Commenting this answer, dhammadhatu insistently stated that I was dogmatic, that my dogma was confusing, my language alien, and so forth. When I intended to "Flag" one of the comments "for serious problems or moderator attention", I noticed that dhammadhatu's comments had been deleted. It is not that I wanted dhammadhatu to be admonished, but I would have liked his comments to be examined by a third person, since I am biased in this situation.

The thing is, how does SE deal with authors of deleted comments that might have been improper?

1 Answer 1


You're welcome to bring it up on Meta. Thank you for asking!

Moderators can view deleted comments if they have reason to.

I was watching your conversation while it was happening, and I didn't know what to do with it: whether to intervene, whether to stop it, whether to migrate it to a chat room.

In particular I didn't know whether you were willing to continue the conversation, or whether you were feeling obliged to converse (obliged by the fact that comments and question were being posted).

I also didn't know whether either of you felt that you were benefiting from the conversation, or whether you were hoping that you might benefit each other or benefit other readers.

Anyway, to answer your question:

What happens when comments one wanted to Flag are deleted?

Moderators can see that there are deleted comments (there's text which says "6 deleted comments" next to your answer), and can easily (one click) see the deleted comments.

New flagging isn't possible and an existing flag is cleared if a comment is deleted (deleted by anyone for any reason). After a comment is deleted, if you want moderators' attention you can post on Meta.

The thing is, how does SE deal with authors of deleted comments that might have been improper?

It's up to the site moderators to "deal with authors".

One on the only constraints is that if a moderator ever does reprimand an author in private, SE policy says that that reprimand should remain private. As a moderator I am also not supposed to publicly disclose the content of deleted comments (per SE policy, doing so would be an abuse of my ability to read them), so in public I'll only talk about the deleted comment/content that you remember and mentioned yourself. I currently read all non-deleted comments (using this tool) but that's not guaranteed (I don't guarantee that I'll see every comments except if you flag them).

Anyway, a moderator's options include:

  1. Tell people to avoid posting improperly
  2. Decide whether they did post improperly
  3. Tell them to stop posting improperly and deal with the improper posts
  4. Prevent them from posting improperly

I try to do 1. as a matter of course: e.g. I ask people to moderate their own comments and hope they will.

2. is a little difficult. I don't want to prevent people from asking questions, or even having brief conversations, if their conversations are constructive/informative/friendly.

In this case (your being called dogmatic etc.) I didn't intervene.

  • I (perhaps wrongly) thought you had the patience of a saint, given your willingness to continue to answer such questions.
  • I didn't know how to tell you that, instead of answering a comment, you're welcome to flag it. You're also welcome to answer it and flag it (for moderator attention). If the comment is deleted then the flag is probably cleared too, but if you post in Meta that will surely be seen.

If you want to be told you're right, I think you're right. The most commonplace English meaning of the word "fabrication" is "an invention, a lie" (maybe it's a word that's over-complicated for specialists by the fact that it's used to translate saṅkhāra).

To be honest I thought that Dhammadhatu was also right, except whenever he implied that you or your answer were wrong.

I'm sure that this site is meant to permit more than one answer to a question, and users (especially including you) should be able to post without unwarranted criticism or disagreement.

There are various ways to do 3. (i.e. telling them to stop), including: comments; posts on Meta; public chat rooms (moderators can also initiate a private chat rooms to discuss any problems in private); and official private messages (for moderators to admonish a user).

Dealing with improper posts includes deleting them. Moderators can also migrate comments to a chat room.

I don't understand the motive for Dhammadhatu's posting comments which he then deletes: in my opinion that's inept, and you shouldn't post comments which you feel the need to delete.

The only good time to delete your own comment might be something like:

  1. You post an answer
  2. I post a comment to suggest an improvement
  3. You edit your answer to make the improvement
  4. My comment is now obsolete so I delete it

In other cases I probably shouldn't delete my own comment, for example:

  1. You post an answer
  2. I post a comment to ask a question
  3. You post a comment to answer my question

In the above case I shouldn't delete my comment, because deleting it would leave your comment/answer alone and out-of-context (on the other hand, moderators probably shouldn't undelete comments which the comment's author has deleted).

Note that instead of posting a comment (to answer a question that's posted as a comment), you can also edit your original answer to answer that question (if necessary I could reference answers where I've done that, i.e. why I have edited my answer to reply to a supplementary question posted as a comment).

Re. 4. moderators can prevent a user can be prevented from posting at all (i.e. by suspending their account for a shorter or longer time) but only if they ignore official admonishment.

In summary:

If someone posts a comment which you don't like; if the comment makes the site worse, if the comment isn't an opportunity to make the site better in some way, then you don't have to reply: instead, simply flag the comment for moderator attention and then ignore it.

Part of my job as moderator is to moderate user interactions (especially comments), to make this a site where you can post your expert answers with no excessive criticism. If you want my help, if I'm not doing my job, please tell me so.

If you have any questions about how the site is run, or want to discuss that, post in Meta.

If you want to chat with a moderator privately, you can do that: post a message like "@ChrisW can we have a private chat please".

If you disagree with someone's answer the best thing to do is post a better answer of your own.

If you want to post a comment which disagrees with someone's answer then keep it short: "I disagree for reason X and Y." and leave it at that, don't post more than one comment (let the author of the answer have the last word).

If you want to post a comment to someone's answer, better than posting a criticism is to:

  • Post a question: "I didn't understand X? Can I have a reference for Y? Don't you think that Z?"
  • Post an addition: "I agree and furthermore I think X."
  • Post a specific/constructive suggestion (but not using too many comments): "I think your answer would be better if you added X/edited Y/deleted Z."

Avoid deleting your own comments if that would leave other answers out-of-context. If you think that several comments (yours and someone else's) ought to be deleted then flag them for a moderator.

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