This question is a great example of people coming from Google and using answers as comments.

I understand the reputation threshold is there to prevent spam, but Answers are just as prone to spam as comments and you can post them at reputation 1. Furthermore there are already flags in place as a preventive measure for both.

Essentially the reputation threshold of comments is forcing people to use the site in ways the designers did not intend. Removal of the reputation cap would also make the site more new user friendly as newbies that use the site in this manner are commonly given a unfriendly welcome in the form of downvotes from people who forget you need 50 rep to post comments.

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    It appears this may be the case on meta: meta.stackoverflow.com/faq – Timothy Carter Aug 4 '09 at 15:55
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    @Troggy, All sites, it is already true for meta. Essentially the current design encourages abuse of the answer model. It not something people think about much once they hit 50 reputation, but it can be frustrating for new users. I think the last thing you want to do is scare off newbies that could add a lot to the community. – James McMahon Aug 4 '09 at 16:02
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    Note that since I've linked to the question in the question, someone has downvoted two of the 'comment' answers. This is exactly what I am talking about. – James McMahon Aug 4 '09 at 16:05
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    @Nemo: So what? They aren't even active users. – GEOCHET Aug 4 '09 at 16:11
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    @Rich B: In this case it doesn't make much of a difference, but I've seen the same thing happen to newly registered users. It contributes to creating a hostile environment for new users. – James McMahon Aug 4 '09 at 16:15
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    @Rich B, if we look at it from social engineering perspective, right now the system is encouraging abuse. I think scaring away new users is only going to lessen the community in the long run. There are some very bright people they aren't going to know the rules of SO, as it is a fairly new type of site, and I think some people get it confused with a forum. – James McMahon Aug 4 '09 at 16:24
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    @nemo: It is not encouraging abuse. The limits are in place to stop abuse. Just because you can only see one side does not make your side more true. – GEOCHET Aug 4 '09 at 16:25
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    @Rich B, I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree but I've mentioned the spam issue in the question. While I can completely understand the need to prevent spam, right now new users can post answers, so those are just as vulnerable to spam as a 1 rep comment would be. – James McMahon Aug 4 '09 at 16:29
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    I'm a new user and I agree. The way the comment system works at the moment is thoroughly annoying. – Zaz Aug 3 '10 at 13:22
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    I totally agree. I got a -1 for this!! Some people are too hot headed to care about us n00bs. – MishieMoo Sep 1 '10 at 1:58
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    I agree, but cannot up-vote question. – David Andersson Aug 28 '11 at 16:22
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    @GEOCHET As a new user I don't want to abuse the answer as comment, but the reputation bar on commenting could force me to. So I support the idea of lowering the reputation bar on comments, to prevent abuse of answers as comments. – suknic Sep 19 '11 at 14:57
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    In my opinion it should be lowered to at least 10 in SO and we need to put a limit as 2 comment per day for users with rep lower than 50. That should resolve a lot of issues mentioned below. – iDev Jan 28 '13 at 19:42
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    This question is still legit 4 years later. – gitsitgo Sep 4 '13 at 20:32

27 Answers 27


I updated the /faq to clarify this point

you can always comment on your questions and answers, and any answers to questions you've asked, even with 1 rep.

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    People on meta can already post comments with 1 reputation. Are you planning to bring this feature to other sites also? Since this has only been implemented on this site, why has it been marked status-completed? – Zaz Aug 3 '10 at 13:16
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    Jeff, will you consider lowering the threshold to 1 rep for commenting on every post on Gaming? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/71368/… – juan Dec 2 '10 at 20:18

As a new user I've come across questions where I would have liked to comment, but are unable. I feel that an answer should indeed be an answer, not just a comment about an already given answer or a helpful hint, and because of this I've refrained from contributing anything.

I understand that spam could easily become a problem if everybody can post comments, but how about lowering it to 15. With my current rep of 1, 50 sounds like science-fiction to me :)

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    According to your profile, you just joined today. Believe me, getting 50 rep isn't that hard if you try. – Kyle Cronin Aug 4 '09 at 16:41
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    To help you on your way, I upvoted your post on SU. 4 more upvotes and you'll be able to comment on any post. – Kyle Cronin Aug 4 '09 at 16:44
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    Perfect example here: stackoverflow.com/questions/13300903/valid-rss-2-0-using-rome. User has a small tweak to an existing answer, but cannot post a comment so we get duplicate answers with a very small syntax change. I don't think this kind of behavior helps the overall quality of the answers on the site. – josh-cain Jun 18 '15 at 12:08
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    @Joshc1107 that user could have submitted their tweak as a suggested edit, couldn't they? – Dan Henderson Jul 30 '15 at 13:23
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    Not real science fiction. You now have enough. – John Militer Jul 12 '16 at 0:20

Why is a user - considered reputable enough to post an answer - not considered reputable enough to comment on someone else's answer - especially to highlight a correction, for example? If she has something to say, she's probably going to say it anyway, but she's forced to say it in the wrong place.

I like Joe Holloway's suggestion. Alternatively how about a UI element that makes it clear that the poster did not have enough rep to comment, and allow users (perhaps only those with enough rep) to promote (demote?) the answer to a comment (or flag to do so). Any answer upvotes could be converted into comment upvotes.

