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Revisit “New users can't ask for clarifications except as answers”

I find it strange that new users are banned from offering comments on questions particularly if their entire goal from the outset is to provide answers to questions and not necessarily ask any of their own. Since SO prides itself on limiting the types of "answers" you can give, it seems the only way to get clarification on a certain question (if ambiguous) or provide a tip/pointer (but not necessarily a full-fledged answer) is through the comments system. But, unless your reputation "precedes" you, you're disallowed the "privilege."

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marked as duplicate by Kev May 14 '12 at 16:14

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.

I'm sure this is a dupe... in fact I'm positive. Just want to put in my 2 cents.. – Funktr0n May 14 '12 at 0:14
Every time someone comes to meta and complains about "snark-attacks" they never provide examples. :( Maybe I just don't hang out in the right tags to see it? – animuson May 14 '12 at 0:15
I see them all the time, just browsing from a google search in one area or another... There was one I was involved with that got deleted altogether, so I can't provide a link... – Funktr0n May 14 '12 at 0:19
The main reason for requiring some rep for comments is that comments don't bump the post (and thus don't attract attention to the post), thus spam comments would be very hard to find. And yes it's a privilege, one that's very easy to get, SO gets a mega-bazillion questions per second, go out there and answer some, you'll get 50 rep soon enough. – Yannis May 14 '12 at 0:28
I'm not here to "answer questions." I'm here to provide the small expertise that I have. I don't give a crap about points. I just want to contribute in areas where I can help. Unfortunately, the system won't allow me without some arduous run-around. – Funktr0n May 14 '12 at 0:30
Whatever guys, there's not much more I can say, and I'm not spending any more time on it. Just count it as one more drop in the bucket if you want. Or think on it, and maybe talk at a higher level. I don't know how that process works. Either way, I'm tired. Have a nice evening! :) – Funktr0n May 14 '12 at 0:33
Well if you are not here to answer questions, you can always try asking questions. If you aren't interested in that either, perhaps a Q&A site is not for you... – Yannis May 14 '12 at 0:37
@Yannis Awesome, yours is precisely the attitude to which I'm referring. Where does that even come from? – Funktr0n May 14 '12 at 0:40
Funktron, I've removed a portion of your question that's not helpful. You may roll back my change if you wish, but I strongly encourage you to keep discussions here constructive. – Michael Petrotta May 14 '12 at 0:43
@MichaelPetrotta Hey, if you know how business is done here, I'll let you drive. I was just trying to vocalize the reasoning for the question... and my experience in general. – Funktr0n May 14 '12 at 0:47
@Funktron, you seem more level-headed than most people who come here to question the way the system works, which I appreciate. It's why I'm responding to you instead of dismissing you as a crank. That said, why are you just immediately pooh-poohing Yannis's position? It'd be one thing if you explained why you didn't like what he said, but -- and my apologies if I'm misreading -- it sounds like you're presupposing that he's not worth discussing the issue with. – Pops May 14 '12 at 1:04
@PopularDemand I dismissed his proposal that a Q/A site may not be for me because I thought I had made it clear that my intent was not simply to play the "question answering game" and rack up points. My real intent is to read questions as I browse and offer help where I can. Oftentimes, that means leaving a comment, and I'm unable to do it. My main gripe is that I HAVE tried to play by the rules (…) and earn points but despite the investment, I'm stymied. – Funktr0n May 14 '12 at 1:11
@PopularDemand My referenced link has received numerous upvotes since starting this discussion, but beforehand, was unrecognized. Anyway, it's not that that particular effort wasn't cared for (seriously, that's fine, and is entirely expected to some degree), it's that I want to continue to contribute and I'm always left frustrated with a handicapped ability to participate, even though it should be clear by now that I'm not a spammer. – Funktr0n May 14 '12 at 1:15
Something you should keep in mind is that reputation is not the ultimate reason Stack Overflow exists (that'd be a pretty shallow reason). The founders of SO wanted to increase the amount of good information out there. Reputation is one tool to do that. In this case, the site (to be anthropomorphic) wants to see that you know what kinds of commentary is appropriate. The way is does that is by forcing you to contribute enough actual questions and answers that you get some upvotes. Nothing personal - just the model this site's chosen. – Michael Petrotta May 14 '12 at 1:16
I don't know jack about AWS, so I can't say much about your answer, but it looks pretty comprehensive and well-thought-out, which I can't say about as many answers as I would like. You seem like you'd be a valuable contributor to the site if you decide to stay, and for what it's worth, I hope you do. – Pops May 14 '12 at 1:23

I find it strange that new users are banned from offering comments on questions particularly if their entire goal from the outset is to provide answers to questions and not necessarily ask any of their own.

Comment everywhere might easily be the most coveted privilege on Stack Overflow. Without it, you really cannot fully participate. I do get that.

But I'll say to you what I said to everyone else that opened a or about this:

Without some kind of threshold that prevents new user accounts from commenting on all questions, anybody in control of a botnet could flood Stack Overflow with literally millions of comments.

It doesn't matter how insightful your comments would be or how much the current situation sucks for you, it just can't make up for the fact that Stack Overflow would drown in spam, just as so many other sites already have.

Add to this that it's really easy to gain 50 rep:

  • +5 rep for an upvote on a question of yours.
  • +2 for accepting an answer.
  • +10 rep for an upvote on an answer of yours.
  • +15 rep for getting an answer of yours accepted.
  • +2 for getting a suggested edit approved.
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Well, to be fair, the same could be said of answers and (to a lesser degree, given their greater visibility) questions. The same last-resort protections apply: rate limiting. I would be surprised if comments are not rate-limited today. – Michael Petrotta May 14 '12 at 0:52
I get the spam thing. Trust me, I think everyone coming from a programming standpoint understands the technical risks/requirements. There's got to be a better implementation out there though. I mean... I provided this solution to a question (…) solely for the prospect of "earning points." But, (up until just now) that effort was entirely unrewarded. And that's fine. It just seems terribly difficult to achieve a basic need here. – Funktr0n May 14 '12 at 0:53
@MichaelPetrotta The difference being that answers bump the post, appear in /review and can be down voted, on smaller sites we catch spammers in seconds. It's not just the rate limit. – Yannis May 14 '12 at 0:57
@MichaelPetrotta: Plus, answers have CAPTCHAs. Of course, I don't know how the algorithms work, but I can imagine CAPTCHAs for every post while Stack Overflow is under attack. – Dennis May 14 '12 at 1:15
@Yannis: I can see the point of that on smaller sites. On SO, I see /review and wince. – Michael Petrotta May 14 '12 at 1:18
@Funktron: The by far easiest way to earn a little amount of rep are suggested edits. The question you answered is among the less popular tags [amazon-web-services] and it was already old when you answered it. Add to this that the question itself is a little localized (like all support questions). Your answer looks good to me, but the question itself isn't necessarily a rep magnet... – Dennis May 14 '12 at 1:24

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