On Drupal Answers, there are many 1-reputation users with an unregistered account who write a comment, or a different question as answer. The fact they don't see an "add comment" link, and they see a text area where they can start to write, doesn't probably help.

I understand that not showing immediately a text area where to write an answer could probably be a wall for new users (although I think it would be clear what the purpose of an "Add your answer" button is), and I am not going to suggest that. I think that showing an "add comment" link that shows a dialog box explaining why the user cannot add a comment, and that comments written as answers are going to be deleted could probably help.

The link could also be disabled, and show a tooltip explaining to the users why it is disabled. That is what is done on meta sites when users cannot edit (or suggest edits for) posts written by other users:

screenshot

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I've been thinking the same thing for a while. I agree with the 50 rep limit, but: 1. It could reduce unnecessary answers from new users who are simply looking to add a comment. 2. It could better introduce the commenting system to new users right away. SO doesn't hide the up-vote button because it tries to show new users an important site feature from the beginning. 3. It could reduce confusion by new users who don't see the button, and prevent them from asking questions on meta like this one. –  Dan Maguire Sep 25 '12 at 17:32
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4 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

We now show "add comment" to all users, regardless of whether you have the rep to comment. Details:

  • If you are logged in and do not have enough reputation to comment, you will get a standardly-styled blue error message telling you so.

  • If you are not logged in and try to add a comment, you'll get a pop-up telling you that commenting requires both registration and 50 rep, with a little widget to sign up right there if you want. (This is roughly the same pop-up we use when anonymous users try to vote on a post.)

Cannot comment until 50 rep

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@RichardTingle I'm assuming that Shadow Wizard (who added the screenshots) grabbed the second one from here on MSO, where commenting is enabled at 1 rep. Generally, yes, it should and does say 50 rep. –  Laura Jan 13 at 15:52
    
@Richard yep, Laura is correct... no idea how I missed that! –  Shadow Wizard Jan 13 at 15:59
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You want to know who agrees with this style of user interface? Joel Freakin Spolsky, that's who. And now that Atwood is gone, who is going to stop him? Not you, my friend.

Plus, the up vote button is already visible even though it can't be used by 1 rep users. I imagine most users who really want to comment will figure out why they shouldn't if this suggestion is followed, and there isn't much downside (per Mr. Spolsky), so, great idea.

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I don't entirely agree with that blog post, but for something like this it seems pretty clear that the add comment link, disabled or otherwise, should appear so the user knows it's a possibility. Hiding should only be done when a user is, with 99% certainty, never going to have permission to use an interface element –  Ben Brocka Feb 20 '13 at 20:47
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It would help to have a "Why can't I comment?" textlink in the spot where the "Add comment" link will be later on. Clicking the link could take the person to the text where things are explained.

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I have seen "answers" where the user states they do not have enough rep to comment, and they proceed to leave a comment as an answer.

This suggestion might help with some cases - but there are some new users that are fully aware of the comment system that just really want to add their input.

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