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Reputation for comments?
Should downvoting be allowed on comments?

Don't get me wrong, I have come to appreciate that the whole reputation concept that stackoverflow employs is a highly evolved process. It is awesome! It effectively separates the useful information from the just plain wrong information. No doubt, this is what makes the whole concept work extremely well.

Why shouldn't the same criterion apply to comments?

It doesn't seem symmetric to me that comments allow only for up votes (with no reflection to the comment-er) and at the same time disallow the down voting of useless comments (which in a perfect world would be somehow reflected).

Comments are usually read along with proposed answers. When someone posts anything, it only seems right for their text to be fairly judged by the existing community-of-trust. This is why stackoverflow works so well.

Some comments are useless; some comments help in clarifying the proposed answer. This distinction is a relevant factor for judging someone who participates in such a forum. Why the asymmetry?

I have tried to think of reasons to the contrary, and all I ever come up with is "They just asked for clarification, why should they be punished?" In the real world, I don't think any comment asking for useful clarification would be down-voted, at least not for long.

I don't know what the metrics should be, but ignoring this information just seems wrong.

In my mind, we are all contributing something. The faster we can separate the useful from the useless, the more effective this paradigm becomes. What am I missing?

  • 3
    If a comment offers technical insight, there's a fair chance it should be an answer if it answers the question. And 80% of comments are bad jokes or "uhhhhh"s. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Aug 5 '11 at 7:49
  • @cularis: the proposed answer says "I'd only go for it if there were a really convincing argument that it would work." I like to think that it would work for the reasons given above. It is always hard to tell if something works before you try it. – Jimmy Aug 5 '11 at 7:52
  • @Bolt: Is there some mechanism for converting good comments into answers? – Jimmy Aug 5 '11 at 8:07
  • @Jimmy: You can first ask the author to post it as an answer, or if there's no response after a while you can flag the comment and ask a mod to do it. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Aug 5 '11 at 8:09
  • @BoltClock: Sort of. Moderators can't convert comments into answers, they can only convert answers into comments. Either ask the person who posted the comment to do it, or if they don't respond within a timely fashion, do it yourself and explain how that commented helped you to solve your problem. – Cody Gray Aug 5 '11 at 8:12
  • @Cody Gray: Oh, damn. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Aug 5 '11 at 8:13
  • @BoltClock: It's been feature-requested quite a few times, but repeatedly declined. I don't really see the use case. Most comments aren't good enough to become answers without some extra help. If the person who posted the comment isn't willing or available to do that, then the asker might as well do it. Lots of questions covering how to do this, but they're not particularly relevant to the question being asked here. – Cody Gray Aug 5 '11 at 8:16
  • So are you asking why comment upvotes aren't reflected in rep, or why we can't downvote comments? – Cody Gray Aug 5 '11 at 8:16
  • @Cody Gray: That aligns well with my... "statistic". – BoltClock's a Unicorn Aug 5 '11 at 8:17
  • @Cody: I am asking why comments are not reflected in the user's reputation, up or down votes be damned. At a minimum, I agree with another user who posted "It might be an interesting statistic to show on a users bio page." Maybe it should be a 'trustablity score', but that sounds too much like reputation to me. – Jimmy Aug 5 '11 at 9:51

Comment is a relaxed discussion area. For this reason, you will surely notice many comments with jokes, sarcasms. And usually a lot of upvotes. Those comments upvotes are not valuable as reputation since they are not technical expertise. On the contrary answers are.

Every comment which is clarifying an answer should be posted as an edit. I usually do in my answers.

We cannot say: "Oh from now, comments are for technical expertise discussion". The comments are needed because users are not the same level of knowledge, because they don't use the same vocabulary, because one can add a detail to a good answer. And we can't value that because it is subjective. Also, we cannot accept to penalise a user because he does not understand.

  • I might argue that all value from comments/answers is subjective. Even so, it works. Also, I see a lot of users get penalized because they do not understand. That is the nature of a forum. – Jimmy Aug 5 '11 at 9:47
  • Note that you do get badges for leaving comments that have garnered a lot of upvotes, so your achievements are recognized, but they don't impact your reputation. – Cody Gray Aug 5 '11 at 10:26
  • @Cody: as much as I love commentators and pundits, posting 10 comments and getting 5 upvotes for them (when there is no possibility for down voting) seems like a hollow victory. Not trying to be a hardass; I just value the utility of this site enough to express my honest opinions :) I believe comments are not superfluous or worthless, and should be judged accordingly by the community. – Jimmy Aug 5 '11 at 10:55
  • @Jimmy: Nothing wrong with expressing your opinions. That's what this site is for, and I do it quite loudly and frequently myself. The problem is that you're in the minority with the opinion that "comments are not superfluous or worthless". At minimum, you'll have to overcome that stumbling block first. And the only way that it makes sense for comments to affect your reputation is for us to also allow downvoting comments. That's two feature requests in one, implying a pretty big burden of justification. – Cody Gray Aug 5 '11 at 10:57
  • @Cody: You are very kind. But really, the majority feels that comments are worthless and/or superfluous? Can I toggle them off? If that feature isn't available, maybe they are actually valued by someone out there... of course to quantify that particular value might well be heresy ;) – Jimmy Aug 5 '11 at 11:12
  • @Jimmy we don't think comments are worthless and superflous, or there would not be comments anymore for a long time. The thing is: worthy comment shall be included in the answer (eventually with reference to the comments). Thinking of this, you don't need reward for comments since it comes with your answer upvotes. – M'vy Aug 5 '11 at 11:32

It doesn't seem symmetric to me that comments allow only for up votes (with no reflection to the comment-er)

They don't support "upvotes" - they support "this is a great comment". However, most comments are (for example) requests for clarification. Essential, but not answers.

and at the same time disallow the down voting of useless comments (which in a perfect world would be somehow reflected).

You can flag comments - for example as "not constructive / off-topic".

Additionally, there are multiple badges related to good comments:

I am asking why comments are not reflected in the user's reputation

See the FAQ.

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