I read some kind of rule on SO or some sub site that were like this (very vague)

You should not question the purposes, the if's and how's of why a particular person wan't to do a particular thing. The Questions should be asked as they are. The Question itself is not to be questioned

something like this, don't know where I saw it, I can't find it anymore and would be very happy if someone can guess what I mean and point me to it.

I really more this was not removed. Because I am extremely annoyed by this kind of people who always question some thing in your question that never helps. And I feel forced to answer this stuff, it bloats up comments. At the end of the day I am the bad boy because I get tiny bit rude.

The last thing where this thing happened was here. I smelled some kind if total useless question and especially mentioned "Questions like 'why you not use ecrypfs for everything' ... " will be considered as spam by me. And then this guy comes in and asks me exactly about that kind of thing. I answered the question and told him that the question is not helping in any way and told him 'to answer the question and or move along'. A little rude I know, but still it was a totally nonconstructive comment. It's was also edited out without even mentioning it my the mod.

So a mod comes in rudely edits the part out where I say I will flag comment's like this as spam, tells me something about comment moderation and that I should move my comments to chat. The truth is nothing in this comments is irrelevant to the question, except this one comment. He now claims the comment is relevant and refuses to delete it.

I see it this way: What I did was good behavior. I informed everyone beforehand that comments like this will not help and are useless. And then I flagged the comment as nonconstructive.

What should I do? Flag the comment and not answer it? Then no mod ever will see that it's useless.

Explain in detail (2 Comments with max-character use) why this is completely irrelevant and a waste of my time? I tried to avoid it but if I would then for sure some mod comes in and says, move to chat!

This is just one of many example. I have seen this over and over and freaking over again over SO. Is this is the price to pay for having asked a Question here? Do have become a suspect for interrogation when I ask a question on SO. Do we have to be punished by useless questions, that bloat up the comments and help nobody but instead wasting time of everybody?

I would appreciate if the question linked above will not be the subject of this matter and that it would be answered in a more general way. I like to see other example, i know there are many of them!

What now happed what that mod @fossfreedom or the other one who send me some warning removed all of the comments, including one other legit and helpful questions and all my answers that really helped about the topic, I tried to help to clean the comments, what I get is he just deletes everything. I am very disappointed.

And now I get a warning about not to argue in comments. Haha great.

  • 8
    I will say this: Nonconstructive/uselessness is totally the opinion of the reader. Asking "Why do you want to do this" often helps get the problem solved because people know why and can answer better. Also, rudeness is never allowed.
    – Seth
    Mar 1, 2013 at 17:23
  • 4
    Getting rude is not excused by you simply not being willing to cooperate.
    – RolandiXor
    Mar 1, 2013 at 19:34
  • 5
    How is coming here with "I don't really remember the comment, but I find it totally rude and unhelpful and how dare you not help me with the half-baked info I gave you?!" not "unconstructive"? Geez, some people ...
    – user98085
    Mar 1, 2013 at 19:52

3 Answers 3



Well I am surprised that you wish to discuss this matter so openly - I'm very happy to do so.

for the record...

Just for the record, you have continually flagged for the following comment to be removed:

did you consider encrypting your entire drive?

Given your question about encryption/decryption etc, I considered this an entirely reasonable comment. It was neither spam nor not constructive. A simple acknowledgement by editing your question would have sufficed to explain that encrypting the entire drive was not appropriate. Indeed you flagged this twice.

The following comment from yourself was flagged as abusive - rather than just deleting the entire comment I edited out the deemed abusive section simply because it served no value and could be construed as not constructive or abusive

I also like to inform everyone that comments like "Since you are using cryptfs go hardcode your password into a file it's save" and "Stop using truecrypt and use ecryptfs only" will be flagged as spam immediately.

To myself reading this - this was quite abrasive and not conducive to finding an appropriate answer.

