I am looking for an expanded and explained explanation of when I should and should not comment.

I keep being told to stop posting inappropriate comments, and being pointed to explanations of what is appropriate. But I have read everything available, and am very careful with what I write so that it falls well within the range of how I would interpret these rules. I don't know what to do. The first time I got some official moderate message, I replied with:

If you don't consider that comment to be appropriate as per the RAW, then could you please explain that, as I am really confused. ~ Approximated from memory

But got no response. I have had other comments just disappear, since then, but just now got another message (in comment form) for:

Metal can get stuck in digestive tracks. Monsters that eat humanoids could in theory carry around quite a stash, but it would be disgusting to get to..

In my mind, that is no where near an answer, just a minor piece of information relevant to the question. Perhaps an entire answer could be built around this idea, but I really do not know. I have no idea how anyone handles role-playing loot drop.

I guess, mainly, I need help explaining how to interpret:

Add relevant but minor or transient information to a post (e.g. a link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the question has been updated).

The only relevant example given is a link to a related question. What else is appropriate? How minor is minor? If I had just linked to an article that talked about how metal can get stuck in a stomach for years, would that be further away from an answer and therefore OK (or is any attempt to help with working towards an answer, no matter how minor, not appropriate for a comment)? The examples given almost make it seem more like they might be strictly limited to listing related questions and ~bookkeeping~.

I have also had a comment that I considered "constructive criticism" be deleted. So any explanation of how to interpret that rule would be appreciated. I try to word my criticism in a non-criticizing way, do I need to explicitly criticize to fall within this ruling? Are there any other things I should consider when trying to write a comment to improve an answer?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind that comments are temporary and thus "I have had other comments just disappear" should be expected; it doesn't mean anything negative about your comment. Comments are ephemeral by design. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 5, 2015 at 13:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Except on meta, where comments are generally preserved. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tritium21
    Oct 5, 2015 at 15:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ While comments are indeed temporary, temporary on rpg stackexchange tends to mean "roughly 10 minutes, unless a mod sees it sooner". This question keeps coming up in meta over and over, and it's not a coincidence. Comment deletion is way higher than is the norm on other stackexchanges. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Oct 14, 2015 at 21:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik Which is awesome and I totally approve. Let's keep our signal/noise high! I can't put up with the morass of garbage comments and comment answers on some other sites. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 19, 2015 at 5:32

3 Answers 3


Except for linking to related questions, comments should only be left if you're OK with them being temporary and likely deleted at some future date. If you have material that you feel should have a more permanent home than that, then it almost certainly belongs somewhere other than a comment, such as in an edit to the post or another post entirely.

As a rule of thumb: Post comments only when they can reasonably be expected to help improve the post they are attached to.

The two examples you note fall afoul of this rule of thumb:

1. Comments that just repeat or add to arguments

The mod message was in response to noticing a general pattern of being chatty in comments, not just that one incident. In general, chattiness is discouraged because it degrades the signal-to-noise ratio of the site overall. Taking the message as about a single incident was probably part of the confusion. (Note that it's typical for mods to not respond to replies to mod messages — the original message is crafted to be as useful as possible for a user to help themselves learn, so questions that are answered by the original message are rarely replied to.)

However, that one incident is illustrative of how to not use comments, beyond just avoiding adding noise to the site. When commenting while disagreeing with an answer, you have to constantly ask yourself before posting another comment: is this comment going to help improve the answer? If you have made a suggestion and the author has rejected it, arguing for your suggestion in a second (or third, fourth, etc.) comment is less likely to help than the first, rejected comment.

When an attempt to help is rejected by the author, more comments are very unlikely to help. Sometimes you will notice a miscommunication that will fix the disagreement and such follow-up comments are probably fine, but those are the rare exceptions — the majority of comment arguments on the site get worse, not better, with more comments. Since arguing more for a change is unlikely to help, that is the kind of comment that should be avoided. (The mantra “downvote and move on” can be helpful to remember at such times.)

Instead, when you have material that you think would answer the question, and for whatever reason it is not finding a home in an existing answer, consider writing your own answer around it instead of mounting an effort to make someone else to put it in their answer.

2. Comments that answer or partially answer a question

This is good advice, but must not be misinterpreted:

Add relevant but minor or transient information to a post (e.g. a link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the question has been updated).

Partially answering a question is not adding relevant but minor information to a post, it's answering in a comment. If a comment would not make sense when literally added to the question by editing, it's not additional information that belongs attached to that post. It does not improve the question, it attempts to resolve the question in whole or part.

