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What is the most appropriate way of responding to a meta post. For example, if someone has pointed out a bug, how does one reply to that. I don't normally answer questions as I am unsure what to put.

I have looked through all the FAQ but have found no clear line between answers and comments particularity when it comes to the more discussion type questions which I am unsure how to answer.

Really the question here is what is the difference between comments and answers on meta sites?

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Panda's answer is correct; comments are likely to be treated ephemerally and aren't guaranteed to persist for any length of time. This falls in line with how we treat comments on the main site, but meta sites do have some additional caveats.

On meta sites, we tend to be a bit more lenient with comments because they're quite often used to express agreement or disagreement with a caveat that isn't possible to explain with a binary vote. You're agreeing or disagreeing with something through a vote, but feel the need to differ slightly without writing what would essentially be close to the same answer that just received your vote.

On the flip side, discussions tend to be a bit more passionate and likely to fly off the rails on meta sites, which means the probability of all comments vanishing under a question or answer is a bit higher here.

So, use your best judgement. If an existing answer says mostly what you would say, up-vote it and add your voice to it in a comment if you feel like that would suffice. Comments when down-voting are also strongly encouraged especially if your objection to something might not be immediately obvious to others.

If there's a lot of contention flying about and you want to be very certain that any thoughts you have remain visible, write an answer of your own even if you mostly duplicate something that someone else has written. Link to their answer for context if you like.

In short comments sort of fall in line with how we treat them on main sites, but a bit of experience interacting with folks here will help you take advantage of the somewhat relaxed moderation that we practice on meta sites.

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I suppose you are asking about the difference between answers and comments.


Basically, comments are meant to be temporary and may be cleared or deleted anytime by a moderator or users themselves. Comments are not meant for extended discussions and they cannot be downvoted. In most cases, they are used to seek clarification, in cases such as a bug report.

Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer. They can be up-voted (but not down-voted) and flagged, but do not generate reputation. There's no revision history, and when they are deleted they're gone for good.

Source: https://meta.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/comment


Whereas, answers are meant to be permanent. So, if I want to share my opinion on the question you are asking, answers are meant for that.

Other users can downvote or upvote accordingly, indicating agreement or disagreement respectively.

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If you need to ask...

The ones you can share your unique experiences and knowledge on. It takes a while to find your feet on meta sites and you learn a lot by watching and reading well received answers. I kinda took a few years to find my feet metawise.

It's better not to answer if you aren't actually sure. It's fine! You'll work things out eventually.

I find, typically comments are best used for clarification. Sometimes they're misused for other things (and I do that) - but stuff like "you might find your post better received if you did foo" works too.

As for answers, it's worth starting with the types of questions you see here.

Personally a good chunk of my own questions are bug reports/feature requests. I call them soapbox questions. An ideal answer here is from the folks who run the sites, but many answers build on my question and add on suggestions. Soapbox questions are discussions and often have a goal of raising awareness about a problem. These could be soft, peripheral subjects (like my complaints about the quality of blog posts) or talking about core site features - like the recent spam epidemic on SU. If it's a bug or feature request - and you have some additional information or suggestions, you can either mention it in a comment (in brief) or as an answer in detail. Monica and Shadow Wizard have good examples here.

On the other hand, a good many questions are about site features and how to use them. A good many of these are under the support tag. You'll find you know these as you learn the site.

As a moderator - I answer many questions on best practices in moderation and how moderation is handled. In general, if it's an angry sounding user, or one trying to dispute a mod decision - stay away.

I've actually found per site meta is a better place to start. I've only really been meta active this past year (of 8 years on the network). In either case, getting the community is useful in successful meta answers.

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I wouldn't stress over what I can't answer. I'd look at gaining knowledge from the wonderful folk who hang out around here, learn stuff and at some point, the answers will flow. I didn't have all that much to contribute until recently either.

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