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Why do some people answer in comments?

I have noticed it's fairly common for users to add a comment to a question rather than posting their solution as an answer which could be accepted for points. Because of this, I sometimes worry that I'm violating protocol by posting an answer.

What I refer to are not requests for clarification, but genuine answers which often do go on to receive many comment votes.

Why is this done?

(Note: My experience is mostly on Stack Overflow, but I will assume other sites are similar.)

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