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Edit: The title is of course a rhetorical question, to which the answer is "no". Apparently, it's not obvious, so I have to state that :/

New users don't have enough rep to post a comment, but they are allowed to answer. This means that if a new user wants to be heard, the only avenue is to post a comment as an answer, like this well meaning post.

Can a change be made so that new users can ask, answer and post comments only to questions?

If not, the title says it all...

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Great idea, I've been burning most of my flags on 'not an answer' answers that should be comments. –  Lance Roberts Dec 26 '13 at 9:00
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"Is an answer that's a really comment better than a comment?" Of course not. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 26 '13 at 9:06
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@BoltClock'saUnicorn then why do we allow users to answer but not comment ? Unlike the title, that question was not rhetorical –  Bohemian Dec 26 '13 at 9:33
    
This just happened minutes ago. –  Amal Murali Dec 26 '13 at 13:15
    
This always bugs me to. it is a pretty crap new user experience for a user to submit some well meaning request for information as an answer (as that is the only avenue available) and then get downvoted and a load of terse remarks saying "should have been a comment". –  Martin Smith Dec 26 '13 at 13:30

3 Answers 3

Can a change be made so that new users can ask, answer and post comments only to questions?

No, because spam and other things. Comments are harder to moderate as they don't bump the post and comment moderation is invisible to the community.

If not, the title says it all...

That doesn't imply that an answer that's really a comment is better than a comment. It just means that some users, due to other circumstances, are forced to ask for clarification in a circuitous manner.

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Lets see this in another perspective, perhaps a more to-core explanation.

Stack Exchange is a Q&A site. It it's core, it's all about asking and answering questions.

The need for comments exists because, among other things, we are human beings and sometimes fail to provide all required information for a question. Even if we think we have provided all information, someone might say that there exists a similar, if not duplicate question already answered.

Comments exists to add or ask for relevant information, without adding an explicit answer.

The current limit of 50 reputation exists as a privilege. As all privileges, they are given as a result of the work an user does within the community and as such represent a certain level of trust. More so, if comments are used to ask information, they represent a certain level of commitment; the user that asks has spent an amount of interest in the question.

Besides the reasons pointed by Mr. Peanut (spam mostly), a new user is less likely to use the comments their intended way (as some users come here thinking this is some sort of forum). Also, the answers given by new users aren't generally good.

If a question needs to be commented in order for it to be solved, chances are that it isn't all that great a question in the first place (as seen, the linked question has one downvote) and, by influence, the answers given wouldn't generally be that great either.

An answer, however, is the core of the site, and as such, it is allowed for even an unregistered, near-anonymous user to post one. There is already a system to deal with non-answers that, not being perfect, it deals with this problem effectively.

There is a slight upside in this system of non-answering/deletion - the (unsolved) question gets bumped, thereby placing it on the front page, where it might raise new interest.

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I agree that new users want to comment. However they generally aren't very good at it. They don't have enough context, whether it's asking what the programming language or OS are when the tags provide that information, not realizing this is an uber-dupe, or just not realizing how the site works. I've said this before and I'll continue to say it every chance I get.

Deleting answers-that-are-really-comments is better than converting them to comments. The user needs to understand that they aren't yet familiar enough with the site, or at least haven't proven that they are. The complaint that no questions exist that can just be answered without commenting is utterly and obviously untrue. We all found some didn't we?

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Disagree. I would much rather each one was taken on its merits with bad ones deleted and good ones converted to comments. –  Martin Smith Dec 26 '13 at 18:35

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