I recently asked this question over on Meta AskUbuntu: Should new users be restricted from using comments within the questions they ask?

My reasoning when I asked this question was that the faq(s) all seem to include a "How Do I Ask Questions Here?" section which contains the recommendation (instruction?) quoted below.

  • If other users ask you for more information in the comments, edit your question using the edit link just below your original question.

The answers provided so far to my question have focused on why my suggestion is "less special". But one criticism troubled me more than the others.

It was pointed out that if a user does what is suggested in the faq and updates their question with new information, then no notifications will be issued. In particular, people who requested more information relating to the question will not be notified that the information has been provided.

This appears to be the case based on what I read in these questions:
Are answerers notified when a question they've answered is edited?
Notify us when the question has been edited after posting an answer

At this point I am no longer sure what is the best approach to take.

  • If the users wanted to be notified, wouldn't they request it? I know I leave "need more info" comments frequently without being qualified to follow up, I just want to help those who come after (and the OP).
    – user154510
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 20:43
  • @MatthewRead somtimes this is fine, I have droped lots of "more info" comments, but when I answer a question and then the question is modified to include how the answer didn't work, or they then specify that they "don't want terminal solutions" the answer then is wrong and gets down-voted without notification that the question was significantly changed. An "ex-post facto" down-vote situation. So we are proposing at least notification on significant edits (at least to answers) over certain characters, or when a moderator adds to or changes the question where the answers need to be notified. Commented May 10, 2012 at 22:04
  • @Matthew Sure, that makes sense for answerers, I was just thinking of commenters.
    – user154510
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 22:40
  • @MatthewRead , yeah I think commenter's get notified just fine by comments, and as you said they might just want to help with the process, where people answering are more committed to providing a solution, and likely have dealt with similar problems, and there is more at stake for when the format or content of the question changes. Commented May 10, 2012 at 22:45

1 Answer 1


If the question needs clarification or improvement, it needs to be done to the question itself. This is especially true when users leave comments like the one in the question you linked:

irrational@MB-VB-Ubu32:~$ sudo fdisk -l Disk /dev/sda: 8589 MB, 8589934592 bytes 255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 1044 cylinders, total 16777216 sectors Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes Disk identifier: 0x000015d2 Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System /dev/sda1 * 2048 12582911 6290432 83 Linux /dev/sda2 12584958 16775167 2095105 5 Extended /dev/sda5 12584960 16775167 2095104 82 Linux swap / Solaris

That kind of information needs to be in the question, not in comments below it.

If notifications are needed, the user can leave an @user comment, to the effect of "I updated the question with the information you asked for."

If you need to follow-up on a question where you asked for clarification, go back to your account Activity page, and click on the comment you left the OP.

  • You appear to be saying that this process is "broken as designed", correct? The complete process seems to be that the question should be updated and then a comment posted. Should the faq be updated to say this? Commented May 10, 2012 at 20:22
  • Comments are OK for simple clarifications, but sometimes (for example) people try to post code in comments on Stack Overflow, and that just doesn't work. If it's a substantial part of the question, it should be in the question proper.
    – user102937
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 20:25
  • Re "That kind of information needs to be in the question, not in comments below it", yes, I agree and this is why I made the suggestion. However, my suggestion (as expected) seems to also have problems. Commented May 10, 2012 at 20:27
  • 3
    Posting a comment for notification is a workaround, but it does provide precise control. It allows the OP to decide who gets notified. I'm not sure I want to be notified every time a question I participate in is edited, nor do I necessarily want everyone who participates in my question to be notified every time I edit it.
    – user102937
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 20:27
  • 1
    I am guessing that when you think of a user deciding who gets notified, that user has 100s or 1000s of points of "experience". User's posting their first question seem to just keep throwing stuff against the wall using any means available to them to see if anything happens to stick. I have no ideas on how to best serve both categories at the same time. Commented May 10, 2012 at 20:47
  • I believe the change we would be calling for would be for people that are answering the question, and would have a threshold, say character count or a notification box, that would let the people answering the question know when a question has significantly changed. Commented May 11, 2012 at 1:29

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