The comments system that I'm using right now saves replies to a comment with that comment id as a parent. The problem is that that if the user of the main comment deletes his comment none of the replies of that comment will show on the page anymore. I think that's okay if only one or two comments are replies directly to that comment, but if there are nested comments and people have a conversation all of it will be lost if the main comment is deleted.

So my questions is: upon a comment deletion should I just display deleted, or should i actually delete everything? What are the common practices for this sort of things, what would users expect?

  • 4
    I don't expect comments to be nested. – candied_orange Apr 1 '18 at 12:21
  • I think that would be like if you asked what to do with the answers of a question on Stack Exchange when the question itself gets deleted. It would rarely make sense to keep them. (though two questions could be merged, and both of their answers grouped together, but that's a particular usecase of SE, maybe not applicable to yours). – Pac0 Apr 1 '18 at 12:35
  • Does this belong to the Meta site actually? – πάντα ῥεῖ Apr 1 '18 at 12:54
  • 1
    I think the OP may mean "threaded" rather than "nested" and that they're talking about a comment system on a discussion board and not comments in code, as I thought from the title. In that context, threaded conversations are quite common and most users do expect it. – user1118321 Apr 1 '18 at 15:28
  • replays == replies? – Ewan Apr 1 '18 at 15:56

The answer would depend on the context.

If you're building a thing such as a bulletin board, it makes sense to show “Content removed”-type message when a post was removed by the original author, while keeping the remaining part of the discussion untouched—doing otherwise would put the whole discussion at a mercy of the original poster, which is rarely a good thing, given that the discussion could derive a lot from its origins.

If you're building something where a reply to a post doesn't make sense without the original post, then the removal of the whole discussion makes sense. For instance, on Stack Exchange, it would be really weird to keep the answers to a question which was removed. Nevertheless, you should probably design a system where authors could still recover their replies even after the original post was removed. One of the annoying aspects of Stack Exchange is specifically the fact that a few months after you've spent half an hour writing an answer, you see the community (or the OP) remove the question, and it's very difficult to get the answer in order to copy it somewhere else.

Side note: if you're talking about nested comments, you're probably reasoning as a programmer. There is nothing wrong in reasoning as a programmer, unless you do it to design user interfaces. Hierarchical structures are a wrong way to show information in most cases; hierarchical bulletin boards are an excellent example of an unusable interface—unusable because being designed with programmer's logic. Unless the design was created by a professional user experience designer who is absolutely sure that hierarchical approach is the way to go, please, please, avoid this approach. There are already too many low quality user interfaces in this world.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.