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I'd like to see a way to automatically remove an answer and turn it into a comment.

There have been times - admittedly few - when I was reviewing a low quality answer, and it would be a perfect, valid, useful comment on the question. It leaves me with the ugly situation of "Write a comment on the invalid answer essentially saying: 'Great comment! Post it when you have 50 rep, otherwise, don't answer.'", or "recommend it for deletion as a comment." I've spent about thirty minutes surfing discussions here on Meta:

and maybe a few others, as well. It seems the consensus is: "Comments have to have a high (for noobs) threshold to avoid spam. A comment queue is crazy because it would be way too huge. We're stuck with it." One person said that they as a reviewer copy the "answer" into a comment, but then the new user doesn't get an atribution, and I've seen others say "That's horrible - that encourages them to abuse the answer-as-comment."

And I'll admit - there are few very worthy comments posted as answers. And yet, the fact exists - there are still good ones, asking for clarification on the question that no one else has asked.

If we choose "vote to delete because it's better as a comment", can the system automatically move the answer to a comment on the question? (Or have a checkbox that enables that behavior.) It seems to me, this solves all of the problems - you won't gain any more spam or any new review queues.

I've seen others say, "The comment system just needs to be redone", and if/when it is, that will likely avoid this issue. So maybe my solution is coding to a bug. But it seems to be a viable solution for the answers-as-comments we receive.

EDIT

Based on comments from Robert Harvey, I'd also be happy with a moderator flag that I could use for the good posts, so that the moderator could then convert the answer to a comment. (We'd need minor tweaks to the review help just to make sure the reviewer is aware of this option.)

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There are potential problems with giving the user community this capability. It could be viewed as a "rep-robbing" mechanism.

Generally, the folks who post comments as answers do so because they don't have enough reputation to post comments, but they just can't help themselves. We don't necessarily want to be a proxy for people who don't have comment privileges, but can get their comments posted anyway because people are converting their answers to comments.

Mods have the capability to convert answers to comments. We don't use it much, unless someone posts something really useful, like a bare link to a comprehensive blog post.

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  • The understanding I got from the previous posts was "We'd love to have those few good comments be used as comments, but there's so much spam and we have to prevent that." Yes, this would be an end-run around the reputation system, but if you have reviewers choosing this option only for answers that are good comments, isn't it worth it? Which is the bigger goal - not gaming reputation, or being inclusive to worthwhile new users? Since this is a moderator option, should regular reviewers simply flag the few good comments for moderator attention? – Scott Mermelstein Oct 29 '13 at 16:30
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    Yes, the ideal outcome is a custom moderator flag with an explanation like "This isn't an answer, but the OP might find the link valuable. Convert to comment?" – user102937 Oct 29 '13 at 16:32

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