I admit this is probably overcomplicating things, but I do see a lot of these answers-as-comments :)

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    I would vote this up, but I don't have enough reputation on meta.SO at the moment. (Semi-related issue, but I can see the rationale behind upvotes far more than comments) – Megan Walker Jan 21 '11 at 1:40
  • @SamuelWalker Have tried connecting your accounts? You immediately get a 100 rep bonus, so you'll be able to comment and vote right away. – Calmarius Sep 4 '13 at 17:13
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    @Calmarius I posted that way back in 2011. And, yes I had linked my accounts, but IIRC at the time the linking bonus only applied if at least one of your accounts was > a certain amount, that I didn't have. – Megan Walker Sep 4 '13 at 20:21
  • @bacar Feel free to reformulate the question. I agree that the best kind of approach would be where do I check rather than the current state. I can't do it myself since I'm on a ban until the end of universe (i.e. September or October). – Konrad Viltersten Jun 27 '18 at 10:28

Totally agree with the OP. In the beginning of the week I experienced following situation: I looked for an answer to a question about mapping webcam image coordinates to screen coordinates and was directed to a Stack Overflow question.

One of the answers was very elaborate and seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. Were it not that one single mathematical detail raised a small question. The answering person clearly stated that he welcomed all questions for clarifications, but I was unable to comment anything. The only option seemed to be to word my question in an answer, and that just felt like too much abuse for a newbie to afford. So I did nothing. (although I can pledge to spend some time on the site to answer other people's questions, this wasn't an option this week, sadly)

The result: my problem isn't solved. I have spent days working out the solution on my own, while the answering person could have offered it in hours. A very frustrating experience when the solution is around the corner, but unreachable.

I understand the concept of having to contribute in order to profit, but imho asking refinement of or pointing to a problem in an answer is contributing.

My first contact with SO, as someone searching for an answer, was very frustrating.

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    hmm: perhaps you could have asked a new question and referred to the previous question, so your question was basically "I read <other post> and need clarification on <detail>" and perhaps either you would gain enough rep to comment or somebody would have helpfully posted a comment referring back to your new question... – David Maymudes Dec 7 '09 at 3:02
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    I had this exact issue as well on one of the SE sites - It might have been SO, but I can't remember. While what you suggest David is reasonable, I'd already seen several questions closed as [too specific] which I would have thought such a question would come under. – Megan Walker Jan 21 '11 at 1:37
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    @David that would be both too specific and it wouldn't be found by people coming to the original question and having the same problem. I suggest removing the minimum threshold for new users adding comments for a week, and reviewing the comments coming in. – rjmunro Oct 19 '11 at 15:59

Oh, please... It takes 50 rep to leave comments on other people's questions. You can leave comments on your own questions right off the bat.

You can also edit your own question to add qualifying information.

That should be enough. Users that can't figure that out are having trouble for other reasons...

FWIW, the question you linked to has comments left by users who are posting unnecessary "thank you" messages or asking irrelevant questions. They could and should be posting their own questions rather than trying to piggy-back on an existing one. Again, problems more severe than simply being unable to comment.

Just to clarify my stance on this: comments are bordering on useless compared to questions or answers. There's no revision history, no direct links, offer no contribution to your reputation, and they can and do disappear without leaving a trace... Comments are the post-it notes of SO: useful for quick and dirty little exchanges, but pointless long-term. If you have something to ask or to contribute, especially as a new user, comments should be your last choice. And, whaddaya know, the system encourages this!

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    When I started I know that I wanted to point something out in someone else's answer and couldn't. Sure, it takes little time to get past 50, but in the meantime, newcomers are discouraged to participate in others' questions. – perbert Aug 4 '09 at 16:41
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    @voyager: not true. You can post an answer to anyone's question immediately. Do a few of those, and you can leave comments... but answers are generally a more useful contribution, so it's good that the site encourages them over comments. – Shog9 Aug 4 '09 at 16:47
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    I meant that as they can't comment on others' questions' answers (should I cast that?), they are discouraged to participate in others' questions (I knbow, I know, we are on SO to answer questions, not discuss). I still think that there should be a way to reduce answer clutter, besides the greying out of downvoted answers. – perbert Aug 4 '09 at 17:53
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    @voyager: right, but i'm saying... comments are the lowest, least-useful form of participation on SO. If a new user shows up, finds a problem with an existing answer, and finds himself unable to comment on it... and so posts his own answer... That's ok! The person who asked the question will get notified, see the answer, and benefit from it - something that wouldn't happen if he'd left a comment. And if the answer is good, he'll get up-voted and soon be able to leave comments if that's really what he wants to do. – Shog9 Aug 4 '09 at 18:09
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    Sorry, I couldn't disagree more - eg if I were a new user, I couldn't voice an opinion here - and new user !== idiot. It's less of an issue now linking accts gives 100 rep but I'm afraid I still disagree – Basic Dec 18 '10 at 22:12
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    @Basiclife: voicing opinions isn't really the focus of SO. If you have an answer, post an answer - knowledgeable new users are more than welcome to do that. – Shog9 Dec 18 '10 at 22:27
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    @Shog9 - Perhaps I phrased that incorrectly. I quite often post comments along the lines of "This is a valid approach but be aware that under circumstance X you may inadvertently cause Y " – Basic Dec 18 '10 at 22:31
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    Shog, I can't believe you still hold on to the belief that comments are of limited value. They are critical. Please see RockJohan's answers to this question: stackoverflow.com/questions/2195202/…. If this user had been allowed to comment, he probably wouldn't have polluted the question with two (non) answers. One of his answers should be a separate question (and I suggested that in a comment), but the other would have made a perfectly legitimate comment. I've flagged both answers for moderator attention. That's a lot of work for no good reason. – devuxer Aug 31 '12 at 7:49
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    I don't think it's true that new users are more than welcome to post non-answers as answers. When they do this, it's not uncommon at all for them to receive down-votes, criticism and other unwelcoming behaviour. – Sam Jan 18 '13 at 7:38
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    I strongly disagree with you. Very strongly. Commenting is the correct way to: - Ask the original author for clarification ("Did you mean this", "Was this the case when you encountered that error?", for example). - Provide additional information to an existing answer, when providing that information as a completely new answer would be unncessary or redundant, especially if it is just a small contribution. – fragorl Jan 25 '13 at 2:24
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    @fragorl Yes, and it can happen 20 times per week that you feel the need to ask these clarification questions but you simply CANNOT because of this significantly high limit. And that can get you very frustrated. – syntaxerror Sep 23 '13 at 22:48
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    Almost four years later, I'd point that even the @perbert affirmation that "it takes little time to get past 50" is not true anymore. It is hard to get accepted answers and upvoted questions, firstly because the easiest ones are still asked and answered, and secondly because a new user will have to compete with experienced users who know how to use the site quicker. Newbies are more doomed than ever, and we are not better because we voted to delete well intentioned "answers" that would be good comments. – brandizzi Feb 7 '14 at 18:14
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    You're right, @brandizzi - it has gotten harder over the years. I don't know that this is an argument in favor of lowering the threshold though: comments are not "answers LITE", some sort of playground for folks who're struggling to put together a cohesive solution - at best, they're errata, and often they're just noise. Encouraging newbies to live in a comment ghetto where their work is ignored and they can't earn any privileges isn't doing anything good for them. – Shog9 Feb 7 '14 at 21:27
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    Are you sure the inability to comment is solving more problems than it's creating? It just forces users to leave comments as answers. See stackoverflow.com/questions/17408010/… If you think that's OK, then it need to be better publicized because these kinds of answers are being flagged for removal as non-answers! – BlueMonkMN Feb 17 '14 at 15:40
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    If the comments get more protection than the answers, this signals that the comments are more valuable than answers (or else, why would they need to be protected more?) If it's only to prevent spam, one could add a reputation threshold for links in comments instead. And possibly restrict the number of comments per day for low-rep users (three comments per day would be useless for spamming). – celtschk Dec 13 '14 at 14:27

