Is there a way we can delete our own comments? March 15, 2005 4:30 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way we can delete our own comments? I understand that this could lead to confusing threads if people commented on a subsequently-removed comment, so if it needs to be limited to instances where the commenter left the last comment on a thread, that could work.
posted by sachinag to Feature Requests at 4:30 PM (55 comments total)

God, no.

It is not infrequent that I make a comment I wish I hadn't, but even so, god, no.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:36 PM on March 15, 2005


I think we've all wished we could retract messages we've written here -- for grammatical errors, all the way up to errors in judgement. All the more reason to reconsider what you've written a dozen times before you hit the POST button.
posted by crunchland at 4:44 PM on March 15, 2005


This would be great! It'd be easy to be bait extremists into flamewars and then remove the bait so it looks like they're tilting at windmills.

Brilliant!

Of course, I do agree that it'd be nice to be able to remove my own posts sometimes, but it's like life - there's just no taking some things back...
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 4:50 PM on March 15, 2005


I oppose this idea.
posted by delmoi at 4:57 PM on March 15, 2005


Having your post immutably preserved is the closest thing MeFi has to accountability. Let's not abandon it, please.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:01 PM on March 15, 2005


// comment deleted
posted by matteo at 5:04 PM on March 15, 2005


Another vote "no".
posted by odinsdream at 5:04 PM on March 15, 2005


Oh hell no. If you've made a comment that is so horrible that it requires deletion, email #1.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:09 PM on March 15, 2005


[comment deleted]






[--coldfusion-deletion-ok-status-400]
posted by seanyboy at 5:12 PM on March 15, 2005


If it isn't a problem for the admin(s) to delete comments without leaving a trace, why should it be a problem for us to do it ourselves?
posted by timeistight at 5:20 PM on March 15, 2005


I for one completely agree with sachinag. This site is terrible right now and if Matt would stop snorting cocaine off of hookers' thighs long enough to code something the best thing would be a way for people to hide all their incredibly dumb posts (which is most of them).
posted by Official Mefi Head Complainer at 5:20 PM on March 15, 2005


timeistight: obvious. Matt doing occasional, well-meaning deletions causes enough of a shitstorm as it is, and he's clearly not (a) ranting like a lunatic or (b) gaming the system. Why in god's name would we want people who might be either or both of the above to have such an ability?
posted by cortex at 5:26 PM on March 15, 2005


Powerfully bad idea. It would add a tremendous load to the server and go against one of the most important ethical tenants of the site: think and think again before hitting post.
posted by squirrel at 5:51 PM on March 15, 2005


Nuts to that! I reject accountability! In fact, if this idea doesn't get implemented, I'm going to deny ever having said anything I later regret, even though the post is right there for everyone to read! Accountability be damned!
posted by shmegegge at 6:02 PM on March 15, 2005


No, I think this is a terrible idea. We, of course, must preserve the accountability of our posters. I can genuinely empathize with your desire to delete your own posts and comments at times, but I would never advocate for self-deletion.

I sympathize, though. Oh, the times I've wanted to delete my stupid stupid comments.
posted by shmegegge at 6:05 PM on March 15, 2005


Hey, where I come from, "Nuts to that" is a toast!
posted by squirrel at 6:07 PM on March 15, 2005


Heeeeey, howsabouts there is a little D next to every post and if it gets x number of hits from unique users, that comment is automatically deleted? I could totally buy a bunch of accounts and then delete posts left and right.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 6:14 PM on March 15, 2005


yeah sometimes i call a comment a post and sometimes i call it a comment. you can't stop me!!!
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 6:15 PM on March 15, 2005


Having your post immutably preserved is the closest thing MeFi has to accountability. Let's not abandon it, please.

Despite poor impulse control at times, I'd agree.
posted by AlexReynolds at 7:53 PM on March 15, 2005


you can't stop me!!!

I could stop you if I had one of those delete buttons you were talking about. I could stop you from posting all your damn comments.

Or I guess, technically, I couldn't stop you from posting, but if my thousand accounts kept deleting your posts as soon as you'd commented I think you'd quit posting your comments pretty quick.
posted by underer at 8:11 PM on March 15, 2005


Or I guess, technically, I couldn't stop you from posting, but if my thousand accounts kept deleting your posts as soon as you'd commented I think you'd quit posting your comments pretty quick.

