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In regards to these other topics...

...I just ran across a situation where a new user with 11 rep asked a question for clarification on the question so that he could answer it correctly. Obviously questions do not belong in comments, but this user has no other choice but to ask by posting an answer. Is it correct to flag this as "not an answer" or to tell the user to delete it?

Several months back, I ran across this same situation, but that time the user had 41 reputation. I upvoted his "answer" which allowed him to unlock commenting privileges so he could post his comments as comments. He then deleted his comment-answer.

But in this situation, I couldn't single-handedly give the user enough reputation to post a comment.

What should we do in this situation where a user is genuinely trying to answer a question, but needs clarification and asks for that in the form of an answer?

What should new users do instead of posting a comment-answer when they themselves are in this situation and need to post a comment before answering a question?

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    The new user should earn the privilege. Minimal participation can earn that privilege in a few days by asking a good question or two, posting answers that receive upvotes, and editing a few posts. The privilege is needed for a good reason, and the reasons (and how to deal with them) have been discussed repeatedly here. There are usually many questions available to be answered in any given tag at any time; if the new user can't answer a particular one without a comment to clarify, they should move on to another question. – Ken White Aug 15 '14 at 3:18
  • No other choice? They were bound by death to answer that question and that question first and only? – random Aug 15 '14 at 3:27
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    I posted similar question on MetaStackOverflow, when I was a lowly user there last month and got told in no uncertain terms that there are to many perils in opening the comments up to the uninitiated. It took me 12 answers, 2 questions and 3 weeks to go from 1 rep to 50. I would have answered more current questions, but needed clarification, which I couldn't obtain, so had to go trawling through older questions, which then failed to result in any reward for effort. – simo.37920 Aug 15 '14 at 3:34
  • @KenWhite and @​random: It makes sense to post answers to a new question when that question is created, not struggle to get reputation by answering old, abandoned questions so that you can return weeks later when your answer is no longer as useful or relevant to the current conversation. I am not trying to change the 50-rep-to-comment policy, but to find ways that both new users can follow and guiding members can use to point the newer people in the right direction. "Go away and find another question" is not good advice. – Keavon Aug 15 '14 at 3:40
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    New users should earn privileges like everyone else has, and what you should do is explain to them what the "Your Answer" space is to be used for and that when they earned the comment privilege they can post a comment asking for clarification of a question, and flag their non-answer as a non-answer. The about, help center, and privileges pages explain all of this; repeating it to them again is unnecessary. There are many posts on Meta and Meta SO about how new users should get started and earn comment and voting privileges. "What should new users do?" They should follow the guidelines, :-) – Ken White Aug 15 '14 at 18:14
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What should we do in this situation where a user is genuinely trying to answer a question, but needs clarification and asks for that in the form of an answer?

You should flag the answer as Not An Answer if it's just a question asking for clarification. Possibly even downvote it too.

What should new users do instead of posting a comment-answer when they themselves are in this situation and need to post a comment before answering a question?

Other members with commenting privileges will hopefully come by and ask the clarification in a comment. Thus the low rep member could favorite the question and go back to it once s/he has enough reputation to comment or check in on the question to see if someone else asked the same clarification question and the questioner updated his question.

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