At this point - I decided to drop a gentle reminder of good conduct that we all operate upon as per the FAQ

please consider moderating your replies to comments otherwise further measures will be required. If in doubt, please visit the general chat room

It was a shame because the tone of the following comments became very negative and quite threatening in my mind - I will not reproduce those comments here.


We moderators do not work in isolation - indeed on this occasion I asked another moderator to review the question, comments etc. Thus you were formally requested to review your approach to questions and how best to deal with comments.

Comments are transient - they are there to tease out aspects of a question. Once this is done, they are fairly redundant and as such should be removed.

Since you made quite a radical edit to your question, I can well understand why other moderators decided to remove all the comments since they were no longer relevant.

in summary...

We deal with not constructive comments based upon their merit or otherwise. The community has elected their moderators to make their best judgement on behalf of the community as a whole. Myself and other moderators have done so on this occasion, trying to help you get an answer to your question, removing the non-relevant comments etc.

Hope this explains the situation. Lets move on now to getting you an answer that your question.


Why we ask "Why?"

Asking why is often done because something in the question suggests that the person asking is going about solving their problem the wrong way. In those cases, oftentimes, the best way to answer the question is offer a different approach to the problem. Sometimes, though, there's a specific reason why a person has to approach the problem the way they have. We can't know that unless we get at least a basic understanding of why the asker is trying to do something a particular way, or what goal it is they're trying to accomplish. In other words, "why are you looking to do it this particular way?"

A good example of such a situation would be the common "how do I run a .exe file in Ubuntu?" The person answering has a couple of choices - answer the question as asked with no other questions ("use WINE"), answer it and offer what may be the better solution ("use WINE, but consider finding the Linux version"), or ask for clarification as to what application the person is trying to use ("oh, you want to run Chrome? Don't worry about the .exe, they have a native version. Using the native installer will save you the headache of trying to run it through WINE, which may or may not work as expected").

Some questions are, of course, easier to answer for both options, but some aren't - such as when answering the question, as asked, would result in the asker jumping through a number of unnecessary hoops in order to solve the issue in the manner they've started trying. In those cases, asking why can bring to light that they don't know of a different way (perhaps the documentation is outdated), and the answerer can show the asker a better way of getting to their goal.

Why comments sometimes seem rude

The StackExchange family of websites (of which AU is one) have been specifically groomed to not be "chatty." This is so ingrained, in fact, that the system itself works to enforce this by posting a "don't be chatty" line when a certain number of comments to a specific question or answer are reached, and enforcing character limits on comments. Things like greetings and signatures are also generally actively edited out of questions and answers.

Additionally, bluntness is encouraged. These are question and answer sites. People are here to get answers, not fuzzy feelings. That doesn't mean everything has to be robotic, but don't expect sugar-coating, either.

This does, however, mean that sometimes responses seem more abrasive than they actually are, especially if you're not already the type that's more inclined to such matter-of-fact responses, and if the response is directed at you.

fossfreedom's comment was not intentionally rude, he simply disagreed with your assessment that the comment was not constructive (which is subjective), nor was it spam (which is fairly objective). Since the comment is no longer present, I can't say either way whether I agree with his assessment, but I'm inclined to believe from your response here that it wasn't spam, but it may have been enough on the abrasive side to ruffle your feathers. Frankly, it happens to all of us at some point or another.

Why comments sometimes get deleted

Comments get deleted on a regular basis. I've seen whole strings of comments get deleted outright, and you can often see evidence of deleted comments in the responses that are left.

The most common reason is that they are "too chatty" or in general not very constructive. This is intended to keep things clean and in line with the things I mentioned earlier.

Occasionally, they do end up getting deleted because the conversation gets too heated. When that happens, the moderators will sometimes take more of a "scorched earth" approach, and delete all the comments involved in a particular discussion chain. This is to prevent the discussion from reigniting. It's all based on the circumstances of the conversation, though.