Yes, I registered on Meta only to upvote (or at least up-answer, as I cannot vote yet) this request.

I already had several occasions, where I wanted to comment on something, but couldn't. And PLEASE don't tell me, that earning 50 reputation is that easy. On StackOverflow you need to refresh the page every five seconds to even get the chance of answering a question first and therefore getting an upvote.

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    Now you have enough rep :P! – jjnguy Jul 10 '10 at 21:58
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    Now was already a day to late :P – NikiC Jul 11 '10 at 22:05
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    you don't have to be first to get upvoted. Also, you can ask a good question or two. If not at SO, try gaining 200 rep on one of the new SE-betas, the association bonus let's you comment everywhere then – Tobias Kienzler Sep 23 '10 at 11:55
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    Well, I already got nearly four thousand reputation at SO, thus I can comment now. My problem is, that before I got enough reputation I couldn't comment on several answers I would have liked to comment on. I really don't get why you can write an answer without any reputation, but can't write a comment. That simply doesn't make sense. – NikiC Sep 24 '10 at 16:36
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    On StackOverflow you need to refresh the page every five seconds to even get the chance of answering a question first and therefore getting an upvote. APPLAUSE FINALLY someone I read who points out this "speed" problem! Mine too. I dunno how some people get the answers out after 1 minute (!!) of posting the question. Sometimes I think some are total addicts or something, who, as you said, manually refresh the page to not miss any occasion, And, to be honest, I am NOT willing to participate in that time race. Since I think it's pretty childish, as if on flash gaming sites "FIRST!!". – syntaxerror Sep 23 '13 at 22:53

Commenting on other user's questions in order to gain additional information in the appropriate manner (comments instead of answers) needed to construct good answers to other user's questions is by effect discouraged for new users. I think that the reputation system is perfect for other areas (e.g. restricting the ability to rank questions/answers) but I feel that restricting comments is too prohibitive and prevents some of the potential useful community feedback. I believe that comments and answers should go hand in hand (both allowed or disallowed with low to no reputation) as they are both critical tools needed to properly participate in a question and one without the other encourages improper use. This was my experience while trying to participate as a new user.


Though I've been using SO for a while, I still only have 30 points, because I was extremely careful with researching questions and answers to questions before I asked my own. Unless questions are about a brand new product, they've probably already been asked and answered.

I spent a few days composing my first question on SO, and got 24 points or so in exchange. I spent far less time on my second question, and far fewer points: 6.

Now I'm just banging this ranswer out now cause I want to comment on some other guy's answer on SO. I hate the idea (and it may be only in my mind) that people who just toss off any old question without doing research, thereby adding noise to SO, get lotsa points. AND that the most fabulously "respected" users are those who have been asking questions that can only be discussed, not answered.


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    This is an example of just that... stackoverflow.com/questions/33659965/… I did lots of research before asking. Therefore I don't ask many questions. When I do, they're so specific that no one has an answer. – Andrew Oct 21 '16 at 17:29

Having a limit at 50 does stimulate people to make their first contributions.

The way you can earn extra privileges by contributing makes StackOverflow addicting to use.

By giving too many privileges in the beginning, that element is taken away.

The addiction factor is important for the success of the site. It keeps people coming back, and it keeps people contributing.

