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The context

Comments may be removed by moderators with or without prejudice.

(If it was not apparent, a quick criterion of judging whether something should have been removed with prejudice is that, you think the commenter probably deserve a down-voting (reputation deducted) for posting that comment.)

Examples of reasons for removing comments with prejudice are:

  • (Just to list a few): useless, not contributing anything, not desirable, offensive, etc.

Examples of reasons for removing comments without prejudice: (namely, to tidy up)

My feature request

In the latter case, we may want to keep some linked questions that were once posted as comments even after those comments have been deleted, because a few of them may be relevant to the main question or OP. This will have to be decided on a case-by-case basis because not all linked questions are actually relevant; editorial insight will be needed.

In particular, moderators should be able to directly edit the list of linked questions to add relevant ones and remove irrelevant (or borderline) ones. To be able to do this, the linked/related questions may need to be decoupled from the commentary system.

This feature is more important to SO than to Programmers.SE because there is a higher tendency that technical/mechanical/reference questions are inter-related [1] and that if we require the related-question-provider to summarize the link, it would just be a verbatim quote of said technical matter.

Opposing opinion (1)

On the other hand, it might be argued that requiring a verbal summary/quote for every related link (by an answerer, not a commenter) may be a good thing because it improves signal-to-noise ratio.

(If this is correct then there is no harm in deleting related links posted as comments.)

Opposing opinion (2)

The OP may want to have a say in what links are relevant and what aren't. If the OP decides that a link is relevant, the OP should edit the question to included the link, so that the SE engine can pick up and show it as a linked-question.

Collaterals

This feature would probably require declining Can the closed questions please be removed from "related"?


My reflection

I have a tendency to keep a lot of reference links "just in case", and I was trained to look for "signals" in a sea of noise (i.e. to locate useful information in a mix of data of low signal-to-noise ratio)

Side note

[1]: just take a look at any reference documentation such as MSDN or NUnit to see how the pages are linked like a web.

5

I haven't read the question in great depth, but I would like to point out the following:

Comments are really only intended to ask for clarification, more information or point out errors in posts. The are not meant for extended discussions or holding valuable information.

If something is posted in a comment (e.g. a link) that's valuable to the post then that information should be edited into the post.

For example:

I post an answer that makes an assertion about something but I don't back it up with a link. Someone comes along and posts a comment "can you back that up?". A third person comes along before I have a chance to respond and replies in the comments with a link.

Now in this case there are several things that should really happen:

  1. The third party edits my answer to include the link.
  2. I edit my answer to include the link.
  3. Someone else edits my answer to include the link.

This way if the comments are cleaned up we haven't lost any information.

The same applies to questions. Either the information is supporting the question and therefore should be edited into the question or is offering a (perhaps partial) answer in which case it should be posted as an answer.

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Generally moderators don't clean up relevant comments. This includes comments with relevant links.

If a question is closed as a duplicate of one of those links, every comment that includes it will be automatically deleted. This does turn out to be problematic on occasion, like when the comment contains more than just the link.

We do tend to clean up lengthy discussions (especially when they veer off topic) as described here, but we do our best to avoid removing useful/relevant information while doing so.

With all that said... I'm not really sure what you're asking for. Do you want moderators to validate links in comments and add them to the "Linked questions" sidebar?

  • "Do you want moderators to validate links in comments and add them to the "Linked questions" sidebar?" Yes, in the case where the comments themselves are removed. I asked this question because I do see "lengthy discussions" being cleaned up without preserving the list of related questions. – rwong Jun 15 '11 at 14:01

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