With questions like this (or this), the OP or someone else gives an answer but it's in the form of a comment, so the question is still marked "unanswered" even though it has been answered.

Considering the amount of answered questions is quite bad, should the person that left the answer as a comment be prompted to give it as answer? (or could something else be done, like copying the solution into an answer with it marked as 'community-wiki'? (like here)

  • This post is really confusing, especially now that the example questions you gave have since been closed. You mean the questions had "answers" that didn't actually answer the question? Or that they had answers that hadn't been accepted? Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 13:02
  • @neon_overload - questions as in questions - the issue is that the questions get answered, but in the comments (here in the first question, here in the second) not as an actual answer that could be marked as the accepted answer to close the question.
    – Wilf
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 14:38
  • And as we want this to improve, we need more accepted answers. (why do comments have such a stupid limit... (perhaps the length could be increased, only on Meta?))
    – Wilf
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 14:41
  • I see what you mean now - hope you don't mind my edits to clarify. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 14:54
  • first question got deleted and the second question need a vote to get deleted :-) Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 0:20
  • meta.askubuntu.com/questions/2281/…
    – Dan
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 13:00
  • By the way, this comment has a rather good approach to getting an answer in a comment to be put as an actual answer...
    – Wilf
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 19:38

6 Answers 6


Both of those questions have a single problem: they are crappy enough to merit closure.

The first question is just 2 sentences and an image, there's nothing to start answering apart the only symptom.

The second don't even has log files. It would be improved if OP provide better information that isn't just a screenshot (screenshots aren't even searchable), but sadly the problem is already fixed and nobody knows why or how.

What I'm getting at is that those questions aren't up to our quality standards. You are thinking that our answered rate is so low because there aren't people answering, when is totally the opposite, the people asking questions just don't provide enough information to be helped which just promote the bad practice of guessing the solution. We are about clear questions with clear answers.

BTW: stop thinking that community wiki is for something other than for people that believes that their post are part of the community. CWfication isn't for poor asked/answered questions.

  • Nice terminology on the quality of the questions - I just added in the 'community-wiki' so it wasn't suggested in the comments...
    – Wilf
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 22:56
  • 1
    I think when Wilf mentioned "community Wiki" it was to suggest that when converting someone else's comment to an answer, to mark it as community wiki so you aren't taking credit for it yourself. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 14:56
  • @neon_overload meh, you can steal it either way. Someone already stole Jeff comment, so I'm not surprised.
    – Braiam
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 15:28
  • I have seen this method before - e.g. here and elsewhere. Don't mind really
    – Wilf
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 10:59


While there is no doubt that neither of these questions are great ones, both of them do seem have enough information to reach a conclusion. (This opinion is based on reading the comments of both questions). If I think I have a grasp of what the OP is asking and feel that I can add clarity I do so.

Answers from Comments:

This has already been discussed. What I do:

1) Ask the commenter to write up an answer (if they don't appear to be a drive-by user).

2) If 1 fails to work (or is unreasonable to expect) I write up the answer and cite the author of the comment(s).


My first use of the site was honestly as a drive-by seeking answers (which I found). I know that at that time I did NOT have sufficient information to ask what many consider to be a "Good question". If I had not found my answer by searching (not everyone is good at this) I may well have been the author of a "BAD question" and likely would not have returned thinking that my question had been ignored (closed).

There is no question that the answer rate is bad, Part of this is due to the quantity of questions incoming and part of it has to do with the existing backlog. I've been attempting to clean up the corner that has the unanswered installation questions. It's huge filthy job but someone has to do it.


Part of my answer to What to do with questions whose OP hasn't visited the site for a long time? addresses the core question here.

Is it answered in comments?

If there are comments that effectively answer the question, or that may answer the question and may be helpful to others, those comments should be (or should have been turned into) answers! In this situation it is appropriate for you to answer the question with information from the relevant comment(s). You can even quote them directly. Just make sure it's clear who said the valuable words (unless they've explicitly made clear they do not want you not to cite them, in which case, still make sure you're not passing off their words or solution as something that is solely your own work).

