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This has been mentioned before, but a long time ago, and got closed for a rather confusing reason (converting comments to answers is not an "exact duplicate" of converting answers to comments), so I'm going to bring it up again.

I think it makes sense to have a user (not asker) option to convert a comment they posted on a question to an answer on the question, if it turns out it led to the asker figuring out the answer. We've all seen askers reply to comments with "@foo Hey, that was it! Post that as an answer and I'll accept it"; why not make it simple for the user to do that? It seems trivial to implement, and there's no formatting issues like there is going from answers to questions. I'm not sure how it could be "abused", because you need less rep to answer a question than to comment on it. I don't know if the answer's post time should be the time of the comment or the time it was converted; I think probably the latter. I also don't know if the comment should be deleted, left alone, or replaced with a link to the answer; again I think probably the last

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Ironically, even though said question might've been wrongly closed as a duplicate, this would be correctly called a duplicate of said question. Deja vu~ –  Grace Note May 11 '10 at 16:20
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I'm not sure whether to upvote this or downvote it. The problem exists, but I disagree with your solution. It avoids the real issue, which is people posting answers as comments in the first place. What we really need to do is change that user behavior. Regarding the UI change, I'm upvoting tvanfosson's and Josh K's answers. –  Pops May 11 '10 at 18:23
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@Popular What we need is to educate users not to post questions that can be answered in a comment. –  nb69307 May 11 '10 at 19:00
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@Neil, well, comments do allow 600 characters. I'm sure there are legitimate questions that can be answered in that much space, though I don't have a perfect example handy. –  Pops May 11 '10 at 19:19
    
@Neil: What about bounty? I don't have any tool to promoting good comment to answer. Other/arbitrary answer gets the price but for me it's not valuable. :( –  dariol May 11 '10 at 20:19
    
@dario Could not understand a word of that. And I'm very anti-bounty. –  nb69307 May 11 '10 at 20:39
    
IMO there should be a feature to vote to convert an answer to a comment. I've never seen the opposite to be completely true. And it is hard to believe a limited space for comments can contain a decent answer for a question. We don't need more sand, we need pearls. –  BrunoLM Aug 19 '11 at 2:30
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@PopularDemand: I mostly see this happening when the comment really wasn't a full answer, it just lead the OP in the right direction. "It could have something to do with X, have you checked that?" and it turns out the OP hadn't and they figure out the answer themselves, but that clue was what got them there. Promoting that to an answer would give it new life and the chance to be edited into a proper answer for the next person to find even if it didn't start out that way. –  Caleb Aug 20 '11 at 19:51
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Since the asker determines what solves the question, what exactly is wrong with the asker being able to single out a comment as a "comment that answered my question" by just pressing a button to award the +15 reputation? Add a requirement that the asker 1) confirm that this is what they want to do and 2) embellish the comment if necessary. Additionally upvotes to the comment could be promoted to upvotes on the answer. This solves the "include code on every page view" debate raging below. –  JoshDM Feb 22 '13 at 20:18
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I generally post comments because I'm afraid of a downvote -- or the answer is extremely short. I think that's the price you pay for leaving comments instead of an answer. That's why I think a conversion is unnecessary. –  Dave Chen Jul 27 '13 at 5:03
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Not really @Mr.Wizard; this is asking for a convert-to-answer feature the one you link is asking for an "accept a comment" feature. –  ben is uǝq backwards Jul 27 '13 at 9:41
    
Why should the asker or any other user get to determine if my comment should become an answer? I probably posted a comment because I didn't want to post an answer. And sometimes when the OP asks, "Can you post that as an answer? It solved my problem," I usually do. No automated tool necessary, and nobody deciding for me whether I should have posted a comment or an answer. –  Aaron Bertrand Jul 29 '13 at 18:25
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@AaronBertrand Can you post that as an answer? –  BLaZuRE Jul 29 '13 at 18:49
    
@BLaZuRE no, but if they implement the feature, maybe you can! –  Aaron Bertrand Jul 29 '13 at 18:58

6 Answers 6

We already have a similar feature. It's called "cut/paste/delete" -- as in cut the text in the comment, paste it into the answer box (submit it), and then delete your comment. It seems unnecessary to make this more convenient for what would, I'm sure, be a rarely used feature.

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"It seems unnecessary to make this more convenient" is the part that confuses me. Yes, this is of course mostly possible with the existing interface (editing a comment to point to the answer isn't if it's too old), but it would literally be one link next to a user's comments, and it...well, makes it more convenient -- is that not a good reason to implement something? People act like the interface is on the brink of collapse and adding a link next to your comments would somehow greatly complicate things –  Michael Mrozek May 11 '10 at 17:13
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@Michael It's not a good reason. adding a feature means that we have to download the extra HTML/Javascript for every single SO page we access. And of course someone has to spend time implementing the feature. For a feature that will be rarely used, this seems wasteful and pointless. –  nb69307 May 11 '10 at 17:19
    
@Michael -- first the UI is already pretty dense. You'd be talking about adding a new button to every comment on the page that would be used in what? 1%? fewer? cases. Second, there is a trade off between the amount of work something takes and the benefit to be gained -- never saying no to a feature turns everything into Microsoft Office. Sometimes, less is more. Third, the little tiny button is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of developing the feature. It may be easy but its not trivial. I could easily see it getting complicated if you needed to edit before submitting for instance. –  tvanfosson May 11 '10 at 17:22
    
"You'd be talking about adding a new button to every comment on the page". No, just your comments, you can't promote someone else's comments. The Javascript is (I assume) in an external script file that gets downloaded once, it's not in every page, so it's just the HTML for the link next to your comments. As for implementation, this seems like selecting from the comments table, and inserting the same fields verbatim into the answers table. If you want to edit, you can edit the generated answer afterwards, just like any answer –  Michael Mrozek May 11 '10 at 17:27
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@Michael - still doesn't make sense to me to spend development effort on it. –  tvanfosson May 11 '10 at 20:46
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@tva That's fine; there's a difference between "that feature would be bad" and "that feature isn't worth taking the time to write" -- I'm trying to make sure this is in the second category and not the first, as I think most of the objections raised in the past aren't issues at all –  Michael Mrozek May 11 '10 at 23:20
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I'm all for the ability to flag a comment as to be promoted to an answer, and not only oneself's comments, but also someone else's. We don't need a new button for this; it can be one of the options of "flag". –  Armali Aug 13 '13 at 9:08

Why do we need to further complicate the UI to save them a copy / paste?

