I'm going back through a few questions I've answered, and I'm finding that in many cases the comment/discussion has been edited down or in some cases almost entirely wiped out.

It's definitely not always the originating user doing it either, because some of my comments have been deleted as well.

This doesn't seem to be a standard practice across SE.

What's that all about?

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    $\begingroup$ Could you provide specific examples or links? $\endgroup$ – J Walters Oct 15 '16 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ Related, maybe even a dupe $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Oct 15 '16 at 20:20
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    $\begingroup$ @JonathanWalters no, because they're all deleted... $\endgroup$ – Daniel Oct 15 '16 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ To be clear, I think the problem with this is that it suppresses discussion of answers and removes any record of how answers develop and evolve. If someone writes an answer and gets a large upvote etc etc, but someone disagrees, obviously the upvotes get a lot of attention, but editorially you're making sure no one will ever know about the dissent. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Oct 15 '16 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ Some of the behavior you mentioned is by design: comments are temporary, they aren't intended to be a permanent record. All SE sites (AFAIK) will give a 'suggestion' to use chat rather than a large number of comments, so they aren't intended for discussing different points of view either, at least not in any serious way. And if you want to see how an answer evolved, you can check the edit history. My understanding is that SE is more interested in results than process, so the details of how a good answer came to be are secondary. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Oct 15 '16 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ mm, yeah typically that might be true, but sometimes you need to evaluate the information more critically than as a fully-authoritative answer. I have seen situations where 'conventional wisdom' ends up with a really strong upvote, but sometimes the conventional wisdom is not correct. Simply leaving the comments leaves a trace of that discussion for those willing to read further. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Oct 15 '16 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ Most of the time when comments are deleted is when they are no longer related. It can be because the answer is updated based on the edit suggested in the comment or discussion in the comments. Comments can also be deleted if they leaning towards rudeness and someone flags them. $\endgroup$ – Farhan Oct 16 '16 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Daniel: You have deleted comments on only two of your answers, and you have deleted one of the answers. On this answer, the authors (which are ymb1 and you) deleted their respective comments. $\endgroup$ – Farhan Oct 16 '16 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ I suppose I am used to environments like EE:SE where good answers are often the result of a collaborative process, with the OP and sometimes two or three different commentators. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Oct 18 '16 at 17:12

Comments are ephemeral, and have some specific guidelines on how they should be used.

Those guidelines are not a hard-and-fast rule for when comments will or won't be deleted, but broadly they are not intended to be a permanent record (see Stack Exchange is not a forum), so once comments have served their purpose they are subject to deletion (by the authors or by moderators).

If a comment specifically falls into one of the "When shouldn't I comment?" categories or runs afoul of our network-wide Be Nice policy it also probably won't last long.
As we're a lower-volume site than say Stack Overflow there's a good chance a moderator will see most comments on the site and exercise some "editorial judgment" if the direction the comments are taking is worrisome.

The usual reason you'll see comments disappear is that a user (or the system) has flagged the comments for moderator attention and one of us decided they can be deleted, but the moderators also use the site on a pretty regular basis, and speaking for myself if I see comments that could stand cleaning up while I'm browsing the site I'll deal with them as I find them.

If you have a specific question about a specific comment that was deleted you can ask about it here on Meta: Provide a link to the question or answer the comment was left on, and a moderator can look at the deleted comment history and see what the comment was and who deleted it.


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