In this situation, it's common for short answers based on or quoting the comments of others to be posted as community wiki. I'm not aware of any consensus or policy requiring this, but it often makes sense for these to be CW answers because:

  • CW status clarifies that the person who posted it is not necessarily its primary author.
  • It's easier for users with lower reputation to edit CW posts, as only 100 reputation is required to edit without going through review. That's especially valuable here because often someone posts an answer in comments instead of as an answer when they feel it's not an adequate answer, or not detailed enough. Thus it's especially valuable for these answer to be easily expanded by anyone able and willing to do so.
  • While you should not post any answer you think is meritless ("crap"), you might not want to associate yourself with this answer as strongly as usual. You might be unsure if it really works, for example. Posting it as CW sends less strong a message that it's your answer.
  • You don't get unnecessary negative reputation for the answer. You've posted the answer as a service to the community, but it wasn't really your answer. Posted as CW, downvotes will have no effect on your rep.
  • You don't get unnecessary positive reputation for the answer. Posting a valuable answer from comments is a useful service to the community, so it wouldn't be inherently bad for your reputation to increase as a consequence. However, you might feel you don't want to get reputation for it.
  • Votes are entirely about the answer, and not at all about your contribution. This relates to the last two points. Since votes (up or down) have no effect on your reputation, people may be more willing to vote based solely on what they see as the value or usefulness of the answer.
  • You can campaign for upvotes without violating etiquette. Upvotes on an answer helps remove a question from the "unanswered" list. (This is what people are usually talking about when they say "VTR" or "vote to resolve.")
    • Of course, as in other situations, people may choose not to vote on any post; always remember that people's votes are their own.
  • You still get recognition. Besides your name on the post (or in the edit history), and the community's knowledge that you helped clean up and resolve questions, remember the system awards badges for CW answers (same as regular answers).

Sometimes it makes a good deal of sense for a post based on someone's comment not to be community wiki. If most of the content is your own, or you've extensively expanded, beautified, corrected, or customized the post. There's no clear line where it should or shouldn't be CW, and you're unlikely ever to be criticized for too many of your answers being community wiki. But you should feel free to post non-CW answers when you feel it's "your answer."


I really think "Community-Wiki" should be saved for the gospel, set-in-stone, this-is-how-you-do-it answers (like this work of art: How do I install the Nvidia drivers?). I really don't think it was meant for situations like this.

In your first linked example (I was just reading that question), I think that one should be closed as "too localized." There really isn't a solution to it, other than to say "Don't mess with your .bashrc without really knowing what you are doing, because you may not be able to open a terminal session."

But your second linked example is definitely the more relevant one here. In an ideal world if a comment was (or led to) a solution, then that comment should be converted to an answer. And in a really ideal world, that answer should be "accepted."

However, the best we can really do is to post a comment notifying the user in-question to convert his comment to an answer. If that happens, then we hope that the OP comes back and "accepts" it.

EDIT- And here is an example of that happening (to me) this morning: Get all binded ip addresses

  • 2
    (1) We don't have the "too localized" close reason anymore. (2) "I really don't think [community wiki] was meant for situations like this." ([] text mine.) Can you explain that? You seem to be saying that the Stack Exchange developers actually don't (or didn't) want us to make anything CW except great, wonderful answers that are accepted as such by all. Can you explain why you think that? With links, or something? (3) You're right that CW is not necessary to solve this problem. Anyone posting the comment as an answer with proper attribution, even not as a CW answer, is also acceptable. Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 19:22
  • To many great answers - i'll have to find a way to mark most of them as the answer now...
    – Wilf
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 9:53

"I completely support stealing answers-as-comments and posting them as your own answer in these cases"

  • 1
    So meta - I just stole Jeff Atwood's comment to answer this question about stealing answers-as-comments. Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 2:08
  • different question anyway - though you did get the link off of Braiam :D
    – Wilf
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 11:01
  • 1
    the chain of comments-stolen-as-answers just keeps going... Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 13:40

I think that StackExchange should notify the user if there is no answer in 5 days. If the question is answered by the comments then it should be closed and marked as Answered by Comments or something similar. Alternatively the user could be asked to write a sum up of the solution and accept it as the answer.

  • It notifies the user when there is an answer - so it sort of already notifies when there isn't an answer.
    – Wilf
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 9:54
  • I'm saying it should prompt the user to do something with the question. If it isn't answered by comments then it can remain active but if not then the user should post and accept his own answer based on the comments.
    – ndm13
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 17:04

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