While we're imagining going overboard in hypothetical situations - what if you tied your $5000 worth of accounts into a giant perl script that checked weretable's comments tally page every minute and automatically voted down anything he posted by logging in seperately for each vote and doing so through a round-robin of proxies defined by a flat file listing a few thousand anonymous proxies????

What then, huh? You'd be unstoppable! You could delete Matt himself in the iron cage match! GRAAAAH! *chest beating*
posted by Ryvar at 8:25 PM on March 15, 2005


Awesome.

*jaw gaping; wide eyes fixed on Ryvar; cherry popcicle melting on hand*
posted by underer at 8:37 PM on March 15, 2005


Most of my thousand accounts are just lurkers. Lazy fucks.
posted by graventy at 8:42 PM on March 15, 2005


Hey, where I come from, "Nuts to that" is a toast!

hey, inquiring minds want to know: where you come from,
can even a blind squirrel find an acorn now and then ?
posted by y2karl at 8:51 PM on March 15, 2005


It would add a tremendous load to the server

How so? Lots of bulletin board software allows comment editing without causing undue strain.

Of course, I think all edits should be marked somehow.
posted by timeistight at 8:57 PM on March 15, 2005


T'hell with delete buttons, I want a plonk button. That should make for some interesting threads.
posted by deborah at 9:13 PM on March 15, 2005


This is not a problem. Delete them in advance. Like I do with 99% of my comments.
posted by idest at 9:18 PM on March 15, 2005


How so? Lots of bulletin board software allows comment editing without causing undue strain.

No, just due strain, timeistight, which is more strain than is necessary to run this site as it is. If editing were something that everyone wanted, maybe.

Also, if you want to pick nits over what constitutes undue strain on the server, do a little research and post the benchmarks so we can compare them. If you do so, I think you'll find it would require a database migration as well. Not fun.
posted by squirrel at 9:27 PM on March 15, 2005


On review, y2karl, true story: when I was in Sumatra, a girl taught me a common Sumatran saying which, in English, translates to:

High, higher-jumping squirrel
One day will be falling down.

You should spend more time with squirrels, you seem to misunderstand them. Blind squirrels will find the acorns that they do, which is pretty much the lot that all of us have.

posted by squirrel at 9:38 PM on March 15, 2005


deborah writes "T'hell with delete buttons, I want a plonk button. That should make for some interesting threads."

If you could use a plonk/kill file with Mefi, would you?
posted by orthogonality at 9:40 PM on March 15, 2005


You should spend more time with squirrels, you seem to misunderstand them.

Au contraire, I have spent a great deal of time trying to feed peanuts to Steller's jays and not squirrels with little luck at the latter. They are relentless little fuckers. Some things slow them down but nothing, short of constantly standing by the dish with a club, stops them from coming on.

posted by y2karl at 10:14 PM on March 15, 2005


You know, comments don't need to be deleted, just hidden from normal view. Additionally, a filter system can also enable off-topic comments & other noise to be filtered out.
posted by Gyan at 11:14 PM on March 15, 2005


Live with what you post.

It's good for you. And for what you post.
posted by scarabic at 11:23 PM on March 15, 2005


If you could use a plonk/kill file with Mefi, would you?

Hell yeah. Sparingly, but hell yeah.

Anyway, allowing everyone to delete their own comments would wreak havoc on the sensibility of the site, as sachinag himself has already noted. That's enough of a reason to not do it, but allowing deletion only if your comment is the last in the thread is simply pointless. Most of the comments you'd most want to delete are going to come in heavily trafficked threads where responses are coming fast and furious.
posted by mediareport at 11:24 PM on March 15, 2005


Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, don't look around the eyes, look into my eyes - you're under!

You did not see this comment.

3. 2. 1. You're back in the room.
posted by dodgygeezer at 1:46 AM on March 16, 2005


Computer says...No.
posted by Tarrama at 2:52 AM on March 16, 2005


I was thinking of a feature where you had 10 minutes to edit a comment, but even 10 minutres can be an eternity here. On a really hot thread, it'd cause a trainwreck, so I eventually decided that I worry too much and my Rainbow Brite pony and I flew off into the big pretty sky....... wheeeee!
posted by moonbird at 3:58 AM on March 16, 2005


I would cast a no vote if there was a referndum on this issue.
posted by nthdegx at 4:46 AM on March 16, 2005


Coming from the worst of the n00bs, I am all for it. Then again, this is why I am the worst of the n00bs.
posted by mic stand at 5:43 AM on March 16, 2005


Sachinag: I understand that this could lead to confusing threads if people commented on a subsequently-removed comment, so if it needs to be limited to instances where the commenter left the last comment on a thread, that could work.

