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I'm relatively new to SE sites and something has been pestering me a bit lately.

A lot of the time I want to give helpful suggestions, or at least some extra direction to questions even though I don't know the end-game solution. Usually I would do this in a comment (which I think it is the correct etiquette) but now and again I want to suggest something that is longer than the 600 allowed characters, especially if I am adding a small section of code. However if I add my suggestion as an answer I sometimes get pelted with 'This isn't an answer' or 'This should be a comment' etc and even sometimes it will get down-voted and I think other visitors will ignore it. Obviously I try to be as succinct as possible but doesn't always happen and the only way to add your suggestion is in an answer box.

Is there some etiquette that I am missing? Or would it be possible to have a 'suggestion' tag or something similar to let other users know that you aren't trying to give an answer but just add additional direction in hopes of driving towards a solution?

Also sorry if this is a duplicate; I tried searching for this earlier but couldn't find anything.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You are not limited to one comment. Nothing stops you from continuing your on a second comment.

Though, if you are reaching the limit of the comment box, perhaps you need to rethink you phrasing - comments shouldn't be that long, or at least comments that are that long should very much be the exception, not the rule.

For example, see how Jon Skeet started a really long comment and continued it in a second comment.

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I guess what I mean is that I think contributions aren't always separable into the comment/answer dichotomy. I am asking if people would find it beneficial to have a third option. And sometimes a suggested code section can be a lot longer than 600 characters. – tmwoods Mar 2 '13 at 21:13
@tmwoods - Such as? We already have problems with a simple system - adding another option will only confuse matters further for little benefit. – Oded Mar 2 '13 at 21:14
Such as exactly what I described in the question. And I'm not sure that many problems exist, or at least I'd like to think people could figure it out. We are a relatively bright bunch of humans. – tmwoods Mar 2 '13 at 21:15
@tmwoods - You are not taking into account the vast number of people who don't bother trying to figure it out. Or the rest of the non programming sites. And I can assure you that there are plenty of bright people who don't seem to understand the distinction we have here already. – Oded Mar 2 '13 at 21:16
So what about adding a feature that is relatively low-key, like a tag, or else the option for users with suitable reputation (i.e. users who do bother) so they can extend the length of their comments? – tmwoods Mar 2 '13 at 21:18
@tmwoods - Technically possible, but I would say this adds complexity for something rare and that already has a good workaround. – Oded Mar 2 '13 at 21:19
I guess I feel like the cost-benefit trade-off makes it worth it. I would imagine it is literally one conditional statement in code that changes the character limit of a comment. To me it is an incredibly low-effort change for a potentially very useful (admittedly subtle) feature. – tmwoods Mar 2 '13 at 21:21
@tmwoods - Changes to the DB schema? And how the queries work? And search? I can go on ;) – Oded Mar 2 '13 at 21:23
I still feel like the actual effort required is minimal, but I can see you're not going to budge on this so I will drop it. Thanks for hashing it out with me though :) – tmwoods Mar 2 '13 at 21:24
Also do I mark this question as correct or should I delete it? I'm not sure how much it will add to the site. – tmwoods Mar 2 '13 at 21:47
Leave it. Give it a few days - this is still a discussion and others may want to provide other answers. Give the community some time to speak. – Oded Mar 2 '13 at 21:53

The neatest thing to do is probably to take the question as inspiration for a blog post. Say you can't exactly answer it, but you want to write up a list of psychic debugging tips. Or perhaps you spot a security flaw or a horrible style error in the OP's code, and you want to talk to that even though you can't fix their particular complaint.

So write a blog post inspired by the question, and then add a comment to the question saying "a security issue in this code inspired a blog post of mine" (or whatever) and link to it.

All the space you want. All the formatting you want.

You don't have a blog? There are tons of free blog hosting sites, so start one. It has plenty of other advantages.

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+1; So why isn't there a "Stack Blog" site (with tongue firmly in cheek)? – BellevueBob Mar 2 '13 at 23:05

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