Would I know if some of my comments had been deleted? May 1, 2012 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Would I know if some of my comments had been deleted?

After reading a rather long MeTa about deleted comments, I realized I don't know whether any of my comments have been deleted. Would I know? Is there an automatic message that gets sent, or anything?

Just curious.
posted by kristi to Etiquette/Policy at 6:12 PM (65 comments total)

No, there's nothing automatic, but you can always email the mods via the contact form at the bottom of every page.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:18 PM on May 1, 2012


Nope, we're happy to let you know if we've deleted something if you ask. If we delete a string of comments we'll often leave a smalltext note in the thread letting peopel know and sometimes I'll drop someone an email if they had a comment deleted for what might be a confusing reason [i.e. "we deleted an earlier comment by poster's request or something and your comment referred to it so we axed it but here, please repost with that part removed if you want sorry about that..."]

You've never had a comment deleted, fyi.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:23 PM on May 1, 2012


Would I know if some of my comments had been deleted?

Cortex usually send me a 5th of Jack when it happens. If Taz is on duty, she sends me cookies.
posted by special-k at 6:31 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was wondering why I was drunker and fatter lately.
posted by ODiV at 6:35 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


You've never had a comment deleted, fyi.

Way to tank Kristi's street cred.
posted by andoatnp at 6:36 PM on May 1, 2012 [21 favorites]


The hairs on the back of your neck will stand up and a shiver will go down your spine. It will feel like a spider is somewhere underneath your shirt, but only for a moment. And there will always be a hole in your heart where that comment had once been.
posted by GuyZero at 6:41 PM on May 1, 2012 [14 favorites]


I'm usually informed by singing telegram.
posted by item at 6:50 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


You mean you don't check your Recent Activity page obsessively and refresh the threads themselves while making a note of your comment number and the comments above and below it in case the worst happens and-

Oh. I mean. Neither do I. Yeah, no, there's no way to tell. I mean. I wouldn't really know. Or. Whatever.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:51 PM on May 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


I wonder if an automated message would eventually lead to fewer deleted comments.
posted by box at 6:51 PM on May 1, 2012


Thanks!

It's nice to know none of my comments have been deleted. (Not sure I had all that much street cred to begin with.) But now I know to watch for Taz if I'm craving cookies.
posted by kristi at 6:58 PM on May 1, 2012


No, but it would make MetaTalk interesting for anyone not a moderator.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:58 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


every comment you've ever made has been deleted and the mods have programmed the site to only show them to you - and programmed comment bots to occasionally reply, so you never catch on to the bitter truth - YOU DON'T EXIST HERE
posted by pyramid termite at 7:00 PM on May 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wonder if an automated message would eventually lead to fewer deleted comments.

I think an automated massage, that senses when posters are going to angrily respond to someone based on precise analysis of shoulder and neck tension, then blasts that tension away by a focused beam of pure awesomeness, would have a better effect. I suppose that is a pony, although a highly theoretical one....
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:01 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if an automated message would eventually lead to fewer deleted comments.

My gut says no. Proportionally, people have few comments deleted and usually not with a degree of consistency and volume where there's a "you keep doing this problematic thing repeatedly" type issue for the vast majority of users. For the exceptions to that we pretty much end up dropping the user an email directly about whatever the issue is.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:03 PM on May 1, 2012


You know you're a true Mefite when.....
posted by raisingsand at 7:03 PM on May 1, 2012


For the exceptions to that we pretty much end up dropping the user an email directly about whatever the issue is.

Yeah, I got an email like that from the mods when I first joined this thing. Apparently a lot of my comments were being deleted for being well, I'm not sure. No way to know if they don't tell you, etc...
posted by dfriedman at 7:09 PM on May 1, 2012


I wonder if an automated message would eventually lead to fewer deleted comments.

My guess is that it would lead to more outraged MeTa posts.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:15 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's nice to know none of my comments have been deleted. (Not sure I had all that much street cred to begin with.) But now I know to watch for Taz if I'm craving cookies.

All across the globe, in a hundred darkened rooms lit by a hundred glowing monitors, a hundred commenters sit and stare into the blue, typing "Fuck you Taz!" and then waiting, biting their nails, muttering "cookiescoookiescookiescookies..."
posted by Diablevert at 7:31 PM on May 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I get a message indicating that everyone is really, really disappointed in me and I should know better and that it makes everyone very sad that I can't live up to my potential whenever one of my comments is deleted.

Then I sit in the rain and cry under the crushing weight of guilt.

Wait, no sorry, that's what happens when I get a call from my mother! Ha ha, my bad!
posted by winna at 7:55 PM on May 1, 2012 [13 favorites]


You have to meet Jessamyn in person and she'll show you the list of all of your deleted comments and all of the people who've flagged your comments but she'll switch tabs before you really have time to process it and then you'll have a weird knot in your stomach for like a month.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:00 PM on May 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


After they are deleted, they are not there anymore.
posted by lee at 8:12 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


What flavour cookies? I need to know before I write something contentious.
posted by arcticseal at 8:13 PM on May 1, 2012


I would feed sugar lumps to GenjiandProust's automated massage pony.
posted by catlet at 8:22 PM on May 1, 2012


I really appreciate the notes in the thread letting us know that a deletion has happened and would be happier if they were left more often, and particularly if they were more descriptive sometimes.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:26 PM on May 1, 2012


After they are deleted, they are not there anymore.

Sure, that's what they tell you. The horrible truth is much, much worse.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:27 PM on May 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


I really appreciate the notes in the thread letting us know that a deletion has happened and would be happier if they were left more often, and particularly if they were more descriptive sometimes.

You are always welcome to ask! There's a fine line (that I know I am still learning to navigate) between leaving enough so the thread is not confusing and leaving so much that people want to argue it right there.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:39 PM on May 1, 2012


Your deleted comments go to live on a farm where they are happy.

At least that's what my parents told me.
posted by unSane at 8:48 PM on May 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


I really appreciate the notes in the thread letting us know that a deletion has happened and would be happier if they were left more often, and particularly if they were more descriptive sometimes.

Like restless_nomad said, this is a balance thing; we want to try and make it clear, at least to the people most directly involved in whatever got deleted (or not-deleted-but-needs-to-stop) that that's what we're addressing and they need to cut it out, but we also don't necessarily want to get into detailed territory where we're aggressively naming names or having one half of an argument about site policy while telling people not to argue back.

So, "hey, guys, please cut it out" is less descriptive than "user x and user y, you need to stop talking about x because of y and z and also here are some general thoughts on the subject" but also less likely to disrupt the thread in the service of ostensibly removing disruption from the thread.

Folks always have the option of coming over to Metatalk if they want to talk about what happened, and the more complicated and nuanced stuff tends to do so; the cut-and-dried stuff where it's just someone(s) losing their temper or getting in a sniping match or whatever doesn't really need any kind of hashing out of theses anyway, so we're not much worried about addressing that stuff in detail if even addressing it at all after doing some quick cleanup.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:49 PM on May 1, 2012


Do in-thread "moderator voice" comments (along the lines of "cut it out") serve a useful historical purpose? It seems like they function in the moment. Because of that I wondered the other day about the potential for mod voice notes to "self delete" after the thread gets back on track. The idea being to present a better model for behavior by not making mod admonishment seem like the expected norm to people reading the archives.
posted by Jeff Howard at 9:23 PM on May 1, 2012


I think they serve a purpose in-line yeah. In our dream world, we'd delete fewer comments but be able to leave a note and say "Hey knock that off about here please" without having to be too specific about users or specific things they said. Having comment vanish would be counter to the expected permanence of everyone's comments and would make us have to make specific delineations between "This is a mod comment" and "This is not a mod comment" and even though people can read the difference pretty clearly, having to make that machine readable would be another step altogether. Basically I think it's useful to make it clear that the community, while often self-policing, is not always self-correcting and having the mod comments remaining is a good way of keeping that at the forefront.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:27 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had my first comment deleted today. It was a sad day.
posted by travelwithcats at 9:50 PM on May 1, 2012


I guess one reason why I particularly appreciate the notes is that it lets me know that the gaslight really is flickering, and that the comment I totally remembered, but am I just crazy?, really was there. Though, I guess I see the purpose of there being no problem is no one knows there was a problem.

I really get how shitty it kind of is to call out users in mod comments, and have no complaints about how rare that is. It is just that with some derails that have relevant aspects, for example, it would be helpful to have a working definition for what the derail is to go with the instruction to avoid it. I was always kind of confused why you guys only ever used the ex cathedra brackets and small font in really short blurbs, and I guess it makes sense as a way to not start fights outside of MetaTalk, though I think having a clear mod position in a thread might make any Meta threads that might result in general more clear and less WTF.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:58 PM on May 1, 2012


I once made a jokey comment that I thought was hilarious (and it was). When I noticed it was deleted, I apologized to the mods, saying I thought it was too funny to resist. Jessamyn responded agreeing that it was indeed funny, but "had a short shelf life". I had to agree with that. Good mods, here.
posted by trip and a half at 10:52 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: had a short shelf life.
posted by special-k at 11:05 PM on May 1, 2012


