I am trying to contribute/help and ask questions, but my answers keep getting deleted or blocked. I really don't get it as they're neither off topic nor offensive.

What is frustrating is that I do not see the "comment" link, so I put an "answer" instead. I guess that's not a good practice, but is it my fault really that the UI is un-intuitive?

Anyway, could a mod un-block me and see my case please? Don't really like to re-create accounts, it's pretty lame.

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    Are you actually answering or just abusing the answer form to leave comments?
    – random
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 15:59
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    You are asking questions related to the questions as answers. Since you don't have sufficient reputation to add comments to questions you don't own, deleting those 'answers' is our only recourse. We won't short circuit site restrictions unless there is a compelling reason to do so. However, moderators can't lift a system imposed ban.
    – user50049
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 16:04
  • Also see: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/71368/… Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 16:08
  • You might also want to read this question. It explains how 'system' bans are more or less permanent. @Popular Demand - I originally closed this as a duplicate, then reopened it a few seconds later after having second thoughts (that's where the banner came from, I removed it).
    – user50049
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 16:13
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    @Random, there's no way for new users to know why they can't find the comment button. It's a hole in the UI. Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 19:41

3 Answers 3


In addition to what Cody said,

You may have experience with other "forum" style websites, where you can pretty much post anything you want. StackOverflow is different; we encourage quality by adopting a "question and answer" format. That means that your questions should be questions, and your answers should be answers.

This may feel a bit constraining, but how well have those other forums really worked out for you? Perhaps one of the reasons you are here is because you have grown tired of all the useless information you see on those other sites.

  • +1: Awesome answer. // In light of your answer, I wouldn't be surprised if you followed @Jeff Atwood 's advice and read Clay Shirky's 'Here Comes Everybody'. codinghorror.com/blog/2008/05/…
    – Jim G.
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 17:01
  • 3
    @Jim: I haven't read it, but it sounds like Clay Shirky "gets it." No, I've just been here for awhile. I've been through the usual inclusionist/exclusionist arguments and the endless hell of Community Wiki debates, and emerged a quality advocate.
    – user102937
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 17:17

The problem is that you aren't supposed to leave comments. You're supposed to leave answers.

Commenting is a privilege that only users who have attained a certain level of reputation are afforded. Until that time, you aren't supposed to have the ability to leave comments, so the UI doesn't show you the link to leave those comments. It's not unintuitive, you're just trying to do something you aren't supposed to be doing.

And leaving answers instead of comments is always the wrong move. They'll be flagged as non-answers and removed almost immediately by either a moderator or a triumvirate of 10k users. And the more times you do this, the more penalties that you'll begin to accrue, leaving eventually to your rep level decreasing (putting you further away from your ultimate goal of the ability to comment), or causing your account to be blocked from posting answers altogether.

You mention that re-creating accounts is "pretty lame", and I agree. But you should also consider that a Q&A site run by a bunch of programmers is probably smarter than to allow users to beat the system by just creating a bunch of new user accounts. Most of the bans occur at a lower level than your user account, and if you're detected/suspected of this type of fraud, someone will definitely move to instate such a low-level ban.

Really, you're not helping either yourself or the site by spamming the "answers" section with comments. Find some questions that you can actually answer and answer them. Earn a few upvotes, and pretty soon, you will be able to leave comments of your own. It's not that hard to use the site correctly, and helping yourself will go a long way towards others approaching your situation sympathetically.

To be frank, it's quite unclear at this point why we should reinstate your ability to post answers, as you don't seem to have learned anything so far.

