Us programmers often have a tendency to pedantry, and one of the reasons is because it's necessary to avoid confusion. So it's no surprise that there are sometimes comments stating that some usage of some word is wrong or could be clarified. I've written plenty of those myself, though sometimes I've handled it badly.

On the other hand, natural language is inherently subjective and ambiguous, and some people have strong opinions about what is correct usage that aren't that widely shared, and being overly pedantic, trying to be perfectly precise about the meaning of everything, is itself confusing. There's no such thing as a perfect way to word anything, and past a certain point pedantry doesn't really seem worthwhile.

In other words, if I feel that something I've written is clear enough, and someone suggests its not, I'll probably defend my position rather than immediately reword it. Maybe I'll get a better understanding of the objection when the commenter responds, and will be able to reword more effectively as a result, but it's at least as much about the feeling that if I automatically edit whenever someone objects, I'm confessing to a crime I didn't commit and in punishment I could be pointlessly editing forever.

However, I almost always find myself feeling insulted within a comment or two, and others clearly feel I'm being insulting too. Perhaps the limitations of comments don't help - after all, being "short" and "abrupt" usually means being offensive. And sure enough, long in-comment discussions are discouraged, and these things very often lead to long, somewhat heated in-comment discussions.

I was a little surprised to not be able to find any advice in the FAQ or on meta - maybe I'm just not looking hard enough.

So - what advice can people offer? And should there be something in the FAQ?

Or should this just be a common sense thing? - if so, I'm probably doomed :-(

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    @gnat - can I take that edit as a leading-by-example answer of the if-you-think-you-can-improve-it-just-do-it kind? – Steve314 Jul 17 '12 at 15:16
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    right. MSO even has a tag specifically devoted to clarifying this: 'editing'. "Editing is a core, fundamental Stack Exchange value..." – gnat Jul 17 '12 at 15:20
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    Don't forget the questions and answers on this site are meant to help everyone, not just the person asking the question. Someone posting a comment on an answer is typically trying to clarify something in the answer for other people who read it. You can either edit your answer to include that information, upvote the comment if you agree with it but don't want to edit your answer, post a short constructive comment contradicting it and your reason(s) why, or just ignore it. What you shouldn't do is argue about it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. – Rachel Jul 17 '12 at 16:44
  • @Rachel - but my "Maybe I'll get a better understanding of the objection when the commenter responds, and will be able to reword more effectively as a result" point is a real one. Active listening, basically - if I don't explain my point of view, no-one can tell me what's wrong with it, and if I don't understand the objection I can't edit to address that objection properly. Everyone is entitled, as you say, and that includes me - but people can see an attempt to deny that entitlement where all there really was was an attempt to resolve apparent contradications and get things clarified. – Steve314 Jul 17 '12 at 22:00
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    This question is unanswerable without citing a few specific examples to chew on. – Robert Harvey Jul 17 '12 at 22:53
  • @Robert - You're probably right, but I'd rather not point to the specific case that led to this if I can avoid it. I'm not looking to round up a lynch-mob (especially one that might lynch me instead). Anyway, the case of the moment is more a reminder of non-specific past incidents than a big deal in itself. – Steve314 Jul 17 '12 at 23:18

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