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I have been reading Stack Exchange for years - mostly not logged in, and have never posted (this is my first). I'm simply not very talkative, and very good at googleing.

Recently a few occasions have come up when I've wanted to comment on a question. I wanted either to ask for, or provide, clarification which did not warrant a new answer.

How do I gain enough reputation to comment without:

  1. asking questions which have already been answered or that I can figure out on my own, or
  2. posting my comment like as an answer (i.e. being rude)?
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By becoming active? You can suggest edits, they are worth +2 when accepted. Please do avoid trivial edits though. – Martijn Pieters Jan 17 '13 at 16:57
Suggested edits are your best bet, my friend. – Richard J. Ross III Jan 17 '13 at 16:58
Thanks for the upvotes on my question. The rep I gained from asking was a completely unexpected consequence! – bkanuka Jan 17 '13 at 17:11
@bkanuka: Unfortunately, this rep is meta-only. Though if you participate more on meta and get 200 rep, you'll automatically get +100 on all your sites :) – Manishearth Jan 19 '13 at 9:38
You can use the "trivial answers converted to comments" feature. - – user000001 Jan 24 '13 at 12:57
possible duplicate of why is my rep so low? – ProgramFOX Mar 4 '14 at 11:04
@PolyGeo: The grammar in the title was already fine. – Jamal Jul 16 '15 at 5:45
@Jamal It was fine, but while I was formatting the question, it provided an opportunity to make it more concise. – PolyGeo Jul 16 '15 at 6:47
up vote 47 down vote accepted

You have a reputation of 8 now on Stack Overflow; you need 50 to comment.

You could do that by;

  1. Correcting the grammar of either questions or answers. To do so, click the edit link by the entry. Rephrase poorly expressed needs. For many, English is not their native tongue. You need 21 more approved edits to gain the 42 more rep you need to make it to 50.

  2. Answer questions. Each time another member upvotes your answer you receive 10 rep; you'll need 5 upvotes to gain the 42 rep required.

If you get to 200 rep on any one Stack Exchange site, you automatically get an association bonus of 100 on every site, opening your ability to contribute freely on all sites.

Think about the kind of answers that you upvote and answer likewise.

Asking sensible questions that interest others is worth pursuing; your question here being a fine example.

share|improve this answer
Actually the OP has 13 rep. The MSO profile is so new that I don't think it's been updated properly... – ben is uǝq backwards Jan 17 '13 at 17:27
@benisuǝqbackwards It was 8 when I looked whilst answering, but SO claims that the +5 upvote was 30 mins ago. Hmmm. Perhaps I clicked on the rep page in the two minutes between the question being asked and the upvote, and took 14 minutes to write the answer. I went to edit the answer but I've decided it's silly to try to keep it up to date! – AndrewC Jan 17 '13 at 17:29
Thank you for the hint on association bonus, and the idea that it doesn't take much to get 50 rep (something I also learned from all the rep I got on meta from just this one post). To settle your disagreement, it was my fault. I asked one question a year ago and had forgotten - so I had rep to begin with and it went up throughout the day. – bkanuka Jan 17 '13 at 22:21

Another way would be a "Q&A" type of question.

As you noted yourself, you do have questions you already know the answer to. However, these questions may be of broad interest to other readers.

Therefore, you might post such a question and answer it yourself!

share|improve this answer
This is a good idea. Couple of caveats: 1) Stick with questions that you actually struggled with in the past, rather than ones that you think others might. 2) Search first to make sure it's not a dupe. 3) I might NOT answer right away, but instead see if others do. (You may think this hurts your rep, but it may not - it seems like self answered questions get fewer votes than similar quality questions posted without answers.) Then, if no answer is solid, answer yourself. – Jaydles Jan 17 '13 at 17:16

The web site is about content, and the reputation system is specifically made to incentivise contributions to the site. It may sound harsh but people who don't contribute content and don't edit others posts are generally not very useful to Stack Overflow (more than as readers, readers are important but do not need incentives!), so they don't get much reputation. Why should you be able to comment if you are not going to provide answers anyway? (Again, it may sound harsh, but don't take it personally). Comments in general, even clarification comments, are just noise in the end.

So, start asking or answering questions, or edit others'. Start to contribute and you will get privileges in no time. You are very much welcome to help create a great site!

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nothing taken personally. I guess I'm used to websites being hands-off. – bkanuka Jan 17 '13 at 22:22
What if you need to comment in order to ask for clarification needed to prepare an answer? – mm201 Feb 5 '15 at 1:25

You need 50 rep to comment everywhere. You can suggest useful edits like Martijn said or start by answering questions. Already one good answer could get you the necessary rep to comment.

BTW you can always comment on meta.

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