Oh and just to be clear, it was a jokey comment in an AskMe question which, even if it was the most hilarious thing ever, deserved to be deleted, because it did not help the questioner, except maybe to give him/her a laugh, which is not the point of AskMe.
posted by trip and a half at 11:17 PM on May 1, 2012


I think our profile pages should all have a 'Days since last deleted comment' field.
posted by permafrost at 4:05 AM on May 2, 2012


Metafilter: I once made a jokey comment that I thought was hilarious (and it was).
posted by unSane at 4:40 AM on May 2, 2012


After they are deleted, they are not there anymore.

Not quite. After they are deleted, they were never there in the first place.
posted by ZsigE at 5:40 AM on May 2, 2012


permafrost writes "I think our profile pages should all have a 'Days since last deleted comment' field."

Mods correct me if I'm wrong but the vast majority of even active users never get a comment deleted. So that kind of display would just be something else a disruptive user could use to game the site.
posted by Mitheral at 5:44 AM on May 2, 2012


Yep, I would say that the majority don't have deleted comments in the blue... or else they are just typos or doubles. It's much more likely in Ask Metafilter, though, where we have stricter policies.

I personally wouldn't mind deletions being more transparent to the members themselves, because I could see it being very helpful for a lot of people, but I can't imagine how that could be handled on the moderation end, since a lot of back and forth discussion about why X was deleted can take up a huge amount of time that isn't really available for a "light" mod team. When things come up in Metatalk it's helpful (for us, and those who read Metatalk), because then everyone gets the benefit of discussion about the reasoning behind deletions, but having a whole bunch of one-on-one conversations wouldn't be practical.

Leaving notes can sometimes also help this way, but as discussed above, it can also be disruptive or weird in the conversation – or actually perpetuate or draw more attention to the thing that was causing the thread to go wonky, so it's not always the best choice.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:39 AM on May 2, 2012


FWIW, on a previous occasion when this was asked, I did email the mods asking if I had had any comments deleted. I sort of thought the reply would be, like, 3 or maybe 10 at a push, because I have been here a while and posted in excess of 6k comments. I was floored when the answer came back that I'd had 36 (or possibly even more) comments killed. I was unaware of almost all of these deletions.

I would just point out that under the current methods, I have not learned anything that would improve my apparently-occasionally-problematic posting behaviour in the future. I have little idea why most of those comments were killed. Which makes me sad, because I try very hard to engage here in good faith and would very much like to not cause cleanup issues for the mods. I understand that batting cleanup in a thread is already time consuming, and that the servers are already taxed, but just as a pony point, it would be more useful to me as a community member if I could see my (and only my) deleted comments in a thread with the reason for deletion. At least I'd have the opportunity to learn something from that.

Probably this would cause more arguing by MeMail and more Metas and I get why this probably won't happen, but at the same time, I was dismayed to realise my personal learning curve has been not so much curved as flat.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:44 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


All those were for Ask Metafilter, though... where it works out that you have about 1 comment deleted per every 1,000 comments you make. And if we were really going to drill down on each of those, it would turn out that some were doubles or typos or responses to deleted comments.

You've only had one comment deleted from the blue, which was a "FTFY" thing... a couple more were doubles/typos.
posted by taz (staff) at 7:33 AM on May 2, 2012


I was floored when the answer came back that I'd had 36 (or possibly even more) comments killed.

Well, keep in mind that on AskMe it's totally possible to misread a question in good faith or give a good-faith but chatty answer. I've done both often enough. So 36 out of 6k isn't bad, and if you comment on AskMe a lot, most of your deletions are probably dumb stuff like that.
posted by nangar at 7:34 AM on May 2, 2012


Usually when I get a comment deleted, I'll repost in on one of the subsites and try to find a good fit like tetris.
posted by Sailormom at 7:44 AM on May 2, 2012


I would just point out that under the current methods, I have not learned anything that would improve my apparently-occasionally-problematic posting behaviour in the future.

Which we're honestly okay with, because very-occasionally-problematic (for a fairly low bar of "problematic" as far as askme is concerned) is a pretty good batting average and you haven't shown a specific seriously problematic trend with your answers where it was something that we felt like needed addressing. People who comment a lot are proportionally likely to have a few comments deleted along the way because pretty much nobody has robotic discipline or whatever.

