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Ok, I looked, but haven't seen a thread here yet about off-topic specifically in the comments, more specifically where discussion begins as on-topic, and then moves to off-topic discussion. I'd like to start by clarifying that the question itself was not disputed as off-topic, and I think roughly fits into the on-topic guidelines for pertaining to clinical guidelines, pharmacology and public health(perhaps). The question received a brief answer via comments, and a discussion ensued. Pretty quickly the beginnings of an answer emerged, but then the conversation veered off-topic. That is when moderators moved the whole of comments to a chat. I personally don't like chat, as StackExchange is a Q&A platform, and I think it creates a lot of extra reading material, that might distract from getting to the answer. Also there is some fuzziness about persistence / permanence of chat transcripts.

I am wondering why the whole of comments had to be moved to chat, rather than just deleting the offending / off-topic comments(preserving on-topic comments), and perhaps opening a chat for optional continued discussion.

I have looked at Code of Conduct and Expected Behavior, and I don't think I have violated any rules other than my gradually devolving into my personal medical story in the comments, although in my defense, my off-topic comments were initially received without any corrective action taken by moderators.

I see a lot of unanswered questions around StackExchange, and justifiably, not all questions have an easy answer. I think comments can help guide the conversation, and lead to better answers. Therefore I am wondering if it is possible for the comments from the beginning of the discussion, where it was still on-topic to be restored to their original place under my question, and for the chat full of off-topic comments to be deleted. I don't see how it benefits to have good information hidden in a chat along with a whole bunch of garbage.


Update(Sorry Carey):

I have said this in meta.stackexchange, but perhaps I should say it again here. I'd like to sincerely say sorry to Carey, for making such a big deal out of all of this! It is now clear that I missed something while writing in the comments, and perhaps that lead to a misunderstanding. I'd also like to reassure the mods that I don't intend to contribute to any more off-topic discussion, and it will only be the best behavior from here on out.

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You're quite right that your question isn't off topic. There's nothing wrong with it at all. But I think you misunderstand how the site works, in particular how comments are viewed here. Comments are solely for clarifying questions and answers, adding information, noting mistakes, and so forth. They're not for providing answers or protracted discussion. This site is all about questions and answers, not comments.

I'm actually more tolerant of long discussions and answers in comments than many other moderators, including one of my predecessors who probably would have deleted Bryan's comments immediately because they broke the "no answers in comments" rule.

Please read this page. In particular, I would direct you to this section and the link it contains:

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.

Please be patient and wait for an answer. As I've said repeatedly, StackExchange is not a discussion forum. It's a Q&A site. Everything that isn't a question or answer is ephemeral and subject to deletion at any time. The whole point of the site is the community vetting answers, and comments can't be vetted. Patience, please.

  • I know all this already; in practice though chats tend to disappear, where as comments persist. All around SE, I see a lot of old comments(often very helpful) still stuck onto Q&A. I think there was some important clarification going on in these comments before they were moved. I think if those comments are not there, any answer written will not have the right context, and will thus not properly answer the question. Is it at all possible to return the useful comments to their original place? – kipbits Mar 13 at 12:30
  • i think it is at least technically possible: meta.stackexchange.com/a/170489 – kipbits Mar 13 at 12:32
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    @kipbits - Answers can be refined just as much as questions. The transitory nature of comments is one reason we don't allow answering in comments. If a comment answers the question, then it should be posted as such, and your comment questions for clarification can then be used to improve the answer. While there are many places where comments persist long after the fact, that doesn't change the basic nature of the comment system and what it is intended for. – JohnP Mar 13 at 13:51
  • I have said this in meta.stackexchange, but perhaps I should say it again here. I'd like to sincerely say sorry to Carey, for making such a big deal out of all of this! It is now clear that I missed something while writing in the comments, and perhaps that lead to a misunderstanding. I'd also like to reassure the mods that I don't intend to contribute to any more off-topic discussion, and it will only be the best behavior from here on out. – kipbits Mar 15 at 16:46
  • @kipbits Thanks, but no big deal. Don't worry about it. – Carey Gregory Mar 15 at 17:09

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