I recently came across this question on apple.stackexchange.com and wanted to add a comment, not an answer. But I couldn't since I didn't have the necessary reputation. But I could post an answer. I understand the reasoning for that.

However, what I found frustrating is that since I am not a heavy user of any of the stackexchange sites, I didn't realize that I need more points to comment so I found myself searching for the "add comment" link. I looked all around, couldn't find one, and since I thought it was best to provide feedback even though it wasn't an answer, I posted my feedback as an answer. Later, someone else moved it to a comment (which I obviously agree with).

I later had to search around to find out that I needed more points to comment, which a less motivated user wouldn't necessarily do, and decided to post here (I hope this is the correct venue for this discussion)

My point is that I know I can't vote up an answer unless I have over 15 points because the site tells me so when I try to upvote. Somewhat analogously, I think there should be some sort of hint or pointer about one's inability to comment on a question's page from a usability standpoint. My guess is that would reduce the number of times answers are converted to comments as well. It might even increase a user's desire to answer a different question so that s/he would have enough points to comment elsewhere.

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    Actually the mod shouldn't have converted your improper answer to a comment, they should have deleted it. The policy is not to convert an answer to a comment if the poster doesn't have enough rep to post comments; if they did such users would get in the habit of posting comments-as-answers knowing they'd be converted to comments.
    – Servy
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 17:58
  • I'm simply stating the public policy, nothing more. That's what should have been done. If you feel that it shouldn't be the public policy then that would be another meta discussion in its own right.
    – Servy
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 18:10
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    (I accidentally hit enter on my previous comment before finishing). Yes, I guess I would open up a different discussion on that, it seems like a shame to lose what I imagine are some helpful comments. But I've already said my piece. As a new user, it was very confusing. That's really where I am coming from, the user experience side.
    – ezrock
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 18:14
  • This discussion is clearly relevant as well. I am not saying we should lower the reputation required however, just let the user know that commenting is disabled for low reputation users.
    – ezrock
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 18:32
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    @Servy - Where is this stated as policy? Why would moderators be given the ability to convert answers to comments if it wasn't appropriate in certain situations? If an answer is really a good comment, but the user didn't have sufficient reputation to leave it as such, I have no problems with converting it to a comment instead of deleting it. I prefer not to lose any content of value, and I don't think this opens up the system to gaming by new users. Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 18:54
  • @BradLarson I don't know if it's stated in any official location, but I know mods have stated it on a number of occasions. It's stated that the reason for the functionality is to convert the posts of anyone that already has sufficient rep to post a comment.
    – Servy
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 18:57
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    Moderators do have the ability to convert answers to comments (see my post below for an example). Interestingly, the questioner wants me to expand on my comment, but I can't. I can't even tell him I don't have the right to comment because my reputation score is too low. math.stackexchange.com/questions/538602/… Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 19:00

1 Answer 1


You're right; that should be clearer.

Here's what's being done about it.

  1. New Quick Start Guide - We're close to rolling out a "quick start" guide designed to help teach new users the absolute minimum they need to know to get started and have a good experience. There's a little more on that in this answer, but it does cover that you can comment on your own questions right away, but need 15 rep to comment on others. (Because as you point out, it's the kind of thing that's surprising to new users.) You'll see that live pretty soon, and we'll be encouraging new users to read it in a number of ways.

  2. More In Line Help - There are a number of places where we want to provide more in-line guidance, so that eventually, most ineffective actions provide clear feedback to the user on what to do or why they can't do what they're trying. That'll take a bit more work, but this would be a great example of the kind of thing that'd be high priority out of the gate.

  • Thanks for letting me know. My .02$ is that new users are more reluctant to read a guide than in-line text that will be in front of them at the moment of its relevance. Both ideas are great, though.
    – ezrock
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 22:03

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