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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
@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) –  Shog9 Jun 1 '10 at 13:44
Voting to reopen because the dupe ended up being more about the ability to contact other users than answers in comments. –  Pops Nov 29 '12 at 11:14

3 Answers 3

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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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

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
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
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
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

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