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The other day I made a comment on this answer explaining what I thought were problems with the the answer. A lengthy discussion followed and, for the most part, we discussed how my comment wasn't really SE material, and that I should pose it differently. The details are the discussion aren't important.

After the discussion, I deleted all of my previous comments, and wrote a new one in a more "positive criticism" form, which I had just been told was exactly what to do. I also flagged the other discussion comments for deletion, because they shouldn't be there either. A moderator deleted all of the comments in and after the discussion, including what I thought was a legitimate and helpful suggestion. In order to figure out why that was deleted (figuring it may well be an accident), I asked the moderator why that non-discussion comment was taken too. That comment was also deleted, leaving me frustrated and without answer.

Now, this is not one of those mod-bashing questions people keep making after their comments are deleted, nor is it a general "why are comments being deleted?" question. Maybe the moderator had a good reason to delete the comments, I just don't know what that reason is.

So my questions:

  1. Is there a good place for asking specific moderators specific questions?
  2. Should I have taken this to meta with my specific comment in the first place?
  3. If my comments really are that bad, how can I get directed feedback that will make me a better member of the community? Again, I'm legitimately trying to understand what was wrong with my comment, not just raging against the mod-machine.
  4. If there's no way to get feedback on that sort of thing, should I just hang up my SE hat? I obviously don't fit the mold yet, and my options for improving seem to be dwindling. I was hoping it was a philosophical goal of SE to build up content providers, but maybe it's only to find the ones that are already a match?
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Being that I was the other side of that "Arguement". I felt the points that were made against me, had merit. I tried to keep the argument away from agrueing the merit of the content of the answer (that would be too chatty), rather on how it was valid as an answer. I felt the final comment by Envision was (just barely) constructive enough. \$\endgroup\$ – Lyndon White Jun 18 '14 at 13:30
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We have a long (and continuing) history of comments turning into arguments. I gave you some (IMO) good advice in those now-deleted arguments... because I have lots of experience doing it wrong over that history. It sounds like KRyan also gave some good advice, and I know he got that experience the hard way too. So that's the context.

It sounds like your constructive comment got nuked along with the rest. Given the comment-argument history on RPG.SE, it probably simply got caught in the cleanup rather than being specifically judged and found wanting.

On your specific questions:

Is there a good place for asking specific moderators specific questions?

Meta is the right place for this, so you brought this to the right place.

Should I have taken this to meta with my specific comment in the first place?

Maybe? But probably not. Meta posts of that kind tend to be more about issues with questions, such as their validity or topicality or how to handle them in some other way. Suggestions for improving a question don't tend to come here, since it's not a crisis either major or minor—questions that could use improvement either get improved or they don't, and the votes follow, so there's rarely a productive point in blowing that up into a full meta conversation.

If my comments really are that bad, how can I get directed feedback that will make me a better member of the community? Again, I'm legitimately trying to understand what was wrong with my comment, not just raging against the mod-machine.

Comment deletion is pretty common on SEs and here in particular. They're deliberately ephemeral and expendable, so that SE doesn't become just another discussion board. That has implications for both parts of this sub-question: firstly, since the bar for deleting a comment is so very low (sometimes as low as "it's been a week, time to clean up"), deletion isn't intended as a value statement about the comments, so your take-away shouldn't be that they're "really ... that bad".

Secondly, that they were deleted for mere tidying reasons, not "moderate bad content" reasons (like how deletion is done on a forum), so they weren't judged as quite "that bad" in the first place. They just weren't being constructive (leaving aside that one comment); a comment to survive a cleanup means that it has overwhelming value in being left, and everything below that very high standard goes in the bin. This is because of the philosophy that either comments get incorporated into what really matters here—the posts—or they must not have been useful. Rarely, a comment will survive for other reasons, such as pointing out something that doesn't really belong in the answer, but should stay for information reasons.

If there's no way to get feedback on that sort of thing, should I just hang up my SE hat? I obviously don't fit the mold yet, and my options for improving seem to be dwindling. I was hoping it was a philosophical goal of SE to build up content providers, but maybe it's only to find the ones that are already a match?