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Because I don't want to steal someone else's answer, while I strongly do want an (in a comment) answered question to be filed as such. –  Armali Aug 13 '13 at 9:11

I copy/paste my comment here :)

What about bounty?
I don't have any tool to promote good comment to answer. Other/arbitrary answer gets the price but for me (for person who ask) it's not valuable.

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Then reply to the person who posted the comment and tell them you'd accept it if it were posted as an answer. I'm sure they'll happy to spend the 10 seconds necessary to do a manual copy-and-paste to get the 100-550 rep. –  Aarobot May 11 '10 at 20:39
    
This is different from what I was saying anyway. I specifically said it's a user tool and not an asker tool, because there are dangers associated with allowing askers to promote any comment they feel like; it was one of the objections brought up the last time this was asked –  Michael Mrozek May 11 '10 at 23:17
    
@Aarobot: Unfortunately he doesn't make it and not valuable answer gets the price. :/ Remember that answer should be valuable for me - for person who ask for something and I should decide who takes the price. –  dariol May 12 '10 at 20:49
    
if none of the other answers are any good at all then you can always self-answer and accept that. TBH I think this is just a side-effect of the contested bounty auto-acceptance feature; if it's changed so that bounties are automatically awarded but that the answer is not actually accepted then this basically becomes a non-issue. –  Aarobot May 12 '10 at 21:23
    
@Aarobot: but this is so unnatural :) –  dariol May 19 '10 at 11:34

I think there has been a large uptick in people using comments for answers in recent month. This is just speculation -- I have no numbers to back it up. It may be entirely innocent, but it may also be because comments are shown right below the question, so that even if an answer is no good, it is top billed above any actual answers.

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If we were to institute this system it is important that it does not lead to a wide array of too-short, or not truly constructive answers. There is a difference between an sufficient answer and a good answer, sometimes.

However, there is not always a difference between and answer short enough to be a comment and originally posted as such, and a good answer.

In the true spirit of democracy, preventing comments from ever becoming answers necessarily limits, in some cases, perfectly adequate and acceptable and constructive answers from being noted as such.

To allow the benefit while mitigating any potential harm, it is then necessary to put some checks or limits upon any such process of comment-promotion.

We already require self-answers to exist for 24 hours prior to their being capable of being accepted as the correct answer. And we already have structures that allow multiple votes to constitute a change, such as closing questions or opening closed questions.

If we were to allow comment promotion under the same principles it may work: Require 24 hours to pass between promotion and admissable acceptance as the answer, and allow downvoting to cancel out a promotion, say 5 downvotes or demote votes would send the answer back to a comment.

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This whole answer seems to forget that users can already post answers, whenever they want. We don't need some complicated system of checks and balances to prevent people from posting comments and converting them to answers -- they could just post an answer and be done with it. This is for the rare situations where someone posts a comment and the OP says that it solved their problem –  Michael Mrozek Aug 31 '11 at 22:58
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And in those cases where it really is a worthwhile answer and the OP deems it so, it is reasonable to include a system that allows them to promote the post and mark it as their answer. –  music2myear Sep 1 '11 at 2:16
    
Well yes, that's why I posted the request, but there's no need for stuff like requiring 24 hours, or allowing downvotes to undo a promotion; I don't see what the benefit of those are –  Michael Mrozek Sep 1 '11 at 2:41
    
@michael this was kind of my concern, that it encourages "comment style" answers that are not true posts. We do not want to grease the skids on that. –  Jeff Atwood Sep 1 '11 at 6:33
    
The situations where someone posts a comment and the OP says that it solved their problem are not rare. –  Armali Aug 13 '13 at 9:14

THE VALUE in converting a comment to an answer LIES IN THE (PROPOSED) ABILITY of the OP being able to do so. This would allow an OP to convert the comment to an answer & immediately mark it as "the accepted answer". It wouldn't hurt if this was done in one-step: convert & accept.

I've just went through a sequence of "unanswered questions", all of which DID in fact have an answer, while the individual who posted the answer hasn't chosen themselves to "cut & paste", in order that the question be able to be closed out as accepted. Some ELSE could certainly do so... but that would violate ethics...


Going back and familiarizing myself further with past discussion on this issue: this seems to be exactly what "JoshDM" proposed... as a comment. Josh, I'd convert that to an answer, if I could (though admittedly, I'm not the OP..)

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How would that "violate ethics"? The person posted it as a comment. That means they didn't want to post an answer. If anything is an ethical violation, it's you converting their comment to something they didn't want to post (or they would have done so). If you think a comment contains an answer, and you want to use this to post an answer of your own, you should feel free to do so. (Also remember that there's no big rush to "close out questions as accepted". This is not a forum.) –  Cody Gray Jul 27 '13 at 5:55
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According to this part of the question: "I think it makes sense to have a user (not asker) option to convert a comment they posted on a question to an answer on the question, if it turns out it led to the asker figuring out the answer", I believe you might have misinterpreted this feature request. –  Old Checkmark Jul 27 '13 at 6:45

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