All comments should be temporary.

However, I regularly browse questions which are years old and have a substantial amount of comments that ask for clarification of the question which has not been provided by the querent.

Are comments that ask for clarification not temporary until they are resolved, even if they have not been resolved for (e.g.) 9 years?

So, how temporary are comments that ask for clarification of a post?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Should I ask for clarification on an old post \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 14 '19 at 9:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Requests for clarification and suggestions for improvement can also be declined \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 14 '19 at 9:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: No question is too old to get revisited \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 14 '19 at 10:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is an interesting point, thanks for bringing it up. I'm pondering, as I can see arguments for both sides. I hope some more experienced hands weigh in in answers, discussion, votes, and show me some aspects I may not be thinking of when I delete or don't. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 14 '19 at 13:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu If you are talking about the moderation tag on your post, I personally think you are fine and I've added it back. You don't need to add anything here to make it fit. And if it wasn't appropriate, adding something illegible and pointless wouldn't be enough to satisfy adding a tag regardless. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 14 '19 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hey Akixkisu, the addition of the moderation tag didn't make it any clearer for me but don't worry about it, if other people other understand you then that's good enough. (Only commenting as I assume I am user z referred to above.) \$\endgroup\$ – RyanfaeScotland Jun 14 '19 at 16:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ All due respect to Dr. Ballsun-Stanton, but the quoted statement is wrong if taken literally and out of context (in context it's totally on-point). There are, rarely, comments that should be left up indefinitely. Generally, though, that's because they provide significant unobtrusive entertainment value (e.g. they are really funny), and such comments are sort of extra-judicial anyways, as far as site-policy is concerned. This question is concerned with clarifications, though, so that's legit. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jun 18 '19 at 21:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer I'm confused about your annotation, would you care to elaborate on your first sentence? \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 18 '19 at 21:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I used the word quote wrong :( I meant that I object to "All comments should be temporary" even though I agree that "Comments are temporary". Almost all comments should be temporary, and comments are temporary as a rule, but there are exceptions. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jun 18 '19 at 21:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer If we have to spell out the distinction between general and specific connotations, we may have a language usage problem confronting us. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 26 '19 at 19:07

Comments should be deleted (or flagged for deletion) only when they are no longer relevant.

Once requests for clarification or correction are addressed by the post author, by incorporating or rejecting them, those comments often become obsolete.

However, comments are a multi-axis thing. Upvotes count. If there is a comment with a needed clarification or correction, it may stay indefinitely especially if upvoted.

Example “But the DMG says X which directly contradicts your answer <20 upvotes>”. That stays basically forever, and a flag would be declined (at least by me when I was modding). Or a request for clarification on a super unclear answer that’s getting downvoted - the answer may not be bad enough or get deleted, but then the comment still has value.

The fuzzy line here is that an author may see a critique and reject it but give no visible sign thereof. Ideally the author would drop a comment or flag that comment as obsolete themselves.

So judgement is applied.

  1. Is the comment jibber-jabber or a justified improvement or request for clarification?
  2. Is it upvoted?
  3. Is there another answer making that point/should that comment be an answer? Sometimes there’s something else at work- like sometimes someone will put the same disagreeing comment on every single answer. That's obnoxious so they’ll go.

Comments are for improving a question or answer. If they holistically still seem to have a role to play in that improvement, especially if others agree (via upvotes), they stay.

Also, remember not everyone is on the site every hour of every day. You should absolutely not be flagging useful comments for removal within the initial activity period of a question (usually a couple days to a week, depending). If the post author does, or if the comment has been incorporated, then it's fine, but we don’t want comments with suggestions flagged for removal in less than 24 hours by a third party. These flags should be declined.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How about this question which is closed and locked are those comments there also frozen in time - how are they going to improve the question? Or for a more interesting aspect regarding your three steps how about the three comments of this answer to an infinitely contemporary issue should the two upvotes of the last comment protect it like the 15 upvotes of the second comment? \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 14 '19 at 20:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is the faq for locked posts that establishes that flagging comments is not possible (though you can still interact with the button). \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 14 '19 at 20:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you can’t flag them... don’t flag them? I’m not sure what you’re asking. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jun 14 '19 at 21:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ While I like that you focus your answer on practical use-guide situations, it would be interesting if it addressed why some comments clearly are meant to stay forever, even if this may or may not conflict with standpoints that we have established at other places. What do we do with partially acted upon clarification comments - are they obsolete? Should we transfer left-open comment clarification to questions because comments are supposed to be temporary? What are the edge cases? \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 14 '19 at 22:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why do we have historically significant comments, how did the rpg.se approach to comments change over time, etc. You have a lot of experience that could give insight into this topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 14 '19 at 22:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Apparently, I can flag comments on historically significant posts. Presumably, I can't flag the posts. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 14 '19 at 22:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I prefer to stick to the practical. There are always an unlimited number of factors related to even basic site activity. People learn good judgement over time (rep is a standin for it) and we rely on it. There is no NP-complete rule for comments, or voting, or deletion, or closing, or tagging, any other part of life and seeking one misses the point. There is no answer other than “given these general guidelines, use your judgement as to whether it’s helpful or not.” The effective approach to the stack is to have a little theory overlaid by practical wisdom. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jun 14 '19 at 22:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure, would you mind adding a title that addresses the core question (e.g. There are some comments that are not temporary because we have the following practical approach to clarification comments)? \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 15 '19 at 10:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ok, there ya go. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Jun 15 '19 at 15:09

Comments should be deleted (or flagged for deletion) only when they are no longer relevant.

There is no specific timeline for that. Here are a few examples of applying that principle:

If the comment asked for clarification and it was given, then it should be removed. If it asks for clarification and the issue still exists, it should not. Sometimes there is disagreement in the community on what is or is not unclear. In these cases, the number of votes on various comments can help suss out the community's opinion on relevance.

Some comments can be relevant indefinitely. For example, consider your own three comments on this question, which all follow the common "Related: " format. It's possible the links will die, and thus should be removed, but there is no definite time they will age out.

Some comments are abusive or rude. These are never relevant to the associated question or answer, so they should be flagged for deletion.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @RyanfaeScotland Initially, I left out rude/abusive comments because it seemed out of context for the question. However, it fits nicely into the paradigm so I tossed it in. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Jun 14 '19 at 22:04

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