Of late there has been greater push towards keeping comments on-topic and deleting comments that are silly/make no sense/are way past their usefulness, etc on the different SE sites to keep the comment threads short and relevant. Usually it is done quietly behind the scenes, but I thought it would be nice to get community input to gauge if this makes sense or not, lest people bring out their pitchforks for unilaterally deleting comments.

The type of comments that I suggest should be deleted/cleaned up are:

  1. "Could you add a pic of X?"/ "Could you mention your location?"/ "Could you expand on your answer?", etc.
  2. "Pic added." / "Thanks, will do so." etc.
  3. "+1, me too" / "I want to know the answer to this" etc.

Category 1 is irrelevant after the user has edited the post to add the requested info and becomes plain noise. By the same argument, category 2 is also noise and if 1 is removed, 2 should go too. Class 3 adds nothing of value to the discussion.

Now I'd prefer if users deleted their own comments once they see that it has served its purpose. But we are all human and we forget to do so. So my question is, would it be alright if we deleted such comments (I hope no one takes it to heart if we do)? In addition, if you see comments left by others that are outdated, you can also flag it as one of obsolete/chatty/not constructive and we shall clean it up.

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4 Answers 4


Yes, delete these comments or flag them for removal. I've never been threatened with a pitchfork for doing so.

Removing obsolete and resolved comment threads (essentially, all the criteria you laid out above) is useful and explicitly encouraged.

Should moderators delete obsolete comments?


We should expect to treat comments like grass on your lawn. Every now and then, while it may have gotten a little hairy, or some spikes, trimming them back is expected.

If we wanted to keep the comments around, we should either be saving them elsewhere, using chat, or editing them into the post itself.


Being a heavy user of StackOverflow for a while, I can definitely see the appeal of this, especially since there are now questions on that site that are almost 4 years old and have attracted a long list of disjointed answers and commments. I can also say that I'd affirm any move to remove comments that are obviously off topic, offensive, or outright spam. But I'd also err on the side of leaving things a bit messy rather than trying to keep it "neatly pruned". After all, this isn't Wikipedia, it's a Q&A site which by it's design is a bit of a back-and-forth conversation.


My opinion is that it is okay to remove them when there is enough (5) vote to remove the comment. If there would be such mechanism to vote for close of a comment.

Also, it would be nice to inform the owner of the comment that their comment was deleted and explain why because when they flag the comment as off-topic, there is a selection of the reason, and I think finally the reason should be provided to the owner of the comment to encourage a happy community.

  • that means another comment thread which will need to be deleted which means... I think it will be self explanatory when a comment has been removed. Jul 15, 2011 at 3:58
  • 2
    @gunbuster - mods are encouraged to delete long discussions and reduce comment noise, there is no obligation to notify the commenter. We would prefer folks to take the initiative and delete their own long discussions when they get chatty or move them to chat, but we will come by and clean things up from time to time.
    – wax eagle
    Jul 15, 2011 at 12:46

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