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Allow converting comments to answers, so they can become accepted answers.

I asked a question. Someone commented on it, and it was an awesome comment that fully answered the question. As the original questioner, I would like to convert that comment to an answer in order to accept it.

Or, if you prefer, I would be okay with being able to simply mark the comment as accepted.

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We've had some past discussion on this topic both here (the currently open question) and here (the closed original proposal). –  Grace Note Jun 1 '10 at 3:06
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@ccomet: I want that I myself promote the comment to answer. The post that you show, suggests the original commenter promoting the comment to answer. –  Click Ok Jun 1 '10 at 3:10
    
Actually, the original proposal clearly states "provide the user that posted the question with a link that allows such a comment to get promoted into an answer" –  Grace Note Jun 1 '10 at 3:13
    
See also: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4217/… (could have sworn there was a much older feature-request for this same thing, but can't seem to find it now... Still, worth understanding why some leave comments instead of answering and why giving the OP power to convert them at will might not be wise) –  Shogging through the snow Jun 1 '10 at 13:44

4 Answers 4

up vote 20 down vote accepted

I agree with your suggestion.

What people seem to forget is that posting an good answer in the comment can have the following outcomes:

  1. The question goes on "unanswered" when it has in fact been answered satisfactorily
  2. A different answer can be selected even though the best answer was really in a comment
  3. The wrong person can get the points (no big deal, but still)
  4. The original poster has to ask the answerer to repost as an answer (waste of time)
  5. A comment can not be edited & improved.

There is a clear benefit in being able to convert a comment into an answer. Maybe the comment is too short or too sketchy for the taste of the answerer, but since this is a community edited website, a good answer can be improved upon over time, and a mini discussion can occur in the answer's comments.

On the other hand, there is no benefit in having answers in comments.

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You could ask them to post their comment as an answer so you can mark it.

Or (as suggested by Gnoupi) - You can make it a Community Wiki answer and then mark it

Or (less desireable) copy their comment as an answer and mark it as the answer (but I would only do this as a last resort, as the commenter will not gain any rep)

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I've asked users to upgrade their comments a few times. –  Lance Roberts Jun 1 '10 at 3:25
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If you really want to do it "right", this last resort should be CW. Because you can still gain reputation from upvotes. –  Gnoupi Jun 1 '10 at 7:35
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Reputation aside, making it CW as Gnoupi suggests is actually a pretty good idea in league with the community aspect of CW if you have to resort to that. After all, it is someone else in the community who provided the answer, so let the community own it until the original commenter decides to take action (if at all). –  Grace Note Jun 1 '10 at 12:43
    
@Gnoupi - Good call. I updated my answer to reflect that. –  Mitch Dempsey Jun 1 '10 at 18:25
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Rep aside, self-accepts won't float to the top of the list, so the answer will be harder to find. –  Pops Sep 21 '10 at 19:51
    
The biggest problem with the "community wiki" solution is that you can't upvote the answer after you created it. To get the question out of the "unanswered" list, somebody else has to see the question and upvote your community wiki answer that you copied from a comment. –  Stephen Ostermiller Dec 1 at 19:21

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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Please note Michael Mrozek's comment to the duplicate answer posted here. –  M. Tibbits Sep 1 '11 at 0:17
    
Yes, but the promotion path would only be used with comments that are, or are almost, good enough to be an answer. Once a comment has been promoted into an answer, other users can improve the answer. I think that the waiting period is an unnecessary complication. –  200_success May 18 at 1:21

At the very least, moderators should be able to convert comments to answers. Then the feature wouldn't be abused and users could flag comments that should be made into answers.

I often find that the reason a question goes "unanswered" for years is that it really is answered, but only as a comment. Giving moderators this ability would allow questions to enter the "answered" status more easily and quickly.

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Answers shouldn't be in comments. If the author doesn't care to make a proper answer of it (which usually requires more space than a comment provides anyway), then someone else should do the work and reap the rewards. Maybe mods should start deleting comments to encourage that behavior? –  Monica Cellio Dec 1 at 19:46
    
Most of the examples I've run across are new users that don't know how the system works when they do it. Deleting comments that are not "bad" is a horrible way to welcome a new person. Promoting the comment to an answer could be a way of getting a new user used to the site and on their way to being a contributor. –  Stephen Ostermiller Dec 1 at 19:49
    
You need 50 rep to comment, so they're not completely new. On one site I'm active on, the main problem in this regard comes from high-rep users who definitely know what comments are (and are not) for -- but it doesn't change their behavior. That's why I suggested that somebody else can use the information in those comments to offer a proper answer. –  Monica Cellio Dec 1 at 19:50

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