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While in the Review interface this morning, I ran across this question. I started to flag the answer as Other/"just a link" when I noticed the long string of comments.

I thought I remembered a discussion here suggesting that users should edit posts when they can, and only flag moderators if necessary (to resolve disputes, close/delete questions, answers, or comments). Bearing that in mind, I suggested this edit, which was summarily rejected.

I personally feel that the information in the comments is worth preserving, and mentioned that in the suggested edit -- as it stands, the answer is terrible. If the edit had been approved, I would have submitted a flag to have the comments deleted as obsolete. Should I just have flagged a moderator and made a note about this?

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that edit was incorrectly rejected, IMO. It's insane to say "this edit changes too much of the post" when the entirety of the post was a freaking hyperlink! Hopefully you'll reach 2k rep soon and can make great edits like that without needing review.. – Jeff Atwood Jan 20 '12 at 18:02
Or would it have made more sense to post a new answer with the information from the comments on the original? – Keith Thompson Jan 20 '12 at 19:37
up vote 13 down vote accepted

Yes. If the comments contain information that is directly relevant to the post and doesn't do anything to dilute the question or answers as a whole, then absolutely move the content into the post.

However, if the comments are not directly related, or have any risk of changing the meaning of the question and/or answers, then do not edit them into the post. This would have a detrimental effect on the overall quality of the post and as a result, be detrimental to the site, it's users, and anyone who lands on that page as a result of organic search.

Remember, Stack Exchange is about making the Internet better (Jeff's words), and that's the general mentality you should take when approaching edits of any kind in this manner. If in the course of an edit you don't truly believe you are improving the content as a whole, then you shouldn't be performing the edit.

In regards to your suggested edit, I agree with Jeff that edit was incorrectly rejected. The answer itself was not an answer and as the conversation in the comments evolved, the question and/or answer should have been updated to elaborate, as there were no other answers (or a single good one, for that matter).

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I absolutely agree. My entire intention was to try to minimize the work that a moderator would have to do to clean up that answer. Almost all of MusiGenesis' comments directly pertained to the nature of the question, and I tried to avoid incorporating anything chatty (like the last comment in that string). Frankly, that particular discussion would have made for a great answer that I would've upvoted had I run across it under normal circumstances. – jwiscarson Jan 20 '12 at 18:10
I agree, and I do this. But there's one minor problem I have with it: when the comments get deleted, there's no visible trace anymore that these were really the author's comments, which I merely copied without implicitly wanting to approve what those comments are saying. So if someone would ever come up with a solution for that, then I'd like that! – Arjan Jan 20 '12 at 18:58
@Arjan That disconnect is interesting, and you are right, and editing it back doesn't leave a visible trace. Once the comments are deleted. My recommendation would be to place a message in the edit reason to indicate that the comments were moved into the posts. At least this way, mods will be able to more easily see that the edit was for that reason (remember, we can see deleted comments now) in the event something breaks out over that edit and the deletion of the comments. – casperOne Jan 20 '12 at 20:42
Nice, then my workflow works just fine ;-) – Arjan Jan 20 '12 at 20:58
@Arjan I'd say so, in the event that your edit on this question is ever hotly contested. =) – casperOne Jan 20 '12 at 21:02
@Arjan: You're dead-on; I wanted to read the original comments and compare against the edit to see what was up; adding a phrase like "I avoid [foo] like the plague" to someone's answer really needs verification -- but the either comments have been deleted or the original questioner is carrying on an imaginary conversation. – sarnold Jan 21 '12 at 0:08
Ai, @sarnold, you're right about that example. It seems Jeff forgot to include the edit comment from the suggestion, and cleaned up the comments. Sure, moderators can still tell what comments were deleted, but mortals like myself will be quite confused. When editing FAQ posts, I sometimes make a screen capture of a developer's comment (from a very different post) and refer to that. But that is really just for an authoritative reference, not to avoid confusion. – Arjan Jan 21 '12 at 10:56
@Arjan, good suggestion with screenshots, thanks. – sarnold Jan 22 '12 at 0:46

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