Sometimes I find questions where another user has made a comment on the question that I think would be a perfectly acceptable answer to the question. Would it be in bad form to copy the comment verbatim and paste it as an answer?
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Not at all. When I do this, I just start my answer with "
I make sure to always do this if the question is in the unanswered queue.
Sometimes I even start with "
Sure, there may be people who say you shouldn't get rep for it, but in fact Stack Overflow is not about rep. Stack Overflow is about gathering information for use by a community. Answers buried in comments are impossible to find. By creating a real answer you are adding greatly to the value of the site as a whole.... and doing that is great form.
There are two ways to do this:
Just The Comment
Is it poor form? As noted by squillman, "Yes, [...] it would be. You would be receiving any rep for it at that point instead of the person who made the original comment."
However, there are some cases where you feel that comment truly is the correct answer. The way to post it would be to give both attribution and community-wiki.
That way the content is something which can be upvoted and you are not stealing rep.
The Comment, and so much more.
The goal of SO is content. This means that we should always be striving to create the best possible answer. In some cases you're going to read a comment that you agree with and you feel that you can add to it. In that case, use an attribution to the original author, and then write your own answer around it. This is completely acceptable.
I would not answer by using someone else's comment unless both 1) they had a chance to convert it to an answer and 2) I had a significant addition/example/etc. I have done this before, but I have much more often commented to that other person suggesting they post an answer.
If the OP just wants to accept an answer and that answer happens to be in a comment, they should answer their own question, copying the comment and giving attribution. Someone else doing that for the OP (unless, e.g., the OP is confused and asks for help doing that) would be rude.
The main reason the OP should do it is they are intrinsically more involved in accepting answers: if the commenter comes back and wants to post an answer, the OP will both be notified and has the ability to change the accepted answer. I don't particularly see the need to make it CW and wouldn't suggest that, but I'd understand if CW was chosen.
Yes, I think it would be. You could appear to be rep-whoring by doing so. If the comment answers the question to the point that the OP would accept it as an answer then the OP should request that the original commenter add it as an answer so they can accept. Or you should make the suggestion to the original commenter that it is a useful answer and should be added as a full answer.
See this question as a recent example.
The fact is that some people don’t blurt out “answers” willy-nilly, particularly for uncertain questions. They ask a few things of the OP to gauge the their abilities and clarify their needs. This is particularly true on SuperUser where it is common to ask some questions and have the OP perform some steps to determine the current state of the OP’s issue, as well as to offer some steps to lead towards a solution.
For someone (often “low-reppers”) to come along and create an answer by copying what someone suggested in a comment is clearly, as squillman said, “rep-whoring”.
This is particularly true when the question has not even been definitely solved yet. It is one thing if the OP has stated that what someone suggested in a comment solved the problem/answered the question, and yet, the question is still open after several weeks (don’t assume that everybody checks the site 100 times a day), but if the steps that were offered in the comment were just diagnostic steps or requests for clarification/more information, then “answering” it at all is—at best—premature, let alone if it was made with someone else’s information.
I have even seen some people rapidly throw up an answer as soon as possible, sometimes/often copying the steps that others have suggested in comments, in what is fairly clearly an attempt to just get an answer up. They then edit it as more information becomes available. In some cases, the original answer they posted was completely useless and premature (hence the probing questions that others started with); but they posted the answer quickly because they can start getting credit (some people up-vote prematurely too) by changing it to be more applicable later.
(For the record, sometimes this happens legitimately when two people see a question and start typing at the same time. One person types up a comment, the other an answer, each of their own accord. However, there are plenty of occurrences where the “answer” is clearly several minutes later, and is short enough that they cannot make the excuse that they started at the same time but took several minutes to type it.)
In summary, yes, usually it is indeed bad form to copy someone else’s comments into your own answer because the practice is often unnecessary, usually unfair, and often accompanied by other low-brow behaviors.