In this thread a group of -- oh horrors -- three comments, at least one of them potentially quite useful, and not constituting a back&forth between two users, was hidden -- oops, "moved to chat". It seems that this has been happening more often on shorter comment threads, since he recent moderator election. I will be careful to vote next year.

In the meantime, what is the standard for an "extended discussion"? It seems to me that three comments do not qualify, and I see many questions with far more than three comments not moved. They were not comments by me, or I would have reposted them where they belonged.

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    An "extended discussion" is the same length as a piece of string.
    – Mark
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 23:30
  • @Mark If this were a matter of statutory interpretation, a court would hold that the word "extended" should have a meaning, and should qualify "discussion " so that only some discussions were "extended". As this is LAW.se, it seems to me that a similar principle should apply. Besides, as a matter of common sense, It strinkes me as pointless and misleading to call a short discussion "extended". Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 23:50
  • "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the [material] involved in this case is not that." — Potter Stewart Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 10:40
  • @David Richerby that is one of the most unfortunate statements in one of the least effective Supreme Court decisions I can think of. It converted SCOTUS into a national board of censors for a time.(Justice Marshall brought popcorn to the weekly "movie showings".) I don't think it is a useful model.. Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 14:43

3 Answers 3



Well, it doesn't say one-sided, so we should assume two or more participants.

And it isn't retort, comeback, riposte, or even repartee. That guides us to interaction that exceeds a simple 1-2.

And certainly, it's not colloquy or verbal altercation. So we can set aside the formality and tone.

But it's not a debate, which entails considerable back and forth.

Perhaps this bounds us between a simple 1-2 and a debate.

Yet that's a continuum, and now the term extended matters. That has the sense of duration. In particular, an above-average duration. But not just barely above average. More like a clear-and-convincing distance from the mean. That is, a medium level. Somewhere between preponderance of the evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt, if these were durations.

So I'd say an extended discussion involves an interchange between multiple participants that lasts about a standard deviation beyond the average duration.

Three comments doesn't cut it in my view.

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    LoL! I wish there were a separate way to upvote or otherwise distinguish an answer as "exceptionally clever and/or amusing."
    – feetwet Mod
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 4:02

Exactly as long as a piece of string.

But seriously, it's entirely arbitrary, as with everything about the move-to-chat feature. There is no guideline except for the information available in the help center (which is a rather open-ended license for removal), and no metric by which one can measure the benefit to the site's users of forklifting comments into a place where they cannot be found, and the standard of cleaning them up only after the conclusion of a conversation to improve a post is inconsistently applied, at best (and even if it was consistently applied, many people, myself included, see it as little better than petty vandalism).

The general position of the moderators, network-wide, on comments seems to be approximately the following: The sites have comments for some reason. Comments are terrible and make our lives hard, but we aren't the programmers, so we can't remove them. So don't use them! Or, if you do use them, and they get deleted for any reason, don't blame us, we warned you that they're temporary. It's rather "chilling effect"-ish, but that's what we've got.


I was the responsible mod and I am happy to own, and explain, my reasons.

First, the "Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat." is a canned message - it happens every time comments are moved to chat irrespective of how "extended" the discussion is or isn't.

Second, I refer you to How do comments work? on the Stack Exchange Meta. In particular:

When should comments be deleted?

Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer. You should not expect them to be around forever. Once a clarification has been made, an edit added to the post to include new information, or the issue in the comment is otherwise resolved, it is subject to deletion. In reality, many obsolete or chatty comments remain untouched due to the high volume of comments posted, but this does not mean that they can't or shouldn't be deleted in the future.

There were 3 comments here - the first 2 had been incorporated into your answer and were no longer needed. The third was a "thank you for your answer" which are discouraged (see link).

Third, I stuffed up. I should have just deleted these instead of moving them to chat. Notwithstanding, the chat room will wither and die as it is not big enough to be permanently archived.

Fourth, the remaining comments (mine & yours) should now also be deleted as they ar no longer required, however, I think its better if we leave them and I will add a comment pointing to this question.


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    Actually, the final comment from StephaS had not, then, been incorporated fully into the answer, (I just did that) and i still think the move (or deletion) was very over aggressive. I understand the note about an "extended discussion" is canned, but it should also guide a mod -- discussions that are not extended should not be moved or deleted. Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 1:27
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    My apologies - I though it had.
    – Dale M Mod
    Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 1:38
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    @DaleM both of those comments weren't just on topic for the question, they were the suggestion for making the answer better. In addition, I'm surprised that you considered those two comments as "extend discussion" as to the comments in the main questions thread, talking about "I had no idea the song was spelt that way". Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 2:04
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    @DaleM you removing positive conversations that show other users how people can work together to make an answer better damages the impact David's answer has, but you overlooking meaningless comments in the mean question thread damages how my question is received by users that visit the question. Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 2:10
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    Not to mention, the fact that they made it into the answer showed they had value. It does no harm to leave them in their original form, especially when the answeree could have mistakenly quoted it or left out a detail that others found valuable as well. That mostly gets lost if the comment gets buried in chat.
    – Mars
    Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 2:13
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    From a design point of view, the hiding of useful comments renders the comment upvote feature moot. I'm not a mod, so I don't know if this is a technical capability or mod's discretion, but I've typically seen helpful or popular comments left out, even when the majority of comments were moved to chat
    – Mars
    Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 2:22
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    Less snarkily, what, exactly, is the point of this new approach to blowing away comments -- aside from flexing the tiny amount of power endowed by an SE moderatorship? There's a big difference between "don't expect them to be around forever" and deleting them within hours of their posting. If users are actively engaged, ripping out comments seems counterproductive to broader goal of faciliting the exchange of infomation and ideas.
    – bdb484
    Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 13:34
  • 2
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 12:04

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