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Someone has left a thoughtful answer to my question.

I have a bunch of clarifications, and for now I've left these as a set of long comments. Is this the appropriate way to do this, or should I have done something else (such as use chats or another question/answer)?

Screenshot in case comments are deleted in the future

Alternatively, is it the case that I don't yet "get" what comments are supposed to do, and am writing too much?

3 Answers 3

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  • Most of your comments simply agree with the code review suggestions. Instead of commenting, simply upvote and/or accept the answer if you think it is a good one.

  • Some of your comments indicate that you want to think more about your design because of the feedback you've had. Just do that. You don't need to write a comment at all in that situation. If you want to ask another question once you've redesigned your library then that may be a way forward for you, but for the moment it looks like you just need to digest the answers to your question and what they mean for the direction you're taking in your design.

  • A few comments suggest that you're still not sure about some specific part of the answer, in that case maybe you should write another question that only focuses on that and talk about the pros and cons of each option although you'd need to be careful not to end up with a question that just becomes opinion based. Often when you've listed the pros and cons you might find you don't even need a question because you know the answer already.

You'll note that everything I've suggested would lead to you not commenting at all on the answer in the way you have.

So what are comments for? To ask for clarification on something you don't understand, to suggest some minor improvement, or to add a link to another useful post.

And one final warning, do try not to change the question so that the answers no longer answer it. I.e. avoid turning your question into a chameleon question. Ask follow up questions in separate question posts instead if you need to.

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Note: This answer is written to answer the question more generally, without much reference to the specifics of what the comments the asker made were. For a more context-sensitive answer, see Robert's answer

In general, if an answer requires a lot of clarification, that might be a symptom of it being unclear, and (by extension,) a not-very-useful answer. "Not-useful" is a downvote reason (hover your mouse over the downvote button and see for yourself). Of course- if the answer as a net-whole is useful to you, don't downvote it. Perhaps what you feel as a need to comment actually indicates an area for you to do further research on your own to understand what the answerer wrote. I don't know. (I say "in general"- but I see from your screenshot that the posts are on the codereview site, which I don't know if is a special case (I don't frequent that site)).

I think whether it's suitable to use comments for long clarifications can be a bit of a judgement call. If you're using them for the intended purpose of comments ("Request clarification from the author; Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post; [...]"), then it may still be okay as long as there isn't much back and forth going on. Once those clarifications / improvements have been to the answer, you should delete your comments and flag any reply comments the answerer made as being "no longer needed" where appropriate.

If there is a lot of back and forth, or you anticipate that there may be, don't use comments. Use chat. Comments are not meant for extended discussion; chat is. From the screenshot and from your profile page, I see that both you and the answerer have the privilege to access chat. So you could try inviting that user to a new chatroom. Be aware that- same as pretty much anywhere else on the internet- whether that other user wants to engage with you in discussion is up to them. Be respectful of them and don't pester them if they don't respond.

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Comments are meant to be transient and short. If you feel like your comments help improve or clarify your question for other answerers in general, edit the question itself.

In most cases, edit it without making a separate "EDIT" section. Make sure you do not change the nature of the question itself, but simply clarify it. By editing the question, you can avoid the comment character limit and limited markdown functionalities.

In your case, perhaps add EDIT at the bottom of the question. Add your clarifications there. This method is used more rarely than simply editing without leaving the "EDIT" marks. But it used often enough, for example in these highly upvoted questions and answers:

You can have multiple EDIT sections, if needed. For example:


EDIT, March 26, 2023:

Some clarifications. ...


EDIT, March 27, 2023:

Some more clarifications. ...

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  • 3
    No. meta.stackexchange.com/a/131011/997587
    – starball
    Mar 26, 2023 at 19:47
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    "Changelogs".
    – starball
    Mar 26, 2023 at 19:51
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    Also see meta.stackexchange.com/a/239137/1017231
    – bobble
    Mar 26, 2023 at 20:15
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    Re "You can have multiple EDIT sections". No, no, no. Please, pretty please, no! Where does this come from? Journalism (sometimes observed at the end or at the beginning of articles)? Software developers should know better (think Git). Mar 27, 2023 at 1:40
  • After I updated my answer with examples of what I mean, someone changed the examples and removed the "EDIT" marks. I find this very funny! It just shows that there is more than one way to edit. These highly upvoted posts survived for years - sometimes more than a decade! - with "EDIT" marks. And they did just fine, thank you very much. All in all, my example show that "EDIT" marks is quite an accepted practice. Mar 27, 2023 at 14:31
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    Do link to a policy that says EDIT is OK to post. You've been linked to multiple ones that say the opposite. And linking examples is not great when you are fully aware they break the policy. I've went ahead and edited most of them to conform. One you linked to currently doesn't say "EDIT" in the body and list a change from an edit (but another post on the same page does and is not editable). Another needs a bit more editing time which I cannot invest right now but will in the future. Any example you find "in the wild" and post, I will edit unless you point to policy which says I shouldn't.
    – VLAZ
    Mar 27, 2023 at 14:34
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    "All in all, my example show that "EDIT" marks is quite an accepted practice." no, it shows that we are stretched thin and cannot fully edit all posts to conform. There is 58 million of them. I challenge you to try and edit all of them to conform. Instead of cherry-picking examples that 1. fit your argument 2. do not fit clearly established policy. Unless you can convince me by showing me other site policy, that is. I'm waiting...
    – VLAZ
    Mar 27, 2023 at 14:39
  • I think that having an "EDIT" mark can be avoided in many cases, but in some cases, probably a minority, it improves that post. In any case, if the community - by massive upvoting - shows you that the going against the established policy is perfectly acceptable, then we need a better policy. Going against the accepted policy was clearly done by experienced, high-rep users, not by a bunch of low-rep, inexperienced delinquents. In any case, going after examples that I posted is very funny, since it simply proves my point. You edits are visible in the edit history, after all! :) Mar 27, 2023 at 15:07
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    @TimurShtatland: Pretty much the only cases I've seen where it would be acceptable would be announcements by staff (or moderators) where it needs to be clear to readers when something has changed (e.g. a previously announced experiment having concluded, or a planned feature/fix being released or implemented). Besides that situation, most edits should result in the post being changed to read as if it were always the best version of itself, rather than leaving a bunch of edit notes at the top/bottom of the post.
    – V2Blast
    Mar 27, 2023 at 15:45
  • "You edits are visible in the edit history, after all!" as are the other edits that add EDIT. Thus the EDIT part is irrelevant.
    – VLAZ
    Mar 27, 2023 at 17:05

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