The problem

On EE.SE, but probably most SE sites, we have a common problem:

  1. A (usually new) user asks an ambiguous question.

  2. Other users ask for more information in comments to the question.

  3. The OP writes additional information in more comments.

  4. Many people aren't going to read a lengthy and tedious comment chain, so they continue to see just the ambiguous question. Sometimes they ask for the same additional information someone else already did.

  5. Experienced users are frustrated with the OP's lack of cooperation.

I think we've all seen this. The root cause of the problem is that the new user answers comments with more comments, instead of adding pertinent information to the question itself.

The solution

Don't let users post comments to their own question.

There is really very little legitimate reason for doing this. This site isn't a KaffeKlatsch, so comments aren't for chit-chat anyway. Just about all comments to a question by the question author are to add information to the question. This information belongs in the question.

If you really want users to still be able to comment on their own question, then at least pop up a message explaining that additional information to a question should be added to the question itself, and provide something to click on that opens the editor on the question instead.

Another alternative is to allow commenting on your own question after some rep level. The message about adding information to the question should still pop up regardless.

Of course anyone that posted a comment to a question should automatically get notified when that question is changed. The only times I remember that I've written comments to my own question were to ping someone that I added the information they requested to the question.

Similar discussions

I see that something similar was requested in Prevent the OP commenting on their own post?. However, that seeks to prevent someone from commenting on all their own posts, not just questions. It is also trying to address a different problem.

The problem addressed here is real pertinent information to a question getting hidden in comments. That problem isn't even mentioned as one of the issues in the question linked to above.


See How to generate variable amplitude positive and negative sine waves? at EE.SE. The OP's use of "negative amplitude sine wave" was confusing and unclear. Clarification was asked for in a comment. The OP did answer, but that answer is buried in a comment. I came along later, read the question, and asked about the same thing again. In the end, the question was closed as unclear, because it was.

I doubt I'm the only one that often doesn't read comments to a question just to answer it or ask for more information. I've found that comments are usually a waste of time, and they certainly aren't supposed to contain pertinent information to the question.

Of course the help explains what you should do, and there is no excuse for not having read the help before posting a question, but it is easy to think that you should reply to a comment with a comment.

By far new users commenting to their own question are responding to things asked by others in comments. The current situation is a lot worse than new users getting a popup when trying to comment on their own question.

This propoal should be considered separately from the other, since it proposes something different, to address a different problem.

  • 1
    So suppose you were a new user here, you couldn't reply to this comment where I explain my downvote. Not a good idea, in my opinion. – Shadow Nov 26 '17 at 14:39
  • 4
    Maybe not prevent, but a little popup warning/explanation would probably be worthwhile. (My impression is that) A lot of new users think they're on a forum, and that comments are just replies in the thread. – Josh Caswell Nov 26 '17 at 15:16
  • @Shadow: I can see how the other question looks like a duplicate at first glance. However, it seeks to prevent the user from commenting on his own answers too, and doesn't even consider the particular problem I am trying to address. I'm not in favor of the other proposal as presented either. – Olin Lathrop Nov 26 '17 at 16:06
  • @ShadowWizard Completly agree. I distinctly remember being a new user on Server Fault, and someone commented on my question. I felt completely powerless to address the comment. Discovering that I could comment on my own posts was an amazing feeling. And it lead to a good answer. – JonathanDavidArndt Nov 27 '17 at 14:09

I actually think the problem lies somewhere else - We're looking at a technical solution, that does nothing to actually teach proper use of comments.

Comments ought to be rolled into the question, and as more experienced users, we should be hinting newer users do this (or editing it in for them, and letting them know.)

The problem with banning people posting comments on their question is sometimes clarification needs to go back and forth, and then added to the question in a distilled form.

A new, clueless user expecting a forum, unable to comment will... post comments as answers, which opens up a whole different kettle of fish.

(Ok fine, I closevoted this the last time, and I both think this is a bad idea, and many of the issues are at least similar)

  • 1
    OK, then why not a popup as I proposed? In the unusual case of a legitimate comment to a new user's own question, it can still be done. In the common case of where they are answering another comment with more detail about the question, they are taught how the site works and hand-held down the correct path. Folding all comments into the question is bad because now you still have the long chain of mostly drivel, just in a different place. We'll learn to skip over that, just like we do the comments today. – Olin Lathrop Nov 27 '17 at 11:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .