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This has happened to me twice today.

Someone posts something that is wrong as an answer. I add a comment explaining why the answer is wrong, and the answer disappears, and I get no credit for improving the quality of the answers.

Maybe I should try to get rid of my ego, or just not look at the points, but it seems like this deserves some credit.

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+1 for getting rid of ego :) – NickC Jun 3 '11 at 1:39
You didn't improve the quality of an answer by just commenting on it when the answer itself didn't change. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jun 3 '11 at 1:54
Okay, fair enough, if you don't consider the displayedness of the answer as part of the answer itself, but I certainly improved the page. OTOH, maybe your point is that I should be more bold and fix the answer? – rrenaud Jun 3 '11 at 1:56
Well, I'd rather the author edit it himself, actually, just to be sure he knows what he's talking about. I only edit to fix grammar/formatting problems. And from that point, it's his choice whether to edit, or back out by deleting. Maybe I'm just not affected by what you describe :| – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jun 3 '11 at 2:00
i made you a cookie but I eated it – Won't Jun 3 '11 at 15:09

Um... That's usually a good outcome. Heck, when I can get someone to delete a lousy answer, I walk away feeling great about that. Sure beats spending time explaining why it's wrong only to see it sit there and collect mythical sympathy votes while the author stubbornly refuses to correct it.

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I agree that it's good that an incorrect answer disappears. I just think I deserve a couple points for it. – rrenaud Jun 3 '11 at 1:32
@rrenaud ... and how could we tell that the reason she deleted her answer was due to your comment? – waffles Jun 3 '11 at 1:37
Maybe ask the answerer if any of the comments were particularly good/the cause for deletion at deletion time? – rrenaud Jun 3 '11 at 1:40
Not only that, but why points? Is that really credit or is this one of those cases where the extrinsic reward has replaced the intrinsic? – NickC Jun 3 '11 at 1:42

If points are what you want then leave correct answers instead of commenting on incorrect answers. If Jon Skeet got points for all the deleted answers he left comments on he would have 600k instead of 300k reputation. I suspect he leaves those comments even though he doesn't get any points because he cares about the right answer.

But the point you make is valid: this Q&A reward system does not formally recognize the value of a critic who only finds fault with other answers. This is because the system already has an excellent self-policing mechanism: democratic voting for answers. If critical comments deserve reward then by the same logic a person voting for an excellent answer should receive credit for recognizing and emphasizing the correctness of the answer. But the voters just vote and the commenters just comment, to no direct benefit of their own.

A comment is low-risk. It cannot be downvoted, doesn't have to answer the question, it doesn't have to stand on its own. So leave critical comments if you wish, but realize that if you get what you are essentially asking for, your comment will also be deleted. If the possibility of that outcome bothers you, save your breath for praise and for your own questions and answers.

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