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I very often see comments about a question posted as answers, e.g., "format it this way" or "why don't you post it over here". I think this practice clogs up the answers and the comment feature is for these sorts of remarks. What's the general consensus on etiquette?

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    I think the proper etiquette is obvious. People who post comments as answers are either rep whoring or don't have the rep to comment yet (in which case they should refrain from posting comments as answers and post some answers as answers).
    – raven
    Oct 8, 2008 at 22:35
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    If you had posted that as an answer I would have picked it :-)
    – Simon
    Oct 8, 2008 at 22:36
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    What about people who post answers as comments? ;-)
    – Bobby Jack
    Oct 8, 2008 at 22:45
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    @Bobby Jack: I often post answers as comments, and I don't see anything wrong with this. Sometimes I do it as a courtesy to OP while voting to close. Other times I do it because I don';t want to go to all the trouble of fleshing out and properly formatting the answer - someone else can do that if they think what I've said is correct. There's no shortage of people posting hasty answers, so why should I add to this if I don't have a lot more to say on a subject? Feb 13, 2012 at 23:05
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    I don't have enough rep to comment. There have been several occasions when I've wanted to ask a question as a small and natural extension of the question that was answered, and I guessed that the person who wrote the answer would also know the answer to my question. Because of this, I've been tempted to do something worse than post a comment as an answer: I want to edit their answer and put my question inside of it. I figure they're more likely to see my question if they receive an edit notification than if I post a brand new question, and I'm about ready to disregard etiquette and just do it.
    – Kyle
    Mar 8, 2012 at 2:31
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    I'm not quite certain what is the point of rep before commenting to ask a question, it was quite irritating for me on my first day here. But in order to get around that I attempted to do exactly as raven suggested. That others will really make a concerted effort to answer with an answer, who knows! I feel the rep-to-comment rule encourages poor answers personally, but I would have to assume the good folks at SO know best. Jun 19, 2013 at 12:05

5 Answers 5

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In addition to the basic "Answers should always provide an answer" rule, I also propose

Joke answers should always be comments

Even if the question is a terrible plz-send-teh-codez question, posting a joke as an answer is blatant rep-whoring, since you will get voted up for being funny rather than for being correct or insightful, which is what your reputation is supposed to describe.

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    Please someone show me ONE example of an upvoted joke answer
    – David
    Aug 28, 2019 at 14:21
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Remarks about the question or answer should be a comment. Answers to the question asked should be answers.

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Answers should and will be indexed by google - its what will help future generations find the right answer (via google etc). Comments - they are meta - and essentially messages to the person who wrote the question/answer (which others can view if they want to). Not even sure if the bots will crawl them.

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    ...which seems to be a good reason to keep comments out of answers
    – Simon
    Oct 8, 2008 at 22:35
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    "Not even sure if the bots will crawl them." -- Google crawls everything. Dec 16, 2013 at 19:53
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Answers should add to the community knowledge on the subject. I try to keep the "it's like a Wiki" concept in mind. While I agree with you regarding answers that should have been comments, I've also seen the opposite: comments that provided useful information and should have been posted as answers or edited into an existing answer. I tend to gloss over comments most of the time so I hope that I'm not missing anything important by not reading them.

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When possible comments should not be given as answers. That being said, there are people without enough rep to comment yet (like yours truly for instance :p)

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