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    Maybe so, but the addiction strategy is soo obvious it raise suspicion. It is more of an annoyance, also knowing that other newcomers who wants to contribute can't. Other annoyances is that reps does not transfer between SE sites, and that 3rd party javascript sites need to be enabled. If I get one more "Badge", I'll leave. – David Andersson Aug 28 '11 at 16:36
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    "Stimulate people" ok, but please don't exaggerate as it's done with comments. – syntaxerror Sep 23 '13 at 22:57
  • The problem is that most questions are already answered, especially in common languages, so the only reason to ask a question lately is for a very specific request that is sometimes so specific, that no one can answer it. Right now, it punishes people who do research to find answers to their questions before posting a question - because they're less likely to need to ask questions - and yet those are the people that we want on SE and SO. – Andrew Oct 21 '16 at 17:27
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    @Andrew, you should be answering your own questions. What you refer to as "being penalized" isn't because you do research. It's because you don't share your research with future SO users who may encounter the same problems. – Wildcard Nov 30 '16 at 4:40

Comment "everywhere" (on other peoples posts), are supposed to be suggestions for improvement. The idea is that you should need 50 rep points to suggest improvements to others, having gained some experience writing questions and answers yourself. You can always reply to comments on your own posts with any reputation.

Put another way, your answers (and questions) can be downvoted by other, which is form of "discipline." Your comments can't be, (except in extreme cases where they are flagged as spam), which is why you need the higher reputation.

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    What about an improvement so you can answer the question? Some questions are difficult to answer without asking further questions in comments. It seems to me (and it's been pointed out by many others) that it seems like a Catch-22 loop. – March Ho Dec 18 '14 at 9:22
  • @MarchHo: The presumption is that suggestions from people with less than 50 rep will do more harm than good. – Tom Au Dec 18 '14 at 14:56

The fundamental problem here is that in order to allow low-reputation users to post comments everywhere, we would need to be able to systematically monitor every comment posted by a low-rep user. This would mean that such comments would need to be subject to spam checks and reviewing, greatly increasing moderation (and server) workload.

In order for comments to be reviewable in a queue, they'd need to be searchable. Comments aren't indexed for search and enabling comment indexing would dramatically increase server load given the sheer number of comments in the system. Furthermore, on sites like Stack Overflow where the moderation burden is already extremely high, adding a review queue for comments would likely cause the burden to exceed what the community is able to handle.

Because comments are intended to be an adjunct to the main content and are not meant to be permanent, this added moderation effort (and server load) is sadly not worth it.


I started on this site (and ServerFault) with 100 rep, because I'm active on StackOverflow. Anybody who has a bit of rep on another site can link accounts and be able to leave comments and even downvote (although it may not take many downvotes to lose that privilege). The only reason you wouldn't be able to leave comments is because you're a newbie to the whole system. There's nothing wrong with that, but I'd like to be able to vote on your answers in ways that count for rep, and leave comments on your answers, until you get a bit more experience.

  • How did you manage that? I have 1 rep on all of the sites other than SO, and my accounts are linked. Perhaps if I had waited to create my other accounts until I had some rep there, I would be able to actually use these others? – Boycott SE for Monica Cellio Feb 22 '10 at 9:48
  • You need a minimum amount of rep on one site (200?) to get 100 rep on other sites by linking your accounts. I don't know how the system handles it if you start with rep 1 linked accounts and go over the threshold with one. – David Thornley Feb 22 '10 at 14:46
  • Well My accounts are linked too and I dont't have the opportunity to comment eg on Stackoverflow but I do have on Electrical Engeneering – sensslen Aug 13 '12 at 13:21

I agree with the OP on this.

A thought I had is what if noobs could leave "moderated" comments which simply aren't visible to the general public until they've been accepted as relevant by at least one user with, say, 2000 reputation points.

Perhaps the noob even gains a reputation point or two each time they pass the "relevance test" up to the point where they are trusted enough to leave unmoderated comments.

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    You can no longer see the answers the OP was talking about, but i can: and I highly doubt that they would have been approved as comments either. Providing new users with more tools for posting junk isn't really beneficial to the site. Making more busy-work for users willing to donate their time to help out isn't useful either. And we already have a "relevance test" of sorts: post a few real answers, and you'll have enough points to comment. – Shog9 Sep 13 '09 at 1:45
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    @Shog9, the problem is that new users will post junk anyway. They'll just do it in a much more destructive fashion by putting their remarks into an "answer". We are also denying the many users who would have posted legitimate comments. What am I supposed to say to a user with less than 50 rep who posts an answer that should really be a comment? I can't tell them to "do the right thing" because they're not allowed to do the right thing. They're only method of communicating with me is to violate the rules. It's a ridiculous, broken system. – devuxer Aug 31 '12 at 18:01
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    @DanM There's a great English term for it: a Catch-22. – syntaxerror Sep 23 '13 at 22:59
  • Actually, what has often happened is that moderators will turn "answers" from newbies into comments. – Tom Au Apr 6 '14 at 21:36
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    @Tom does this actually happen? Is it only available to moderators, and if so who can draw answers to mods' attention to do so? I recently crossed the 2k threshold that lets me review on SO, and I can vote to close with a comment ("this should be a comment"), but I don't have any reason to believe it goes to a moderator's inbox to convert, and noobs invariably get peeved with the unhelpful response. – bacar Sep 1 '14 at 12:13

I agree with OP as I've experienced this exact issue myself.

I wanted to raise the profile of a question that was unanswered, an and exact duplicate of an issue I was having. I could neither upvote, nor comment on the question. [Note: I can see the value in not allowing new users to upvote/downvote]

Another time I wanted to comment on an answer, and I was unable.

