Like many SO users, I check the unanswered queue periodically to find ... well, questions that need answers. However, roughly a tenth of the "unanswered" questions I view aren't unanswered at all: they have an answer, but it's in the comments. These questions sit perpetually in the unanswered queue because no one wants to answer an already-answered question (and you kinda look like a jerk if you steal the answer someone else posted as a comment and put it in answer form).
Now the real solution here would be to let lower-power users just convert these comments in to answers. The unanswered queue would clear so much faster, and there would be rejoicing through the land. But apparently (judging by related questions) that idea is hated here.
However, a similar compromise was reached in the other direction, with converting answers to comments, by making it a diamond-only activity. Why not make that an option for these cases?
Then, given that only "diamond" moderators would be able to convert comments, shouldn't there be some way in the site for non-diamond users to do something to get these "already answered unanswered questions" out of the queue? If you magically know (or came here and read that) diamond mods can do the conversion, then you might flag the question and put a custom message in requesting a conversion.
But if you don't know that you're out of luck. So what I'm thinking is, why not add another "flagging option":
- it needs ♦ moderator attention
- very low quality
- answered in comments
- it doesn't belong here, or it is a duplicate
- it is spam
- it is not welcome in our community
This way any user could solve the "answered unanswered question" problem, or at least contribute to the solution, and the site would naturally guide them towards that (when appropriate).
Alternatively, converting comments to answers could be handled more flagging to close. In other words, leave diamond users out of the process entirely, just add the new flagging option, and then if X people flag a comment as an answer it gets converted?