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Answering a question correctly sometimes requires asking for the original asker to try some new things or post some new information. These requests are often asked as comments to the question. Often times, the original asker replies with this information in the comments.

Is it appropriate to leave their reply in the comments or is it better to edit the question and add the new information? My impression is that editing the question to include this information would be the most helpful option. This way future helpers and readers do not miss any information by neglecting to check all of the comments.

After editing the question, would it be right to delete the appropriate comments? Again, I feel that in keeping things as clear and easy for other people to help and for future users, these redundant or obsolete comments should be cleaned up.

  • To paraphrase the point of my own answer in a comment: I do not think deleting other people's comments before a question has a checkmarked answer is productive behaviour. – goldilocks Apr 27 '13 at 13:32
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Yes, I think it's both appropriate and helpful, and you can flag comments as obsolete after making the edit. This isn't a discussion forum, and we should aim for improved questions rather than a back-and-forth in the comments.

Be careful, though, when the question starts off general but still answerable in a useful way, and it gets answers, but then the comments take it off in a different direction and possibly down a rabbithole.

  • 'you can flag comments as obsolete after making the edit'.As per my knowledge,you cannot flag your own comments. – evilMinion Jan 25 at 8:42
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    @evilMinion Well, you can just delete your own comments. – mattdm Jan 25 at 12:05
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Adding appropriate material from the comments to the end of the question to clarify seems fine to me, but I have mixed feelings about actually deleting comments. It seems to me that this risks over zealousness, whereby information that may be relevant to someone reading the question might be removed because the person removing thought it redundant. That is potentially subjective; I sometimes read an unsolved question in terms of where it has gone, and it is presumptuous in this case to assume that the "destination" you deduce from that == the journey.

Put slightly differently: if no one has answered the question to the OP's satisfaction, then it is hard to see how someone doing editing could claim complete comprehension of the problem. If such a person wants to paraphrase comments and add that to the question, great, but removing the original source when you have not solved the problem described and elaborated in that source seems like a bad practice to me (a crime scene might be a good analogy here, lol).

Reading comments sometimes provides subtle clues to the nature of a questioner's confusion. Those "subtle clues" may not be perceived as relevant information by someone doing an edit before the problem/confusion is resolved.

So, IMHO, deleting your own comments, or deleting comments and paraphrasing them after an answer is ticked off, is fine. But deleting anything before than implies you think you know what's relevant even though you don't know the answer. Maybe that's true, but I think it is not a good premise to act on, deleting comments wise.

"General tidiness" to me is not a significant enough counter concern; if you want to tidy up in this way, do it after the problem is solved. People who don't want to read the comments don't have to. They are very easy to ignore. I realize it is not a discussion forum (clue: there actually is no discussion forum) but there are comments, they do have a use value, and please don't throw out the baby with the bath water!

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