What to do with comments you don't like

There are a few things you can do with comments:

  • Ignore them. They're just comments. (Though I have to say, sometimes I think it would be nice to be able to downvote comments.)
  • Assume they weren't intentionally rude and answer the underlying question (ie - "why would you use encrypfs for everything?" would translate roughly into "your method seems like overkill and there are better ways, why did you choose to do it this way?" see again, my first point)
  • Hop over to chat and ask someone for a second opinion
  • Flag them. This is generally saved for comments that are intentionally inflammatory, rude, or spam. Also, just because you flag something (comment, question, or answer), it doesn't mean the moderators will agree with you. It's nothing personal.

This is just one of many example. I have seen this over and over and freaking over again over SO. Is this is the price to pay for having asked a Question here? Do have become a suspect for interrogation when I ask a question on SO. Do we have to be punished by useless questions, that bloat up the comments and help nobody but instead wasting time of everybody?

I took the liberty of clicking through a few of the questions you've posted, and from what I saw, they were all quite civil. Now, I understand that they may (probably) have been cleaned up, but I can only judge by what I see, and between them and my own experiences with SE over the years, it seems to me that you may be overreacting somewhat. It's perfectly understandable, given that you just came from a bit of a ruffle (I felt the same way when I asked this question over on dba.SE and was met with what I felt to be a bitchy attitude, even by SE standards). Like I said earlier, though, it happens to all of us.

What I've found to help is to step away from it for a little while. If your question was sufficient enough for someone to take a stab at answering it, they probably will and the comment will either be rendered moot, or its point validated. If not, then you'll be able to answer the comment and re-read your question to provide clarification. If their tone still doesn't sit right with you, see if someone in chat can have a look and provide a different perspective. It's what I did with the question I linked. It was rough, but with the help of one of the mods, I was able to get the question worded properly so that a good answer could be written.

  • 5
    I should mention if it helps that I have also gotten many comments deleted. Even questions and answers. This is not because I did something wrong (Or maybe I did nobody will know ^^) but because the site actually needs a lot of cleaning. I do not mind getting questions, answers or comments deleted if favor of similar questions, duplicates, simplifying the site for users to find their answer quickly and reading less spam from me and getting to the actually solution to their problem. Mar 1, 2013 at 20:06
  • 1
    I thought the whole purpose of SE was fuzzy feelings... My whole life is a lie!
    – RolandiXor
    Mar 2, 2013 at 1:09
  • Maybe It'd be useful to add some default text to the question textbox in order to make users meditat more on how they will phrase their statements/questions. Coursera does this in the forums. Jul 13, 2013 at 3:53

You should not question the purposes, the if's and how's of why a particular person want to do a particular thing. The Questions should be asked as they are. The Question itself is not to be questioned.

My dear friend, the above quote is a perfect example of sarcasm in action. Every open online community will want to know the intention of the questioner to guide him properly. This is to prevent running into the all-famous XY problem where the person will be asking for help for a problem he never really had in the first place. Asking the why becomes most crucial in order to save the time for both the person asking for help and the one helping too.

There have been many instances of people asking in chat how to enable root login in Ubuntu but all they wanted was help with installing an application that they downloaded as tarball from a website. Asking the purpose and the intent of the question really helps -- contrary to what you believe.

Just like the why, the if's and the how's also help shape the solution that is most suitable for the person asking for help. No one would know whether or not a particular solution would work for you for sure unless they know what conditions they can play with.

And community moderators are obliged to keep the site and the community neat and tidy and it is part of our duty to cleanup comments that we construe as non-constructive. We can never permit rudeness in our community and we try our best to keep it that way.

  • 4
    Nice one Jokerdino. From experience of anybody that has helped a lot of users, you end up asking the WHY because, from experience, the question could be interpreted in several ways depending on where the user is, where he/she wants to go and how he/she got there in the first place. You can find many of them here or any other SE site. Basically questions that have 2 or more ways of looking at them. So yes, the question itself should be questioned when one falls into this problem. Mar 1, 2013 at 19:59

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