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Way to convert an answer to a comment?

It would be nice to have an action, link, button, whatever to turn an answer into a comment. More or less like flagging, when an answer receives enough votes that it is actually a comment it becomes a comment.

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marked as duplicate by Jeff Atwood Jan 3 '12 at 8:51

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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turning comments into answers, answers into comments.. what's next, lead into gold? –  Jeff Atwood Jul 6 '09 at 14:06
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I'll give it a shot, Jeff. I'm just about to finish my perpetual-motion machine. –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 6 '09 at 14:37
    
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria! –  JohnFx Mar 2 '10 at 16:49
    
@Jeff, don't forget turning gold back into lead, now. –  Pops Sep 23 '10 at 20:36
    
In case anybody cares why I asked for this; StackOverflow was a mess of people writing comments as answers because there's was no commenting system. There are still a lot of answer that only contain "What do you mean by blah blah?", there are even some discussions that are all mixed up as answers. I wanted to tie it up, but thankfully this wasn't implemented and I did more productive things. –  J. Pablo Fernández Sep 27 '10 at 17:34

5 Answers 5

Moderators can now convert answers to comments.

If you notice an answer that should be a commment please flag it.

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If a user posts a comment as an answer, flag it for moderator attention, or downvote it. Or both.

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This is a very bad idea, because it is often very subjective as to what is a comment or an answer. And what would happen to the votes (up or down) would they be refunded? If not, then you're saying that the people who downvoted can never get their rep back.

Also, a user may have put quite a bit of thought into their answer which you think is a comment.

Edit in response to comment

Marking something inappropriate is less subjective, because you are offended by it. It not a contextual thing, it's something visceral. When you are marking something as offensive, you are saying you want it expunged from the site, which is a pretty big deal, although necessary at times.

Yes, it is also subjective as to whether or not something is the 'right' answer, especially when two things both helped you out. In those cases, all you can do is upvote them, and mark the one which is most helpful to you, again it is okay that it is subjective, because it was asked by a single person, and the selection of the 'most helpful answer to me' should also be made by me.

However, marking something as a comment immediately precludes them from receiving any votes, it also has the potential to steal votes away from them. And, as I mentioned previously, some answers ARE comments. For instance:

Question:"How can I best expose my website to hackers? I really want to, because of XYZ" (not a real question)

Answer: "XSS can be exposed to by this method"

Answer: "Exposing your site to hackers can have no benefit, it will be a danger to your hardware, software, and all your clients, and any benefits will be BY FAR outweighed by the destruction that would be wrought."

I'd say it is obvious that the second answer would be correct (in this very contrived question), even though strictly speaking it is a comment on the question. The second person sought to go to the heart of the question, which means that rather than answering, they were clarifying and commenting. This means that the second answer should be moved as a comment, even though we can easily recognize that it is more correct than any 'answer' could be.

Second, if you'll grant that there are situations where a 'comment' can live on as an answer, it means that you are creating a gradation of 'good comment answers' which can stay and 'bad comment answers' which must go. And generally, the measure is going to be whether or not they are useful. If they aren't useful, they should not be posted at all, they should be downvoted, and a comment should be added to say 'this is not helpful, nor an answer'.

In any case, moving the answers away will be troubling and frustrating to the person who posted what they thought was an answer. Furthermore, you are taking away the ability of the community to up/down vote them, which is the entire purpose of the up/down vote buttons, it is to encourage and discourage certain bvehaviours. When you move it to a comment, we can no longer do that.

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That's why it'll need 5 people flagging it as comment. Marking something as inappropriate is also subjective. Picking a best answer can also be subjective. –  J. Pablo Fernández Jul 6 '09 at 9:11

Something tells me this would be difficult to implement. First, what does it become a comment of, the question? Second, how do you resolve any potential formatting, code blocks, etc. Third, what if it's bigger than 600 characters?

Even if you pick answers to those questions, they're going to be arbitrary. I just don't think this provides any improvement over the current system of commenting on the question, downvoting, and if necessary, flagging for a moderator. In fact, I'd argue that it's substantially worse than the current system.

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It turns into a comment in the question of course. If the answer is big or has code it cannot be converted into a comment. That's fine. The goal of the feature is to fix the hundreds of answers out there that are really comments added before we had a commenting system or by people that haven't figure out how to use it yet. They are generally short and very rarely have any code. –  J. Pablo Fernández Jul 6 '09 at 9:09

It would turn into a comment to the question then? And I don't understand your last sentence, sorry.

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Yes, it turns into a comment in the question. The last sentence says that when five people mark a question as actually being a comment, it becomes a comment, like flagging for moderation. –  J. Pablo Fernández Jul 6 '09 at 9:10
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-1: Should be a comment, not an answer –  Casebash May 10 '10 at 0:15
    
this is so meta. –  Justin L. Jun 28 '10 at 22:24

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