  • 7
    Actually, when I did not have enough rep to leave comments, I also found the UI to be not-intuitive. I think it would be better if the comment link was shown to everyone, and then show a message saying why I cannot leave comments, as it happens with upvotes/downvotes. I guessed at the time that it was a reputation issue, but it was indeed confussing.
    – yms
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 16:33
  • 2
    @yms: That is a legitimate argument, and I happen to agree with you. However, it's probably much cheaper and more secure (from a software engineering perspective) to just redact the comment links for those users with insufficient reputation.
    – user102937
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 16:46
  • @yms: When your answers were deleted, you should have gotten a link in the deleted answer to a page with some information explaining why your answer was deleted via moderation. Did you see that?
    – user102937
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 16:51
  • I did not get any answer deleted...(or maybe I just don't remember) but I do remember it was confusing not being able to find the way of writing comments.
    – yms
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 16:58
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    Actually Cody, that's why it's unintuitive. When you can see that others can leave comments, but you can't see how with no explanation, then that's what unintuitive is. Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 19:38
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    He can't learn anything if the site isn't explaining itself to him. There is no communication path right now when your answer is deleted, unless the mod chooses to send you can email. Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 19:40
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    @lance not true; you can see your own deleted answers with a link to the faq. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/86316/… Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 21:01
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    @Jeff, I did not know that. Thanks, that link is a good idea. Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 21:08

Comments are not allowed until you have 50 rep.

You're not supposed to leave answers instead of comments, you just have to wait until you have 50 rep.

It's very unintuitive when using this site for a new person to know this, it's a hole in the UI. Maybe they could have a popup explaining things, or direct you the FAQ or something. Not being able to find the comment button, when other people are posting comments is just a recipe for frustration.

So your question is understandable, and I don't understand the downvotes on it. They're just not putting themselves in a new user's shoes.

  • 1
    Why is there a disconnect between "Answer" and "Comment"? If you don't see a button asking for a reply, or to comment further, maybe they can slow down a bit?
    – random
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 20:15
  • 1
    @random, maybe, but this isn't the first post from a new user who didn't understand the difference. Part of what SO has to do is retrain users from their forum way of thinking, I think this is a hole in our training (which should mostly be UI-driven). Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 20:18
  • As far as UI is considered, this UI element was added for new answerers exactly to help on this. It unavoidably pops up when you click on the "Your Answer" box. If that, combined with the How-To-Answer page they must sign off on in order to submit an answer, does not work, then I'm not sure what further UI changes we could implement that wouldn't make it too cumbersome.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 20:21
  • @Grace, I notice that message doesn't mention comments at all. I don't necessarily have any great ideas on the topic, just pointing out we should be thinking about it. Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 20:29
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    It mentions "Make sure you answer the question". I'm not really sure how specifically saying "comments" will help anyone if they're unfamiliar enough with the system to understand what does not constitute an answer, but if we can think of something, it could help.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 20:31
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    @Grace, I've added an answer to that question to suggest some comment related text. Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 20:32
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    comments are allowed with 1 rep on your own posts, your questions, and answers to your question. You can't see the deleted "answers" here but they are really .. egregious. This is not a subtle distinction in this particular case. Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 20:57
  • @Jeff Still there is no easy way to know why I cannot do the same on someone else's posts. I have to guess it is a rep restriction. Please don't send me to the FAQ page... very few users will bother going there, the first reaction will always be: Where the H. is the "comment link"?.
    – yms
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 4:28
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    @yms as my father in law once said to his organic chemistry students, "not everyone can be a Doctor." Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 4:38
  • @Jeff I must say that I find your last comment slightly offensive...
    – yms
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 4:40
  • If you can't find the comment link, then don't post one. I can't find the Start menu on my Mac. That doesn't mean I frequently waste time looking for it, nor that the UI is unintuitive. Sure, I see other people clicking on their Start menus, but who cares? I don't have that button. You don't have commenting privileges. The argument that "no one reads the FAQ" is a non-starter: that's precisely why you should read the FAQ. Asking not to be sent to the canonical answer is just sticking your head in the sand. I can't imagine why this is such a problem. Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 4:43
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    @Cody, some of us work logically, and if we see something going on and we can't figure out why we can't we'll want to know why. I always wanted to know why the sky was blue. I'm not just going to accept that it is. Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 5:29
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    Regarding the User Interface, it could be that there is a comment link, that is enabled only when the required reputation is achieved. Otherwise, it will just be a link to a popup which states that unfortunately you don't have the required reputation to comment. Don't user the answer instead. Bit foolproof but would discourage many from misusing answers.(me included). Irrelevant/Relevant question: Why ability to comment only with rep 50? Why not lower it to 5 or 10? Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 17:56

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