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Lower the amount of reputation needed to comment

On SO, I think that this limit does more harm than good; comments in this thread make some of the points I'm about to here.

Namely: it is very confusing to new users who would like to participate in threads but perhaps are not comfortable providing an actual answer. Furthermore, it encourages the wrong behavior on the site, since some users will (with no other option) post an answer to the thread with something that would normally be a comment. And then they get admonished by other users, which is just a bad feedback loop all around for something they should be able to do the moment they sign up.

I've heard the argument that this is to avoid spam comments and the like; I don't really buy this since they can post an answer into any thread they want from the first moment.

I'd be curious if we'd be willing to try this to see if the spam quotient is as bad as was believed when this capability was first put into place. I wonder if there's an actual problem here or just a perceived one.


5 Answers 5


The trilogy gets regular spams. They are "easy" to spot, because all what new users can post is a new question, or a new answer. Both are appearing on front, and are visible for a while, so the community can take care of it, flag, etc.

If we take away the comment rep limit, then you can be sure all questions will be flooded with advertising links, which will be nearly impossible to spot, since a comment doesn't make the question pop to "recent" view.

So it would be madness to remove this limitation.

  • 5
    How about the rep limit disallows comments with links instead of disallowing comments altogether? It is a real problem that new users post answers that should be comments, then their answer is downvoted making it harder to reach the rep limit for comments. It limits helpfulness of new members to answering only, sometimes comments can be very helpful.
    – Andy E
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 13:29
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    @Andy, you'd just end up with comments that say "For the 1337 support, Google 'MadeupWordToBeCaughtByAdsense'" and you'd be surprised by how many people will actually follow those directions. I agree it's a problem, but we need a good solution.
    – Chris S
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 13:34
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    @Chris: I wholeheartedly agree, a better solution needs to be thought up. Just 30 minutes ago I saw an answer that should have been a comment, made by a new member with 1 rep. Sometimes users just want to get involved but possibly don't have the expertise to directly answer the question.
    – Andy E
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 14:22
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    @Andy, I think it's questionable at best whether such users would even find or bother to use the comment link if it were available to them. A lot of these comments-submitted-as-answers wouldn't be particularly valuable as comments, either. ("Thanks, it worked")
    – Aarobot
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 16:15
  • @Aarobot: true, but I do see a lot of "What error message are you getting?" and "Download and install x debugging software and paste the results" answers that should be comments.
    – Andy E
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 21:40
  • @Andy - this I see even with 300+ rep users, so it's not really a matter of being able to comment, just a matter of education.
    – Gnoupi
    Commented May 28, 2010 at 7:27
  • What about allowing new users to at least comment on a question that THEY wrote, when asked to clarify, or when they want to add a note or request to a person who provided them an answer. I know, I know, no DISCUSSION. But sometimes you NEED to have a bit of back-and-forth with a new user. And I'm SICK of having ANSWERS added to questions that really should have been comments. Face it. SO is FULL of comments and discussions. We just make it worse for the noobs, who then get downvotes because of their answers. This is a failure to do the obvious right thing. Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 18:09
  • @Warren - I am SICK of people not READING the FAQ :-) "you can always comment on your questions and answers, and any answers to questions you've asked, even with 1 rep.". Also, comments are opened by default for new users in such cases, they don't even need to click "add comment". Now leave your shift key alone, it suffered enough.
    – Gnoupi
    Commented Jul 30, 2010 at 18:49

Perhaps what we need is a new 10k-user ability to turn an answer into a comment, using a vote system as with closures and deletions. Let the Junior Janitors take care of this!

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    Converting between comments and answers has been brought up before; most seem really against it. I'm not sure if making it a 10k ability was ever mentioned though Commented May 27, 2010 at 15:29
  • I think it should be a diamond mod ability, let regular users flag for moderator attention and the diamonds can "demote" it to a comment. Right now I flag them anyway, the only difference is that I assume they'll be deleted as opposed to demoted.
    – Aarobot
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 16:19
  • it's a bit .. mob rep-denial-ish .. for my tastes. Commented Jun 15, 2010 at 6:20
  • Please look here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/35175/… Commented Jul 14, 2010 at 14:09

This would help to get "answers" like these to be posted as comments instead.

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    True, but I prefer dealing with an occasional "thank you", which is anyway treatable, since the question is popped to "recent", rather than thousands of "try this product instead" under most answers and questions.
    – Gnoupi
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 12:57
  • @Gnoupi: You're probably right, but the thousands of "thank you" answers we have at the moment are still bothering me...
    – sth
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 13:43
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    I have a long weekend coming up, so I'll try to take care of some of these (wild times, I know). Thanks for providing the query. Commented May 27, 2010 at 15:04
  • if it's that easy to query then it's just as easy to zap. I don't think anybody would miss them.
    – Aarobot
    Commented May 27, 2010 at 16:18

Bad idea on principle, because then an account with no rep can post spam into comments. Requiring rep to comment means that someone actually has to get an upvoted answer onto an account before they can post spam using that account. This essentially precludes using scripts to auto-generate accounts for spamming - if you require rep to spam, you have to not only register the account, but find someone who is capable of answering questions that can get rep on SO to answer a few before the account could be used for spamming.

This makes setting up accounts to post spam some orders of magnitude harder. SO is getting an international reputation now. If someone found a way to post automated spam onto the site it would get flooded overnight.

Answers will get flagged and closed much more readily than comments. Making it easy to spam comments mean that the spam will pollute other people's answers. According to the article linked by the OP you can comment on your own questions and answers with just 1 rep anyway.


I think it'd be better if the creator of the room had the ability to set that requirement, either no minimum or at least the ability to modify it.

It sucks for people like me who don't go to the meta pages, however, I have a Stack Overflow account where my reputation is ~47.

  • +1, half of your problem solved
    – juan
    Commented Jul 14, 2010 at 13:56
  • 1
    Are you talking about the 3 day chat room test, or the actual site comments system? Because on Meta, the requirement is only 1 reputation to comment, and so if you're talking about the first scenario, this answer is unrelated to this question.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Jul 14, 2010 at 14:04
  • It's only a 3 day test for the chat room? I'm talking specifically about chat.meta.stackoverflow.com. The rooms require a 20 Rep minimum to chat in it. It'd be much better if you could set that rep minimum for either joining or commenting.
    – Austin
    Commented Jul 14, 2010 at 18:50

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