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Users with less than 50 reputation points cannot write comments on questions and answers that they don't own.

  • Why does this limit exist?
  • But I want to contribute now. What should I do instead?
  • But I can't write a good answer without more information!
  • But I saw a new user posting a comment! How did they do it?
  • Why do I need 50 reputation to comment on my own post?

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Note: If you can't comment on your own post or answers to your own questions because you don't have 50 reputation, please see the "Special Note" at the bottom.

Why does this limit exist?

We realize that new users may have valuable comments, and that we may lose some of those contributions by requiring 50 reputation points to unlock the feature.

However, history and experience have shown that the downsides of allowing everyone to comment are far greater than a few useful comments lost:

  • There are big problems with spam. Automated filters cannot catch all of it.

  • Even among the real comments, most would either say "I have the same problem" or "I agree". Such comments do not add any value, and have to be manually removed.

  • Comments are very painful to moderate. Stack Exchange sites have a process of community moderation (voting, flagging, review queues) that works great for questions and answers, but not so much for comments. Comments cannot be downvoted or closevoted, nor searched (nor do we want that).

  • Comments are second class citizens on the Stack Exchange network, not designed to hold information for all eternity. They may get cleaned up at any time. Generally, truly important information should be incorporated into an answer anyway (either by posting a new answer, if the information answers the question at least partially, or by editing an existing answer, if the information is a minor complement or clarification of that answer).

Asking good questions and providing good answers will get you 50 rep points in no time. Alternatively, you can suggest edits that improve existing questions and answers. Each of those will gain you 2 reputation points.

But I want to contribute now. What should I do instead?

Can I post my comment as an answer?

No.

Asking and answering, the core actions on the Stack Exchange network of sites, are open to all users regardless of reputation.

However, this is not meant as a workaround to the comments barrier. Comments posted as an answer are subject to removal.

To make requests for clarification, or mere responses to other answers, you need to wait until you have the comment privilege.

How do I write a good answer?

If you are sure you can provide a real answer, then you are of course welcome to go ahead, but make sure it's a full, valid answer to the question. If you saw something wrong with an existing answer, do mention it and its flaws, but make sure you provide an alternative solution that can stand on its own. Do not just copy and paste your original comment into the "answer" field.

But I can't write a good answer without more information!

Answers don't have to be exhaustive or infallible, they just need to try to answer the question. It's perfectly fine to post an answer saying, for example, "I'm not sure what the cause of your problem is, but if it's X, you can solve it by doing Y. If that doesn't help, try Z and let me know what it says." Also, if further information does become available, you can edit your answer later to make it more precise. This is a good habit to get into even if you can comment!

On busier sites, if you cannot even try to answer without asking for clarification, then move on to another question. Many new questions are asked every minute, and there are many unanswered questions still waiting for your help. You might feel bad about abandoning the question, but it is the absolute responsibility of the asker to include all relevant information, presented in a clear manner. Failure to do so at any level decreases their chances to find a good answer to their problem.

Welcome to the community, and good luck!

But I saw a new user posting a comment! How did they do it?

  • The user had enough reputation to post a comment at the time, but they lost reputation from downvotes, removed posts, giving bounties, etc.
  • The user is currently suspended, causing their reputation to show as 1.
  • The user commented on their own question or answer, or any answer to one of the user's own questions. (source)
  • Here on Meta Stack Exchange, the reputation needed to comment is 5, not 50. (source)
  • The user flagged to close the question as a duplicate, resulting in an automatic comment beginning with "Possible duplicate of".
  • The user posted a "trivial answer" consisting only of a link to anywhere in the Stack Exchange network, which the system automatically converted into a comment.
  • The user posted the comment as an answer, but a moderator converted it into a comment. Moderators do this only in exceptional cases if they spot an answer that doesn't answer the question, but is still valuable for some reason; such conversions aren't done on request.
     • Moderators can choose to place the answer-converted-to-comment on either the question or on any other answer to the question. (source)

Special Note: Commenting on your own posts or answers to your own questions

All users, regardless of reputation, should be able to comment on questions and answers they have posted, as well as on any answers to their own questions. If you can't do so, it's likely that you have accidentally created a second account. Since the question was posted through (is owned by) a different account, the system doesn't recognize the post as yours and prevents you from commenting without 50 reputation.