Some here have claimed that it's easy to rack up 50 rep, but it isn't when you a) Have no original questions that haven't already been asked / aren't easily google-able, and b) Aren't knowledgeable enough to answer most questions (This applies to me on SO), beyond any answers they may have already received.

I have found SE one of the hardest communities on the internet to actually participate in any meaningful way in.

Perhaps, instead of lowering the required rep, giving new users an allowance of say x-comments per 24 hours. For people like me, who want to improve, and want to give back, but find themselves unable due to lack of knowledge and lack of new questions, that would be a nice bridge between the 'I feel as though I can't actually do anything beyond read on this site' and 'wow I've thought of several questions. [Several hours later] Now suddenly, I can vote, comment and actually take part'.

For some SE sites (notably SO and Programmers.SE) it is still a very static read-only experience for me. The level of questions are far above my current level generally, but reading the answers I often want to comment on the question or answers, perhaps to ask a tiny question about a very minor detail [that would normally be closed as too specific] about the code sample provided as an answer. Any new question I ask, at my current level, will be either googleable or already asked [Thus not really helping me gain rep - as It'll be closed as duplicate or easily google-able]. But if I could participate in comments, even with a limit as I suggested earlier, it would help me improve far more.

  • Just to let you know: if you get 200 rep on any SE site (including betas), you will automatically get 100 rep for all of your accounts and will be able to comment on any SE site. – waiwai933 Jan 21 '11 at 2:12
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    I know that, but the hurdle hasn't been crossed for me yet - closest is webapps with 16 rep. Plus, its not obvious to new users that that is a route you could take to being able to comment on a particular site [I only found out about it due to reading something earlier - It could have been on a different meta. – Megan Walker Jan 21 '11 at 2:15
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    Looks like you found your niche with Tor and Sci-Fi/Fantasy. :) Do you still believe what you posted here? – Wildcard Nov 30 '16 at 4:42

Most arguments for lowering the threshold add up to "We are barring new users from participating!"

  1. You don't have to even be registered to benefit from the repository of knowledge contained on the Stack Exchange network.
  2. You don't have to have any reputation to ask a question.
  3. You don't have to have any reputation to answer a question.
  4. You don't have to have any reputation to comment on your own posts (questions or answers), or on answers you receive.
  5. If you think you are "underprivileged," prove that you are here to contribute to the knowledge base: ask and answer questions.
  6. You can even ask and self-answer a question; it's explicitly encouraged.
  7. If you want discussion, go elsewhere.
  8. Better yet, read the tour page:

enter image description here

  • The specific use case that brought me here is when a new user posts a question (great, no rep needed), but then people wanting to provide an answer need clarification in comments (which is what they're for, not chit chat, right?). The new user can't comment on their own question, instead pushing them toward posting answers for the clarification rather than editing the question. So I think maybe my position is "let new users comment on their own questions" so other users can help them make the question better. But all in all, meh, who cares. – Joe Holloway Nov 30 '16 at 16:12
  • @JoeHolloway, see updated answer. Your premise is false; that's already how things work: Anyone (regardless of rep) can always comment on their own posts and on answers they receive. – Wildcard Nov 30 '16 at 16:27
  • Nice. Glad I'm wrong about that, but now I wonder if that's how it worked 7 years ago. I seem to recall it causing quality issues back then because questions would have crappy answers from OP trying to clarify the question and users would skip past the question seeing that it already had several "answers". – Joe Holloway Nov 30 '16 at 16:39
  • @JoeHolloway, yes, probably it's more recent than 7 years ago. I haven't been around that long, but I'm sure you can find a post on Meta somewhere about the "new" feature from the time it was added. :) – Wildcard Nov 30 '16 at 16:42
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    Based on edits to the FAQ about the comment system, looks like it's worked that way since at least 2008. Ah well, at least I got you to add #4 to your answer ;) +1 – Joe Holloway Nov 30 '16 at 17:12

The comment treshold is 1 for meta, but 50 for SO, and I think it should be 1 for SO, too (on other people's questions) ...

I agree with the OP, and the following from this question w/answers (my words):

