Most of the time the sort of comments I'd like to downvote are comment-answers that use the inability of people downvote comments to look highly supported. I flag these as comment answers and they get taken care of, though there is no specific flag for that complaint and I use the 'other' flag every time.

Sometimes, though, they are just suggestions or statements starting with "note that..." on an answer or question that I strongly disagree with. Because they can't be downvoted and tend either to make strong claims or be steeped in a strongly opinionated subset of RPG culture these comments often get a decent number of upvotes over time. The worst of these I can just flag as 'not constructive'. The better ones, however, I can't (since it's not clear with a cursory inspection why it's not constructive).

The options I see are:

Flag it as not-constructive anyways. Seems ok, except that puts me and one random mod in charge of deciding whether or not every comment suggestion or addendum is 'right' or not, regardless of how useful other people think it is as a suggestion for improvement. This also enables edit-wars where Alice posts a comment which Bob deletes but then Charlie posts almost the same comment again, which Dean deletes, and so on. Worst of all, you can't blame people for re-posting or flagging the comment since they have no way of knowing it was ever posted or deleted before. Sounds like a mess.

Leave another comment responding to the offending comment. This is what the community seems to do as the status-quo. It leads to lengthy comment 'discussions' that are really more like arguments (though one side is usually fairly clearly on superior footing academically speaking). These inevitably lead to either a chat room (rare) or Dr. Ballsun-Stanton nuking it from orbit (somehow more common. And it's pretty much always him, too. How three mods manage to manage the entire site I do not know). Existing policy explicitly discourages eliciting discussion in comments. I'm okay with ignoring that guideline if the discussion is strictly limited to how best to improve a question or answer and stays very short, but the kind of discussion this response elicits is definitely not okay.

Give up and just let it be. This results in misleading, erroneous, and/or insidiously offensive advice being disseminated via our platform as a sort of 'necessary casualty'. That is unacceptable for what I hope are obvious reasons.

Solicit meta.se for the ability to downvote comments, which I expect will be denied on the grounds we shouldn't be using comments that much anyways, what with them being 3rd class citizens. This does seem to have the least negative side effects though.


2 Answers 2


Do this:

Flag it as not-constructive anyways.

Because this:

except that puts me and one random mod in charge of deciding whether or not every comment suggestion or addendum is 'right' or not, regardless of how useful other people think it is as a suggestion for improvement.

… isn't actually a problem.

Comments are ephemeral and not meant to hang around being useful. If they were useful, they would get incorporated into the answer or question. They may have been temporarily useful at one point (to raise awareness of something or otherwise alter the mood around a post), but if they're older than — oh, I don't know, let's pick an arbitrary "not part of a current issue" timeframe — a week, say, then they're fair game. And waiting until comments "age" even just a little bit (even just a couple of days) means that you won't see comment reposting, because it's old news and people have usually moved on.

Flag 'em. If they were important to keep for posterity, they wouldn't have been comments.

And I say this, despite suspecting you're objecting to a bunch of my comments. I'm one of the few (only?) users here with the know-it-all typing tic of starting comments with "Note that..." :) Besides, helping prune my old comments is especially useful, since there are quite a lot of them that need pruning.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I use "Note that..." extensively too, so it's not just you :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 21:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that you are not the only one to use this particular nitpicky pattern. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 4:11

Leave a better answer on the question or go contribute to another question. Arguing in comments isn't worth it.

At the end of the say, comments are for improving answers. If you simply cannot stand for a comment to be there, create a better answer than all the others which also addresses common misconceptions, especially if they exist in other venues.

Or, create a chat room for explicit discussion of the issue and post a link to that in the comments. But do actually consider improving the quality of content on this site first.

At the end of the day, if you can't leave a better answer, don't be this guy: enter image description here

  • \$\begingroup\$ My problem is when these comments are left on an answer I approve of. I can upvote the answer, but it doesn't fix the perception that the comment's advice is accurate. And adding a line that says , for example, "by the way these rules we were just talking about for cows don't apply to zombies in a completely different system with a similar mechanic" doesn't improve the quality of the answer. A necessary trait for these comments to really be bad comments is just that-- taking the time to address them in-answer isn't worth it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 9:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer This is why "Someone is Wrong On the Internet" is the final bit of Brian's answer: there's no real need to contest a comment like that, beyond your own urge to say "Wrong!" If the answer is good, that's what we care about. You're giving comments weight beyond what the Stack Exchange feels they're worth, which is why the responses you want to take aren't supported by the site's policies and mechanics. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 9:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem is that a lot of comments don't improve answers. Good answers get cluttered up with inane, off-topic, ranting or just plain worthless comments that contribute nothing and distract readers from the valuable content, but the general policy seems to be "leave them there, people can just ignore them". It seems bizarre given SE's focus on closing or removing low quality questions/answers that the approach to comments is more akin to Youtube. \$\endgroup\$
    – user21221
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 9:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ ... uh. Mate, have you seen the comment policy on this site? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 9:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking more of the kinds of comments I had seen on other sites (and sometimes attempted to flag only to have the flag declined). If the policy on RPG is more strict then great. \$\endgroup\$
    – user21221
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 9:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OrbWeaver the policy here is much more strict. almost all comments that aren't requesting clarification or suggesting improvements get deleted, with rare exceptions made, and those get deleted after they're actioned. discussions and arguments get nuked, and sometimes directed to chat or meta. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 6:03

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