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It seems that more and more comments are becoming the place to put answers in. Since you cannot mark a comment as a correct answer you are losing that valuable flag.

Also since new users cannot add comments they are the only ones actually leaving answers.

However since comments are not counted in the answer count, you can have very valuable information in the comments for some answers and it will show up as 0 answers, while for a different question where a new user (perhaps not as expert as the regulars) leaves an answer and that question gets shown as having many answers.

Clarification:

My basic point is not that it is inappropriate to leave comments - rather that since newbies have to wait until they get 50 Rep before they can comment , they need to leave answers - however they are newbies and they are perhaps not as knowledgeable as the regulars who leave comments.

What I am thinking is to let the newbies leave comments so that they don't have to leave questionable answers and skew the numbers around

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closed as not constructive by Martijn Pieters, Al E., razlebe, Toon Krijthe, Jim Aug 15 '12 at 16:38

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I usually do that, since I'm lazy to write a complete answer. –  nhahtdh Aug 14 '12 at 16:24
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What evidence do you have that this is true? You only registered 2 days ago on SO; have you been lurking for long enough to know this? –  Nicol Bolas Aug 14 '12 at 16:29
    
Thats what i am trying to get at: I just joined and all I can do is add answers - arguably i am not as knowlegable as most of the regualars out there - yet my contribution has to somehow be more weighted then what others can add –  WantToBeAnonomous Aug 14 '12 at 16:33
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Well, whatever you do, don't hesitate to answer. If you can add a substantial answer, don't be put off by others not doing so or leaving their "answers" as comments. I hope you're not holding back because of "what might happen" if you do leave an answer. (Nothing will happen. Your answer will be evaluated. That's it. ) –  Bart Aug 14 '12 at 16:39

4 Answers 4

up vote 18 down vote accepted

I will do this sometimes if I know the answer and it's so small, simple or trivial that it would just be a one-line answer, and I'm not in the mood or don't have time to try to expand on it. I don't need the rep for every little thing, but I do like to help people anyway. Let somebody else put in the effort to develop a good answer and get the rep points.

Every so often someone posts a feature request here on Meta designed to let the newbies have a chance at answering questions -- that's basically what I'm doing, I guess.

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The last paragraph. I do that often. –  R. Martinho Fernandes Aug 14 '12 at 16:23
    
Yep, I'm the same way--for a one-liner answer I might answer, or I might comment (especially if I'm on a mobile device). Someone usually turns it into an answer anyway. –  Dave Newton Aug 14 '12 at 17:11

Even though a comment might contain information which in theory might (help) answer the question, keep in mind that comments are hardly ever good answers.

I personally resort to comments when I have a "hint" for the OP. Or when I have an answer which I think is correct, but am not sure. Or even when I know the answer, but have no time to make it a real answer. I might turn those into a real answer later, but that does not always happen.

But if you think you can take the information contained within one or more comments and make it into a constructive, valuable answer, then by all means go ahead.

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+1 for that last part! –  Ernest Friedman-Hill Aug 14 '12 at 16:19
    
Thanks for making that last part clear. I have come across a few "unanswered" questions that had all(?) the answers posted via comments. I thought it would be poor etiquette to create an answer based on other people's comments. –  KevinM Oct 24 '12 at 13:24
    
@KevinM You're welcome. It's really no problem. If you do feel bad about it, you could make your answer community wiki if possible, so you don't get any rep out of it. But given that you will have to put in some effort to turn it into a good answer, I would not find gaining rep all that inappropriate to be honest. –  Bart Oct 24 '12 at 14:23

Answers have to follow a higher standard than comments. If a question has been asked in such a way that it can only be partially answered or the OP pointed in the right direction, I'll leave a comment every time, not an answer.

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But it turns out that answers are not of a higher standard then comments because the new guys can only leave answers not comments , therefore answers are diluted, and the experts leave comments –  WantToBeAnonomous Aug 14 '12 at 16:47
    
@WantToBeAnonomous Poor quality answers left as answers tend to be downvoted, or potentially even deleted, when they don't meet the standards of an answer. For a comment, they can't be downvoted and they need to be somewhat poor to be deleted. –  Servy Aug 14 '12 at 17:27

I've been noticing this myself. It's not just a matter of letting someone else have the rep. Answering in comments breaks voting, accepting, editing, the unanswered question list, and so on.

It also seems very rare in my experience for someone to come along and repost a comment as an answer. If it gets you rep it seems shady, and if it doesn't it seems pointless. This is doubly true if the asker has already indicated in the comments that the comment solved their problem.

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Re-posting the comment-as-answer as a community wiki answer (if it really is good enough to be an answer) solves some of those problems. –  Servy Aug 14 '12 at 17:28

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