I disagree with this feature-request.
Questions with a lot of "background"
The character limit for questions is already 30,000 characters, which is quite a lot. If your question is really that long, rather ask yourself
- Can you narrow the problem down? Is really all of that information necessary? -> Shorten it.
- Are you asking too many questions (perhaps just implicitly)? -> Split it up into several questions.
Whether to allow them or not is something each stack has to decide on their own. A technical solution is not necessary, since it already exists -> Answers. These partial answers can then also be downvoted, edited and flagged like normal answers.
There is no real necessity for them. I quote the Privileges page:
When should I comment?
You should submit a comment if you want to:
Request clarification from the author;
Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving
Add relevant but minor or transient information to a post (e.g. a
link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the
question has been updated).
If this is still unsufficient for your causes, ask yourself
- Are the comments actually necessary? Do they fulfill the intended purpose (intended by SE, not you)?
- Would a chat room solve your problem?
- Is it maybe already an answer (perhaps a partial answer, if that's allowed)?
- Does a low-tech variant, like 1 larger comment split up in 3 smaller comments and prefaced with 1/3, 2/3 and 3/3, do it?
Now I will criticize the suggested companion post, the cross between a comment and an answer. Two main arguments - development and noise.
This change would introduce a completely new concept to SE that doesn't really fit into its design (questions and answers (and comments)). The consequences are that a lot of thought and work has to go into it. Is it worth it?
- Development: Programming, testing etc.
- Interaction: How does it work with regards to voting, editing, flagging etc.? Can you search them (you can't search comments)?
- Privileges: Who is allowed to write them and when (e. g. necessary reputation)?
- Design: How do they look, where are they located (e. g. attached to a post, or like answers in the answer section)?
- Abuse: How can it be abused, how to detect and counter it?
- Teaching: Once they are introduced, we also have to be taught when and how to use them and what for. Documentation has to be written.
How I use SO: I google my problem and then find SO questions at the top.
- I check the title of the question (related?)
- I check the body of the question (still related?)
- I check the answers (are they helpful?)
- I mostly ignore comments, as they often are noise
But if it was implemented, a fourth element would be present
- I see and am confused by a companion post - what is it? It looks like an answer ("answer-style formatting"), but doesn't seem to be one. It might be an addendum to the question or some kind of partial answer, that doesn't solve my problem. But my method doesn't work, the deadline approaches and my boss is becoming increasingly impatient. And I'm just puzzled - why is there so much noise? Just show me the answers! Question + answer(s), that's what I want!
SE is founded on the idea that you can get high-quality answers to your questions. These are the cornerstones of SE, questions and answers. Noise should be reduced to a minimum. SE can't do without comments, but I quoted above what they are meant to be for. Let's not add another, confusing element that clutters up the page.