Most of the objections in this thread are already addressed by the original post. It sounds like this could be more like an undo button than a deletion tool.

An undo button would just add one more chance to change your mind. But to cause a problem maliciously, a poster would just have to post something terrible and then try to wait as long as possible before hitting undo, hoping to make it in time before someone else posts their next comment. Doesn't seem worth it.
posted by nobody at 7:13 AM on March 16, 2005


The impetus for this suggestion was an instance where I accidentally hit Post instead of Preview again when editing a comment. (Yesterday's R. Kelly AskMe thread, where I re-read the initial post and realized what I said was addressed in the post, then subsequently IMed a friend to verify my amended answer.)

I thought an edit would tax the server too much (and would kind of undermine the whole point of the "you must preview before posting" thing).

But honestly, it was more embarrassing than vicious, and I can deal with embarrassment (as can others) if the consensus is that my little pony would dramatically change the MeFi dynamics.
posted by sachinag at 8:26 AM on March 16, 2005


Also, if you want to pick nits over what constitutes undue strain on the server, do a little research and post the benchmarks so we can compare them. If you do so, I think you'll find it would require a database migration as well. Not fun.

How come you can never find a quonsar when you need one?
posted by timeistight at 10:04 AM on March 16, 2005


"Live with what you post. It's good for you. And for what you post." - scarabic

Well said. This is what we have the forced preview button for.

When I look back at some of my early posts and comments, I cringe. I'd rather forget that I'd ever said some of those things. But I said them 5 years ago. In a lot of ways, that's a long time ago.
posted by raedyn at 10:20 AM on March 16, 2005


I thought an edit would tax the server too much (and would kind of undermine the whole point of the "you must preview before posting" thing).

I'm not privvy to the MeFi codebase but in the case of every messageboard codebase I've seen/worked with the answer is a resounding no. It shouldn't tax a properly constructed post database any more than any other read/write operation.

I think the idea of being able to delete your own posts is, on the face of it, stupid. Glancing up, it would appear that at rough guess 95% of Metafilter adopts a similar stance on the issue. That being said, I think I see what you're getting at.

If you're saying that, perhaps, for five minutes after you post, assuming someone else hasn't yet posted to the thread in that time, you are able to delete your own post, or edit it (to correct something in case you accidentally hit post or JUST NOTICED a spelling/grammatical error that eluded your first two readings) - well, I can perhaps understand that. I'm not sure I agree with being able to edit out your spelling errors post facto, but I do agree that in the special case of you quite accidentally hitting the post button instead of the preview button, you should've been able to retract the post.

Unfortunately this is one of those things that's going to have to be written off as a casualty of the Internets - not only is it impossible to determine who's at the keyboard, it's completely impossible to determine their intent.
posted by Ryvar at 10:56 AM on March 16, 2005


If you could use a plonk/kill file with Mefi, would you?

Although that was a mostly smart-ass remark, yes. There was a recent remark on the blue that would have me plonking the commenter. Although I can't think of any specific situations, I'm sure there have been one or two in the past.

How long that person would remain plonked (provided we could reverse it) remains to be seen. I'm a person that likes to be in the loop. I don't want to be the center of attention *shudder*, but I like to know what's going on and plonking willy-nilly would surely interfere with that.
posted by deborah at 12:19 PM on March 16, 2005


Going to bite the bullet here and give an answer which will doubtlessly piss some people off:

If you could use a plonk/kill file with Mefi, would you?

No. Never. The use of a kill file except in cases of attempted denial of service (via constant spam/noise) is a sign of great personal weakness. If your belief in your own ideas and ideologies is so marginal as to render you incapable of handling the ideas and ideologies of others then the last thing you deserve is to be protected from those others.

You don't WANT to be exposed to anus? In this world, anus exists and you must acknowledge that fact if you are to be a part of this world. To run around wishing it didn't is the sort of behavior we expect from children, not fully grown adults. I recognize that in this society of ours the definition of adult has been so completely blurred as to render any differentiation between the two almost meaningless. However I still believe that as in the past being personally strong enough to confront the world as it is remains a necessity as much as it is an indicator of rectitude.

