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Comments are given more importance on our site than other sites.The reason I say this is posts asking "Why my comments are deleted?" remain hot for more days than the posts which invite discussion and constructive input on the site. Moderators are also a bit more careful and take time when it comes to comment flags. From my experience, they are not quick and aggressive while removing some out dated or irrelevant comments under posts (No offense intended).

So, comments are sometimes used to answer, sometimes to give a link of the direct scripture itself, give information about the answer or question. When this information exchange takes place, there are some cases where comments are also posted which give misleading information. They are totally wrong. They contradict correct answers given to the same question. The problem is these comments are also upvoted and highlighted over other comments.

The reason I say they are problematic:

If you have taken look at the featured tab to the right side, there are many efforts put by Stack Overflow team to make the network user friendly and there are changes made to moderation and the Code of Conduct too. In one of those posts, Tim Post, a Community Manager based on some research pointed out that the comments posted under the questions are getting more focus. So, they wrote a post about improving the language used while addressing people in comments. As a result, there are changes in Code of Conduct and addition of Unfriendly/unkind language.

When we look at this in a different way, this means that the users read questions and their sight is attracted towards upvoted comments. When there are upvoted comments posted under a question are giving wrong information which contradicts given answers, that will definitely give a wrong information to the readers of the site (Our traffic is also very good. So, that would be a problem if we are providing wrong information even if it is in comments). These comments can't be downvoted to make them less focused like the answers. We can't perform moderation activities (like editing anytime to correct the mistake) like we do on posts. Only thing we can do is to refute the information given in the comment which may or may not receive the same response as first comment did. So, it only increases noise under the post but doesn't help the readers to conclude what is right is what is wrong. Some ask clarifications but most of the traffic is from anonymous users who can't post comments.

Other case here is posting comments based on false assumptions. There are also some comments posted which make accusations along with assumptions. These are sometimes unfriendly and impolite. For example,

  1. @username, why did you downvote my post? You can comment without downvoting my post. Reverse it.

  2. You have removed my close vote @moderator! It is not fair at all. You are behaving as if this is your own site.

In my opinion, these are based on guessing and false assumptions. We don't know who voted on our questions. As far as I know, moderators can't remove close votes on a post. They can only cast a binding vote for closing, reopening or in the review. Aging away of the votes is a system process. It is not only unfriendly but also conversational and more suitable for chat rooms. There are changes to the comment flags to reflect this. So, we should be careful about the language and tone too.

So, what do we do about the comments which give wrong and misleading information and posted on wrong assumptions? Should we flag them for intervention or let them as they are?

Note:

  • When I say wrong, I don't mean philosophically related topics where there is difference of opinions but the comments which are contradictory to the upvoted correct answers given and give misleading information about the topic. I am not talking about the ones which are asking clarifications about the correctness of the post and pointing out the wrong information given in the post. For example, Rama is the youngest son of Dasharatha. Even if there are some analyses about this claim, comments are not the correct place to put those analyses. Questions and answers are right place to do and enlighten the users.

  • I know wrong and right are subjective but when I say right answers,I am speaking of free and fair way of voting based on quality content itself i.e., "Best answers are voted to Top" from Stack Exchange Tour and not when everything is rigged and biased. We can counter it on questions and answers by votes but there is no way to handle it for comments. This post is reducing that effect upto some extent in comments.

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    Flagging is best way imo.
    – TheLittleNaruto Mod
    Aug 12 '18 at 16:32
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    "Wrong and Right" is subjective on religious sites. Each user follows a different philosophy and an highly upvoted answer doesn't mean that answer is right and same applies to downvoted answer. Best way is to flag for mod's attention.
    – The Destroyer Mod
    Aug 12 '18 at 16:35
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    @TheDestroyer Why always speaking from different philosophical point of view? I don't mean philosophical. I already said what I mean by right and wrong. Not philosophically. Totally misleading and contradictory comments. For example, a comment which says Advaita supports dualism. Rama is not son of Dasharatha etc like wise. I also had examples for that but didn't link them. The question is that. Is flagging better way to get rid of them? That is what I want. You may post as answer. Aug 12 '18 at 16:39
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    " I mean the comments which are contradict the upvoted answers given and give misleading information about the topic " On what basis you decide upvoted comment is correct and answer is wrong on religious sites? Need not be philosophical. You can't say highly upvoted answer is correct always. It depends on many factors and every user has different opinion on content of answer. Answers are not code to test and see.
    – The Destroyer Mod
    Aug 12 '18 at 16:44
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    @TheDestroyer I am saying vice versa. I am saying comments are wrong and answers are right. We can vote or clarify etc., but that can't happen for comments. Why do we upvote or downvote an answer? On our sites, vote indicates usefulness. If something is wrong, we can vote on answers and comment. There is a way to correct it for answer but not on comments.If a random comment says Rama is not sita's husband, we need not to consider other ways and go for analyses. It is universally accepted. There can be different opinions for that too but comment is not the right place to do. Aug 12 '18 at 16:55
  • I have never seen anyone pointing out to a particular user about downvoting, do you have any example? The second point about close vote, well the user didn't find his cast vote so obviously moderator must have removed that, it can't disappear automatically.
    – Pinakin
    Aug 13 '18 at 8:22
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    @ChinmaySarupria I have examples for everything added. Hence I mentioned them. A mod can't remove a close vote of a user. It ages away automatically with time. Mod doesn't have role in it. Both are assumptions but second one is an accusation. Aug 13 '18 at 8:25
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    That explanation etc should be in chat. They are conversations between moderator and a user and have nothing to do with the question. It adds noise to the question. People with emotions vote that user's comment rather than facts. Comments are not for conversations between users. Discussions are still subjected to deletion. @ChinmaySarupria Aug 13 '18 at 9:18
  • This string of comments vs the number of answers works toward Sarvabhouma's point Nov 21 '19 at 2:03
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What can be done with comments?

