Having had a chat with some fellows, I will summarize some important thoughts about what comments are for, why we should flag questions, answers and especially comments and I'd like to mention some words about etiquette, although I consider the last point as self-evident.

The post How do comments work? contains all necessary information, but I'd like to highlight some thoughts:

Comments are suitable if a question or answer is incomplete (e.g. if you're missing context), you think the post can be improved but you're unsure, or for giving some advises you consider as important (even if they seem a bit off-topic).

Comments are not for excessive chats and non-relevant stuff, such as Thank you posts without giving any further context. However, nobody will complain if you are a bit chatty or even if you're giving some context relevant jokes (as long as they are not off-color).

If a comment contain meaningful context, it should be integrated into the question or answer, respectively. The comment should be deleted since it is obsolete. Thus, flag the obsolete comment after integration. A moderator will remove the comment. Also flag the comment if you just partly integrated the comment. And flag a comment if you consider this comment as non-relevant (not constructive/off-topic).

Moreover, flag comments that are too chatty. They're just a pain in the neck for every reader.

Read A theory of Moderation for more information about flagging.

Last but not least, some thoughts about etiquette. Sometimes, there are a comments that are a bit pedantic. Even though they stating correct hints; don't forget if you continually leave critical comments they might be considered offensive, since being pedantic. Thus, if you consider being fussy, try to phrase your comment in a positive way.

Though, if an answer is completely wrong (in your opinion), express your thoughts clearly.

If you read a comment which is annoying, don't verbally fight back. This isn't a constructive way. Again, flag the comment.

Please feel free to comment this post if I should integrate some further hints you consider as important. Please create an answer if you want to discuss, disagree or such in a wider context than comments allow.


2 Answers 2

Increasingly there are complaints and flags about comments. People feel being treated in a "snotty", "condescending", or "arrogant" way to name just a few attributes that came up.

This is not how we should word our comments. We should try to be nice and keep our tone professional and objective in any case. Do not assume that everybody else is as keen as you are.

Keep in mind that we are here to help. Much of what is expected from us is said in our help section, let me just quote the fist paragraph but don't hesitate to (again) read the guidelines that follow:

Whether you've come to ask questions, or to generously share what you know, remember that we’re all here to learn, together. Be welcoming and patient, especially with those who may not know everything you do. Oh, and bring your sense of humor. Just in case.

Flag any posts, be it questions, answers or comments whenever you feel they do not meet our guidelines.

Rudeness has no place in our community - any such posts will be deleted without further notice.

German translation

Es gibt zunehmend Beschwerden und Flags über Kommentare. Einige fühlen sich "hochnäsig", "schulmeisterlich" oder "arrogant" behandelt, um nur ein paar der genannten Attribute aufzuzählen.

So sollten wir unsere Kommentare nicht verfassen. Wir sollten immer nett zueinander sein, mit professionellem und sachlichem Auftreten. Ihr dürft nicht annehmen, dass alle so klug sind wie ihr.

Denkt immer daran, dass wir helfen wollen. Was von uns erwartet wird, findet man auch auf unseren Hilfeseiten. Unten nur der erste Absatz, es lohnt sich aber, auch die danach aufgeführten Richtlinien (noch einmal) zu lesen:

Ob ihr nun hier seid um zu fragen, oder ob ihr euer Wissen mit uns teilen möchtet, denkt daran, dass wir alle hier sind um zu lernen, und zwar zusammen. Seid immer freundlich und geduldig, ganz besonders auch mit denen, die vielleicht noch nicht so viel wissen. Bringt auch ein Quäntchen Humor mit, das kann nicht schaden.

Flaggt alle Beiträge (Fragen, Antworten oder Kommentare), bei denen ihr den Eindruck habt, dass sie nicht unseren Richtlinien entsprechen.

Unhöflichkeit hat keinen Platz in unserer Gemeinschaft. Solche Beiträge werden kommentarlos gelöscht.

The german translation to this post should be removed... The language of meta is english. Any changes in policy would have to be updated in both "answers". Additionally "Rudeness" is extremely subjective. I have had some discussion on MSO for concisely informing a user of a misdecision. The comment was labeled as "offensive"... Sometimes one just has to bite the sour apple and show users that can't adapt to the SE-Model the door :( –  Vogel612 Jan 12 at 13:14
Sure, rudeness is highly subjective - that's why I so often decline rude/offensive flags on comments. The issue is that many users do feel uncomfortable on our site. There is no rule angainst bilingual posts on meta as long as there always is an English translation ... French do that all the time. –  Takkat Jan 12 at 15:02
Feel free to disregard the first part of that comment then... –  Vogel612 Jan 12 at 15:14

On the matter of etiquette:

Sometimes, there are comments that are a bit pedantic. Even though they stating correct hints; don't forget if you continually leave critical comments they might be considered offensive, since being pedantic. Thus, if you consider being fussy, try to phrase your comment in a positive way.

This is mostly a matter of tone and intent of the reader. Most comments that are stating "minor points" that I have read here were formulated in a pretty open and friendly tone. The "directive" for this (as reader / criticized user) is: Assume good intentions, unless proven otherwise.

Comments pointing out mistakes (unless insulting openly), are not offensive, no matter how pedantic they are!

If an answer is completely wrong, it's important to specifically address the point you are criticising and giving suggestions, as well as conclusive proof. Do not comment:

This answer is wrong - User, 3 seconds ago

Instead at the very least comment:

This answer is wrong, because [...]. - User, 3 seconds ago

On "pedantic":
Nitpicks and the like can be edited directly. Even users without the editing privilege may suggest edits to improve posts.

Keep in mind, that substantial edits should only happen by the original poster if the post is not marked as community wiki, and even then extreme care should be exercised.

On "Annoying comments":
If you find yourself seeing comments suggesting corrections as "annoying" you seem to be at the wrong place. After all "We're all here to learn, together."

If you cannot take constructive criticism you are in the wrong place. On the other hand, openly trolling or aggressive comments are not "annoying". They are offensive and should be flagged as such.
It may sometimes be beneficial to notify the author of a comment of this, since offensive also has a grade of subjectiveness and the commenter may simply be unaware of this.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .