Yesterday, I flagged an answer (on this question) from an unregistered user as "doesn't answer the question", and started typing up a "Welcome to Arqade" comment. As it happened, Oak was doing the same thing, so both of our comments appeared within seconds of each other.

When I refreshed the page, the answer had been deleted. I'm not a 10k user yet, so I can't check to see if it was the unregistered user who deleted his own answer or if one of the ops (admins? moderators?) took care of it.

If it was the unregistered user, there's no problem, everything's great. But if it was an op (which I don't know, but it seems likely), then I wonder what the point of both Oak and I leaving comments was. If I can't see the deleted answer or the comments at +5k rep, I'm positive the user can't see it at 1 rep.

Why leave "Welcome" comments on answers that we're about to delete?

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  • FYI, it was an unregistered user, and the answer was deleted by a moderator. – user3389 Aug 25 '12 at 19:49
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    Welcome to the Arqade, Steve - is the top secret trigger phrase causing our special employee to make sure you don't mess up :-P – Zommuter Aug 25 '12 at 23:39

Users can see their own deleted posts and they are the ones the welcome is intended for.

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    Listen to this small, paper-based automaton. He speaks truth. – Raven Dreamer Aug 25 '12 at 18:27
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    .....oh. Well. That was simple. – Steve V. Aug 25 '12 at 18:29

Users can see their own deleted answers including the comments on their deleted answers. So if and when a user self-deletes, there's no problem with comments.

However, users aren't notified when their posts are deleted, can't see deleted posts of theirs in searches or on their profile, and only reliably get notified of comments by moderators and canned comments left through the new review system.

So when Oak or another diamond moderator leaves a comment on a soon-to-be deleted answer, or someone leaves a canned comment through the new review system, it functionally acts as a notification that their answer is about to be/has been deleted and provides (hopefully) a more thorough explanation why.

On the other hand, users can't see questions of theirs that have been deleted by forces other than themselves unless they have 10k reputation, so comments from moderators and canned comments act merely as a notification that the question has been deleted: users will only see the first five or six words of the comment in their inbox.

Custom comments from regular users on any imminently deleted post do not reliably make it to the inbox, as it requires the post owner to get the notification before the post is deleted. So they're only useful under the assumption that it'll take a long time to delete a post.

Here's a decision tree for whether or not it's worthwhile to comment:

  • Are you a diamond moderator?
    • Yes: is the post an answer?
      • Yes: leave a comment
      • No: leave a short comment
    • No: are you using the new review system to leave a canned comment?
      • Yes: is there already a canned comment on the post?
        • Yes: don't bother
        • No: leave a comment
      • No: are you relatively sure the user will see your comment before deletion?
        • Yes: leave a comment
        • No: don't bother
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