When reviewing low quality posts in the beta review, can we choose to flag it as "Not an answer" or "Should be a comment"? I'm finding that a lot of these purported "answers" should really be comments.

A few examples:

I'm talking about answers with phrases like "have you tried X" and "what's the result of X"

  • 1
    a lot of the time it might be users who have not yet gained enough rep to comment...so i don't know if that would affect what to do but it's good to take note of
    – Tom Prats
    Jul 30, 2012 at 22:17

2 Answers 2


I have two major issues with this:

  • Lousy answers tend to make for lousy comments. Not always of course; the classic examples are answers that simply ask the asker for more information, though even these stop being useful after that information has been provided. You should generally just delete these; in some cases, it may be worth breaking out of the queue and either flagging for a moderator, or just posting the comment yourself.

  • I've seen waaaay too many suggestions for "convert to comment" as a tool for denying reputation to the authors of answers that are actually answers but don't meet someone's quality standards. Link-only and code-only answers are the classic examples here. This is really a cop-out: if you honestly believe the answer is utterly worthless, foul garbage cluttering the site, then vote to delete it; otherwise, break out of the LQ queue and down-vote it.

Of course, there are legitimate cases of answers being posted that are simply better off as comments: answers that are replies to other answers, exist only to provide auxiliary links, etc. I don't think it's wise to consider "convert to comment" a panacea though: the proper action may actually be fleshing out the answer as it sits or editing the information into a different answer. Forcing you to break out of the queue to handle these exceptions recognizes their exceptional nature, which is also reinforced by the fact that only moderators have access to a "convert to comment" feature in the first place!

Regarding your examples:

  • Great examples here
    This isn't an answer, but it isn't a particularly useful comment either (though it has now been converted to one). This falls into the category of "I don't want to bother trying to understand your problem so I'll just hand you the documentation" responses, and IMHO these should nearly always be deleted outright.

  • The best way to do this is to run the server on a thread
    This definitely isn't a comment. It isn't much of an answer either, but this was the asker's summary of her solution (and like many such answers, it left out a big chunk of information that was - after the fact - obvious to her). She later explained why in the comments. I edited her explanation into the answer.

  • Have you tried ExternalContext.getRequestParameterMap()
    Still not a comment. If you re-wrote this as "Use ExternalContext.getRequestParameterMap()", it would clearly be an answer.

In short, I wouldn't recommend converting any of these into comments. The first one is better off just gone, the last two are fine where they sit.

  • I would agree with this in general. However, the majority of low quality answers that I reviewed required breaking out of the queue (most of the breakouts were to flag as "should be comment"). What's the point of a queue if I have to break out of it every other question? Jul 31, 2012 at 12:42
  • @SomeKittens: it'd help if you posted some examples of these comments-as-answers...
    – Shog9
    Jul 31, 2012 at 15:44
  • Added examples! Jul 31, 2012 at 16:48
  • Added responses!
    – Shog9
    Jul 31, 2012 at 18:49
  • @Shog9 And what about editing the answer in the last case to change "try" and put "Use"? Do you recomend that? I don't like to modify user's answers but in this particular case I think it would be an improvement.
    – Jav_Rock
    Sep 11, 2012 at 7:24
  • @Jav_Rock: if it's bugging you and you know enough about the topic to be able to say with some amount of certainty that this might be a reasonable answer, go for it. The author can roll it back if he disagrees.
    – Shog9
    Jan 17, 2013 at 1:29

I usually leave a comment on the posts asking the answerer to either flesh out the answer, remove it, or convert to a comment. Then I click "Not Sure" with the hope that someone else will review the same post later and recommend deletion if no changes have been made.

This is the best strategy I could come up with with the tools available; the problem I see is that it doesn't remove the post from the review system. I would definitely like more options when reviewing low-quality posts.

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