There should be a way to mark your answer as a comment, similar to how you can mark it as a community wiki post. This will make it easier to distinguish which answers are legitimate answers.

We are limited to how many characters we have in our comments. This leads to some posting comments as answers, which is approved as long as it's justified.

Although, there is no way to announce if your answer is a comment, other than informing readers that the answer is actually a comment (usually followed by a reason why you are not using the comment system). Some don't announce this, leading others to downvote and reply with "This should be a comment".

There are many reasons as to why you chose the answering system over the comment system:

1. Your comment requires special formatting
2. Your comment is too long
3. You have less than 50 rep
• Ew. No. Using answers as comment placeholders is not an intended behavior. If you don't have 50 rep yet, don't do that. It will just get downvotes and deletion. – fbueckert Jul 29 '14 at 15:54

If your answer does not answer the question, it should not be posted as an answer. Simple as that. There aren't exceptions, and there are no justifications.

This has been the entire principle of Stack Exchange from the beginning: getting answers to your questions, not engaging in extended banter. Allowing users to go around posting "comments as answers" because the comments aren't good enough defeats the purpose of having answers and deleting non-answers. Everything just becomes a mess and turns us into an ordinary forum. No one wants to search through a pile of unrelated information and further questions in order to find the actual answers that might solve their problem.

• So you don't approve of this: stackoverflow.com/a/24996969/2398375 I even commented, saying it shouldn't be an answer, yet others disagreed, as it contained useful information and comments didnt allow him to have the format he wanted – Vince Emigh Jul 29 '14 at 0:02
• @VinceEmigh: It answers the question "I don't understand why i is not incremented if continue is used with a label that goes to the outer loop." This is also an answer, albeit a terse one. – user102937 Jul 29 '14 at 11:28

1.  Your comment requires special formatting


Then don't post it, or reformulate it so that you are actually answering the question that was asked.

2.  Your comment is too long


Then it probably shouldn't be posted at all. If a question requires that much clarification, it should probably be closed anyway.

3.  You have less than 50 rep


Earn 50 rep.

If posting a comment as an answer is justified, it is justified by the rules that define answers, and shouldn't be a comment at all. Good comments are relatively short non-answers from people who have demonstrated some understanding of the Stack Exchange format and an ability to contribute usefully. Sites with MathJax enabled recognize it within comments as well, and other kinds of formatting probably don't belong in a comment, though we have a sandbox for comment formatting that might give you some ideas. Nothing will stop you from posting an extra comment or two if you must, but the length limit is there for a reason, and length is no justification for posting as an answer. The rep requirement is a whole other line of reasoning that you should probably read up on before challenging; tacking it onto this feature request is effectively soliciting downvotes (not that it's the only problem here). Answering is not an acceptable workaround for commenting without that privilege; such "answers" are removed routinely.