Basically, if you're doing fine in general, we don't want to (a) potentially put you in the position of feeling like you're in trouble or (b) give ourselves extra work/drama for the sake of making the perfect the enemy of the good. If there was a running theme with those deletions where you kept doing the same exact weird thing, you'd hear from us about it; when it's just you using askme in good faith but having the occasional snarky moment every hundred comments or so, it's probably not even totally on our radar.

If you want a personal TODO list based on a second glance through this, skip strikethrough/FTFY snark, skip random oh-that-is-rich type asides where your answer is a quote and the words "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA", avoid getting into small arguments with other users in an askme thread, that sort of thing, and your average will probably go from .989 to .996 or whatever. Which is totally welcome if you want to work on it, but this is not something that's been at what we see as crisis levels so it's not something we'd have really even worried about breaking down short of a specific request to look at it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:47 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


As far as I know... I've only had one deleted. And that was on AskMe after I'd alerted a mod about a woolgatheringish type subquestion.

I'll admit. I'm curious. --in other words: Do me! Do me!
posted by Trochanter at 8:36 AM on May 2, 2012


I once made a jokey comment that I thought was hilarious (and it was).

Man, my Sarah Palin joke was pure gold and now it's gone forever.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:38 AM on May 2, 2012


I'll admit. I'm curious. --in other words: Do me! Do me!

You have indeed had only the one askme comment removed. But you've had five nixed from the blue! Mostly just from moments where you were getting unnecessarily shirty with other folks.

And I'll just say right now that while we're happy to take a look at folks' deletion history if they're curious, it's maybe a better thing for a contact form email than a metatalk thread because it's super awkward if someone who has had an unusually, uh, vibrant history of deleted comments asks and then we're left trying to decide whether to diplomatically discuss that in public or what. We end up sort of mutually put on the spot in that case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:44 AM on May 2, 2012


Free Speech!Q\!! First Amendment!!! ThisisAmericaDammit!!

Doesn't surprise me. I've looked back and been surprised/abashed at a few that weren't gone.

They wouldn't still show up for me if they were deleted would they?
posted by Trochanter at 8:48 AM on May 2, 2012


Nope. Mods are the only folks who have any access to deleted comments; they're not publicly visible.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:54 AM on May 2, 2012


BTW: Goddam, you guys are responsive. It's pretty bloody awesome.
posted by Trochanter at 9:05 AM on May 2, 2012


> Cortex usually send me a 5th of Jack when it happens. If Taz is on duty, she sends me cookies.

The voice outside the door said "Candygram," kind of muffled. And I'm like, yeah right. You think I'm falling for that one?
posted by jfuller at 9:36 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know I've had a few deleted, mostly on Askme because that's where I hang out. I haven't kept count because, eh, doesn't bother me. I can't cry like an angry, hungry baby because one of *my* comments was deleted when I'm glad to see other comments get the axe. The excellent moderation here is why I've stuck around for so long.

I didn't get any cookies though... I call favoritism! and shenanigans!
posted by patheral at 9:45 AM on May 2, 2012


patheral, I've ordered artisan cookies from etsy for you, made from recycled gingerbread house logs and organically grown sugarplums, baked in handmade molds inside a (carbon-footprinted) wood-fired oven and hand-frosted with Fair-Trade sugar icing to look exactly like handcrafted steampunk pocketwatches (that really work!)... with a different vintage Victorian candy treat selected especially for you hidden inside each one.

So it's taking a little longer.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:22 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I appreciate that Metafilter is moderated and certain comments are deleted, and I believe it makes this place better, but the idea of comments disappearing into the ether has always made me somewhat uncomfortable in a 1984-esque kind of way. Once again, that's not to say that I think comments shouldn't be deleted or that we should somehow be able to see them using a script.

Anyway, the main reason I'm posting a comment is to ask the mods if there are any numbers on frequency of deletions, perhaps on an average per thread basis.
posted by Defenestrator at 12:49 AM on May 3, 2012


Woops, just noticed this thread is a day old, so that might be a question for another time.
posted by Defenestrator at 12:52 AM on May 3, 2012


Mods are the only folks who have any access to deleted comments; they're not publicly visible.

*Dreams about following deletedmetafilter.tumblr.com one day*
posted by infini at 12:57 AM on May 3, 2012


Defenestrator, I'm not sure if we can come up with a per-thread average, though cortex will know if it's possible, but most Metafilter threads don't have any deletions.

I just took a look at all the posts currently on the front page, and here are the deletions I found:

1 complaint about something being posted (belongs in Metatalk; I left a comment explaining the deletion)

1 comment posted in wrong thread

1 one-word expletive that actually looks like it may be a mistake because it's a present participle... or it could possibly be meant as a gerund, but it doesn't make any sense either way and was flagged as noise.

