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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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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 Jul 7 '12 at 16:54
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    $\begingroup$ I wish more people would do this. $\endgroup$ – MJD Jul 8 '12 at 0:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark: you should feel free to flag stale comments if you come across them. $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Jul 8 '12 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't know that. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – MJD Jul 8 '12 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? $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Jul 15 '12 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? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 10 '12 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 Jul 10 '12 at 3:51
  • $\begingroup$ How often does this exact situation come up? $\endgroup$ – Graphth Jul 13 '12 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. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hardy Jul 13 '12 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. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jul 9 '12 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 Jul 9 '12 at 10:25
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    $\begingroup$ Jeff Atwood has commented on comments. $\endgroup$ – The Chaz 2.0 Jul 9 '12 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 Jul 9 '12 at 21:00

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