As you pointed out in your question, comments cannot be edited (even by their writers after the first 5 minutes!), cannot be downvoted, and do not support their own comment threads. The only forms of moderation that can be applied to them are flagging for deletion and upvoting. Assuming we don't want to upvote comments we consider wrong, that means we have only two and a half options

  • flag the comment for deletion
  • @ comment the commenter to tell them they are wrong (this ought usually to lead to the wrong comment being deleted, but may trigger a long debate first/instead)
  • take issue with the commenter in a chat (if you chose to comment, you may end up in a chat anyway when a mod moves your comment discussion there)

Circumstances in which you should flag a comment for deletion are suggested by the comment flag dialog, which I will summarise in text form

  1. It contains harassment, bigotry or abuse
  2. It's unfriendly or unkind
  3. It's no longer needed, conversational or not relevant to this post
  4. There's something else about the comment that's bothering you and you will explain to mods what it is

Comments about moderation actions (which may be based on wrong assumptions)

The examples in your question of posts based on wrong assumptions could be considered unfriendly or unkind as you mentioned. Such comments can also be flagged as no longer needed. Comments criticising moderation actions or asking someone to vote, accept, explain their vote, or undo some action the commenter assumes they have done are usually inappropriate and can be dealt with using standard flags. Sometimes it will also be appropriate to post a comment directing the user to meta so they can get an explanation for what's happening or voice their frustration in an appropriate format.

Comment-answers that are blatantly wrong

However, wrong comments that are half-answers or unsubstantiated answers posted as comments generally do not fall into categories 1-3. Should we flag them for mod attention and explain what's wrong, or engage in discussion?

Let's think about answers. The correct action to perform on a wrong answer is to downvote it, or in bad cases, vote to delete it, leaving an explanatory comment to explain the issue if needed. A mistake or wrong statement in an otherwise good answer can be pointed out in a comment and/or corrected with editing.

It's important to note here that wrong answers should not be flagged for deletion - mods are not expected to know that answers are so appallingly wrong they should be deleted - this is a task for experts who are certain that the answer is wrong (of course, such users may happen to be mods).

These points leave us with a big problem, because only mods can delete comments, and it's a widely accepted SE policy that mods are not here to delete things just because they are incorrect. While it's appropriate to flag outright dangerous advice for mod attention, merely wrong information doesn't really meet the accepted threshold of needs mod attention.

The general preventative measure here is to very strongly discourage answering in comments. This meta answer by Pandya explains that comments should not be used for answering and what to do with such comments. Creating a culture where comment answers are not tolerated is best.

Usually, though, we don't want to ask someone to add an answer that we know to be wrong. Therefore instead of encouraging the comment-answerer to post an answer, we can comment @ them advising them not to write answers as comments (citing meta or the comment privilege page) and also pointing out that their statement is wrong (explaining why). If any discussion ensues, immediately move to chat or request a mod move the wrong comment and responses to chat so that the question can be kept clean.

If comment-answering is unfortunately remaining common and the above procedure would require one to initiate very many such discussions, I propose that comments that are so egregiously wrong that any mod will immediately recognise them to be so can also be flagged for mod attention with the explanation "gives blatantly wrong/misleading information". If there is any doubt, @ comment and/or use chat.

Comments critiquing a post

Sometimes, someone trying to do moderation activity posts a wrong comment on a post (maybe a canned comment from the low quality posts review queue), giving the writer of the post incorrect advice about how to use the site, and in such cases it is reasonable to flag the comment as not needed, or, if appropriate, unfriendly. You can also reply to it pointing out that it is wrong, which might result in a faster deletion if the commenter has just misread or misclicked or is unaware of something you've pointed out, as well as helping other reviewers.

Sometimes, a comment is attempting to correct or add to information given in (usually) an answer, but is itself wrong. (I have posted such comments myself...) In such cases, a comment @ the commenter pointing out their mistake is usually appropriate, because some discussion of the issue may result in the post finally being edited to improve (though perhaps if the comment is so utterly useless it's painful to read you may find some way to justify flagging it as mentioned for comment-answers). Improving posts is the intended function of comments:

When should I comment?

  • Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post;

so attempts to do this can be treated more tolerantly than comment-answers.

However, if a discussion begins to go on excessively, move to chat by any means available, flagging if needed.

Though there are some situations where comments have lasting value and can't easily be incorporated into a post, commentary on a post should ideally lead to the post's improvement and then be removed.

Useful Reference:

Info page on commenting privilege explaining how comments should and should not be used

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