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This is a public request to all Meta Stack Exchange users. There's a certain behaviour pattern that's... not great, but common, and this is basically a request to do this differently. More specifically: it's a request to use the system as it should be used, and as it's used by every other site on the network.

It's this: People will completely and substantially answer a question to total satisfaction. Except, they'll do it in comments. That leaves the question answered, but not marked as having any answers or the possibility of one being accepted, left to be bumped by the Community for having 0 answers. It also means we can't use an important half of the voting mechanism to rate your answer, and we can't edit it to improve it. Until someone comes along to repeat basically what you wrote as an answer, which it should've been to begin with.

I don't know exactly what leads people to do this, though Why do some people answer in comments? leads to some insights. Answering a question is not what comments are for, even on a meta site. They're not used this way anywhere else on the network either, and whilst Meta is special, it isn't special in this way. Imagine if 10% of questions on your SE site of choice were answered in comments and that was the end of it, until someone felt like repeating that answer in an actual answer: that would be bad, and it's no better if it happens here.

So please: If you're answering the question, answer it in an answer, not in a comment.

Thanks for reading.

share|improve this question
I usually post a comment instead of an answer when I think the question is a duplicate and I'm too lazy to find it. Likewise, I posted this comment for the same reason. I'm pretty sure it's a duplicate, but I'm too lazy to find it. –  Mysticial Apr 29 at 7:20
So what? If it's an answer, answer the question with an answer. –  doppelgreener Apr 29 at 7:20
Nah, if it's a known duplicate, go find the duplicate. And if I don't have time for it immediately, I'll leave it as a comment and try to come back to it. –  Bart Apr 29 at 7:21
You know that even if a question's a suspected duplicate, you can still answer it, right? –  doppelgreener Apr 29 at 7:21
Sure, I just won't. And even if it's not a duplicate, I often have first thoughts that might well become an answer at some point, but where I don't feel it deserves to be an answer just yet. In which case I might leave a comment which to some might be an acceptable answer. –  Bart Apr 29 at 7:22
If you're sort-of answering the question, just post it as an answer. Often your pseudo-answer is a pretty decent answer, and you can return to it later to improve it: that's how it works virtually everywhere else (except on sites like SO where comments are beyond anyone's capacity to police effectively). If it's the final answer everyone takes and accepts, you're removing our ability to enact any of the site's basic features with your answer, including downvoting it or editing it to correct it - unless we redo what you should have done to begin with. It's a practice that poorly impacts others. –  doppelgreener Apr 29 at 7:25
Well, nope. I'll decide when I find a thought of sufficient quality to post it as an answer. You however are entirely free to make it one based on my thoughts in the comments. I won't hold it against you if you do. If you don't, you're just going to have to wait. –  Bart Apr 29 at 7:27
Ok, I can see where this could be getting off on the wrong foot in part: I'm not requesting people make answers they wouldn't otherwise, so go ahead and don't answer questions or dupes if you'd rather not. But what I'm talking about is cases where someone completely and fully answers a question to total satisfaction, but as a comment, and an actual answer need be no more substantial than what they wrote. If you do not wish to do that and would rather use comments anyway, I can't stop you - I'll just hope this request prompts others doing this to behave differently. –  doppelgreener Apr 29 at 7:38
Another reason: While some nice guy is drafting his/her answer, someone comes and answers in comment before an actual answer is posted. So people are generally tend to upvote comment rather than his/her answer(who were drafting) because the commentator answered first! And even when the commentator converts his/her comment to an actual answer, people are tend to upvote that converted answer rather than the first one irrespective of the quality of the answers. #JustSaying #ExperiencedTooManyTimes –  hims056 Apr 29 at 7:56
Links, or it didn't happen. Seriously, give me 5 questions that are completely and satisfactorily answered in the comments, and show me how that caused a problem such as having community bump the post. –  Kate Gregory Apr 29 at 13:15
Eh, I do this all the time. But then, I'm not a rep whore like SOME people around here... –  Won't Apr 29 at 13:58

1 Answer 1

Yeah nah.

I think you're missing a vital ingredient that has persisted in Meta at least up until now - informality. Meta just has this certain je ne sais quoi that other sites don't have. As far as a lot of experienced users are concerned Meta reputation is useless, and they have more than they could ever spend (if there was something you could spend it on). They'll still answer your question, but not as a formal answer. The answer is right, but they don't care about it being voted up. Especially when it's the umpteenth question like it that they've answered.

Maybe that attitude will change a little now that the Meta split has happened. Time will tell.

Like others have done already I would have left this as a comment but it's a bit too verbose for that.

share|improve this answer
I agree it's more informal. I also find it reasonable they don't care about the reputation involved in getting upvoted. But the mechanisms available as part of a formal answer are important, because, y'know, that's why we have them at all, otherwise this place is just a forum. By leaving answers as comments, we don't get to apply that important stuff. There is not that much difference between typing in the comment box, or in the answer box. –  doppelgreener Apr 29 at 11:25
@JonathanHobbs I understand where you're coming from, but sometimes (well, often really when on Meta) it's hard to justify a proper answer when its only a sentence or two. That's possibly partly where the habit has come from. Especially when you answer the 1000th variant on the same question. –  slugster Apr 29 at 11:29
But that's the thing: these answers are often answers anyway. As a sentence or two, they stand as a totally fulfilling and substantial answer. There's no justification required: it's an answer, post it as one, it's that straightforward. I get the laziness. But it has a negative impact, and we shouldn't be engaging in it. –  doppelgreener Apr 29 at 11:33

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