Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of comments arguing about downvotes, close votes, and topicality, many of which get deleted by moderators. For example:

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I have cleaned up the comments here; please take it to Meta. It is disappointing to see active users yet again decide to flood a new user's posts with over-the-top arguments and accusations, when they know perfectly well that this is not the place for it. [Matthew Read ♦]

I realize that there’s a lot of disagreement (and sometimes rancor) about topicality and strictness of community moderation. I think many of the established users believe strongly that we need looser standards to reach site graduation, while others believe that we need to uphold Stack Exchange principles more strictly to achieve the same goal.

I personally believe that the site has a pretty good balance, and while it could perhaps use some tweaking one way or the other, one thing it does not need is this constant arguing and campaigning in comments. What can we do to encourage moving those discussions to Meta instead of airing our dirty laundry in Main?

3 Answers 3


I guess we simply agree to not have these discussions in the comments, linking to e.g. this question for reasons why. One comment with a link to the corresponding question / chat room should be enough.

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    Thanks! One of the reasons I posted this question is that I do think some meta commentary is reasonable and appropriate in comments, but all too often it has been turning into a feud, and sometimes it starts out confrontational, like “I can't believe this was downvoted!” Aug 10, 2014 at 20:11
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    @BraddSzonye: I agree, and realize I have been guilty of my share of this behaviour... Aug 10, 2014 at 20:33
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    Yeah I've been contributing to it too, so I'd like to help build a consensus and stick to it. Aug 10, 2014 at 20:42

I do think some meta-commentary is reasonable and appropriate for questions. When there are concrete reasons, specific to the question, why the usual policies might not apply, I think it’s entirely appropriate to point them out. For example, it’s good to point out why a question isn’t really a duplicate. Likewise, it’s also good to remind people of lesser-known policies when they apply.

However, I don’t think we should use comments to encourage people to ignore, change, or nullify established site policies. For example, if you think we should allow lists of resources as long as they’re interesting enough, then feel free to upvote such questions, and to discuss the policy here on Meta, but please do not campaign for it in comments. That just leads to splintered arguments that are unhelpful to the original poster and unhelpful for building consensus among regular users.

If you disagree with policy, the best way to change it is to build a new consensus here on Meta. And while a topic is under active discussion on Meta, I’m fine with people linking to it from the main site, when the issue comes up, but please don’t let policy arguments spill out of Meta. Instead, help posters improve their questions to fit the established policies as well as possible, while you work to change them.


I have to say that I am guilty of the argumentative comments described in this post. I am a supporter of a more tolerant set of rules, and many of my comments are along the lines of "Please don't close this question even though it seems off-topic. X and Y are good reasons why this question is to be considered on-topic."

I suggest that we keep allowing such comments (simply making people aware of how the question can be interpreted). However, if anybody wants to argue about such a comment like that, a thread on meta should be opened so that we can reach consensus through the medium that is meant for this.

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    That sounds reasonable to me if there is a concrete reason, specific to the question, why the usual rules don’t apply. However, most of the comments I see are closer to “because this question is interesting even though it’s off-topic” or “because I think the current policies should be more generous.” Both of those tend to invite further discussion, and neither really help to improve the question under discussion. Aug 11, 2014 at 23:00

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