1 Apple derailing comment in an unrelated thread (this isn't even necessarily the sort of thing that would necessarily be deleted since it was a sort of personal-observation thing -- definitely offtopic but not a biggie, except Metafilter is kind of Apple demented, and any mention of Apple can and will derail any thread)

1 one-word jokey, dismissive comment in an obit thread

1 This-is-how-this-thread-will-go-badly comment (also known as "pre-dooming")

1 Typo [fixed original comment and deleted the comment about the error]

3 Typo [commenter asked they be deleted]

1 "this post is a double" comment (not a double)

1 "this post will be closed" comment (not closed)

So, that may give you some sort of idea, but I don't know how representative it is. Very long contentious threads about hot button topics can sometimes have a lot more deletions and completely skew what would be an "ordinary" amount. We usually try to signify with notes in that case, specifying that stuff was deleted, though.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:30 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think notifying deletions will only escalate most circumstances. Most of the time a deletion will be a demonstration that, at that moment, you aren't really capable of participating in a reasonable good faith conversation. (I know this a is a bootstrap argument that presumes that deletion was warranted, but I believe it's reasonable to presume that most are).
posted by BurnChao at 2:38 AM on May 3, 2012


A troupe of showgirls repels down your roof and bursts in through your windows, performs a synchronized dance routine in whatever room you're in (it happened to me once on the toilet. It was pretty crowded in there) to the tune of "my sherona," and during the finale (there are fireworks) the comment is put in leopard-print furry handcuffs, is attached to a tether and taken away by helicopter, where is it summarily dumped on the nearest tire fire.

But if it's deleted by one of the midnight mods, you might just get a gorillagram.
posted by Rinku at 5:22 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


But if it's deleted by one of the midnight mods, you might just get a gorillagram.

Fuck, so THAT'S what that was all about.
posted by unSane at 5:41 AM on May 3, 2012


Anyway, the main reason I'm posting a comment is to ask the mods if there are any numbers on frequency of deletions, perhaps on an average per thread basis.

See taz above for a reasonable picture of what the deletion rate is like. That's pretty much an average looking day in the valley in terms of what actually gets pulled in terms of comments; if I'm remembering the last time I looked at the numbers in any detail, comment deletions are somewhere on the order of 1%, including problematic stuff and just mistake/correction chaff like followups about typos or accidental double comments.

There's on the order of a couple thousand comments made a day, so, on the order of twenty or so removed.

There'll be spikes when a specific thread gets out of hand or a small handful of threads all get a little bit extra bumpy on a given day.

I think notifying deletions will only escalate most circumstances.

This has been my feeling for a long time, yeah. We're happy to talk about a deletion or answer questions about it if its something you come to us with, but automatically notifying people about every deletion would really really lower the bar for whether or not it's worth our mutual time to have a conversation about it and would pretty much certainly lead to more WTF YOU DELETE ME stuff than we currently have.

but the idea of comments disappearing into the ether has always made me somewhat uncomfortable in a 1984-esque kind of way

I mean, I sort of hear you but at the same time it's not really a 1984 sort of way. A 1984 sort of way would involve deleting comments for ideological reasons, editing other comments to conform to that ideology, and denying anything happened.

And this may be just a personal bugaboo of mine as far as finding Orwellian references completely oversaturated and what not so no biggie. But there's stuff to worry about at that level in the world that maybe merits the comparison; light-handed deletions of a small percentage of comments on a private website by folks with a super-high transparency stance about what happened when anyone asked isn't remotely one of them. I appreciate this is just a cultural point of reference and I dig that you understand in practice why moderation does exist here, just one of those little things for me.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:48 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


[insert whatever will get cortex' goat so that it can get deleted and help the metrics]
posted by infini at 8:23 AM on May 3, 2012


Just as a comparison, on the entire front page of MeTa, there have been two comments deleted. One was a typo fix and one was someone who made a mistake in posting and asked for us to delete it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:42 AM on May 3, 2012


patheral, I've ordered artisan cookies from etsy for you, made from recycled gingerbread house logs and organically grown sugarplums, baked in handmade molds inside a (carbon-footprinted) wood-fired oven and hand-frosted with Fair-Trade sugar icing to look exactly like handcrafted steampunk pocketwatches (that really work!)... with a different vintage Victorian candy treat selected especially for you hidden inside each one.

So it's taking a little longer.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:22 AM on May 3 [1 favorite +] [!]


Well okay then. I withdraw my call of shenanigans.
posted by patheral at 8:50 AM on May 3, 2012


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