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Action

Moderators delete comments, or move them to chat. They do that for many reasons which are not the point of this question. We'll assume they are very good reasons, fine.

Result

People keep writing comments, because if you read a post and you have something to write about it, you want to write it, and you do just that.

The "add comment" button is just there, you click, you write. As simple as that.

Sometimes it's useful, sometimes it's not. Sometimes people answer, sometimes a mod passes by and purges.

Fairy tale

Admins state that "comments are not for discussion, they are meant just to improve the question: incorporate them, then delete them".

Uh, ok.

That's a fairy tale. This is not going to happen. Why? Read again the former paragraph: people want to write a comment, people do that.

Impulse

Commenting something is a natural impulse. You may delude yourself into believing this will change, but this will not. You will not change natural impulses of people.

You have the impulse to write, there's a "here, you can write" button, people will hit the button and write. Yes, I'm repeating the same concept a few times, but that's because I feel you keep missing the point: you are trying to fight nature, and you will always lose.

Pragmatism

Fighting the current never works and it's stupid. Fighting a war you can't win. You should be pragmatic, you should open your eyes, look and accept the reality, and adapt to it.

I'm not saying "don't do anything", I'm just stating that what you are trying to do is unnatural and it's pointless to go on: you'd rather have to find an alternative method of dealing with this problem.

So, which is the problem?

Sometimes an OP leaves a comment when he should have integrated it into his post. Ok, it would be better if he did that. Will deleting comments help towards this end? Uh, no.

So, there are tons of off-topic comments and the good ones don't get noticed? By whom? Most of the times, the OP will read every comment anyway: he'll notice. If he wants to reply or integrate them, he can. Of course he almost never does anyway.

Two tabs

A possible improvement would be to have two comment "tabs".

The default tab would be the "chat" one: you can write below this post anything you like, IT or OT, who cares. The goal is to cater the "I must write" instinct here, keeping the other tab clean.

You can select the other tab, which would be called "improvements/suggestions/clarifications" or something along this line. And add your observations or requests there.

What if a user writes a useful observation in the chat tab? No problem, moderators can move it. Maybe even users can request to move it.

What if a user writes something spammy in the improvement tab? Moderators and users can request to delete it. Still, I think this will rarely happen: there's the other tab just for this reason.

Anyone who considers this to be "too complicated" wouldn't even bother to use any of this site's features properly anyway.

Idea

The above is just an idea.

What I'm asserting is that you are most definitely doing it wrong. Just look. It's right there under your nose.

I'm not saying that this "two tabs" is the solution, I'm just saying that's it's a possible solution: you might find better ones if you think about it. And this is what I'm asking you: think about it. Stop and think.

Honestly

I have to be frank, I think you'll just ignore this as every single other suggestion I've given to this network. I think the SE admins are absolutely completely beyond any reasonable hope of reason. They got almost everything wrong, and have built a strong community religiously dedicated to treat every single rule as a dogma, never stopping to think if this makes sense or not.

So, my hopes of you actually listening – not doing something, but even listening – are next to none.

But I had to do it anyway because, as I said: I have to write.

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    $\begingroup$ First, thanks for taking this discussion to where it belongs a lot better than on our main site. Second, any user can propose an edit that incorporates one or more comments into the post (often copying and pasting is good enough). Once the edit has been approved (by the OP, by community vote, or by a moderator), the comments can either be left behind as a sort of paper trail, or they can be flagged as obsolete and deleted. We don't rely on the OP being the only one making edits to a post. I do this often enough on the network that I even have a canned edit summary for just that purpose. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Sep 21 '15 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ Related on Meta.SE. $\endgroup$ Sep 21 '15 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ Just to mention one point, the system relies on the fact that the interesting comments will have some upvotes. Then when there are many comments, it will hide most of them, only showing the one with highest number of votes. This is way to get the best out. The moving to chat should, IMHO, be reserved for discussions. Sometimes there is a remark, which starts a discussion going back and forth. Those should just go to chat. Many unrelated comments by different users do not fit in chat. $\endgroup$ Sep 21 '15 at 19:02
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    $\begingroup$ Let me pose a quick thought experiment. Suppose the text "add a comment" was changed to, perhaps, "request clarification", and corresponding text only changes were made elsewhere to match. Assuming that nothing else changes, would you still be making the same argument? (Note: argument, not argumentative.) Just (out of curiosity, for a start) trying to get to the bottom of what the problem is; the comments themselves, or what they are called. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Sep 21 '15 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ Also related: data on effects of "move comments to chat" across the network. $\endgroup$ Sep 21 '15 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling it might have an effect, but not much. People are used to comment, and want to do that. So, if they allow them to do something that resembles a comment, even if it's not officially called that, they will do it anyway. Maybe less. But not significantly enough. $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    Sep 21 '15 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ @bilbo_pingouin but the problem that people also want to discuss and that the chat is just a graveyard would remain. $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    Sep 21 '15 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Lohoris That's not what I asked about, though. You are arguing that we should not be deleting (potentially long) comment threads, or move them to chat. I'm asking if you would be making the same argument if the word "comment" did not exist anywhere and instead (as an example) "request clarification" was used. In other words, would you still think we should not be deleting or moving-to-chat comment (discussion in particular) threads that didn't request clarification of the post in such an instance? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Sep 23 '15 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling I'm saying that changing the term used might have a small impact but would still be fighting against the user's instinct and nature, hence it wouldn't be a real solution. I'm not sure why you are so adamant with this: it doesn't work, why don't you just accept it and work for a real fix? $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    Sep 23 '15 at 8:43
  • $\begingroup$ The system works fine. There will always be users who thumb their noses at a site's rules and conventions, and in extreme cases we have to take away privileges. In my experience, here on Worldbuilding most people are pretty good about migrating off-topic comment discussions to chat, either on their own or by going along with the move. $\endgroup$ Sep 24 '15 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ Also related on MSE. $\endgroup$ Aug 26 '16 at 19:46
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I have to say that I have never seen a complaint about how comments work here on world building before. The concept is pretty strait forward.

When the moderators see comments that are useful and to the point, they remain.

That said when two or more people start discussing the topic in question in the comments section that is not the right place to discuss. That is what we have chat and meta for, in the end its just housekeeping to keep relevant information on the site and remove distractions from the real content.

You are lambasting a group of volunteer moderators chosen from world building's general population...for processes they did not create nor have the authority to change.

When you choose to join a community you are agreeing to adhere to the community's rules, just as you would moving to a new country that has laws...jumping up and down in the middle east and yelling "YOU ARE ALL STUPID! ALCOHOL SHOULD BE LEGAL!" would get you nowhere...actually you'd probably end up in a prison but that is besides the point.

What I am trying to get across is that while you are welcome to your own ideas and opinions, showing up, berating everyone and telling them how stupid their community is will get you nowhere. That attitude will not help your ideas gain traction. The SE format is not perfect, but then nothing is.

New ideas are implemented all the time on SE and if you take the time to understand the community instead of fighting it and show that you are a valuable member of the community then you will have far more support when you do suggest new ideas. As its stands no one is going to bother reading, let alone give a second thought to an online temper tantrum. We appreciate new ideas on world building...its what the site is about, but if you are going to fight with everyone...