  • low treshold on comments make SO more open to new users
  • high treshold encourages misuse of answers as comments,
  • ..creating negative experiences for new users, like downvoting and negative comments - pushing away new users (regardless of IQ and EQ levels)
  • comments are "post-it notes", less important than questions or answers, but are definitively useful for "small stuff", like observations, associations, followup questions, etc
  • a comment is the "least bad" place to get spam, but comments are more restricted than questions or answers... (in SO)
  • a limit of 1 to comment wouldn't create more "spam" from newbies, just move it to a less disturbing place
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    * users should be encouraged to post questions and answers, rather than allowed to put these things in comments. * Misused answers can be easily noticed, flagged and removed, and the author is notified of comments instructing him in the proper use of SO; comments are more difficult. * If you're too lazy to poke around and see how the site is meant to be used, then we don't want you around. * Follow-up questions by the OP can be edited in or posted in comments; follow-up questions by other users should be posted as new questions. * Why are spam comments better than spam answers? * Wanna bet? – Shog9 Oct 24 '09 at 20:59
  • if "these things" isn't a question or a direct answer, it doesn't really belong in a question or an answer. but it might still belong on, and enrich, the site! btw1, meant "misuse" as putting relevant stuff in the wrong place, didn't mean irrelevant stuff... btw2, no bets :) – ingvald Nov 3 '09 at 17:26
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    What would you suggest a new user do in the following situation. They've searched the site and found a question exactly like the one they have. The question does not have an accepted answer, which is confirmed as a true state when the user tries the existing answers and none work. The new user would like to ask the original author if they ever found a solution. Would you have them ask the author in an answer? Duplicate the question? Ask the author in a comment? – Becky Dec 2 '09 at 22:22
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    Becky: i think a comment is an appropriate and useful place for such a question, yes. Shog9 - what would you have a new user do? duplicate the question? – ingvald Feb 8 '10 at 12:41
  • Spam comments are actually worse than spam answers. Comments aren't searchable (indeed, they aren't even indexed in the database for searching), which means that reviewing them in a systematic fashion (e.g. a review queue) is not possible without greatly increasing server load. As such, spam comments are more easily missed and are therefore worse than spam answers. – bwDraco Jul 5 '16 at 0:57
  • bwDraco + followup Shog9 on "spam": first, in this context "spam" is relevant stuff in the wrong place. i'm thinking about the user experience of seeing an interesting question, perhaps with direct relevance, and then browsing the answers f.ex to look for actionable advice. in that case, a user has more tolerance for "various" stuff in comments, and indeed only reads them when question and answer already is interesting - but using answers for non-answers is waste in the hunt for answers/ advice. that's why i think comments are best place for additional value that's not question or answer. – ingvald Nov 7 '16 at 14:34

Please no.

We have enough people who argue against clear community decisions in the comments, obviously without reading the FAQ. We do not need to lower the bar. If anything, we should raise it.

Anyone who is stupid enough to post an answer that should be a comment should be treated in an unfriendly manner.

Don't forget this is also one of the main ways we fight spam.

  • 3
    I propose we raise the comment threshold to 3449 rep. – TheTXI Aug 4 '09 at 16:09
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    A better solution, if you feel this is a problem, would be to allow downvoting of comments. I would much rather have such chatter in comments then in answers. – James McMahon Aug 4 '09 at 16:13
  • @nemo: But that is not what you suggestion is about, is it? – GEOCHET Aug 4 '09 at 16:14
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    @Rich B: There are two separate issues here. The one you brought up is keeping comments sane. My issue is answer abuse in lieu of allowing new users to comment. Essentially, while lower the rep may increase the amount of junk comments, there is still an issue of junk comments before you lower the rep. The issue already exists if you feel this is an issue, I don't see it as a critical issue as I think some amount of fluff is acceptable in comments. They are distinct issues. – James McMahon Aug 4 '09 at 16:20
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    @Nemo: We have a finite number of comment abuse flags, so this is an issue. Not only this, but we need to keep spam out of the comments. None of your ramblings address any of this. – GEOCHET Aug 4 '09 at 16:26
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    Well I feel it's better to have Spam in Comments than to have it in Answers. – sensslen Aug 13 '12 at 13:11
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    Nobody should be treated in an unfriendly manner. – devuxer Aug 31 '12 at 17:26
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    It's a bit like in politics I think. It's the same kind of attitude / arrogance. Compare to politicians who have $200,000 income per year. Every time they say "come on, that won't hurt much to the individual". Surely not, because they're not affected. Compare again. those who want the bar to be lifted even more upward, are usually those with 5,000 or more rep. So they're not affected (like the politicians: "What do I care!?"). They've "feathered their nest. "Sitting on a high horse" this is commonly called. And that's what I'm observing as well. – syntaxerror Sep 23 '13 at 23:06
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    -1 for "Anyone who is stupid enough to post an answer that should be a comment should be treated in an unfriendly manner." We need to be nice at all times. There's no excuse for being unfriendly to any user. – bwDraco Jul 3 '16 at 20:54
  • ^ And here is the problem, personified. – GEOCHET Jul 5 '16 at 15:59
  • Geochet, @bwDraco is right. Anyone who is unfamiliar enough with our "be nice" policy to call stack exchange users "stupid" and explicitly promote "being unfriendly" should be downvoted into oblivion and, if the behavior persists, should be suspended. – Wildcard Nov 30 '16 at 4:49
  • Gotta have muh safe place! – GEOCHET Dec 1 '16 at 14:55

I think this should be done, because spammer can be banned, and eitherway, newcommers are goning to abuse the answer system. The faster they learn to use comments, the faster they'll stop spamming the answers.

  • 1
    The problem is that a lot of the comments really should be answers or edits to the original question. Lowering the threshold for comments won't fix this. – AnonJr Oct 21 '09 at 14:42
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    @AnonJr You have to deal with a problem either way. I think the problem of turning away new users whose first experience with the site is being smacked down for posting a comment as an answer because they had no other choice is a much greater injustice than seeing answers showing up as comments, which still happens anyway. – BlueMonkMN Feb 17 '14 at 15:51

Often a new user who doesn't already have the association bonus is trying to find questions to answer to get to 50 so that he can help askers clarify their questions. Officially, a new user is supposed to skip a currently-unclear question and go on to the next. But when he tries, most of the sufficiently clear questions on the front page or the "unanswered" view are out of the new user's area of expertise (such as an R or C# question to a Python programmer on SO). So the user tries to narrow it to a tag in which the user has expertise, but everything that the user can answer already has an answer by the "fastest gun in the West" who is probably someone else camping that tag. New users in this situation can try one of three things:

