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When I have something to add or request to a question, currently my only option is to answer it.

Is the reasoning that I should not contribute because the user will probably not want my help as I have no reputation and therefore only post garbage?

These restrictions on where I can comment I see as simply only detrimental because I cannot understand where the gain is in this.

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… so why not find a question where you don't need to request for additional details? The reasoning for all that is that new users might abuse comments and should get 50 reputation on the network to learn how things work around here first. –  slhck May 7 '12 at 15:10
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See also: Lower the amount of reputation needed to comment –  slhck May 7 '12 at 15:13
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To add to @slhck's comment this is also why the association bonus is 100. Once you've earned 200 on any site you've essentially earned the right to comment/chat/CW edit on all the sites –  Some Helpful Commenter May 7 '12 at 15:23
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How can I contribute when reputation is required? Uh, like everybody else has and does? –  Won't May 7 '12 at 15:37
    
I feel you misunderstood me, I meant to ask how I can contribute to a specific question that I want to work on helping out. I cannot ask another or answer or comment so I cannot help. I know I can post elsewhere to gain reputation. I just wanted to know why I can't comment, and now I do. –  Ostmeistro May 8 '12 at 9:05
    
It takes maybe 2 or 3 good answers to have enough rep to comment. A whole 5 answers if they're just mediocre. This really isn't that high of a barrier. –  Cody Gray May 8 '12 at 12:41
    
Once again, what I asked was not meant to sound like how to get reputation... @TheEstablishment –  Ostmeistro May 8 '12 at 14:18
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possible duplicate of New users can't ask for clarifications except as answers –  Cody Gray May 8 '12 at 22:37
    
Ah yes sorry, I didn't find that. Clarification is what I meant, thanks :) –  Ostmeistro May 9 '12 at 6:39

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

These restrictions on where I can comment I see as simply only detrimental because I cannot understand where the gain is in this.

One of the reasons for those restrictions is that, differently, comments could be used from spammers. This is because:

  • Comments don't bump a question on front page.
  • The only users who gets notified about a comment without a @-reference are the authors of the posts.

As consequence of this, if commenting would be allowed also from users with a reputation of 1, spammers could add spam comments that would be difficult to detect; it would be enough they comment on an old question, for which the author who asked it is not anymore active, or doesn't participate frequently on the site.

The other (probably more important) reason is that, on Stack Exchange sites, the more important part are questions, and answers; comments are second class citizens (or third class citizens). The more important way to contribute is answering questions. That is also the reason why there are very few badges associated to comments, compared to the badges associated with posts.

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You should start contributing by asking good questions and leaving good answers, as explained in the FAQ. Once you gain enough reputation through your own posts (or by suggesting quality edits to other people's posts) you'll unlock the ability to leave comments.

The gain in having a restriction on commenting is that we don't get spammers and new users (who don't yet know how the site works) leaving a lot of unnecessary comments.

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I was actually not asking how I could contribute overall, just how I could contribute to a specific question when I am working on it, I cannot make a new question or answer, and cannot comment. I have to work separated from the question asker. But the answer is to stop spam so that is what I accepted. –  Ostmeistro May 8 '12 at 7:22

Is the reasoning that I should not contribute because the user will probably not want my help as I have no reputation and therefore only post garbage?

Questions and answers are easy to keep track of. Every new question and every question that receives a new answer are bumped to the front page and, therefore, can be seen by the entire community.

Also, you can downvote an answer (not possible for comments), and every deleted answer and downvote contribute to per-IP stats that will ultimately block a user from posting new answers if he abuses that privilege.

The only restriction for comments is the 50 rep threshold, which isn't much. 5 upvotes on answers (one single answer, if it's that good), and you're done.

Without it, Stack Overflow would be flooded by spam.

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On SO, if you FGITW jQuery, the answer need not be "good" ;-) –  Manishearth May 7 '12 at 16:21
    
@Manishearth: Unless your answer uses some JavaScript code that doesn't start with a $ (shudder). –  Dennis May 7 '12 at 16:22

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