On at least two occasions recently, a user (different users) left a totally inappropriate comment only to quickly edit it. In these particular cases the intended recipient was notified and saw the comment as it was prior to being edited.

In both of the cases I'm thinking of, the flagrant violation of "Be Nice" was somewhat mitigated by the fact that the comment was quickly edited. However, it's better that nasty things are not said at all than thinking better of it after the fact.

So, if you get a notification of a comment that would have been flag-worthy had it still existed in the original form, please let a mod know.

If the comment has simply been deleted, just custom-flag the post it was on and ask us to have a look.

If it was edited, please take a screenshot of the message in your inbox so we can see exactly what was said; unfortunately edits to comments are not kept the way edits to questions and answers are. You can ping us in chat or ping any of us in an answer to this question.

You don't need to show us the message publicly, we can open a private chat if you would rather the original message not be seen publicly.

  • Please see this MSE post. It is a feature request based on this question. Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 8:40
  • @PatrickHofman That will interesting to watch. I considered a feature request, but decided to wait to see if it was a commonplace thing here. I imagine it is seen far more often on the bigger sites.
    – Jolenealaska Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 9:05
  • 2
    Yeah, this happens quite often, without real solution as I feel from your side. Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 9:06

2 Answers 2


If you permit me, I would like to play the devil's advocate on the topic.

I have been the recipient of such fixed-quickly comments Since I have an Android app which raises a notification on any comment, i get to see the before-edit version rather frequently. (not on this particular site, natch. Frankly, Cooking is one of the nicest, least controvercial SE sites I have ever been on).

  1. As a recipient, I can honestly say that I find the original-commenter-fix to be the most ideal outcome: they recognized they said something inappropriate; and made an effort to mitigate this. Frankly, that, to me, is a far superior outcome to having to force someone to pretend to be nice after a finger-wagging by an authority figure.

  2. The goal of flagging for moderator is two-fold: to prevent the poster from being not nice (the self-edit clearly shows that this goal is already achieved without moderator attention) and/or to get the offending content off the page (the self-edit takes care of that). As such, there seems little to no point to flag this.

  3. On the other foot, I have had occasion to post a comment that was intended to be constructive yet critical, then re-read it, and realize it came off far less constructive and less nice than intended. A quick re-edit to reword is exactly what was needed in such a situation. So I understand why and how this occurs when I'm the target, and honestly don't mind.

  • 1
    Good points, and I certainly agree that self editing is preferable to moderator action. I am most concerned about the potential for "gaming the system", and the question was posted as much to gauge whether or not it is a problem than for a solution. So far, it seems not to be a big problem on SA but perhaps a bigger issue on larger stacks.
    – Jolenealaska Mod
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 0:02
  • Yeah, I agree that as long as it's an honest mistake quickly fixed, it's not really a problem. I think Jolene's concern was still justified, though: if someone has a pattern of doing this (whether it's deliberately abusive or just a habit of impulsive rudeness), this is pretty much the only way she could've found out.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 16:46

Facebook has an edit history button. I believe there should be something similar, with an ability to downvote comments like you can in Quora. I hate e-backtracking as well, especially when you take the time to make a response and the original comment was polished to be made "politically correct" and you end up looking like an idiot.

It's true that we are a community and most of us are friendly to each other, but in every instance of designing an online community the developers should dedicate adequate time to the question "but what about the assholes..."

  • 1
    They're only editable for five minutes, so it's not really very easy to abuse like this. If whoever's being notified doesn't check their inbox before it's edited, they won't ever see the original version. It's still something to look out for (hence this post) but it may not be worth actually keeping the comments around to let us look for it. (People are rarely abusive in such an isolated, hidden way, anyway.)
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 4:45
  • I've never run across this. I didn't even realize it happened to people here. Thank you for the heads-up. I'll watch for it.
    – Shalryn
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 17:31
  • Sometimes even the mods 'polish' their comments or delete them, which makes a user look stupid - it's not just the users. Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 6:22

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