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Sometimes newer users without the privilege of commenting everywhere think that the answer form acts like a forum post form. Perhaps if the form was hidden until they pressed the answer button, it would decrease the amount of confusion?

The user would have to read the button's label and see that it says 'Answer This Question' or similar, before they start writing their comment. This might, at least, decrease the frequency of this occurring.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

When a new user visits the site, and clicks into the "Your Answer" box, they are greeted with this:

enter image description here

Once they type in their answer, and click the "Post Your Answer" button, they are greeted with this:

How to Answer


Welcome to Stack Overflow!

Thanks for taking the time to contribute an answer. It’s because of helpful peers like yourself that we’re able to learn together as a community. Here are a few tips on how to make your answer great:

Pay it forward

Saying “thanks” is appreciated, but it doesn’t answer the question. Instead, vote up the answers that helped you the most! If these answers were helpful to you, please consider saying thank you in a more constructive way – by contributing your own answers to questions your peers have asked on Stack Overflow.

Have the same problem?

Still no answer to the question, and you have the same problem? Help us find a solution by researching the problem, then contribute the results of your research and anything additional you’ve tried as a partial answer. That way, even if we can’t figure it out, the next person has more to go on. It’s also possible to gain a bit of reputation with your answers and vote up the question so it gets more attention, or you could set a bounty on the question.

Answer the question

Read the question carefully. What, specifically, is the question asking for? Make sure your answer provides that – or a viable alternative. The answer can be “don’t do that”, but it should also include “try this instead”. Any answer that gets the asker going in the right direction is helpful, but do try to mention any limitations, assumptions or simplifications in your answer. Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better.

Provide context for links

A link to a potential solution is always welcome, but please add context around the link so your fellow users will have some idea what it is and why it’s there . Always quote the most relevant part of an important link, in case the target site is unreachable or goes permanently offline.

Writing style matters

Nobody’s perfect — but answers with correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar are easier to read. They also tend to get upvoted more frequently. Remember, you can always go back and edit your answer to improve it at any time.

Always be polite and have fun

It’s fine to disagree and express concern, but please be civil. There’s a real human being on the other end of that network connection, however misguided they may appear to be. We’re here to learn from our peers, not yell at each other.

[Thanks, I'd like to improve my answer] [post answer as-is]

If they get through all that, they still have to get through the "Low Quality" filters. In short, people already have to work very hard to do it the wrong way nowadays.

Worth noting: This verbiage is vastly improved over the wording I saw last time I checked this.

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3  
I had totally forgotten about all of this, but this is great JIT help. And it doesn't annoy users who know better. I must also note I would certainly not forget one extra click every single time I answer. –  Ben Brocka Jun 16 '12 at 2:04
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Ah, I had forgotten as well. Well I guess there wouldn't be much use in changing anything now. I suppose it's status-declined –  annonymously Jun 16 '12 at 2:08

I'd rather we didn't; this would significantly slow down all those of us who use the site properly. The field's already noted "Your Answer" and the button reads "Post Your Answer", seems like enough signposting to me, while leaving the editor nice and accessable for the majority of answers.

The simple fact of the matter is that the majority of answers are answers and don't need to be deleted/converted/whatever. If instead the answer box was being seriously and constantly abused I could see this being useful. Adding extra clicks to everyone to stop a problem that happens maybe 1% of the time is quite extreme.

Leaving the form as a form makes it immediately clear, just by scanning (rather than reading a button) that I can make a post right here. In addition to the one click less per answer, I think that's plenty of reason to keep the system as is.

Note we already hide the form in certain situations like Protected posts if you can't answer, or your own questions; the latter occurs precisely to minimize this problem.

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2  
Perhaps, it could be limited to users who can't comment everywhere? –  annonymously Jun 16 '12 at 1:33
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I think saying it would "significantly" slow down everyone else is laying it on a bit thick. To be clear -- it would be "slowing everyone down" exactly as much as having to click "Add Comment" is slowing us all down from commenting, and most of us comment with greater frequency than answering. –  Kirk Woll Jun 16 '12 at 1:52
    
@KirkWoll this site is optimized for asking/answering questions, not adding comments; we are slowed down for adding comments, especially when there's already multiple comments, when the Add Comment button is hidden. –  Ben Brocka Jun 16 '12 at 1:55
    
@Ben, if it's slowing you down, I somehow suspect you need to get more involved in gaming. (just kidding! :) ) –  Kirk Woll Jun 16 '12 at 2:09

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