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It seems that sometimes, a comment is better than making an answer. I know (now) that moderators can convert an answer to a comment, but the process seems a little backwards. You have to KNOW to flag your answer to be converted to a comment.

My suggestion is that everyone be allowed to comment. Users with the appropriate amount of reputation (50 right now I think) are added to the question/answer immediately as they are now. Comments from users that do not have that much reputation must be approved to be attached.

Who should be able to "approve" these comments? My suggestion is the owner of the question/answer and the moderators. This would take some of the work off of the moderators and puts it on someone who does have an interest in the quality of the question and answer.

I'm sorry if this has been a topic of discussion before, I did a search and didn't see this specific suggestion before.

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Given the many newbie question askers who abuse answers for comments (while they can already comment to any answer on their own question), I doubt it's worth the effort. – Arjan Jan 13 '11 at 16:55
Comment overflow (for moderators). Feel free to add as proposed site at Area 51 – abel Jan 13 '11 at 17:02
FYI There is an existing and related moderator ability to convert answers into comments. – Alex B Jan 13 '11 at 17:02
I find this an interesting idea, but I worry about the large moderation queue that would come from it. – Pëkka Jan 13 '11 at 17:05

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

In honesty, people shouldn't actually be wanting to post answers to be converted into comments. We have the tool to handle the scenario when it happens, but the ideal scenario is that people just don't post comment material until they have the 50 reputation.

So while this doesn't just open the door to unmonitored spam as your typical "Allow comments at any reputation suggestion" would, I think it requires us to be monitoring things we really shouldn't have to be keeping track of.

Let's quote Jeff Atwood on the subject of why a requirement exists.

We funnel users to the answer input box for a reason -- because the focus is on getting answers to questions, not meta-commentary. Commenting is a privilege that should be earned by providing useful answers. And 50 rep isn't much.

It's highly unlikely a random drive-by user will

  • understand our Q&A goals
  • understand our commenting system

So by the time they earn 50 rep, they should have learned roughly how things work, and be in a position to offer a useful comment and not a "+1 AWESOME ANSWER" or "NO U R WRONG!!" sort of comment.

This proposed system may reduce the junk that shows up posted as an answer, but it means we're adding a new system to the site primarily to allow drive-by junk to show up and have to be filtered. And all the while, it'll encourage people to stick around just for chatting and discussing rather than contributing to our site. I think we're better served to suggest participation in the actual Q&A, than to just allow random passerby commentary.

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