Would it be possible to allow a commenter to place an expiration date on a comment?

I bring this up following a comment I added to this question. The OP had two consecutive comments (6 minutes apart), with the second saying "Disregard previous comment", and the first basically being some code.

I added a comment letting the OP know that they could delete their own comments:

deleted comments

Obviously, if they had deleted the first comment themselves, my comment would have been obsolete and could have been removed.

It would be handy if there was a way to tie my comment to their comment, so that if their comment is deleted, mine is as well. That way, even if there's no reply to me (and, in the best of all possible worlds, there wouldn't be), it wouldn't need me to revisit the page and notice that the comment can be deleted, or someone else to flag it as obsolete (requiring a moderator to get involved).

Failing that (which could be relatively complicated to implement, though probably not impossible), it would be almost as handy to be able to enter a comment with an expiration date, so it would automatically be removed after some period of time.

If we could tag this sort of thing such that an automated process would remove it past, say, a week or so, I would use that here - by that point either the OP has seen the comment and had time to take action (or decide it's irrelevant), or they're unlikely to see the comment at all. In either case, the comment (being more a direct message to a specific user) can be removed safely, with no more effort on anyone's part.

Comments like the one above (telling a newish user that they can delete their own comments) add nothing to the conversation. Past a certain point, if the person being addressed hasn't seen the note, they probably won't (maybe they're gone for good, or maybe the question is simply no longer of interest to them). Past that point, the comment could go away without impacting the conversation.

A similar example: In this question, during my "first post" review I noted what could be a typo (a .cnf file with a comment of log-bin and configurations for log_bin). I don't know the .cnf file and don't know that this would be a typo - but, it seemed worth pointing out. If it turned out to be the problem (or a part of it) I would have turned this into an answer, or at least made sure the info was added to the question. Others have added comments, but no one has said anything about this (aside from me and the OP), making me think it is irrelevant. I might well have decided to make that a comment that would self-delete since it might not be relevant at all, and could actually mislead someone else if I am wrong.

So, I see at least two uses:

  • Comments that are basically informational notes to another user, providing general information about our site instead of specific information about this question/answer.
  • Comments made by users who see a possible issue, but who are not well-versed enough in the specific software involved to be certain that this is an actual issue at all, to avoid misleading others if the comment is actually completely irrelevant.

Thanks to Andrew T., for providing links to related posts on the main meta site:

  • 2
    It would be nice to have something like that. – MDCCL Aug 31 '17 at 19:11
  • Usually if you flag a comment as obsolete, a moderator will look at the set of comments as a whole, not just the single comment. If you're worried that we won't, just use other and add a comment saying that several comments should be cleaned up. – Aaron Bertrand Aug 31 '17 at 19:35
  • self-destructing comments would be awesome. The number of times I've wanted exactly that feature is a lot. – Hannah Vernon Oct 23 '20 at 13:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .