I recently discussed the merit of keeping no-longer-relevant Comments around with Michael Mrozek.

Scenarios:

  • OP follows a suggestion by a commenter, something like include exact error message
  • A commenter mentions some info that is outdated, like Squeeze is still in freeze....

In these cases (and maybe more I'm not thinking of), is it okay to ask OP to delete the Comment?

I would like to hear what others think, so we can have a guideline that we can follow.

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Another case: replies to comments which are obsolete or even deleted. –  mattdm Mar 2 '11 at 16:36
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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

If you think a comment is irrelevant (or obsolete) and should be deleted, flag it as such. I'm always happy to clean up comments that have become noisy for whatever reason.

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Suggestions on how to troubleshoot a problem, such as “what's the content of <file name>”, should always be kept. They're very important for people who'll find the question later and have similar symptoms but possibly not the same underlying cause.

It's often worth keeping suggestions on how to write a better question, such as “exact error message”. This conveys a message to other users who might be about to ask a question.

Outdated information can have some value in making the context of a question or some of its answers more comprehensible.

Suggestions of corrections in answers are less important if they've been followed, especially if they're of the “I don't understand why you said foo, did you mean bar?” / “yes” variety. But you should be really sure before deleting a comment.

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My point is that what's the content of blah Comment becomes irrelevant when OP incorporates it in the post. Or do you think the Comment should be kept even in that case? –  Tshepang Mar 3 '11 at 3:53
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@Tshepang: Yes, it should be kept, because it shows how the problem was troubleshot, and that's as important as showing the solution. –  Gilles Mar 3 '11 at 8:28
    
I agree that the trouble-shooting process is useful, so would it be better to edit (a transcript of) the trouble-shooting process into the question? –  jw013 May 2 '12 at 8:51
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Asking the OP for deletion adds another comment instead of deleting an old one. If the user silently deletes his comment one week later, you might have forgotten your comment.

In trivial, indisputable cases, just deleting seems much better, because it doesn't consume so much time. If I am reminded of an old answer, I sometimes need some time to remember the question, the context, the reason for the comment.

Don't waste too much time on old questions.

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