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In the comments to this answer, @MC68020 addresses a comment to @ilkkachu, thanking them for something. Yet I do not see a comment by @ilkkachu nor any activity for them. There must have been something to trigger @MC68020's comment. Where did it go?

If comments can be deleted (by moderators?) without any trace, then here's a feature request: make them stick around, at least in the activity log or some secondary location. They are of interest to future readers, whatever their content and/or reason for deletion. I.e. make them move from "comment" status to "historical footnote" status (whatever that might be).

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Ilkkachu deleted their comment after receiving a reply in a comment from MC68020, leaving the reply comment dangling. The dangling reply was subsequently (appropriately) flagged by a user as "no longer needed". I decided to delete all comments to the answer as further comments either addressed them, or because the answer had been modified to address the comments.

These are the current full set of deleted comments on the answer you refer to: Screenshot of deleted comments


Comments are transient. The main reason for comments is to ask for clarification from the author or to point out issues with a text. Once such comments have served their purpose, they should ideally be removed. Sometimes, comments contain interesting tidbits that may not be important or directly relevant to the text, and those kinds of comments could potentially be left as they are unless the author decides to incorporate them into their text, or they could be deleted as their existence is of minor importance to the issue at hand.

See also How do comments work? on the man StackExchange Meta site and our own help text about the comment privilege (awarded at 50 reputation).

In the last month, I have deleted 129 comments (our moderator's "dashboard" tells me; many of these would have been flagged by users for various reasons), and last year we all (including you guys) deleted just over 13k comments (see 2023: a year in moderation).

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    Thanks, @Kusalananda! I'm OK with deleting them from the main page. But they are frequently useful to understand what's really going on underneath, so I would prefer for there to be some forensic way of seeing them (as you showed), just like footnotes don't clutter up the main body of a text, but supply additional, useful information for the reader (hence, the feature-request tag). This has happened to me many times while reading SO questions/answers. BTW, seeing who has said something is frequently as important as what was said. Without seeing the deleted comments, that info is lost.
    – jrw32982
    Mar 21 at 2:27
  • @jrw32982 See also "When should comments be deleted?" in the answer to the following Meta question on the main StackExchange site: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/19756/how-do-comments-work (and the help text about the comment privilege unix.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/comment)
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Mar 21 at 7:54
  • @jrw32982 comments are second class citizens here. The ideal situation is that comments are only posted when requesting clarifications of a question or answer, and then the question or answer is edited to address whatever was raised in the comment, and then the comment is deleted. If something is worth keeping, then it should be edited into the post, not kept in a comment.
    – terdon Mod
    Mar 21 at 10:47
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    I guess it boils down to a disconnect between the way I would like to use comments and the actual intended use of comments. I find them useful and read a lot of them, not infrequently they have even more useful information than the answer itself, or in conjunction with the actual answer.
    – jrw32982
    Mar 21 at 13:54
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Given the author of the answer has already addressed the comment, it's not unreasonable for it to have been deleted. Similarly, given MC68020's comment is transient, meaning only relevant for a brief moment of time, and that the comment it is targeting is gone, it's reasonable for that comment to be deleted as well. This is what the no longer needed flag exists for.

There's no reason for these comments to remain visible somewhere.

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    "has already addressed the comment" But I have no way of seeing what was addressed to see what it was or if it really was addressed. There's lots to learn from seeing this kind of thing. So there is a reason to for these comments to be visible somewhere, even if they're not in the main body of the Q&A.
    – jrw32982
    Mar 21 at 2:20
  • I definitely agree that "There's no reason for these comments to remain visible* as comments but there are reasons for my comment to remain visible "somewhere" (See my answer). I realize (too late) that somewhere should have been elsewhere ;-) My bad.
    – MC68020
    Mar 22 at 0:30
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I want first to offer my sincere apologizes to jrw32982 and Kusalananda for any disturbance my own mishandling of this precise situation might have caused.


Generally speaking, I fully support OP's feature request. Answers… answer (or not), comments help me to understand and think by myself. Not to say that I am often lost because of misc. fiddlings.


However, in the precise case you mention, mods rightly deleted it.
My comment was just not standing at the right place.

I had initially answered the question in some way.
Then ilkkachu rightly criticistes it in comments,
Then acknowledging the pertinence of their comment, I quasi-entirely rewrite my answer.

Then… I comment in order to (apart from thanking ilkkachu) explain to OP & other initial commentators/readers why I had rewritten my answer (by reference to ilkkachu's comment)

ilkkachu (correctly) deletes their comment that had become obsolete following my re-edit, mine stands consequently nonsensical and rightly entitled to mod's attention.

I realize that I had better filled the "Edit Summary" field when re-editing my answer.


My bad then, apologizes to all once again, but… anyway… +1 for your feature request… in general ;-)

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  • "comments help me to understand and think by myself" - agreed. History is also useful as long as it doesn't get in the way of succinct, to-the-point answers. I'd be in favor of keeping all comments somewhere findable, along with all changes to question/answer wording, etc.
    – jrw32982
    Mar 22 at 4:25

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