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Why do some people answer in comments?
Allow asker to upgrade comment to answer

I've noticed this for a while now - people answer questions with a comment instead of an answer on SO.

An example of the issue

I'm not sure why, if I understand correctly "great comments" don't gain rep. The only logical reasons I see for this are:

  1. Users afraid of downvotes.
  2. Users with a plentiful stockpile of rep, who leave it up to a new user in need of some points to basically paraphrase them in an answer.

Is there a known cause? What should I do in a situation such as the one pictured? There are two correct answers in the comments (which I have marked as "great") but no answer to accept. It seems wrong to answer my own question when I wasn't the one to come up with the solution.

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marked as duplicate by Anthony Pegram, ire_and_curses, Chris Frederick, Adam Davis, Peter Mortensen Feb 13 '12 at 22:14

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
You can post the answer yourself, mention that comments by user X and Y helped you out, and accept it. Or wait until someone else posts the answer you are expecting, and accept it. –  Laf Feb 13 '12 at 21:41
4  
When I don't know the answer but I have a few ideas for things to check, I'll post a comment. Perhaps the comment works and following that debugging step the OP resolves the problem. But while my suggested debugging step was the impetus to find the problem, it wasn't the answer - hopefully the OP provides the answer, or gives me enough feedback about their debugging that I can then provide a well-written answer. Either way, debugging suggestions are not answers, in my mind. (Posted as a comment both for your amusement and because this is a dupe) –  Adam Davis Feb 13 '12 at 21:52

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I would post a comment asking the commenter(s) to write it up as an answer. If they don't (within a few days) I normally write an answer myself (acknowledging their contribution) and mark it community wiki so I don't gain rep from their work.

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Ah, thank you! I forgot about community wiki. –  Vasiliy Sharapov Feb 13 '12 at 22:02
    
I'd like to suggest against the Community Wiki button -- there's skill in writing a good answer from a few words describing an approach to try. Those skills should be rewarded. :) –  sarnold Feb 14 '12 at 0:39

What most people do in this situation is to comment back telling the original commenter that it worked, and asking them to post it as an answer.

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