That may sound judgemental, but this is one of the few personal values I hold where I am not a hypocrite - I dislike the images of people torn to shreds with their heads ripped open and brains leaking out that rotten.com collects, but from time to time I visit said site and make sure that I can handle viewing those images. If I could not do so, then I don't think I would be able to look myself in the eyes any longer. Being able to handle the parts of life you hate is as much - if not more - important than being able to handle the parts you love.
posted by Ryvar at 2:55 PM on March 16, 2005


Oh. And it would lead to threads becoming completely unreadable as four people who hate each other and have each other kill filed respond to every comment and question in the same damn way without realizing it.
posted by Ryvar at 2:58 PM on March 16, 2005


I wouldn't use a kill feature for any but the most extreme circumstances. There are some users who absolutely infuriate me when they troll political threads but who then post interesting questions or responses to questions about non-political subjects. Because personalities aren't all black or white, our access to them shouldn't be black or white, either. Still, I wouldn't deny the kill tool to those who wanted it.
posted by squirrel at 6:29 PM on March 16, 2005


Yes, you can delete your own comments, quite easily.

Oh, you want to delete them after you click "post". Well, that is a whole different kettle of fish and the answer is no, not at present and hopefully not ever. Usually it is best to type your comment, click preview and then ask yourself if you really, really want to say that before you go further.
posted by dg at 8:23 PM on March 16, 2005


The use of a kill file...is a sign of great personal weakness.

*falls on floor, choking with laughter*

As someone who cut his teeth on the pre-AOL Usenet, I have to say that's the goddamn stupidest statement I've seen here in a long time.
posted by mediareport at 8:46 PM on March 16, 2005


Your use of broadest interpretation resulted in the creation of said stupidest statement, mediareport. A narrower interpretation, such as the writer likely intended (i.e. pertaining to MetaFilter only) makes it a reasonable opinion. Feel free to choke on your floor, though. pre-AOL usenet, indeed. Is that supposed to make you seem old school?
posted by squirrel at 9:25 PM on March 16, 2005


No, it's supposed to make the idea that using killfiles = "great personal weakness" seem ridiculous. Even on MeFi. I mean, quonsar's about as old school as it gets, and right now, he'd be first in line to get plonked. I just don't have time for people who dedicate themselves to 100% asshole negativity, and a killfile is a perfect way to eliminate that ind of noise so the signal stands out.

Anyone who killfiles someone simply because that person has strong opinions you disagree with is being a jerk, sure. But equating the use of a killfile - on Mefi, Usenet or wherever - with "great personal weakness" is just goddamn stupid.
posted by mediareport at 9:50 PM on March 16, 2005


Just so we're clear, here, this is more about personal ethics than Metafilter, strictly, although it does pertain to the latter in terms of resulting usability.

As someone who cut his teeth on the pre-AOL Usenet, I have to say that's the goddamn stupidest statement I've seen here in a long time.

Er, no. I was on Usenet in '93, and kill filing people with whom you merely disagree or who annoy you is, in fact, a sign of great personal weakness. Doing so to people who are no-contest actively attempting to merely disrupt communication (which does not include trolling, baiting, or insulting you) via spam, noise is something else.

I consider using /ignore on IRC the ultimate declaration of helplessness unless the person is outright spamming. When you deny the existence of people who bother you, you are denying the existence of ideas or modes of communication you can't handle and are therefore implicitly admitting that they are greater than you. That's not an admission I'm prepared to make regarding any concept no matter how revolting or personally insulting, so I refuse to use ignore or kill files for as long as I find the medium (newsgroup, website, IRC channel) useful in any capacity.

Your ethics may be different, but there remains a consistent internal logic to my own and therefore regardless of whether or not you agree with them, labelling them the 'the goddamn stupidest statement in a long time' is worse than hyperbole. Which in fact neatly ties into my point - I may think you're moronic helpless child when it comes to dealing with people who differ from you, but I refuse to cut off communication with you.
posted by Ryvar at 10:13 PM on March 16, 2005


I may think you're moronic helpless child when it comes to dealing with people who differ from you

Puh-lease. It's not a question of political differing, or of being "revolted" or "personally insulted" by a person you're planning to killfile, Ryvar. It's a question of recognizing when an obvious jerk is doing "read-only posting." Surely you recall the term. On soc.motss, read-only posters often took the form of moronic fundamentalists who believed that repeatedly posting passages from Leviticus would burn the devil from our queer-as-fuck hearts. Similar idiots would appear on talk.origins. In both cases it was patently obvious that these posters hadn't read the groups' FAQ, weren't reading the replies to their messages, and didn't give two shits about discussion. Often (though not always) they relied on the sheer number of their messages to overload the communal discussion and demand attention from the group. It wasn't denial of service, it was simply garbage, designed to get attention. But here you are, trying to tell me that killfiling a read-only poster while simultaneously engaging more thoughtful political opponents is somehow a sign of "great personal weakness." Good god, what an idiotic overstatement.

