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I recently answered a question asked about 3 years ago, with almost 6k views (and growing), no accepted answer (the asker left the site apparently), and 4 existing answers with upvotes (but as far as I can tell none of them is a conclusive answer to the question). Mine is not conclusive either, but I honestly believe it's useful to people who are facing the same problem. However, being a (very) late answer, I believe nobody will scroll down all the way there, despite the fact that it's still an unsolved and recurrent problem.

Since my answer has things in common with the most upvoted answer, I thought about commenting on it to draw attention to my own, but was unsure if it was fair to do so. On one hand, it "feels" like a d*ck move, worsened by the fact that my answer involved self-written code (is it really a good contribution or am I just flattering myself?), and the practice is ripe for abuse. On the other, the ultimate goal of this site is to provide great answers to important (to its target audience) questions, and nobody wins anything if a potentially useful answer is obscured by circunstance alone.

I could just follow my gut and do it anyway, or simply adopt the "safer" alternative of including my whole answer in the comment, deleting the original, or even offer a bounty to the question in the hope someone pay attention (despite how silly it is - attempting to reward my own answer knowing the system won't let me). But I was curious about what the community thinks about this, in the general case, so I decided to ask here:

Is it ok to comment on a better voted answer to draw attention to your own?

(P.S. in case someone think this is a stunt for self-promotion, consider this: if my answer is really not useful it's easy for people to downvote it to oblivion... :P)

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This seems like one of those things that could be abused, but could also backfire spectacularly enough to discourage all but the most honest and shameless. –  Shog9 Feb 1 '12 at 8:14
    
Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/64824/… –  sarnold Feb 1 '12 at 11:15
    
I've done this a couple of times when I've posted a late answer to a question that already has more than 10 answers. I'm not sure how many people will continue to read past the highest few voted answers to see if there is anything of interest languishing at the bottom. –  Martin Smith Feb 1 '12 at 12:45
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You also should move the meat and potatoes from the link into your answer body, as it stands its not a useful answer. –  user7116 Feb 1 '12 at 14:54
    
@sixlettervariables yeah, I agree that answer could be improved. It's not feasible to put it all in the body, since any solution to that question will be lengthy (the top voted answer provide mostly links to other resources) but maybe adding more explanation and examples would do the trick. –  mgibsonbr Feb 1 '12 at 17:39
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1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

My two cents on this matter:

  1. Posting new answer will bump the question to the top of the Active view, which is what most people are using. So "scrolling down a lot" is not very relevant.

  2. Posting comment will not draw so much attention.. the author of the answer you comment on will get notification but it won't bump the question and most people will read all answers anyway when viewing the question for the first time, assuming there are few answers only of course.

So my conclusion is that it won't really matter if you post comment.. it's not silly or abuse but on the other hand it won't draw as much attention as you might have thought.

This said, you better include your self written code in the post itself (jsFiddle might go down before Stack Overflow, we must not count on it to live forever) plus maybe relevant quotes from sources you've used and linked to. This will make your answer more complete and maybe even cause more people to upvote.

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I think you're right with your suggestions about how to improve the answer, however I'd guess that since the question has 6K views and the last previous answer was well over a year ago that the majority of that traffic is from searches, rather than the active view. People that search and find the question may not read all of the answers, given the relatively highly voted top answer (15 versus 3 for the next answer)... In that case, posting a comment may indeed raised the visibility for the OPs low scoring answer, which if improved as you suggest may pay off... –  forsvarir Feb 1 '12 at 8:41
    
@forsvarir maybe I was assuming too much based on my own habits can't know for sure.. but still, the existing answers are not very long and many (if not most) people will scroll down to see other answers besides the most upvoted one. :) –  Shadow Wizard Feb 1 '12 at 8:55
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@Sha: I think mgibsnobr was referring to the sort order within the question, not the active / recent / featured view of all questions. –  sarnold Feb 1 '12 at 11:13
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@sar - hmm.. you might be right! Well, meager 2 votes will place it second which will be more than enough. :) –  Shadow Wizard Feb 1 '12 at 11:17
    
Good point! In fact, notifying the author of the best answer may be exactly what I need to do, since if my answer is really useful and adds to his one, he'll want to update it with the new info. Either way, people who need an answer will get all the relevant info. (in fact, that was the point in commenting - IMHO people who look at that answer are more likely to look at its comments than at the less voted answers) –  mgibsonbr Feb 1 '12 at 17:52
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