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm sorry I wasn't clear: this post wasn't specific to worldbuilding, I posted it here just because the discussion was born here, but it's to be addressed to the whole SE network. (before you ask: no, I won't post it on meta) $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    Sep 21 '15 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ That being said, no. I tried in past to present ideas reasonably, and I was bashed mercifully. That's just pointless: they are religious zealots and there's no reasoning with them. $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    Sep 21 '15 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Lohoris Why not ask this on Meta? Whether or not it is perceived as an issue elsewhere, the same things happen everywhere else on Stack Exchange. A change like this will be made globally. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Sep 22 '15 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 because last time they were so rude and insane I had them delete my account. Won't make the same mistake again. $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    Sep 22 '15 at 10:47
  • $\begingroup$ BTW it's fun how appropriate is the comparison with the middle east is. You are basically saying that I am right and that they are wrong and that nothing will happen anyway. It's precisely the same situation. $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    Sep 22 '15 at 10:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Lohoris actually that is not at all what I am saying...your opinion is yours, that does not make it right nor wrong and your insistence that you are correct and everyone else is wrong is the issue. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Sep 22 '15 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ @James yet, nobody proved wrong any of my points… $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    Sep 23 '15 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ The issue is people assuming I'm wrong because they have a set of beliefs that will prevent them from really considering my opinions, hence dismissing them without even thinking. $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    Sep 23 '15 at 8:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Lohoris I created an account here just to respond to your last remark. Fighting the current never works and it's stupid. Fighting a war you can't win. You should be pragmatic, you should open your eyes, look and accept the reality, and adapt to it. $\endgroup$
    – jimsug
    Sep 23 '15 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ @jimsug yes but you are the ones that are fighting the current in the first place, I'm just trying to wake you up from your insane dream. Why are you doing that!?! $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    Sep 23 '15 at 10:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Lohoris Oh, right, two rights make a wrong. It's a case of do as I say, not as I do, right? It's fine for you to dig your heels in, but when other people do it, it's stupid? Have you asked about this on Meta Stack Exchange, and you were downvoted mercilessly? And yet you invoke religious zealotry as a means of devaluing the opinions of others? I hope you don't get too much of a shock when you look in the mirror, but then, I suppose everyone is entitled to their own brand of hypocrisy. $\endgroup$
    – jimsug
    Sep 23 '15 at 10:24
  • $\begingroup$ @jimsug I explained my reasons. Nobody bothered to confute them. Hence, I am right. Until proven wrong, of course. $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    Sep 23 '15 at 10:29
  • $\begingroup$ "As its stands no one is going to bother reading, let alone give a second thought to an online temper tantrum." I read them when someone posts them. Then I down vote, laugh, and move on with my life ;) $\endgroup$ Sep 25 '15 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan Good point, Ill edit ;) $\endgroup$
    – James
    Sep 25 '15 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ (I'm not actually going to edit...) $\endgroup$
    – James
    Sep 25 '15 at 20:37
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Just to be clear...

In this specific case, I moved the comments to chat because the asker was not replying to any of the comments. There was a lot of comments and I have no way to know if he will read them or not. Some might be more inappropriate than others but that's always subject to subjectivity. I moved them all to the chat, they are all accessible.

We do not "hunt" comments herds. We usually deal with the comments only when there is a flag. The system emits a flag automatically after a certain number of comments have been made in a short amount of time.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for that explanation, that additional information behind your reasoning was helpful. I still don't completely agree with your decision, but now at least I respect it. :) The fact that the poster wasn't replying to the comments (in fact as of this writing he hasn't even returned to the site) has led me to flag that question as unclear (though I might now be a bit late in so doing) with the expectation that if OP ever returns, he or she should provide the clarifications requested by those comments. $\endgroup$ Sep 25 '15 at 5:02
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I think you're missing the point. By a lot.

There are a few factors that, I think, your post misses much to its detriment:

  1. Most readers aren't users. Most of a page's views aren't coming from registered users, they're coming from people who've searched for something. We want them to see answers, not comments.

    Why? Because comments aren't what the network's for, and they're not what the network's good at. We're good at producing high-SNR Q&A. Posts are editable forever, have revision histories, receive up- and down-votes, and are incentivized for "goodness" by the reputation system. None of that is true of comments.

  2. Most users aren't commenters. Fewer than ten percent of users have earned any rep, never mind the 50 rep required to comment.

The upshot is that the urge that you're talking about--the "impulse to write" you respond to when clicking "add a comment"--is one that only can be acted upon by at most 1% of those reading the page.

So comment-policies should really be designed for the 99% of non-commenters, not the 1% who might comment. To that end I see comment policies working not just reactively, but proactively.

By constantly pruning comments we keep the Q&A "clean" and thus promulgate a community standard. By leaving a "comments have been moved to chat, only use comments to clarify/improve posts" comment when doing so we explicitly send the message that they exist for posts, not for chat.

I think your proposal is admirably-founded.

You seem to recognize that this impulse for immediate-chat isn't helpful to the fundamental purposes of the Network, and so propose to segregate it.

But we've been told--again, meta.SE and the blog--that the Stack intends to stay focused on its core mission(s) and not try to be everything to everyone. In short: this isn't a forum. Why try to make it one?

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