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We've all seen it; someone answers a question in a comment instead of posting an answer. Often, they're 'answers' that invite opinion positively or negatively, but you can't downvote, and flagging seems like going a bit too far.

I can see two potential solution:

  • Being able to downvote comments (which, if I recall, has been denied).

  • Being able to mark a comment as 'should be an answer'. After x amount of sbaa votes, it promotes to an answer and invites the up/downvotes it deserves.

In some cases, I suspect the poster knows that their comment might generate some heat and downvotes and uses the comment system to save their rep.

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<inserts kitchen for heat generation> –  KennyTM Jun 23 '10 at 22:07
    
Note that it is an acceptable practice to post someone's comment as your answer(when you give credit to them) –  Earlz Jun 23 '10 at 22:24
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@Earlz: I wouldn't find it acceptable, and if you didn't mark your answer as CW I'd be pretty ticked off. I'd rather someone (preferably the OP) address a comment to me requesting that I repost as an answer. –  Ether Jun 23 '10 at 23:32
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If anything, I would argue we possibly need to other way around - flag an answer with "should be a comment". –  adrianbanks Jun 23 '10 at 23:33
    
(-1) for the reasons in my answer –  devinb Jun 24 '10 at 8:47

4 Answers 4

Can't we have some other process to handle those? Like 5 users clicking "should be an answer" sends notification to original comment poster (just like he'd have notification for pending edit on his content) with buttons to accept or reject promoting?

My main problem with such a comments is that requestor often just thanks for those and then they sit in "0 answers" queue forever, making it harder to find real unanswered questions.

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There is a way to send someone such a notification. It's "Hey @GuyWhoAnsweredInComments: you should post this as an answer!" Besides, queuing it is a poor idea, since the asker would almost certainly want to alter it before it was posted (to break it onto multiple lines, or to change inline code to be in a paragraph. And in the best case, it saves the guy the five seconds it would have taken to copy and paste. –  David Robinson Aug 3 '12 at 14:40
    
@David, accept promotion button would take user to edit screen with text pre-filled from comment and saving edit would automatically delete comment as well. Just 5 seconds? More like minute or so, maybe, and it helps: many people like to do creative tasks - writing new answeres and hate routine - copy/pasting. The less they have to do to do right thing, the more they'll do it. –  Oleg V. Volkov Aug 3 '12 at 15:06

In the positive case, where you like the comment:

The current method for doing what you propose is to add a comment

"@SomeCommenter Please add your comment as an answer so I can mark it as correct"

If the commenter chooses not to create an answer after however long you're willing to wait, you could then just add an answer that contains their content.

As (link)SomeCommenter(/link) point out in the comments "The solution is X Y Z, you are incorrectly applying A B C. Also, F G I. Heh, J/K"

Make sure that the answer is marked as Community Wiki, because you do not want to look like you are trying to steal/gain rep for someone else' work. Then after 24 hours, you can mark your own answer as correct.

Obviously, if that poster chooses to add their information as a proper answer later, you should give them the checkmark and upvote, and delete your CW answer.

Negative case, where you dislike the comment:

If a user is unsure about the information they are posting, or they do not have time to adequately verify the information, then absolutely it should be a comment and not an answer. In a perfect world, no one would post anything without verifying it top to bottom and inside out, but if we don't have time to test every nook and cranny 100% in our real jobs, why would we have time to do it here? It's simply an unreasonable standard.

Now, as George Stocker mentioned, if you simply want to mark their comment as an answer so you can vote it down, that seems like a remarkably negative attitude. You are literally saying, "I dislike this comment so much that I want to be able to highlight it as a paragon of inaccuracy and let them be downvoted into oblivion". Which is not very charitable.

In the general case,

This feature is also something that could be very much abused. When users post fairly regular are low level questions, they will often get comments like, "Have you heard of goooogle??" and that comment will receive many upvotes. Although this comment is rude and not appropriate, at least it is a comment and not an answer (so the commenter got that much right). If this feature is implemented, I can guarantee there would be enough people marking it as "should be an answer" and then upvoting it. This user would be getting upvotes against their will. But I would also downvote it, or flag it, because it should not be an answer at all.

So suddenly, any comments have the ability to be turned into answers, and it depends on community will. The community will is notoriously fickle, and this will tend to screw with people's reputations, and they will have no idea why.

Lastly, and most importantly, I dash off comments whenever I think I have something useful to say, but when I answer something, I like to put time care and effort into it. I actively don't want any of my comments turned into answers, because if I had wanted that, I would have created them as answers.

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In your positive case, I can agree that there is already an amicable way to deal with the issue, but with regard to the other two: I might counter with "if you don't know the answer, leave it for someone who does." Isn't that kind of the whole point? –  SnOrfus Jun 24 '10 at 15:16
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@snorfys Have you ever heard of Rubber Ducking? Sometimes a quick "Have you tried XYZ?" is all someone needs to solve their own problem. It doesn't mean that my comment is an answer but it does mean that my comment is useful. –  devinb Jun 24 '10 at 16:11
    
@devinb: I have, and I see your point, but (and I wish I had examples on me) the instances I'm talking about are generally beyond suggestions. –  SnOrfus Jun 24 '10 at 16:49
    
@Snorfys, I'm glad you have, because I worried that a glance at my comment might make you think I've linked to something insulting or cruel. –  devinb Jun 24 '10 at 17:24

No. Right now the freedom is on a commenter to post an answer as a comment, they may have legitimate reasons for doing it:

  • Don't want reputation
  • Are afraid their answer may not be totally correct

If their comment is answer worthy, then the sheer number of 'upvotes' it gets will be the best encouragement to post it as an answer.

It boils down to who is in control of what they write, and the answer is always the person penning the answer.

It seems like you want to 'punish' people that give answers as comments; and that's not very community friendly. If their answer is offensive, spam, or noise, then flag it. Otherwise, leave it alone.

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Are afraid their answer may not be totally correct - If only more people did this instead of posting WRONG answers and then getting marked down like crazy. –  Aren B Jun 23 '10 at 22:23
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The problem comes when other people, who don't know any better, upvote a comment that is quite wrong it gives the 'answer' perceived credibility and there's no way to indicate at a glance that this 'answer' is - in fact - tragically wrong. At best, right now, you hope that future viewers read other comments further that point out the significance of the error in the original. –  SnOrfus Jun 24 '10 at 15:09
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"Flagging" a comment that should be an answer, doesn't necessarily have to be flagged to a moderator. The poster of the comment could be notified that he or she may want to consider re-posting the comment as an answer. Think of it more as voting for the comment to be posted as an answer. That way, its poster is still in control of where it resides, but he or she is also aware of the sentiments of others and can take that into consideration as to whether or not to re-post it. –  Jim Fell Jul 15 '11 at 19:18
    
Wrong answers get down-voted. The poster then knows he or she was wrong, can learn from others' comments, and can delete their wrong answer. –  Jim Fell Jul 15 '11 at 19:20

Comments like that are probably too discussiony to be considered answer worthy (except maybe on Meta).

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