  • Improve a couple dozen other answers on the site. (Child metas don't count because they neither use suggested edits nor give reputation.)
  • Compose answers for one or more interpretations of a question. This runs the risk of downvotes later on once the asker has clarified his question if the answerer guesses wrong.
  • yet another option listed in How does a lurker gain reputation? is to gain 200 rep on any one Stack Exchange site, this will trigger awarding bonus-reputation sufficient to unlock commenting privilege – gnat Oct 29 '14 at 10:10
  • @gnat To get to 200 you first have to get to 50, and you need to already have expertise in the subject matter of more than one site. For a long time, I was stuck at around 150-170 on SO and 40-odd on a bunch of other sites. – Damian Yerrick Oct 29 '14 at 16:13
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    to get 200, one needs SM expertise at one site, not at "more than one" - 200 at single site is enough to trigger association bonus. At one site of about 100 - this may still be not that easy mind you but certainly less of a dead end – gnat Oct 29 '14 at 16:18
  • @gnat By "more than one" I meant the first site where you seek to comment and the second site where you seek to reach 200 in order to gain comment privileges on the first. – Damian Yerrick Oct 29 '14 at 17:16

I've been using StackOverflow for a LONG time, but I never bother to log in, because most of the time I don't have an answer to questions, I only have comments and/or questions to an answerer. But since I don't have any reputation, I can't comment.

I find it utterly strange that as a newbie, I am allowed to edit an answer made by someone else, but not allowed to put a simple comment after any answer.

I wouldn't comment "thank you" or "me too" or anything meaningless, I want to comment because I want to ask the answerer about a specific difference between OP's situation and mine, for which the answer doesn't work. The answerer might have an advice for me. This kind of problem doesn't usually warrant for asking a brand new question, in fact it would probably count as a duplicate.

For example, if the accepted answer doesn't compile for me, and I'd like to ask the answerer what version of the library were they using.

I find this problem very annoying, and I think it's actually dissuading some new users from even logging in.

  • Unfortunately not all new users are as enlightened as you, which is why the restriction exists. This is only a work-around, but 1 good edit to post every day will get you the 50 rep needed to comment within a month. – psubsee2003 Feb 21 '14 at 18:33
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    I second @psubsee2003 here plus keep in mind edits are being reviewed so considered "safe". Comments don't have any review, once you can post comments you do that without anyone supervising you. – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Feb 21 '14 at 18:44
  • see: How does a lurker gain reputation? – gnat Feb 21 '14 at 20:54

I hypothesize that this relates to the reason an “answer” I posted yesterday is gone without a trace today. I have been able to comment in the past, but yesterday (and usually) I cannot. If, as I believe, my answer/comment accurately described a situation related to the problem in the original question, then deleting it with no explanation helped no one.


"Comment anywhere" capability is essential for any user to use any SE site with convenience.

Indeed, its necessary to have a reputation barrier for this, but the reputation score of 50 is just too much for this priviledge, compared to the needed reputation for other priviledges, i.e. "vote up". Also, a reputation score, regardless of its magnitude, does not ensure "spam protection". Spamming springs from the attitude of a user, regardless of his/her technical or communication skills.

To make this clearer, I give you an example of "vote up" priviledge abuse. Two users of an SE site, which are friends i real life, can upvote each other questions and answers regardless of their quality, when both reaches a reputation score of 15 (its obvious that when just one of them reaches reputation score of 15 first, he will imprudently help his mate to also achieve this). When both reach 50 reputation, you may have a couple of potential comment spammers.

  • 3
    Why is it too much? You can get 50 reputation from one half decent answer or 5 OK answers. Regarding your example - such cross voting between two people will be discovered. – ChrisF Aug 20 '12 at 10:23

I know that reputation limits :

  • "protect" from SPAM;
  • create addiction;
  • get glory and shine to bored people;
  • increases self-esteem like a SUV;

but, as side effect :

  • bounce newbie and occasionally user (I've given up to reply to a lot of "not clear" questions that I potentially solve)
  • push not "pro responders" to abandon (everyone do it for free, so why should I fight against limits to freely help someone?)


  • high reputations aren't guarantee of high quality (I read some answers...no comment);
  • limits aren't proportionate (generally and between them);
  • anonymous downvote are THE evil;
  • from mobile isn't possible to format code proprerly into answers, but stupid "geek" are Always ready to downvote/edit you,mocking your outrageous affront, even if the answer is correct.

And now, storms of downvote on me, but this is my HO.


Yes it should be lowered to same reputation as posting answer. Like my own example, my answer is actually comment not answer but I can't comment. This is strange that you need 50 points for commenting. For example in this question I needed to ask the question asker how did he resolved his problem and I was forced to ask it as answer not comment. Isn't it illogical?

  • 2
    If you have a new question, you should ask a new question. Your 'answer' was not a request for clarification of the question. This isn't a forum (and thats something that takes a bit to get one's head around). These aren't threads on forums - they are questions and answers and the site is specifically designed to work in that system to overcome the shortcomings of the forums. – user213963 Aug 28 '14 at 5:20
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    MichaelT, My problem is 100% same. Besides if I ask that as another question it will get my question a few downvotes (with ever ready downvoters ready to downvote just anything) and will be marked as duplicate with links to other similar questions including that one too. – Rolen Koh Aug 28 '14 at 5:24
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    If your question is 100% the same, then the same solution should work for you. If the solution doesn't work for you, ask a new question with the additional information about why the accepted solution on the other question isn't working. If it turns out it is a duplicate, the system can handle that... and if they aren't, then there's a new question with additional information for a different situation. – user213963 Aug 28 '14 at 5:26
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    None of the answers, answer that why his phpinfo is not reflecting changes made to proper php.ini file. They only answer which is the correct file and which I already know. Also there might be some other reasons that why changes are not being reflected like some system settings. But ok let me ask a new question and lets see how it goes. – Rolen Koh Aug 28 '14 at 5:30

