On this question, I left a comment to the effect of

You should write equality tests that make sense for your specific object. This may or may not include all of the properties of said object.

Why on earth would such a comment be deleted? And no, it's not an answer. If I posted that as an answer, I'd get "should be a comment" comments.

As an aside I'm getting pretty tired of the way comments are now being handled on the SE platform. As a moderator, my first rule of comments was "Never delete useful information!" If this sort of thing continues, I'm inclined to stop using comments altogether.

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    I saw that it wasn't there anymore and I assumed you had deleted it yourself to make it an answer. The comment was indeed a very objective and straightforward insight into the question - the question is worse without it. Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 23:44
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    Robert, though I agree mods should not delete such comments, I think in the context of the given answers it is really not needed any more, since what you wrote is part of at least 2 top answers.
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 9:15
  • Ha. When I asked the very same question on Meta-SO I got down votes en masse. When my blood pressure was down to normal I decided to just accept this world as it is. No Greta-effect.
    – user188153
    Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 15:00

2 Answers 2


I didn't delete the comments on that question, so the mod who did would have to state their reasoning, but I would have also deleted that comment. Maybe not if I was just browsing the site, but if at least one comment on the post was flagged as chatty or no longer needed, I would typically review the whole chain of comments and clean up any comments that are not appropriate for comments.

I do agree with the concept of "never delete useful information", and I don't buy into the idea comments are ephemeral. However, comments should add questions or comments to the post that they are attached to. If it's not adding a question, a point of clarification, pointing out something to consider, or supporting information to the contents of the post that it's attached to, it's not a good comment and should be deleted so the relevant ones can be easily seen.

In this particular case, this isn't a good example of a comment. It does attempt to answer the questions and should be posted as an answer. If someone suggested that it should be a comment, they are wrong - that's not what comments are for. However, if it was posted as written as an answer, I would expect it to receive comments and/or down votes, since it doesn't do a good job of explaining why this is correct or a useful consideration.

Now, why would I do this? I think it's important to encourage the appropriate use of comments. Leaving something that resembles an answer as a comment doesn't encourage good behavior. It's why we quickly delete off-topic questions that have a very low chance of being edited to fit the scope of the site as well. Simply not seeing things helps discourage unwanted behaviors from others who may not know better.

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    The comment requires no further explanation. The question says "I was once taught" without further explanation, so there's no reasonable rationale for the original thought in the first place. Elizabeth Warren can say "Well, they're just wrong," but I don't get to tell her that's not an answer. Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 22:42
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    @RobertHarvey Although I disagree with some of the content on this Help Center page, I don't disagree with the "when should I comment" section. Your comment doesn't fall into a request for clarification, constructive criticism, or relevant but minor or transient information. If you believe that it was sufficient for an answer without any further elaboration, then it should have been posted as one and not as a comment.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 23:05
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    I'll refrain from posting such comments in the future. We'll see how much of a chilling effect that has. Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 23:18
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    I agree with Robert Harvey on this. I see nothing wrong with positing potential answers as comments as part of a discussion before committing to an answer which may be quickly down-voted. @ThomasOwens I understand this site has rules but with all due respect, your pedantry is the kind of off-putting behavior which I dislike about this site. Not everything is black and white.
    – Dan Wilson
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 23:42
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    @DanWilson There are many reasons why answers should not be posted as comments. They aren't visible. They can't be down voted. Trying to ask for clarification or provide constructive criticism or add relevant information leads to extended discussion in comments (which reduces visibility of other, relevant comments). Also, consider that people participate on several sites in the network - there needs to be some commonality in the use of the platform or there will even be more friction for these people. Answers do not belong in comments is one such norm.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 0:26
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    Thomas, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. If mods start to become so picky about each and every mediocre comment, this may improve the content a little bit, but I am pretty sure it will have a negative impact on the communication culture, which is IMHO not worth it.
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 9:04
  • @DanWilson I don't see posting such comments as inherently "wrong". Nobody is going to punish people for posting such comments. Just don't be surprised if the comments get crowded and it gets reaped eventually. If the comment has such inherent value sto the question then it should be an answer... or it is potentially a very valuable answer for a question that wasn't asked. Either way it is possibly distracting from the OP's specific question.
    – maple_shaft Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 15:58
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    There are at least 2 other comments on the question which have virtually the same "answer" as the one @RobertHarvey posted - albeit more elaborately explained, for example this, so the criteria for deletion is not evenly applied. Personally, I would prefer if moderators would let readers decide for themselves what they want to read, and worry less about reducing site content. Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 12:55

Challenging the assumptions of a question is indeed usually an answer, not a comment. I'd consider this a generalization of Don't Do That being a valid answer. (In before "all approaches to a problem are equally valid" becomes part of the TOS...)

  • This has more to do with moderator restraint than it does with hard rules. Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 19:51
  • @RobertHarvey Fair point. I'd expect a comment saying your comment should be an answer, not a silent deletion. Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 19:53

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