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I'm just wondering what the rationale was for this decision. It seems kind of backwards. It seems to me that you could reduce the number of duplicate questions by allowing members to participate in open questions rather than forcing them to ask duplicate questions.

And yes, I know this is a duplicate question. Which proves my point!

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Um, what point are you proving again? :) That we "encouraged" you to ask a question instead of posting a comment that nobody will ever see kinda proves our point, doesn't it? – Robert Harvey Aug 14 '13 at 23:17

The reasoning for this is pretty simple:

  1. Stack Exchange is about getting answers to questions, not engaging in conversation. The platform is therefore weighted towards answers, not comments.

  2. Answers have better spam-control and management facilities. The spam control on comments is simply that we require 50 rep to post them. :)

  3. You can always post comments on answers that you create yourself, and on answers posted to questions that you post yourself. We don't limit that interaction at all.

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It's an initiation into the SE format. If you spend time asking and answering questions, you will see other people's comments. You will learn what is and isn't acceptable in a comment, before you have the opportunity to post one. As the comment box says:

Use comments to ask for clarification or add more information. Avoid comments like "+1" or "thanks".

In addition, comments are not for asking related questions; if you have a different question, you're supposed to ask it.

Both of these rules are integral parts of the SE format, and crucially not how forums work. Most people who are new to the SE format have forum experience, and expect SE to work like a forum. By requiring users to participate initially through only questions and answers, we give them time to get used to our idea of what is a valid question, what is a valid answer, and what is an acceptable comment. Then by the time they have contributed positively to the site and earned enough rep to comment, they will hopefully comment responsibly.

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