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Now we have 'suggest an edit' turned on and the Sun didn't go down. In fact, the queue is almost always empty. And although people tend to approve edits a tad too fast (~20 seconds, from my observations) and miss funny stuff sometimes, it didn't reduce the quality of the site in general.

Then, it seems even more logical to allow comments from low-rep users, after they are screened in a similar fashion.
In particular, editing other people's posts requires much more responsibility (and reputation) than posting a comment. So, I really don't see why one should be allowed and the other one not.

It would also eliminate the need to handle 'should-be-a-comment' answers, which are now heavily flagged and downvoted. Thus, community effort is simply transfered from one area to another, while making the process a bit more logical and pleasant for new users.

What do you think?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Comments are secondary in purpose to this site, and this is an important point. Part of the reason that comments require reputation at all is that we don't want people to be commenting all the time. The focus of the site is in getting questions and answers - comments are an aid to that purpose.

For new users, they mostly only will need it for their own questions and answers in order to accomplish that. We don't want users to get caught up in any sort of discussion aspect and consequently getting encouraged to treat this place as a standard forum.

Based on observations from the current trends of non-answer answers, opening up comments would primarily result in a lot more witty comment quips. Which, while humorous, is not the point of this site. We're not a place for people to just drive by and engage in shooting the breeze. People come here with questions so they can get answers, and that's what we want users to seek and to receive.

Like making the answer box visible from the start, keeping restrictions on comments helps retain our focus on the Q&A and bring it away from discussion - which contributes to our high signal-noise ratio.

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New users can comment freely on their own questions and answers as well as answers to their questions. It only takes 10 upvotes on questions or 5 upvotes on answers to be able to comment anywhere on the site.

I don't think that adding the ability to submit comments for moderation is going to significantly enhance their experience, or improve stackoverflow.

I do think that adding something like this will confuse many people as they won't see their comments until approved by someone.

I also think it will increase the spam load we'll have to deal with.

Further, the site is already complicated enough with questions, tags, answers, upvotes, accepted answers, etc. Adding yet another input function to a very new member may actually prove more harmful than good, as they don't necessarily have to spend much time reading others answers and comments and getting a good idea of what comments are meant for. Great games introduce user abilities slowly so the player feels comfortable with their existing abilities before learning new ones, and this is a case where that is ultimately helpful to both the user and community.

But the root of the question should be:

Is there a compelling reason to give users with less experience on the site than 50 rep the ability to comment on questions and answers aside from their own?

So far, I don't see any reason to let them comment on random questions, nevermind a compelling reason.

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As I already said to @Ian, absolutely the same argumentation, word for word, applies to asking questions. (People occasionally request a rep bar for that and you can see the same passages about spam, little value, need to earn privilege, etc) Anyway, what @Grace said seems reasonable to me, so I'll accept it if it's posted as an answer. –  Nikita Rybak Feb 3 '11 at 16:20

Are you sure that the suggested edits scheme has been running long enough to pronounce that "it didn't reduce quality of the site in general"?

As a general point I think that the rep required to comment is low enough that users should simply work at it to earn it.

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Nice example: Abridged too far? –  Arjan Feb 3 '11 at 15:48
    
From my observation, 9 out of 10 approved edits are fairly decent and remaining 1 gets rolled back quickly. But that's not important here, as you can't really make a lot of harm with a comment. Judging merits of the comment is much easier than edit: you don't have to verify correctness of the comment, only that it's not spam or abuse. –  Nikita Rybak Feb 3 '11 at 15:53

A lot more users have enough rep to comment in their own right than to edit in their own rights.

Also I think most comments add a lot less value then most edits; therefore not getting comments from very low rep users is unlikely to lose the site a lot of value.

Also anyone with much rep on any site can post comments on all sites, this is not the case with editing.

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4  
I had this whole big answer on how comments are secondary and that making witty comment quips is a privilege that must be earned by actual Q&A contributions, considering all the noise we already see with non-answer answers. But, honestly, the whole part where it only takes 50 reputation is enough - it's not really worth it designing a system of vetting for such a short period of time in a user's life. –  Grace Note Feb 3 '11 at 15:43
    
It's funny, that people promoting rep-bar for asking questions use absolutely the same argumentation. Word for word. So, the question is, whether we want open place or elite club. –  Nikita Rybak Feb 3 '11 at 15:56
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@Nikita Asking questions and posting comments are different scales of utility for the site. The former is the very core of the site. The latter is an aid. It's very different to put a bar on one versus the other - we want people to ask questions. We don't want people posting comments willy-nilly. It's not about elitism - it's about keeping the focus on the Q&A and away from accumulating noise. When you're here just to ask questions, you don't need comments any more than what you already get by having asked the question. –  Grace Note Feb 3 '11 at 16:05
    
@Grace Could you post that as an answer? It sounds convincing to me. –  Nikita Rybak Feb 3 '11 at 16:18
    
@Nikita Good thing I had that whole big answer saved as a draft... –  Grace Note Feb 3 '11 at 16:22

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