Back in the days before being able to comment on posts (circa September 6th 2008 according to this blog entry), post id's < 35301), rightly or wrongly answers were often used for communication between users.
In my moderation duties I frequently see "not an answer" flags raised against some of these old fossils from some of our more tenacious users and Stack Overflow archaeologists.
Many of these old posts can be in a fair old mess and are hard to clean up because:
some of these non-answers have @user but over the years folks have changed their display names so it's no longer possible to identify who the "comment" was intended for.
converting these answers to comments will cause the user who's post received the converted comment to get an inbox alert. This isn't ideal, because of the pre-cambrian nature of the whole Q&A thread, it's a bit of a red-herring and probably annoying.
many of these old "answers" are often a bit hybrid and still carry some useful information
This was an example of an answer that got flagged:
(Ok, as others have pointed out I didn't spot that this user also had an accepted answer as well and so there could have been an answer merge there)
I decided to leave it as-is because it's both a comment and an answer, and converting to a comment would probably annoy "Adam" but also its time has long passed.
I'm proposing that if one of these Archean answers/comments (posted with good intentions at the time) is spotted in the wild then maybe we should just let it fossilise?
Obviously if it's just junk and clearly of no good use then it needs to be removed, but I'm thinking that the more genuine answers of this type be left alone because of the reasons listed above.
What does the community think?