Doing so to people who are no-contest actively attempting to merely disrupt communication (which does not include trolling, baiting, or insulting you) via spam, noise is something else.

Oh? And who decides what's "noise," Ryvar? The lines are blurrier than your oh-so-morally-clear vision would imply. In short, you blew it. Back off your ridiculous moralizing just a step or two and we won't have any disagreement between us. Continue to baldly assert that the only reason to use a killfile based on a poster's content is out of some ethical/moral failure, and I'll continue to laugh you into the ground. Some folks plainly show through their actions that they don't deserve serious attention. Killfiling those folks is hardly a sign of weakness; it's a sign of focus.
posted by mediareport at 10:43 PM on March 16, 2005


Often (though not always) they relied on the sheer number of their messages to overload the communal discussion and demand attention from the group. It wasn't denial of service, it was simply garbage, designed to get attention.

The point at which an individual or group actively or knowingly inhibits communication is the point where they are conducting denial of service. I hope you realize that the basic service provided by any Internet medium is communication. When that communication is clearly being disrupted one has no choice but to make use of killfile or /ignore functionality. It does not matter at all whether they agree or disagree with you - and your attempt to cloud the issue by focusing strongly on the latter is, frankly, bullshit.

It wasn't denial of service, it was simply garbage

This is the clearest indication that you simply do not grasp what I am talking about. It does not matter whether they are morons or not. It does not matter whether they engage in repetition or not. It does not matter that they ignore your laughable 'netiquette'. It does not matter whether they are actually attempting to conduct a dialogue or not. There is one and only one litmus test here and it is this: are they disrupting communication via saturation?

When you concern yourself with other issues you are conflating your personal feelings and inadequacies with your subjective-but-honest judgement as to whether someone is preventing communication between two other parties.

But here you are, trying to tell me that killfiling a read-only poster while simultaneously engaging more thoughtful political opponents is somehow a sign of "great personal weakness." Good god, what an idiotic overstatement.

Whether or not you find someone engaging is irrelevant. People you do not care for nor find especially intelligent may yet say something of value. Even if they do not it is a weakness to to not challenge yourself with what they say. It is natural selection in the purest form, albeit ideological rather than physical, and by denying it you cheapen yourself. Some of the biggest idiots around here (but not you, yet) have said things that triggered profound personal insight whether intentionally or by accident.

Oh? And who decides what's "noise," Ryvar?

You do so even if only because there is nobody else you can be held accountable to. You have to make a judgement call as to whether or not someone has moved from the territory of repeatedly saying things you object to in a manner you object to and into the territory of actively hampering communication between the other parties in the medium. You have to make that judgement call and you have to be honest.

The lines are blurrier than your oh-so-morally-clear vision would imply.

I think the above makes them pretty crystal clear.

In short, you blew it.

On the contrary - by assuming you understood the whole of what I was saying without having the foggiest clue, you blew it. Ironic, isn't it?

Back off your ridiculous moralizing just a step or two and we won't have any disagreement between us. Continue to baldly assert that the only reason to use a killfile based on a poster's content is out of some ethical/moral failure, and I'll continue to laugh you into the ground.

This is where you move from the ironic into the hilarious. Switch sides and you'll . . . what, exactly? What's next, you threaten me physically over the Internet? You're only one step away from that at this point.

Some folks plainly show through their actions that they don't deserve serious attention. Killfiling those folks is hardly a sign of weakness; it's a sign of focus.

Every communication that does not actively hinder all communication throughout the medium deserves attention, if only to reinforce your impression of those providing said communication. If nothing else, they paint a background against which your ideology stands out in sharp relief. Also, if they are especially thick they will cause you to write about your beliefs in greater detail, and thereby force you to reexamine the reasons why you adopted those beliefs in the first place. See? Despite being a moron you have provided me with profound personal insight. Thanks.
posted by Ryvar at 12:01 AM on March 17, 2005


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