Comments made in a "back-and-forth" interchange with one or more other posters sometimes become redundant. I delete all mine, then post one final comment suggesting the other[s] do likewise.

The problem is after deleting his comments, the other party often feels moved to post another reminder telling me I can now delete my reminder. Which can go on and on...

Is there a convention for posting an "over and out" comment? And might the site support (or be tweaked to support) some way of either searching for only such comments made by yourself, or auto-age them out of the system after some reasonable time?

Or is there already a better way of dealing with the issue? I greatly appreciate the fact that these interchanges can take place at all, because they often lead to better Answers in the end. But if they hang around indefinitely they make EL&U seem more like a forum than an answer bank.

LATER Just to head up the point I've already made in comments. I'm only really concerned about this issue in relation to interchanges in respect of what is, or is hoped to become the top Answer for a 'good' Question. I don't much care about redundant chit-chat on less highly-rated Answers or trivial Questions. But EL&U has plenty of Questions that may well be asked again by many people for years to come.

Hopefully we'll assiduously redirect to the first occurence which will have a widely-accepted Answer, which oftentimes is effectively a 'collaborative effort'. It's potentially distracting for that Answer to contain all the preceding discussions which led to its final form. And in an ideal Answer, all comments should be either irrelevant, or incorporated into the Answer text itself.

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I was under the impression that back-and-forth comments are bad in and of themselves... and if you are planning on deleting them anyway, why not just take it to English Language & Usage Chat? –  MrHen Jul 6 '11 at 14:14
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@MrHen: Well, at any given point in the interchange it may not be obvious it's going to continue much longer. And I for one probably wouldn't say they're a bad thing in many circumstances - particularly when the matter under discussion is an attempt to improve the quality of an Answer which we might hope will remain accessible and authorititive to many visitors over perhaps years to come. –  FumbleFingers Jul 6 '11 at 15:04
    
Learning to foresee (and head off) those long discussions that end up getting deleted is a good thing. But I admit, I get sucked into them too. :) –  MrHen Jul 6 '11 at 15:36
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@Jasper Loy: That's helpful, but what I'd really like is some way to search the text of all my previous comments and select only those that include the text delete this later or something similar. But judging by the downvote against my Question, no-one else cares much about this issue anyway, so I guess I'll let it lie. –  FumbleFingers Jul 6 '11 at 16:53
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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The only real solution is to flag the comments for moderator attention and indicate that the exchange between you and {other user} can safely be removed.

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It's gratifying to see this from the man himself. I'll take that as authority that we lesser members of the community are entitled to view moderators as a 'resource', to be used as convenient unless and until they complain about the unnecessary workload! –  FumbleFingers Jul 6 '11 at 15:08
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I would err on the side of not leaving any extra reminder messages, starting with the one suggesting the other parties delete their redundant comments.

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Sounds sensible. Have you noticed any tendency to use the same "stock" text for that first suggestion? –  FumbleFingers Jul 5 '11 at 18:03
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It is possible to flag the first comment, and report they are too chatty, or obsolete. This would require selecting "other..." as flagging reason, or it would be only the first comment to be considered too chatty/obsolete.

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Would that not require a moderator's time & attention to deal with it? I'd be loth to do that for what in the end isn't desperately important in terms of maintaining the site quality. –  FumbleFingers Jul 5 '11 at 20:52
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That is the only way to sure all the comments are removed, without making a back-and-forth interchange. Unilaterally removing comments is not something I would do; not leaving comments would be better, IMO. –  kiamlaluno Jul 5 '11 at 21:39
    
Perhaps my OP wasn't clear. The problem is with comments that form part of a back-and-forth interchange intended to sharpen up an answer. Assuming that is achieved, the route by which it was done would likely seem pointless and distracting to future visitors. But if those comments weren't made, the improvements probably wouldn't have been either. –  FumbleFingers Jul 5 '11 at 21:48
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