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Users with less than 50 reputation points can not write comments on questions and answers that they don't own.

  • Why?
  • What should I do instead?
  • But I can't write a good answer without more information!

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I just checked on some sites and it seems to apply everywhere, except on meta.stackexchange.com, where you only need 1 rep to comment everywhere. – Olaf Dietsche May 8 '14 at 13:03

1 Answer 1

Why does this limit exist?

We realize that new users may have valuable comments, and that we may lose some of those contributions by requiring 50 reputation points to unlock the feature.

However, history and experience have shown that the downsides of allowing everyone to comment are far greater than a few useful comments lost:

  • There are big problems with spam. Automated filters cannot catch all of it.

  • Even among the real comments, most would either say "I have the same problem" or "I agree". Such comments do not add any value, and have to be manually removed.

  • Comments are very painful to moderate. Stack Exchange sites have a process of community moderation (voting, flagging, review queues) that works great for questions and answers, but not so much for comments. Comments cannot be downvoted or closevoted, nor searched (nor do we want that).

  • Comments are second class citizens on the Stack Exchange network, not designed to hold information for all eternity. They may get cleaned up at any time. Generally, truly important information should be incorporated into an answer of its own anyway.

Providing good answers will get you 50 rep points in no time. Alternatively, you can suggest edits that improve existing questions and answers. Each of those will gain you 2 reputation points.

But I want to contribute now. What should I do instead?

Can I put my comment in an answer?


Asking and answering, the core actions on the Stack Exchange network of sites, are open to all users regardless of reputation.

However, this is not meant as a workaround to the comments barrier. Comments posted as an answer are subject to removal.

To make requests for clarification, or mere responses to other answers, you need to wait until you have the comment privilege.

How do I write a good answer?

If you are sure you can provide a real answer, then you are of course welcome to go ahead, but make sure it's a full, valid answer to the question. If you saw something wrong with an existing answer, do mention it and its flaws, but make sure you provide an alternative solution that can stand on its own. Do not just copy and paste your original comment into the "answer" field.

But I can't write a good answer without more information!

Answers don't have to be exhaustive or infallible, they just need to try to answer the question. It's perfectly fine to post an answer saying, for example, "I'm not sure what the cause of your problem is, but if it's X, you can solve it by doing Y. If that doesn't help, try Z and let me know what it says." Also, if further information does become available, you can edit your answer later to make it more precise. This is a good habit to get into even if you can comment!

Welcome to the community, and good luck!

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I would not see a problem handling some edit-related rights earned somewhere else differently from the rest as supposed here: meta.stackoverflow.com/a/272396/1915920 – Andreas Dietrich Sep 29 '14 at 14:42
that is in a way understandable, but the current system does not work. EVERYTIME someone wants to comment on a question but cannot because ofmissing reputation, they'll answer instead. This feels like bad programming style. I don't care if it is better this way, I just demand this to be changed. I do not have a suggestion, but it is obviously an incisive issue on stack and needs to be reviewed and changed. – Blauhirn Jan 19 at 21:13
-1 risking new comments from new users is a big let down. – JonH May 15 at 19:34
@Blauhirn: " I don't care if it is better this way , I just demand this to be changed" -- I had to read that three times just to make sure I really read what I thought I read. Seriously? You don't care, at all? Even if the site is demonstrably improved by the current policy, you still disagree with it and "demand" that it be changed (as if you are in a position to make such a demand anyway). Wow. I admit, I am flabbergasted, not just by your statement, but by the three upvotes your comment got (indicating three other people with a similarly selfish and short-sighted viewpoint). – Peter Duniho May 16 at 16:36
I agree we need a minimum, but I think 50 rep is too much. At Stack Overflow, I keep flagging "not an answer" for comments by answer. This is even more frustrating when these flags get denied because there is a tiny shred of content in the "answer" (like try Z, but not the XY part). – Gert Arnold Jul 2 at 18:49
Allowing comments by all, with appropriate failsafes, gives you the benefit of more good comments from a larger community of users who feel more engaged. Granted, comments are difficult to manage: harder to spam-filter, down-vote, community moderate, etc, but instead of addressing these concerns, a 50-rep-rule was applied. But wait: comments are still difficult to manage. Problem solved? Nope. My recommendation is (1) implement measures, e.g. captcha or two-step process, that make it harder to spam comments; (2) implement down-voting and community moderation... i.e. solve the problem. – Johnny Strings Jul 24 at 17:56
@Johnny I tend to agree, but few others do... At one point I suggested e.g. this – Pëkka Jul 24 at 21:13
Could StackOverflow perhaps make it so instead of 50 rep's to comment make it 15 or 25 reps. – wolfgang1983 Nov 2 at 10:45
The last piece (try to answer) is off. You will always get down-voted for doing that. Great rule, but last reason is invalid (IMHO, of course). – Dani Springer Nov 8 at 20:27
@Dani I'd say not always - although I agree it takes a lot of finesse and is risky. – Pëkka Nov 8 at 20:32
;( (13 more to go so I'll write something!) – Dani Springer Nov 8 at 20:34

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protected by rene Nov 8 at 12:31

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