I would suggest that answers can't be changed to comments until none of the answers has been accepted yet.

Why not allow conversion before answer acceptance?

Because people may likely edit their answers to become more informative and provide much more information than initially posted. Posting quickly and editing afterwards is a common technique my many users. Allowing conversion before acceptance may convert some of the answers too quickly.

And what about when an answer is just a link, but to a JSFiddle working example that may get accepted as the correct answer?


A good example where this has been done too soon is this answer. I've afterwards added a new answer and removed the comment, but It proves my point.

Answers should not be allowed to be converted to comments until OP accepts an answer.

Additional edit - grace period for answer amendment

It is true that when OP doesn't accept an answer, such answers would be stuck as answers instead of being converted. A 5 minute grace period to amend an answer is simply not enough because a decent answer may on some topic may take considerably longer to complete.

So when can answers get converted then?

  1. When user accepts an answer.
  2. After 24 hours if no answer gets accepted - this would also work with those users that don't just sit and wait for the answers but may do other things as well, so communication with them is more sporadic.
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    What if the OP never does? The comments should just sit there? – simchona Aug 27 '12 at 11:01
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    But, you noticed that your answer got converted to a comment. Then you improved your answer... isn't that a good thing? – ben is uǝq backwards Aug 27 '12 at 11:09
  • I agree it might happen too soon, but 5 minutes grace period should be enough. No need to wait more than that. – Shadow Keeps Social Distance Aug 27 '12 at 11:11
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    And what about when an answer is just a link, but to a JSFiddle working example that may get accepted as the correct answer? That's not acceptable. Simple as that. – Time Traveling Bobby Aug 27 '12 at 11:25
  • @simchona: what comments? You mean answers that haven't been converted? Well a day period should be fine then... – Robert Koritnik Aug 27 '12 at 11:39
  • @Ben: I didn't improve my answer because it got converted, but because of the subsequent conversation with OP. And eventually I had to recreate original answer which is rather stupid. – Robert Koritnik Aug 27 '12 at 11:39
  • @ShaWizDowArd: 5 minute is not enough. When I start writing a long answer it may take even half an hour to complete... Those are rare, but 5 minute is definitelly not enough. Let me edit my question a bit... Maybe someone will decide to remove a downvote from... – Robert Koritnik Aug 27 '12 at 11:40
  • @UnicornifiedBobby: There are lots of answer like that and they get accepted, because they provide the correct solution. – Robert Koritnik Aug 27 '12 at 11:41
  • If there are lots of answers like that, then there are lots of pretty terrible answers. Whether they are correct or not does not really change that. – Bart Aug 27 '12 at 11:42
  • @Bart: I agree but that means that conversion is one sided then... Some answers get converted while others are allowed to stay as are. – Robert Koritnik Aug 27 '12 at 11:47
  • I would not say that they "are allowed to stay". Probably they were not caught or acted upon. Given the sheer volume of answers that can happen. – Bart Aug 27 '12 at 11:48
  • @Robert so in your answer state "I am going to improve this answer" and it should be enough to dodge the comment conversion. – Shadow Keeps Social Distance Aug 27 '12 at 12:04
  • @ShaWizDowArd Do you really recommend that? That to me signals "poor answer" like nothing else. Almost downvote guaranteed and "not an answer"-flag would not be far away. I would not make that recommended practice. – Bart Aug 27 '12 at 12:06
  • @Bart people might need time to improve the answer, sounds like reasonable thing to me. Of course, I'm not talking about having only "I will post answer soon, please don't delete" but rather a decent but not full answer. – Shadow Keeps Social Distance Aug 27 '12 at 12:11

I disagree. If you post an answer which is at most a comment, you are explicitly taking the risk of it being converted to a comment. If this is caused by a lack of information provided by the OP, then hold off on providing an answer. Ask for clarification first.

I see no reason why we should allow poor answers to exist, assuming they might be improved somewhere in the future. Either write a real answer to begin with, or make it a comment if it is not a real answer. Bad content should be filtered out as quickly as possible and not be allowed to exist simply because it might be improved.

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