The FAQ about comments has the question but doesn't provide an answer.

So when should comments be used? What is their purpose?


2 Answers 2


Comments are used for various things, depending on the site. For main sites, comments are usually used to clarify questions or elaborate on an issue. For meta sites, comments are used for discussion.

There's no hard and fast rule, but I choose between answering or commenting by asking myself, "Am I providing an answer or am I just continuing the question?"

  • Thanks Yawus, but this is not the answer I am looking for. I want an answer from moderators/SE who have designed the system. I am looking for guidelines about what is the main purpose of comments, when is it OK to use them, what should not be done in comments, etc. on questions/answers (main site, not meta).
    – Kaveh
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 20:10
  • I am not asking for how you (as a user) use comments or think others use them. I am looking for SE guidelines.
    – Kaveh
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 20:14
  • 7
    SO is run by the community, and we have generally 'figured out' how these sites work by now. Yawus' answer is spot-on. Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 20:16
  • 4
    How about this. That Word of God enough for ya?
    – Yawus
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 20:31
  • @Martijn, I know how things work. As a moderator I need an something like an official guideline where I can refer misbehaving users to which explains the purpose of the comments, a user's answer is not enough in this case.
    – Kaveh
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 20:49
  • @Yawus, thanks, that is much better. :)
    – Kaveh
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 20:50
  • @Kaveh: Right, that's an important distinction that wasn't present in your question. Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 20:53
  • @Martijn, should have been more careful in wording the question. :) I looked up the FAQ but saw the answer for that question was removed so I posted this question. The link Yawus provides in the comment above should be sufficient.
    – Kaveh
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 20:56
  • @kaveh mods are users too
    – user176326
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 22:47

The FAQ post that you linked to actually does contain an answer.. You say that you want an "official standpoint" on the subject. A moderator/SE employee to answer your question.

Notice that in the revisions of the answer on that post contain edits by 4 moderators, one of which, made at Jul 5 2012 at 14:59 by Shog9♦. He is the current Community Coordinator for Stack Exchange, Inc. and that makes him about as official as it come with regard to ansewrs regarding the sites features, goals, ideology, etc... That answer is a Community Wiki post - everyone can contribute to it normal users, Moderators or even Stack Exchange staff...

If a you were to ask a "moderators/SE who have designed the system." about this, I believe that they would recommend that post as the canonical answer to the question "How do comments work?"

With regard to their purpose, see the first paragraph -

Comments exist so that users can talk about questions and answers without posting new answers that do not actually answer their parent questions. Comments are often used to ask for clarification on, suggest corrections to and provide meta-information about posts.

The "comment everywhere" privilege page might also shed some light on the subject.

When should I comment?

You should submit a comment if you want to:

  • Request clarification from the author;
  • Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post;
  • Add relevant but minor or transient information to a post (e.g. a link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the question has been updated).
  • Thanks :) since there were a separate question for that one I was looking for a different section in the answer (there used to be one).
    – Kaveh
    Commented Jul 14, 2012 at 20:54

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