Actually, your conduct during that comment exchange was exceedingly commendable. You made an initial few comments in a way that was not constructive (according to the admittedly arcane dynamics of this site), but when you got brusque comments from me and others about that meta-concern you actively engaged with curiosity rather than reacted with offended defensiveness. That is something that many of our top users can't manage to do except on their best days. Most of us can't keep our egos in check if comments become argumentative, yet you handled the disagreement with integrity and turned it into the pursuit of knowledge.

Your bringing this to meta in a non-confrontational way is also commendable. These things say to me that you are actually very well suited to the site. Someone who can handle disagreement with an even temper is hardly necessary to do well here (as I am living evidence of), but would give you a distinct edge in having constructive conversations about questions and answers that need a little bit of help and TLC to become their best. That you managed to demonstrate that within the span of a single comment argument means that I, personally, have no worries that you will run into similar (but I say again, minor) friction in comments any time soon—in fact, I suspect that your comments in the future will contain a degree of diplomacy I can learn from!

Hats

So there is no need to hang up your hat. You've been getting votes and accepts on answers, and that's really the most important measure.

Comments... well, comments are a thing that we can get personally invested in, but at the end of the day isn't what RPG.SE is here for, so that investment is sometimes best seen as a distraction. It's taken me a while to come to it, but now when a comment string that I'm invested in gets deleted, I shrug and remind myself that its not what we're here for, and that "making" people "fix" their errant answers isn't part of the core system of SE that makes it so valuable.

When I remind myself of that, it helps me let go of the comments and get back to the voting and answering, so that I'm voting up good answers and providing answers to be voted on. I will still often feel like an answer can be improved with changes... but, eh, there are other answers, and the votes will tell, so that helps let sleeping arguments lie.

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That answer attracted over 16 deleted comments, with 4 flags from site users including too chatty and obsolete. Furthermore, that question, itself, has 15 deleted comments of argument.

Multiple moderators had to intervene to clean up that argument. The more comments there are, the more flags there are, especially argumentative comments in a back and forth without any indications of comment quality by other users, the more we discourage argument.

At the end of the day, simply don't argue in comments.

If you have an opinion contrary to the answer which answers the question, answer the question and let the voting sort it out. If you have an opinion contrary to the answer which doesn't answer the question, go blog about it.

My personal policy for responding to comments is to edit my answer, and then ask the commenter if it's improved. When they respond, I delete my question to the commenter and the clarification comment which spawned it. Note how I try never to add content which should be in an answer into a comment in the first place.

When commenting on other peoples answers, I try to ask, once, if they've considered a source or idea. If they respond in the negative, I remove both my comment and their response. If they edit their post, I remove my comment. (Or try, at least. I do have a day job.)

It is exceedingly rare to need to comment multiple times. Comments are not a persuasive vehicle. That's what answers are for.

You have 400 rep. For you, I'd recommend to pretend like the comment features don't exist. Focus on providing good and comprehensive answers. Demonstrate superiority by providing better answers.

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It's pretty simple. There was a big ol' comment war on that question that kept pulling flags. I went, saw it, and deleted it in its entirety. Even going and looking at the deleted comments, I'm not sure which one you consider your "constructive one" and which are just part of the back and forth. So the direct answer is "it was deleted because it was part of a comment thread in which you and two other site members were comment warring." If you succumb to the desire to argue in comments, then don't be surprised when there is collateral damage. When moderators are forced to step in and police things, we have other things to do as well, and we're not going to take the time to weigh every one of your carefully crafted snowflakes of a thought, we're going to disperse the crowd and move on. As I already said in that comment thread, if you really have a constructive thought, feel free and re-post it.

We consider comments low enough value and priority that we're not interested in justifying the deletion of individual comments or hassling over it. As for your other sub-questions, if the deletion of one comment makes you consider "hanging up your SE hat" I would suggest a thicker skin.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If I'm reading this right, the idea was to simply clear the entire stream of comments after the argument, including entirely new ones? If that's the case, so be it. For your personal reference, the comment I'm referring to should be my second to last one, the one before I requested an explanation. I heeded the advice that KRyan had given me and made it more of a "do this instead" comment. \$\endgroup\$ – TheRubberDuck Jun 6 '14 at 13:12

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