Someone (perhaps, D.W.) removed my comment in http://cs.stackexchange.com/questions/120532/would-putting-an-unsubmitted-formal-methods-paper-to-arxiv-preclude-further-form . I think the comment was perfectly neutral; I have not done anything wrong. Can my comment be restored?

To make it clear, the comment said that someone else's comment on what would be more appropriate on some other SE site was irrelevant here. It is even highly inappropriate for a user of this site to say what is and what isn't appropriate on another site. If we were to discuss it here, what would be more appropriate on some other SE site is a misleading comment in fact.


I removed that comment. Why? The short version is that I did not believe it contributed usefully.

First, let me share some background on the Stack Exchange philosophy on comments (apologies if I am describing things you are already aware of). Comments are transient and can be deleted at any time without warning. Comments are generally intended for, e.g., requests for clarification, suggestions to improve the post, or a post-it note for useful information that may be relevant. They are not intended for general discussion. See How do comments work? and A guide to moderating comments and https://cs.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/comment and https://cs.stackexchange.com/help/flagging for more authoritative resources on the Stack Exchange guidelines regarding comments.

On to the specific comment I deleted. Your comment had two parts. The first part, to my eye, appeared to be basically redundant, to the extent that I could understand it. I did not see the purpose in retaining that part. The second part disclosed that you would be flagging another comment for deletion. I'm a bit wary about the potential for an extended debate about whether some other comment should be deleted, in the comment thread under that question. So, I tried to head that off preemptively. I don't see any benefit in retaining the statement that you have flagged the comment, and there is a potential harm in keeping that part of the comment (there is a potential for it to lead to an unconstructive debate on that comment thread about whether that other comment should be deleted). If you see a comment that should be deleted, flag it, but don't leave a comment saying that you have flagged it.

For those reasons, I deleted it. I'm always open to hearing a contrary perspective from the community, but absent that, I don't plan to restore it. I can't speak for anyone else on the moderation team.


The single comment of yours that D.W. delete was specifically addressed to him. Presumably, he read it, which made it obsolete. Keep in mind that comments are ephemeral on SE by design. They should not stay around.

Regarding the comment itself, it was a moderation request that should have been a flag. Such requests are seen, considered, acted upon ("do nothing" is a common action), and then removed.

In summary, I don't see any misconduct here.

  • $\begingroup$ They should not stay around. – This is hypocritical. Other comments did stay around, had I not deleted the question. Only mine got removed. Think about it. $\endgroup$ – user110121 Feb 14 '20 at 11:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Just_A_Man I think you can safely assume that people who have been members (and mods) for more than five years here have thought about -- and lived with! -- these issues a lot. See also here. Neither the platform nor its policies are perfect, but they are what we have. You might feel that some special, targeted injustice was done to you. That was not the case. Even had the moderator action been objectively wrong, it's not about you. Frankly, we don't have the time to bother. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Feb 14 '20 at 12:37
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    $\begingroup$ You misunderstand. It's not an argument. It's a message to you to remind you that a) we have thought a lot about this in the past, b) been in similar situations hundreds of times, c) have determined heuristics that keep us going, and d) are unlikely to question all of this because a random person feels offended. And here, "we" does not mean just us three moderators, but dozens of community moderators across the network. So the answer is: no. You'll have to deal with that, I'm afraid. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Feb 14 '20 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ Note also that the time it takes to handle cases like your upset here and now is then later missing for reading the next problematic series of comments more closely. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Feb 14 '20 at 17:47
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    $\begingroup$ That all said, if you still feel you have a justified and relevant complaint about the moderation of this site, please contact SE community managers. You'll find a way to contact them in the help section (the study if which I heartily recommend). $\endgroup$ – Raphael Feb 14 '20 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ As a general principle, I do not see a point in giving higher privilege members the right to delete or even worse edit a comment or an answer. Maybe delete if it is racist or something illegal against the law,... etc but not as a matter of opinion. Also, I'd like to remind you all of the basic principle against Trojan horses "To prevent read ups & write downs" you clearly violate this at least by the edit. $\endgroup$ – ShAr May 10 '20 at 19:04

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