"everyone thinks they're usually right" - that's why the culture of discussion was developed. E.g., reasoning without criticism is OK, criticism without reasoning is not OK.
In the example you gave I think that a moderator moved the "discussion" into a chat room, where you can continue the discussion if you want to.
So far as I know, moderators have the following options:
- Try to persuade people to be civil
- Delete the whole discussion if any comment takes a turn for the worse
- Move the whole discussion to a chat room
- Delete selected comments and leave others
- Edit other people's comments
1. Try to persuade people to be civil
It seems to me I have done that a lot, perhaps too much -- see my previous answers to topics marked comments. I don't want to repeat that all here.
2. Delete the whole discussion if any comment takes a turn for the worse
I do that if there isn't much substance to the comments, if they're just like, "You're wrong." "No, you're wrong."
I also do that if comments are obsolete. e.g. if their content is edited into the answer.
3. Move the whole discussion to a chat room
Lanka did this, and I do this (and this seems to be what you're objecting to), if any part of the discussion sound so hostile that I don't want it to appear on the main site, yet it contains some content that might be interesting to someone -- either which the users might want to continue discussing, or which a future avid reader of the answer might want to read if they see ...
Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
... at the end of the answer.
Your comment wasn't exactly deleted: it was "moved to chat".
4. Delete selected comments and leave others
This is what you're suggesting, and it's not a bad suggestion, and I often do that.
In this particular case (where Dhammadhatu is the OP) I see some disadvantage to doing that, and so option 3 ("move to chat room") might be better (I agree with and don't see a disadvantage of Lanka's decision to move it all to chat).
My general policy (a personal policy, I don't know about other moderators) is that whoever wrote the answer is allowed to have the last word in comment discussion. So if it's Dhammadhatu's answer then Dhammadhatu is allowed the last comment. See e.g. this answer where I wrote,
Commenting on someone else's answer is like being an uninvited or unexpected guest in their house:
- Be polite, straightforward, easy to support, not too demanding
- My visit is over when tell me it's over: don't overstay my welcome.
- Generally I think that the other user (whose answer it is) should be allowed the last word. For example if I post a comment to ask a question, and they post a comment to answer, then that's it: end of "discussion". Sometimes I might have a follow-up question, but in general I'm hoping for a satisfactory reply.
Part of hoping for a satisfactory reply is not posting comments like, "you are wrong", because it's hard to imagine any satisfactory response to that comment.
5. Edit other people's comments
Moderators can edit anyone else's comments.
It's been very very rare that I edit someone else's comment ... and that's usually just to improve the formatting of a hyperlink.
If I edit their comments then that confuses people, which itself leads to further discussion (see e.g. here).
There are disadvantages to my editing comments:
- It's a "hostile edit" rather than a "helpful edit" i.e. it's editing to say something which maybe the author didn't intend to say (it's not just like correcting a spelling mistake or something)
- There's no edit history for a comment, the previous version of the comment is lost even to me
- The edited comment appears to be from the original author, there's no indication it was edited by a moderator (so I'm "putting my words into their mouth" as the saying goes)
- It hasn't been policy
I think that as a result of this discussion I eventually decided that I should edit people's answers to remove what I decide is hostility ... that it's OK if I edit an answer for tone, like I edit for grammar and so sometimes.
I haven't (we haven't, the community hasn't) decided (or hasn't yet decided) that it's OK for moderators to do the same to comments.
For example the comment you're objecting to, which you call "unacceptable" and an "unfounded attack on Buddhism", was,
This last comment about name-&-form is a misunderstanding. I will start a new question about this to avoid further confusion, materialism & unverifiable superstition posted about my answer. Thanks
Theoretically I could edit that to say something like,
@changzhao I think your comment about name-&-form misunderstands what I was trying to say. I will start a new question about this, to avoid further discussion about this answer. Thanks.
Some people might see that edit as an improvement, I'm not sure everyone would find that acceptable.
- You might not agree with every answer posted on this site
- If you dislike an answer, you really are welcome to post a better answer of your own
- Discussing an answer using comment is tolerated, but is not the main purpose of the site
- If a discussion becomes an argument, that's less tolerated and a moderator may (or should) intervene
- To have a "discussion", both parties need to be willing
- In this case, the author wasn't willing to edit his answer based on Dheeraj Verma's comment, and wasn't willing to discuss it further with you ... and that's OK.
- Your starting your comment with "Actually @DheerajVerma was correct." might be an example of "piling on" so regardless of the content, maybe you didn't phrase it very tactfully. Tactically I suggest you use "I" messages ("I don't think that...") instead of allegations ("That's wrong") nor "You" messages ("You're wrong"), and or that you phrase your comment as a (polite ... open-minded?) question instead of as a statement.
If I ever have to choose between people using comments to argue, versus not having comments at all, then it's likely to be the latter and comments will be deleted.
that's why the culture of discussion was developed. E.g., reasoning without criticism is OK, criticism without reasoning is not OK.
The purpose of this site is question-and-answer rather than discussion. Part of the reason for (or a beneficial side-effect of) minimizing discussion is that it minimizes argument too.
So I guess we tend to emphasize "reasoning without criticism" and de-emphasize "culture of discussion".
People who post answers may, but aren't required to, discuss their answer if you comment.