14

I've noticed a sharp uptick in people putting answers in the comments.

while this is annoying when they are in the comments of the question, many people are dropping their own answers in the comments of other answers.

I have been flagging them and they are being removed, but I think this is happening enough to warrant it's own reason.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because This is a topic for Meta.StackExchange.com not our Workplace Meta. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Mar 6 '18 at 17:11
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    @IDrinkandIKnowThings It's ok to discuss it here to first to find if it'd be useful or not. Then propose it on MSE – James Mar 6 '18 at 20:17
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    Have you noticed that our highest rep user, Joe Strazzere, does this routinely? – Jim G. Mar 6 '18 at 20:37
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    @JimG I have noticed quite a few of our really high rep users misuse comments (myself included) And yes it sets a really bad example. I am actually half convinced that there is an official policy against it but an unofficial acceptance of the comment problem as being something that benefits SE by increasing user engagement, and retention. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Mar 6 '18 at 20:39
10

Essentially no we can't, because we have no control over this.

There's a main meta post on this exact suggestion: Add an "answer in comments" flag reason, which points to Make comment flags less stupid which was declined in favour of the "Grand Unification" described on Drop "not constructive", combine "noisy", reword "rude" and "other" comment flags.

That is a change that a lot of moderators loathe but which SE has stuck with for reasons best known to themselves. I highly doubt you'll get them to reconsider but if you want to try you'll have to suggest it on main meta. Note that you can use the question here to build support for the idea before taking it to main.

3

I agree with Richard because I think this is a valid flagging reason. Ironically, this was going to be posted in the comments, when I realized it midway and resorted to answer instead.

All that being said, here's some food for thought. Another possible reason why people post answers as comments could be that they're immediately below the question, and therefore stand a higher chance of being viewed, rather than down below, where they could remain with 0 activity for a long time. From an engagement perspective, the poster of Comment-As-Answer stands to receive higher engagement as compared to if they wrote an answer instead.

Unless the assumption is that every viewer (registered users as well as general public) of the StackExchange network is going to scroll down all the way to the bottom for each and every question.

And finally, the Answer-As-Comment could be a way to gain feedback without receiving DV's, and this feedback may translate into an answer, although chances are slim.

I'm not defending them in any way. It's just something to think about. Cheers!

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I agree that good info in comments is a bit of a waste sometimes. But people should be able to have free will to write what they want in comments (within reason and bound by the basic rules as per the comment flag options). When not a rule breaking comment, it's up to the community to decide if it should remain or not.

It's a matter of opinion whether a comment was just a basic passing note, additional info but not worthy of an answer, or otherwise.

People can just quickly share the info in comments, whereas forming an answer has more requirements for time and expectations.

I don't think it's fair to flag/remove them unless they're bad or useless. Moreso:

I have been flagging them and they are being removed

That means the info is now entirely gone. At least before it was present even if just in a comment.

 


The real solution to resolve wasted info and improve the question (and site) is to use that info from the comment and form your own answer from it. It's not bad etiquette to do this.

The commenter had the chance to make it an answer and chose not to, but if you feel awkward about doing it you can give the commenter credit, and/or make the answer a wiki post.

So if you feel the info is worthy of an answer create one and expand on it to make a really good answer. Obviously, just don't copy/paste.

  • Well ok not exactly what they want, but outside some very basic and low impact rules (as per the comment flag options), they have free will, was my point. Then it's up to the community to determine what if feels should be cleaned up and flag it if needed. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/252844/… – James Mar 6 '18 at 21:15
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    Uhm no, let's not encourage people to post more comments by calling it "free will". We only have 4 moderators to deal with all those comment flags (among other things), let us no add to their burden with "free will" comments. – Masked Man Mar 7 '18 at 1:19
  • I never said we should allow bad comments that need moderating or encourage bad comments that need moderating. I never even said anything at all about encouragement. I just said that people are allowed to comment, and flagging then to be removed if they're not rude etc is not fair. You really hate outsiders here don't you? Ban their comments even if "answers the question", close questions immediately and delete quickly if it doesn't fit in to what you want. Downvote a sensible answer on meta that is entirely accurate. Good luck with it all – James Mar 7 '18 at 10:56
  • I don't hate anybody. You are pretty much preaching to the choir here on the comment deletion being unfair. I have myself "fought" with SE community managers on that point in the past, asking why SE invites people to "add a comment" and then says that posting comments is not allowed unless it fits their narrow set of criteria. I was refererring more to the additional trouble it would cause to our moderators to process all those flags. – Masked Man Mar 7 '18 at 11:50
  • You also don't seem to realize the nuisance that people have caused by posting answers under other people's answers as comments, causing those answers to get downvoted while the comment itself is immune to downvoting. – Masked Man Mar 7 '18 at 11:55
  • And about that instant deletion that you are accusing me of, it has already been established that the post was deleted after 4 days and not after 90 minutes as previously claimed. You can look that up in the edit history of that post. Please refrain from jumping to conclusions and accusing people when you don't know the full story. – Masked Man Mar 7 '18 at 12:16
  • Seems to me people are too defensive about the problems instead of just getting on with what are basic solutions. And also debating what is and what is not a comment, etc etc. My post here is grossly misunderstood, and I believe that is based on the aforementioned defensiveness. I'm in no way at all advocating bad or pointless comments, nor the clean up of them, I was arguing against cleaning up comments which are fine - ie leave them, let people comment, move along... – James Mar 7 '18 at 14:22
  • I agree with your overall answer. I just made a remark about the "free will" part which could be misused by some people to justify such comments. I was talking mainly about comments which are not appropriate. When you have people routinely using comments as hit-and-run tactic, you tend to get defensive. – Masked Man Mar 7 '18 at 16:12
  • I totally understand frustrations from being a regular seeing the same crap, sincerely. Those need cleaning up if pointless or rude etc, or making into an answer if possible. I wasn't meaning "people have a right to post crap in comments" just that if it's not rude or no longer needed, it's people's right to have. All that said, comments are not protected and can be removed at any time without needing a reason to do so. – James Mar 7 '18 at 16:16
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    One of the basic rules is that you don't post answers in comments. This is because, among other things, comments can't be downvoted and comments aren't sorted by score. Answers in comments defeat the whole mechanism of the site. – David Richerby Mar 14 '18 at 22:42
  • @DavidRicherby "One of the basic rules is that you don't post answers in comments" - Can you link me to where that rule is written on Stack please? It's community moderated, so might work on one site and not others. BEsides, my point still stands and I cannot believe people miss it - why delete a comment with an answer in it? Without the comment there is even less of that answer. It should be written in an answer if it's worthwhile, if it's not then it's not really an answer. – James Mar 15 '18 at 11:40
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    @James The help centre is explicit: "When shouldn't I comment? [...] Answering a question or providing an alternate solution to an existing answer; instead, post an actual answer (or edit to expand an existing one)". – David Richerby Mar 15 '18 at 11:49
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    And the point of deleting answers as comments is, as I have already said, that answering in a comment completely defeats all the quality control mechanisms the site has. – David Richerby Mar 15 '18 at 11:50
  • Cool, now define "answering a questions"... My point is simple, deleting a comment that is an answer is worse than just leaving it, regardless of the rules or definition of what is or is not an "answer in a comment". – James Mar 15 '18 at 14:09
  • @James Stack Exchange is not meant to be a forum where everyone gets personal help but a place to collect high quality answers to high quality questions, leaving semi-answers in an non-editable and non-downvotable state is unconstructive. It is specifically created to remove such unvetted noise. So yes, a half-baked answer in the comments does more harm than good. – pipe Mar 15 '18 at 21:23

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