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On this question, it was put on hold for being too broad. Soon after that, three people posted their answers as unformatted code in a comment:

Screenshot of comments

I thought that this defeated the purpose of placing a question on hold, so I flagged all three comments, which were all declined without reason. Is this acceptable, and if so, why?

Note that the question is a typical "homework" question, which according to these guidelines on answering homework questions shouldn't be answered with complete code unless it will specifically help out the user to understand how it works.

  • What did you flag them as? – slugster Feb 23 '14 at 1:33
  • @slugster: I flagged two as "not constructive" and one as "too chatty". They're definitely not "obsolete", so I didn't flag them as such. – Qantas 94 Heavy Feb 23 '14 at 1:37
  • If it was me I probably would have declined them as well - albeit reluctantly. Possibly the mod didn't want to lose the potential answers which is what would have happened if they'd been accepted. It's not an easy call one way or another. – slugster Feb 23 '14 at 1:42
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    I'd say it is fair to assume that several SO users don't think a question is "too broad" when they can come up with an answer that fits in a comment. The close reason sucks pretty heavy when it is applied like this. The odds we'll ever get a "we should not do your homework" close reason seem slim. – Uphill Luge Feb 23 '14 at 11:21
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No, people shouldn't be posting entire blocks of code in the comments, that isn't how we want to capture answers.

I think the real problem is that the question was closed - clearly it is answerable and people are prepared to answer. This happens occasionally - a bunch of people think the question needs closing and another bunch think it is fine. In a lot of cases both parties are correct - you just need to come to a happy compromise (i.e. one group has to concede because there is no middle ground).

The appropriate action in this case would have been for people to vote to reopen, rather than answering in the comments. This has now turned the question into a mess.

If the question was reopened then you could either aggregate those comments into a CW answer and flag them again as obsolete, or ping the commenters and get them to submit an answer.

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    Agreed that they shouldn't be in the comments. Disagree about it voting to be reopened. The question clearly isn't fit for SO in its current guise, and those comments are just a mess. I'm not sure what I would say to do here. – Joe Feb 25 '14 at 16:57
  • @joe Tidying up the question is an implicit part of reopening - nobody will vote for a reopen if the question is still messy. – slugster Feb 25 '14 at 20:09

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