This "answer" will be more heat than light. I'd prefer to upvote a comment I agree with rather than post this but that's not an option for newbie me. I would next prefer to add a comment right below the comment I like (because I can't just upvote that comment) but I can't do that either. So, thus my "answer". +1 to all the folks who decry how SE bites newcomers, should have different and/or lower thresholds in this meta subdomain, and have pointed out good ways to improve the system that have fallen on deaf ears. Incidentally, 5 rep IS a lot for this subdomain due to its nature and when reputation from other SE sites doesn't transfer here. Few of us have a reason to be here very often and gain the rep here to vote on comments and comment here. But that doesn't mean that our votes wouldn't have value!!

  • 3
    Get 200 reputation points on one site, then you'll get a bonus of 100 reputation points on all sites, then this restriction will never apply to you again. – ale Feb 16 '16 at 13:56
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    With such attitude you're totally right, you'll never reach 5 reputation because all you do is rant. – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Feb 16 '16 at 14:01
  • @Shadow Wizard, your comment is ironic because it also just adds more heat than light. You could have just downvoted my answer and left it at that. Your comment is evidence that people with more reputation don't necessarily make better contributions. Again, I would much rather vote than comment, but that's not an option for me. Also you're incorrect that all I do is rant. I provided a answer to a question that went unanswered for two years. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/177754/… – Jon Freed Feb 16 '16 at 15:24
  • One large problem with this is that it makes it easier for abusers to set up sock accounts to upvote their own crap (even comments, because you get badges with that, or just to fake popularity to "win the argument"). – Martin Tournoij Feb 17 '16 at 1:47
  • +1 @Carpetsmoker, that's a very good point that I haven't seen mentioned in this thread or others. I wish I could just quietly upvote your comment, but alas, I can't yet. – Jon Freed Feb 17 '16 at 15:10

I've been using various stackexchange sites irregularly over the past years and recently I started using them daily. And I'm starting to get #&"@!§ annoyed by the fact that I can't comment and won't be for loooooong time since it requires 50 points of reputation.

If that limit is supposed to prevent spam then first it's illogical as a single user input is enough to identify a spammer, second it's incompetent as spam, or any problem, must be solved by the site owner without impacting the users. Stackexchange doesn't sell products it sells interactivity, preventing comments and answers is like preventing sales - a sure failure.

Now if this limit is supposed to prevent low quality well hey, why don't you block questions and answers as well ! See the absurdity ? I'll add that in my experience the worst comments I've seen were made by users with the highest reputation (+1000pts). Power corrupts and those users think it's ok to make comments that are rude or offensive or not constructive / off-topic.

I see that this problem was raised over FOUR years ago and nothing has changed. Obviously there is someone in the team who doesn't understand what the purpose of this site is and must be fired.

  • 3
    Take Jon Skeet for example. If anyone will be able to comment, his inbox will be flooded with thousands of comments from people asking for personal help. This is very irritating and we don't want to see him leave. Getting 50 rep means you know something and good chances you won't post "hey plz help me/plz give codez" everywhere. – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Nov 28 '13 at 7:41
  • My point remains, good users should NOT be punished because of bad users. Find another way to deal with thousands of comments. – WaterBearer Nov 28 '13 at 8:22
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    But how can I distinguish between good 1 rep user and bad 1 rep user? That's the key here and I fear it's not possible to to this distinction. – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Nov 28 '13 at 8:32
  • 1pt of reputation might be too low. But there are many ways to limit the numbers of comments yet allow them, you could allow a certain number of comment per user per period (the more rep the shorter the period), or per positive or neutral questions and/or answers – WaterBearer Nov 28 '13 at 9:42
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    Feel free to ask for such feature request then (e.g. limit amount of comments based on rep), while I'm not sure how many will support it, it makes more sense than just lowering the threshold in my opinion. As it stands, your answer is just buried way down and don't really get much attention. Oh, and avoid sentences like the last one you put here. – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Nov 28 '13 at 9:59
  • [this is my last comment] I don't know the system so I can't request something that I'm not sure would be the best solution. And it's not the users' job to scratch their head over a site's problems. I should avoid saying that someone should be fired ? I might just have solved in one minute something that the person in charge didn't solve in four years. If this was Apple and if I was Steve Jobs... – WaterBearer Nov 28 '13 at 10:23
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    It's a greater injustice to punish good users than to fail to punish bad users. This is why we have the expression "innocent until proven guilty". I have to agree with user2534. I have seen too many new users getting punished for participating in the only way they can - by adding answers, and often times answers that get flagged because they should be comments. The current limit doesn't seem to really be solving a problem that doesn't already exist in another form. You're not reducing spam because spammers could post answers. You're not improving comment usage because answers still go there. – BlueMonkMN Feb 17 '14 at 16:01

Well, the suspicion is comments from < 50 rep users will generally be not good.

You could just insert "comments from the underprivileged" into some sort of queue, that require moderator approval.

  • Plus 1 and minus 3. I wonder what people possibly could have disliked about this suggestion. – bobobobo Sep 4 '13 at 19:27
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    The fact that moderators already have enough work without having to approve comments written by new members. – Laf Sep 4 '13 at 20:35
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    Are you personally volunteering to review every single comment from < 50 rep users? Yeah, I didn't think so. – Wildcard Nov 30 '16 at 5:18

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