To resolve this issue, please contact the team and request that the account you're currently signed into be merged with the account that posted the question. See How can one link / merge / combine / associate two accounts / users? (Anonymous / unregistered / cookie, or Google / Facebook / registered)

  • I accept the rationale for the 50-point limit, but answering questions should not be expected of new users. I have a 4-digit rep on one site, but have come to realize that I'm unlikely to be able to answer questions well on other sites where I ask questions. I answer when I can on those sites, but I'm unlikely to have sufficient knowledge unless I just happen to see an easy question before it's answered. (On tex.SE, there's another reason: The norm is that answers should be fully complete, expert answers, with partial answers in comments. I'm not that kind of expert, so I answer rarely.) – Mars Jun 4 '17 at 16:23
  • 2
    I disagree with this design choice. Many people don't want to put hours into some random FAQ site (which this is for them) just to get enough points to ask a clarification question on an answer? What if you need a solution quickly, but the only answer is one that you can't execute because you don't fully understand it? This rule was very frustrating when I started to get into SE, just like it was very frustrating to get into XDA developers. On SO I actually asked someone to ask a clarification question for me and then I had to later open that page every few days to see if there was an ... – Fabian Röling Nov 14 '17 at 12:17
  • ... answer. That can't be how it works. Maybe comments by sub-50 users could only be visible for users with 1K+ rep and people who contributed to that post (answer, comment, edit)? Or maybe have some way to contact a specific person (that's willing to endure spam) to give out comment privileges? I would volunteer for something like this, at least for a while. Or maybe use some "quite ok" automatic content filtering and just live with the face that some low-quality comments can still get posted? All of what I suggested is definitely better than how it currently is. Now the question: Is this ... – Fabian Röling Nov 14 '17 at 12:22
  • ... worth creating a meta post, like "FAQ: Ways to replace comment rep barrier" or would it just get closed as duplicate? – Fabian Röling Nov 14 '17 at 12:23
  • @Fabian you can make the suggestions if you can live with a lot of people disagreeing with you (although I think many of them have been previously suggested, worth looking for that first). I wouldn't hold my breath about anything changing, though, there's a lot of open feature requests – Pëkka Nov 14 '17 at 13:16
  • I agree it would be nice if there were a smarter barrier for this... like if you can authenticate with an identity that comes with a high likelihood that you are a real person (say a LinkedIn or Facebook account, although of course with qualifications) you get to comment right away. But as said I don't expect anything like that to happen anytime soon. – Pëkka Nov 14 '17 at 13:24
  • @Pëkka One post per suggestion or one for all? – Fabian Röling Nov 14 '17 at 18:06
  • @Fabian one post per suggestion is the ideal way to go. – Pëkka Nov 14 '17 at 20:32
  • ""I'm not sure what the cause of your problem is, but if it's X, you can solve it by doing Y. If that doesn't help, try Z and let me know what it says.". That does apply well to SO, however some place have more rigorous criteria because of the context where saying people to try and see is not always a good idea (The workplace,...). However I don't know if it's worth mentioning it there :/ – Walfrat Feb 19 '18 at 13:37
  • @Fabian "just to get enough points to ask a clarification question on an answer?" If the answer answers the question, but you still need clarification, then it's possibly another question, which you can ask without needing 50 rep. If it's not quite another full blown question, and it happens often enough for your mentioning it to be a valid argument, then it'll be worth your time quickly getting the 50 rep to do it. – James Mar 31 '18 at 19:18
  • "If you can't comment on your own post or answers to your own questions because you don't have 50 reputation, please see the "Special Note" at the bottom." I think you meant "if you have 50 reputation". This is what the "Special Note" section is talking about. – Wais Kamal Jan 9 at 7:49
  • 1
    Although it was totally not the point, I think this is actually one of the best condensed explanations of how to write good answers, when it is appropriate or not to comment and the responsibilities askers have in writing good questions. I think some of this should migrate back into the FAQ. – Chris Pratt Feb 12 at 14:56
  • Isn't there something in place that identifies the IP address of your new account and sees that another account was created with the same IP? – Voldemort's Wrath Jun 13 at 0:35
  • Why not just allowing the comments but require a review and acceptance by a, let's say, 1k+ reputation user? – David Jun 26 at 9:26

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protected by Community Mar 4 '18 at 19:08

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

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