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I am currently working on learning reviewing skills. I've come across the following situation, which I imagine must be extremely common on all the SE sites:

A new user writes an answer that would work better as a comment, but doesn't have enough rep to write a comment. Suppose that even though he hasn't written a full-fledged answer, it's still a useful contribution. For an example, see Correct usage of "awhile". It turns out that there's a special use of awhile found in the state of Pennsylvania. The new user (user132209) contributes a nice additional example of this, taken from his own experience. This would work great as a comment, but doesn't work well as an answer.

If you are a reviewer with a positive, welcoming approach, and a gentle style of providing constructive feedback, how do you recommend dealing with this?

In the example I cited, an experienced user provided constructive feedback by commenting

Hello 132. This doesn't add substantially to the accepted and other answer/s. When you have enough rep points, you can add comments (this would be a good one).

I find this pretty good, but I'm wondering if I can improve on this at all.

Does anyone have any good alternatives to share?

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I dislike the idea that we should encourage anyone to put useful information in comments, unless such information has a relatively short period of usefulness. Comments start out VERY visible, but over time they can become hidden or even deleted rather easily; in addition, they aren't searchable and cannot easily be updated.

This would work great as a comment, but doesn't work well as an answer.

So the first question you should ask yourself is, "How could it be adapted into an answer?" If you can figure that out, explain it to the author - or even edit the answer to demonstrate.

Producing useful answers should usually be preferred to producing useful comments, and always be preferred to producing lousy comments - in particular, never recommend commenting to someone who has just posted something worthless.

In cases where the information is briefly useful but can never be the seed of a worthwhile answer, your comment is adequate to explain this.

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This would work great as a comment

I don't think so. Comments are not for adding tangential remarks about one's own encounters with the subject of the question. The trend to use comments as a mini-forum thread is understandable, given this is how forums work, but it should be resisted.

In this case, the post is not an answer and should be deleted outright, regardless of user's reputation.

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The 'official' comment for this scenario, as provided by the Low Quality Posts review queue option "This is commentary on another post, not an answer" is:

This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post.

This covers all the points of a good comment for this scenario, as it…

  • immediately states what's wrong with the post as it stands
  • instructs about a feature which they should use instead
  • teaches when that feature should be used ("critique or request clarification")
  • states the privilege requirement for the feature
  • states the exception to the privilege requirement: their own posts
  • provides a link to the relevant section of the help center
  • 1
    Sounds good except I feel funny instructing someone to do something he can't currently do ("instructs about a feature which they should use instead"). – aparente001 Aug 8 '15 at 15:16
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I like this Idea because comments are less annoying than answers and new users still need to grow into stackexchange so creating a bad answer would be punished harder than writing a bad comment which sounds unfair to me

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