It's disappointing to come to Meta and find out that a feature I'd really like to have has been shot down in flames already.
I think this will be a burden for the moderator. He has to look into
each and every answer a new user posts and should decide whether it
should be moved to the question or not. When the user group grows to
an enormous one this will be a huge task for the moderator.
No, the mods do not have to make this decision on each and every answer -- only the ones which the system has flagged.
And, tough beans -- I already have to look at the answer because someone has flagged it as 'not an answer' so what's the big deal?
A lot of the old hands have answered from the perspective of long-time SE users who are already familiar with the format. What about the brand-new user, who is coming to Stack Exchange for the very first time?
These answers are posted on the question which has drawn them to the site. Sometimes they are "me too!" comments, but sometimes they have a seed of a new question. Why can't we promote those?
It's easy to say that these new users are so stupid that they post an answer instead of leaving a comment. But they can't post a comment because we won't let them -- because they don't have any rep. They can't come into the chat room and talk to us before they post, because we won't let them, because they don't have enough rep. All they can do is plonk their comments down as an answer.
So then the mods have to come in and clean up, and say, here's where the help center is, here's the tour, here's how to ask a question. No matter how friendly I try to be, I'm stuck with the job of telling them you can't be a part of the community without doing homework first. It's unfriendly as hell. Aren't we supposed to play nice?
If I could take these answers which have the seed of a new question in them and spin them off into a new question, retaining the authorship of the person who posted it, it would give them the chance to earn some reputation, maybe enough to be able to use the chat room, where we could talk to them and encourage them to participate more.
Perhaps it is the case that the majority of these non-answers are from drive-by people who never participate again. If we can hack them and make them into a a good question, does that really matter?
These not-really-an-answer posts are going to be work for the moderators anyway. Having the choice to turn them into a comment OR promote them to a new question would give me a tool so I could do productive work instead of non-productive work.
Comment from @Shog9 on the original question:
Post the questions yourself, @GayotFow. Then give a link to the person
who posted the answer before you flag it. Assist and teach. Win-win.
Also leaves you free to make any edits or expansions needed to produce
a good question, which might be awkward otherwise. I've even used
throw-away accounts for this in cases where I didn't wish to clutter
my own with others' questions.
We could try this, but I'd rather be able to promote the answer to a question, retaining the original author. Why penalize a brand-new user when they've made a mistake, simply because they are brand new to the way SE does things?
One compromise might be to make this a feature on beta sites, which may not have the same question volume as the main sites.
Re: this comment
Honestly, if the big Ask Question button at the top is too difficult to use, then there's a good chance the question isn't worth asking formally.
If the user doesn't have a widescreen monitor, the Ask Question button is practically invisible unless you scroll your window to see the right-hand side. I don't see why the row of buttons has to be right-justified so there's a huge glob of empty space in the middle of the screen -- but that's something that probably be discussed on a different question.