Edit: The title is of course a rhetorical question, to which the answer is "no". Apparently, it's not obvious, so I have to state that :/

New users don't have enough rep to post a comment, but they are allowed to answer. This means that if a new user wants to be heard, the only avenue is to post a comment as an answer, like this well meaning post.

Can a change be made so that new users can ask, answer and post comments only to questions?

If not, the title says it all...

  • Great idea, I've been burning most of my flags on 'not an answer' answers that should be comments. Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 9:00
  • 3
    "Is an answer that's a really comment better than a comment?" Of course not. Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 9:06
  • 1
    @BoltClock'saUnicorn then why do we allow users to answer but not comment ? Unlike the title, that question was not rhetorical
    – Bohemian
    Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 9:33
  • This just happened minutes ago. Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 13:15
  • This always bugs me to. it is a pretty crap new user experience for a user to submit some well meaning request for information as an answer (as that is the only avenue available) and then get downvoted and a load of terse remarks saying "should have been a comment". Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 13:30

4 Answers 4


Can a change be made so that new users can ask, answer and post comments only to questions?

No, because spam and other things. Comments are harder to moderate as they don't bump the post and comment moderation is invisible to the community.

If not, the title says it all...

That doesn't imply that an answer that's really a comment is better than a comment. It just means that some users, due to other circumstances, are forced to ask for clarification in a circuitous manner.


Let's see this in another perspective, perhaps a more to-core explanation.

Stack Exchange is a Q&A site. At its core, it's all about asking and answering questions.

The need for comments exists because, among other things, we are human beings and sometimes fail to provide all required information for a question. Even if we think we have provided all information, someone might say that there exists a similar, if not duplicate question already answered.

Comments exists to add or ask for relevant information, without adding an explicit answer.

The current limit of 50 reputation exists as a privilege. As all privileges, they are given as a result of the work an user does within the community and as such represent a certain level of trust. More so, if comments are used to ask information, they represent a certain level of commitment; the user that asks has spent an amount of interest in the question.

Besides the reasons pointed by Mr. Peanut (spam mostly), a new user is less likely to use the comments in their intended way (as some users come here thinking this is some sort of forum). Also, the answers given by new users aren't generally good.

If a question needs to be commented in order for it to be solved, chances are that it isn't all that great a question in the first place (as seen, the linked question has one downvote) and, by influence, the answers given wouldn't generally be that great either.

An answer, however, is the core of the site, and as such, it is allowed for even an unregistered, near-anonymous user to post one. There is already a system to deal with non-answers that, not being perfect, it deals with this problem effectively.

There is a slight upside in this system of non-answering/deletion - the (unsolved) question gets bumped, thereby placing it on the front page, where it might raise new interest.


I agree that new users want to comment. However they generally aren't very good at it. They don't have enough context, whether it's asking what the programming language or OS are when the tags provide that information, not realizing this is an uber-dupe, or just not realizing how the site works. I've said this before and I'll continue to say it every chance I get.

Deleting answers-that-are-really-comments is better than converting them to comments. The user needs to understand that they aren't yet familiar enough with the site, or at least haven't proven that they are. The complaint that no questions exist that can just be answered without commenting is utterly and obviously untrue. We all found some didn't we?

  • 3
    Disagree. I would much rather each one was taken on its merits with bad ones deleted and good ones converted to comments. Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 18:35

Yes, I am aware that I am commenting as an answer because I lack the rep to comment. I'm not trying to be ironic, I have a proposition: if rep <50, the ui would display an alternate entry for new users to enter their comment. After submission, it would need to be approved by staff/mod who would decide whether it should be submitted as a comment or a legitimate answer, or deleted if it truly has no value to the discussion as either.

I don't really buy the argument that the rule is in place because of spam: nearly every question and comment gets seen immediately.

  • Already posted as a feature request, no need to hijack a different request (related as it may be) with the same suggestion Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 12:16
  • did not know that. hijacking implies spamming a request i've already made, this was the first. also i believe the OP was clear about his position on the subject, and felt he would appreciate keeping a dialog going. haters down-vote all you want, I'd rather be productive and work toward finding solutions than worry about rep.
    – Moscarda
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 14:14
  • Actually, in my view this one is an answer. One can agree or disagree, but is actually proposing an alternate compromise solution to the same problem. May get downvoted but I don't see any reason to delete the answer as the review queue seem to bee suggesting right now.
    – SPArcheon
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 18:10

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