Proposal: Moderators should be able to convert edits to a question by the OP into an answer.

Moderators have a (rather handy) tool to convert "answers" that are really clarifications from the OP into edits in the question automatically.

Another rather common mistake by users is to edit the question itself to add their own answer - for whatever reason some people still assume that self-answers are somehow "naughty".

It's frustrating as a moderator that there's not a way to fix this neatly and quickly. We're encouraged to act on flags quickly rather than as an on-going action. The options open to us immediately however are:

  1. Comment and leave it at that
  2. Comment and try to remember to return later.
  3. Post own CW answer and edit out of the question
  4. Close and say "ping me if you want to self-answer"
  5. Do nothing

None of those are ideal. If we had a "convert edit to answer" tool however it would:

  1. Act as a learning point for the user.
  2. Fixes the problem, keeps it Q&A style and presents the (often rather useful) knowledge that the OP has shared for posterity in the ideal form.
  3. Keeps post owned by the OP and lets them earn rep for their answer.
  4. Resolve the issue immediately, with no need for moderator follow up, even when the OP has gone AWOL.

The newly created answers will probably need minor fixups to make sense. That's no different to the "convert to edit" tool though.

The biggest argument against this seems to me to be "putting words in people's mouths", but:

  1. The poster already said this, just not in the right place.
  2. There's precedent: moderators are already trusted with this exact same call for comment edits, which have no history even and very little visibility. This case has better accountability.

There's a related feature request that suggests an automatic warning - there's nothing automatic about my suggestion and no messages that may/may not make sense or be ignored.

  • I could also imagine cases where the answer was closed and a self answer was not possible. – rekire Sep 8 '13 at 5:47
  • Just copy the answer to a community wiki answer and call it a day? – Nemo Jan 3 '17 at 13:55
  • @Nemo That's what I suggested as workaround #2. It's also something that doesn't need mod involvement at all (but still seems to get flagged for mods). I don't really want my name associated with tons of answers I don't care about at all and it's wrong to not give credit to people who give (sometimes very good) answers, albeit a little misguided in their delivery. – Flexo Jan 3 '17 at 18:06
  • @Flexo true, I would often like to assign some community wiki answers to the Community user. I don't remember who has the power to do so currently. – Nemo Jan 3 '17 at 23:31

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