While reviewing "First Posts" on Stack Overflow, I often come across new users posting comments as answers. It seems (at least to me) they are not doing this because they are unaware of how Stack Overflow works but because they can't comment on any question they are forced to put it as answer.

I have found duplicate questions for my request like:

but the best explanation I have found is an answer to Allow new users to post comments against questions.

I think the main reason this isn't supported is there's no way to downvote comments, which would make them attractive to spammers. If somebody comments on the top answer in a question the only way to get rid of it is for six people to flag it. Comment flags don't show up on 10k tools, so it needs to be six people that happen to stumble across the spam comment, or a moderator that checks the list manually. People can comment every 15 seconds, so that can get out of hand pretty quickly. Comments also aren't listed on the user's profile page, so it's hard to see at a glance if a user has been spamming

So I am suggesting allowing new users (with less than 50 reputation points) to comment only 5 times every day or only 25 times times until they reach 50 reputation points or any other variation of it.

  • 2
    May be a good idea but to reduce the spammers we can allow this only after he earn new user privilege. Nov 15 '13 at 9:50
  • 1
    Agreed, I had the same problem myself when I started out. It took me 13 days to just get 50 rep and people kept harassing me about how my answers should be comments, while all I was doing was trying to help people. Nov 15 '13 at 10:20

This was, and is, being considered in a slightly different way.

First, we do have a problem when it comes to the comment restrictions. We made comments to keep people from posting comments as answers, but took them away from people likely to be the most confused about how the system works. That was, actually, necessary because at lower thresholds the noise was just immense, and comment moderation tools aren't nearly as good as the ones attached to actual posts. We'd rather see spam in posts because it gets detected much sooner.

There is an idea on the table to give people one, possibly two comments, and let them unlock more per day as they continue using them correctly (evidenced by not being flagged), until they officially unlock the feature and can comment everywhere. When used incorrectly, they lose a couple per day. This is great, because it could also teach.

The problem remains what it was originally, comment moderation tools aren't that great, and new comments can sometimes be difficult to discover and review. While we're working on what to do with the elephant in the room when it comes to /review - I don't think we're likely to add more queues, and I'm not sure if reviewing new comments is a very good use of reviewer's time.

Still, this angle is something we're thinking about. It's an interesting problem to chew on. If we can develop a system that teaches people how to comment (and when to comment) as they learn the rest of the ropes, then we also partly cure the problem of obsolete / chatty comments collecting as a whole, along with cutting down on the non-answers.

  • 3
    I'd be happy to see something like this. I've long felt that privileges should be based on behaviour, not (only) on rep. Something similar for editing might ease the robo-reviewer problem.
    – S.L. Barth
    Nov 15 '13 at 10:24
  • @S.L.Barth It could prevent some new users from having to seek questions where no clarification is needed in order to jump in (or easier questions, with more competing answers). Presumably, two comments could be enough to ask the question author to clarify a few things, and then nail the comment privilege with the rep earned from their first answer. That's a very attractive idea if you're new and capable. My concerns lie in the ... less capable and observant ... end of the spectrum.
    – Tim Post
    Nov 15 '13 at 15:02
  • This may depend heavily upon comment flags. Not all bad/rude comments may be flagged. Additionally, we don't want to give users too much power to take away others' privileges. I'm sure these things are already being considered, though :]
    – user206222
    Nov 15 '13 at 15:03
  • @Emrakul Yes, the flags would have to indicate a bit of a consensus that a comment was inappropriate. Still, the worst a coordinated flag ring could do is take away a few comments for a day or so - not the end of the world, but definitely considered. This gets back to comment moderation tools not being the best in the box, so to say.
    – Tim Post
    Nov 15 '13 at 15:06

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