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Acknowledgement: I'll start by acknowledging that I understand why new users are not allowed to post comments. The fear is that comments will be used for spamming purposes.

Observation: What I see is new users posting bad answers that are either mostly comments or outright comments in the place of answers.

Apparently new user's ability to contribute is hindered by the limitation on commenting. I can understand this. I use comments incessantly to understand the OP's issues before crafting an answer.

Questions:

  • Are "bad comments" more of a problem than "bad answers"?

1) Are answers easier to track and review?

2) Would adding comment review for sub 50 users be too tedious?

  • Are the added problems with new users mis-using the Answer system less of a problem than potential abuse of comments?

1) could comments be flagged?

2) Do other people worry about chasing away new users -- voices want to be heard and are simply deleted as non-answers?


I don't mean this to be a feature thread because I know there has been serious debate on this subject inside Stack-Central and outside.

I'm a fairly junior SO users and am sure there are more concerns I'm not aware of. This is meant as a purely informational thread.

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The flag queue holds between 160 and 300 flags most of the time. I would wager that is dwarfed by the amount of comments from < 50 rep users. Look at the statistics: there are 2.2 million < 200 rep users. –  Jeroen Vannevel Dec 2 '13 at 3:10
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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Are "bad comments" more of a problem than "bad answers"?

Depends. What could be defined as a "bad comment" could easily be flagged as spam; what could be defined as a "bad answer" can be downvoted. Are either worse than the other? That's tough to say, although I would admit that an incorrect or misleading answer has the potential to do more damage than an offensive comment. But, it could go both ways.

1) Are answers easier to track and review?

By and large. Comments are second-class citizens - they're secondary to the way Stack Exchange handles Q&A.

2) Would adding comment review for sub 50 users be too tedious?

I personally think so. The barrier to entry is surprisingly low (a few accepted answers); why add more strain on the review process?

Are the added problems with new users mis-using the Answer system less of a problem than potential abuse of comments?

I don't see this as a problem per se. Those with the 10K tools can see these questions as they come in to the flag queue. If a non-10K user stumbles upon one of these questions posing as comments, I would strongly encourage them to flag as "not an answer".

1) could comments be flagged?

They can be and they should be, if they're deemed to be inappropriate. Hover over a comment, click on the flag, and see what options are available. Look at the Help Center for a bit more information about it.

2) Do other people worry about chasing away new users -- voices want to be heard and are simply deleted as non-answers?

It is a concern...but I don't see the barrier of 50 reputation as scaring off new users. If the user wishes to contribute to the community, then they should do so in the way the community deems appropriate - and if that means they need more reputation, then they need to earn it.

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I understand your points. Very well put. I still get discouraged because I see many people try to contribute and be unable. Still I understand and appreciate every explanation. –  Dave A Dec 2 '13 at 3:13
    
"[A] few accepted answers" is no "surprisingly low" barrier. It is a very hard thing to get, specially now that almost all relatively easy questions are answered. Also, new users are doomed: experienced users know how the site works and will post acceptable answers before the newbies. And, as one can imagine, I find this threshold useless and harmful. I'd rather have all answers I've voted to delete posted as the useful comments they would be. –  brandizzi Feb 7 at 17:45
    
@brandizzi: An accepted answer is 15 reputation. You get 4 of those and you have 61 reputation (as a new user). The tendency is also that there are upvotes associated with an accept, so you'd likely need 2 or 3 answers accepted to reach > 50 reputation. –  Makoto Feb 7 at 17:49
    
@Makoto yes, that's true. However, how many answers one has to post to get four accepted? How many would one have to post taking into account the competition of experienced, well-trained users? This is not trivial - actually, this is hard and time-consuming. Meanwhile, the useful comment is lost, or we have to delete well-intentioned and useful comments posted as answers. I don't think this is a good scenario. –  brandizzi Feb 7 at 17:56
    
I strongly maintain that a user can contribute positively to the site through answering questions, and that a well-answered question can be accepted. Think about it - I didn't start with all of this reputation or expertise; I answered questions and learned a lot about programming and development. In that timeframe, the community also saw my contributions, and saw fit to upvote and accept them. I really don't see the newbies being afraid to contribute in a positive light. –  Makoto Feb 7 at 18:09
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