Answer-like material can sometimes belong in a comment if it's useful, additional material being attached to an answer that might be improved by adding it. Those comments are fine, since the author of the answer might have overlooked it and be grateful for the idea, and edit it into their answer. (But remember to let it drop if they reject the idea, as above.)

Comments that belong on a question include links to related questions, links to possible duplicates that the asker may have missed, comments asking for clarification of details, comments suggesting alterations to the question that might improve it, and similar attempts to improve the post.

Save answers for answer posts. If you don't have enough material for an answer, or if you're not sure you can back up your answer well enough to justify making it into a proper answer post — then don't. There are lots of people here, and it's not any one single person's responsibility to make sure that specific question gets an answer from them personally regardless of quality or lack thereof. Leaving pointers toward a possible answer in a comment just means the site's quality-control mechanisms can't be used to fact-check it, and so such comments are deleted to maintain the relevance of our quality controls.

Comment to improve posts

In general, comment are for the specific kind of help that results in improving posts, not for all kinds of help. The kind of help that involves giving or leading someone toward the answer is a privilege exclusively reserved for answer posts, with all the intense peer-review attention that answer posts involve. And the kind of help that devolves into an argument should be recognised as “not help” at the soonest possible moment, though I know that we humans sometimes have a hard time accepting that someone doesn't want our help.


This is normal

You're going to get told, via comment, that you did your comments wrong. You're going to try and do better (assuming you're a good user). It's not going to feel like it's working. External metrics (e.g. rep) will generally indicate that it is, however, because it is. Using this site is a learning process, and the 'correct' way changes not only as a function of time, but also as a function of rep. You'll get better at it as time goes on, but you're always going to be making mistakes, and getting corrected, and your go-to thing to do at 200 rep might be a red-flag-people-on-your-case problem at 1000. Plus 'the mods' here are largely not the actual official black-diamond mods, who are generally super hands off and very much Vox Populi, but the high-rep community (who counts as high-rep depends on who's involved), and the high-rep dude responding to you may well just be totally wrong. Heck, even the actual mods are wrong sometimes, and certainly what you get out of their correcting you will frequently be inaccurate. So here's what you do:

1) You wanna post a comment Just think about it, at least for like 30 seconds. Seriously, just considering that maybe you shouldn't post it is pretty much all we ask. If you're wrong, we'll fix it with flags and comment deleting (and hopefully leave a helpful explanation too). Just think about other similar situations and what happened when you commented, and go off that. If you haven't ever done that yet and think it would make sense for it to be allowed, go for it! (or leave a meta post if you're skittish :P ) Basically, just learn from your mistakes and think before you post.

2) A comment was deleted! It might have been mine, even! There's no message about it! Oh Noes! D: Yup. That's what happens to comments. Don't repost it, and don't change your commenting behavior. Getting deleted doesn't at all mean your comment was bad; in fact, really good comments get deleted really fast-- after the post they are on is edited. Deletion is just a thing that happens to comments here: it's normal and we need to not be bothered by it.

3) My comment was deleted, and there's a message saying "Don't [Do X thing] Please", but I don't think I was doing X thing!

Well, clearly at least two people did (probably). Think about it, maybe read related metas a bit, and then post your own meta if you still aren't sure how your comment was bad in that way. Do your best to make it clear you are trying to learn, not argue. We should really assume good faith on that, but we really don't. Our bad. It comes from repeated bad experiences.

4) Other people did a thing! It was a cool thing! Yup. They do that. Upvote the comment, obviously. If they have slightly more rep than you, try to learn from it/how to do it. If they have vastly more rep, don't bother trying; it tends to go badly. If they have less rep, go through their stuff and give 'em some upvotes on things that deserve it; clearly they are pretty awesome.

5) Other people did a thing! I do not like the thing! Flag it, probably as non-constructive, and leave a comment explaining why the comment was not okay not why the content of the comment was wrong (unless that's relevant somehow). You can do this even to high-rep users, it's okay. The mods might be a little annoyed if you actually flagged their own posts though, I think. I'm not sure about that, though.

And that's basically the building blocks. The rest, you must discover for yourself.


Comments are directly used to improve the context of a question by requesting additional information, if your comments are being removed, its most likely because you could be straying off topic from the question at hand.

Instances where the comment system are utilized are situations where the Question mentions something, but doesn't elaborate on that subject which could be important to the quality of the answers. Lacking that piece of information could change the entire scope of answers. ( Such as house rules being mentioned, but not being explained, etc. )

Comments are also used in instances where close votes are being posted or a question has already been closed to ask for or elaborate on how the question can be re-opened.

Things that you should keep in mind when using the comment system include "Will my comment improve this question in any way?" or "Will my comment expand upon an issue the question currently has?"


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