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Although appropriate for the help page, I think that the terse language in the comment policy would perhaps benefit from some deeper explanation and community analysis. I think that the line between some of the "should"s and "shouldn't"s is somewhat gray, and that clarification might be in order, even if only to say that the line is intentionally gray.

  1. What is "constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post", and how is it fundamentally different from "debating a controversial point"?

  2. None of the "should"s seem to permit any manner of discussion whatsoever. Notably, if I have a question about a previous comment, that question necessarily does not fit any of the "should"s which all relate specifically to the OP. Is discussion ever allowed in comment threads?

  • @EveryoneAndAnyone please feel free to liberally edit in any other discussion points about the comments policy that you may have. – Scott Mar 14 at 16:55
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    This is probably more for the main meta, since these are site-wide guidelines not specific to Politics. – Bryan Krause Mar 14 at 19:10
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What is "constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post", and how is it fundamentally different from "debating a controversial point"?

The difference between Constructive criticism and debating a controversial point is that debating a controversial goes on much longer and is unlikely to result in a resolution.

None of the "should"s seem to permit any manner of discussion whatsoever. Notably, if I have a question about a previous comment, that question necessarily does not fit any of the "should"s which all relate specifically to the OP. Is discussion ever allowed in comment threads?

If you have a good reason to respond to a previous comment, then feel free to. Just try to prevent it from turning into a side discussion that is no longer about how to improve the answer.

While we would like you follow these guidelines out of respect for the site, there's no need for any paralysis by analysis when it comes to comments. If you happen to incidentally engage in a controversial debate in the comments, or if you find yourself in a long and pointless comment thread, the worst that will happen is that your comments get deleted. It's not that big of a deal. Warnings and suspensions regarding comments are reserved only for people who are especially obnoxious and/or toxic.

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    Constructive criticism is also actionable, at least implicitly. There is a specific action which you are suggesting the author take in order to improve the post. It need not be explicit, but it should be understood that "If the author edits this post in some specific way, then I would be happy to see my comment deleted as redundant." – Kevin Mar 19 at 1:52

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