I know there are a number of questions asking what to do with questions with answers in the comments.

I'm looking at it from the point of view of searching unanswered questions with a specific tag. Quite a few questions these days are just being left open even though there's a clear solution in the comments. Is there a way to filter these out, or is voting to have them closed the only way?

  • I think you're confusing "answered" with "closed", and "open" with "unanswered". – Cody Gray Apr 25 '12 at 23:26
  • @TheEstablishment The questions I'm talking about are those which are 'open' and unanswered. Aren't such questions misleading, since they show up in the 'unanswered' sort and still have a complete answer in the comment thread to the question? – prrao Apr 25 '12 at 23:28
  • No. They need someone to post an answer. Pull it out of the comments section if it's located there. – Cody Gray Apr 25 '12 at 23:32

Usually when I post an answer as a comment, it's due to one of these reasons:

  1. I'm not 100% sure if it's correct, but I want to throw it out there.

  2. I don't have the time to develop a complete answer but felt it could help someone else develop one or help the OP find the answer.

  3. I believe the question should be closed because it's off-topic, too localized, or possibly a duplicate, and adding additional answers is not useful.

  4. I don't realize at the time that the comment could be an answer (usually on meta).

The thing you need to look out for is #3. If it's not going to be helpful to future visitors, then yes, close it. It needs to be gotten rid of.

If the answer in the comments is helpful, you have a few choices to make it into a real answer:

  1. @notify the person who commented and request they post it as an answer. This will also notify the OP and they may possibly post their own solution, if they have solved it.

  2. Post the comment as a community wiki answer, giving credit to that person and not gaining reputation from their work.

  3. Improve the answer to give more detail and post your own answer. This is a more viable solution as an answer in the comments is very likely to be incomplete or lacking in detail due to the nature of comments, and the limit in characters.

  • Most users are too lazy to come back and post an answer themselves. This is especially true with new/irregular users. In your answer choice #3, is it okay for me to post an answer based on someone else's comments? It would at the very least prevent it from showing up on 'unanswered' searches in future – prrao Apr 25 '12 at 23:10
  • I'm not too sure about the convention on posting answers based on existing answers in the comments – prrao Apr 25 '12 at 23:10
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    @prrao: As long as you put some effort into improving it, there's nothing wrong with claiming it as your own. You can also note that the original part came from the person in the comments. – animuson Apr 25 '12 at 23:23
  • Okay, that seems like the best option for now. Can any answer be posted as a community wiki answer, regardless of how broad its applicability? – prrao Apr 25 '12 at 23:26
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    Yes, when writing a new answer you always have the option to mark it as community wiki. Just don't overuse it. If you're improving the answer, you shouldn't use CW. Just use it if you're copying their comment into an answer, and remember to give them credit. – animuson Apr 25 '12 at 23:29

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