer to. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Alger
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 10:25
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    $\begingroup$ Jeff Atwood has commented on comments. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ In that stackoverflow thread there was a back and forth discussion with many people taking both sides of the issue. Here it seems I'm the only one advocating against deletion. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Alger
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 21:00

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