18

I find myself solving someone's problem step by step through the comments. When I finally find the solution, should I move the final solution to an answer and delete the comment or leave the comment there as well?

27

There are few things more frustrating —from a site management point of view— than seeing somebody write an short answer as a comment, the OP say "Thanks that worked" and then everybody just walk away.

Various elements in the system (that are there to help other people get help and answer the right things) require that answers go in the answers section. So somebody should transpose that to an answer; ideally the person who posted it as a comment, but the person who asked the question, or anybody else would do just fine.

If you think you have an answer, post it as an answer. Assuming the question is otherwise good (not obviously duplicate, off-topic, etc), the only questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • Is it relevant to their problem?
  • Does it attempt to fix their problem (if applicable, not everything can be fixed) or explain it?

There will always be some grey between diagnosis and solution but an honest attempt to fix somebody's problem shouldn't be penalised.


People often get stuck on who should be transposing answer-comments as answers. It's such a British thing, holding a door open for somebody and arguing for 20 minutes over who should walk through it first. The problem is the system really doesn't care about manners and while you're waiting for the original poster to do the right thing, this question and potential answer languish.

Of course attribution is still a requisite here.

If your family couldn't bear the dishonour and social disgrace from you actually being remunerated for somebody else's work, you can post answers as a community wiki. It'll be your name on it, but you won't earn any rep.

  • This is what I thought, I was just not entirely sure. – Zzzach... May 4 '16 at 1:49
  • Oli you also have to account for not being rude, gotta give credit to the author of the comment somewhere in the posted answer ;) – David May 12 '16 at 12:18
  • 2
    @DavidCole-GrammarPolice That is as much a requirement of the terms and conditions of the site as it is politeness. But yes, some people don't transpose answers because they'd rather the original commenter did, for credit, reputation, etc. It's a terribly British thing to do but leaves the question technically unanswered. If you're ashamed to get reputation off the back of somebody else's work, post it as a community wiki. – Oli May 12 '16 at 13:01
  • @Oli what a great idea – Jonathan May 12 '16 at 21:52
8

We should develop a feature that able to move comments to answers. Provide them to moderators. Also a feature to vote for comment as an answer.

Then, everyone is happy.

  • 5
    I think there is already a thing for mods to convert answers to comments, so probably having a thing do it the other way round probably will be useful - you could do a feature-request :) – Wilf May 7 '16 at 5:38
7

You should move the comments to an answer. Comments are considered second class on SE.

Once you post an answer, the comments may be deleted by both of you by moving additional information from OP into the question and your solution to an answer, or can be left around for context. I consider it purely a matter of preference.

2

I have begun lately to post answers based on the 'Comment-Answers` if I come along a Question which not has being answered itself by the commenter. I think if we all begin doing this we will see a lot more answers marked as solved in the long term.

But thats just my 2 cent.

  • I feel like it might be better to notify the person that answered the question in the comments section to convert the comment into an answer "so that anybody else that has this issue can find the answer right away" or something like that. – Zzzach... May 11 '16 at 23:47
  • Maybe i should add that i normally ask them to move their comment into an answer, but if i find one which is older I'm going to make it an answer myself. – Videonauth May 11 '16 at 23:57
  • Sounds reasonable – Zzzach... May 12 '16 at 2:21
0

Sometimes it seems appropriate to go through some troubleshooting steps in the comments when I think I might have an answer but am not sure. But then I've been miffed when the info in my comments fixes the problem, and the questioner posts it as an answer before I can.

  • 1
    If I think I have an answer to the problem, like, pretty sure it will fix it, I usually post it right away. More often than not, however, the question was initially unclear, then gained clarity through the comments, and somewhere along the line, one of my comments led to an answer that fixed the rather simple problem that initially seemed very complicated. It's confusing, but if the questioner posts the answer from your comments, maybe ask for recognition or at least a reference to your comment in the answer. – Zzzach... May 16 '16 at 17:38
-2

Maybe you should consider to gather the info ( in the comments ) you need for the answers and when you spot the solution, then post an answer. This is why the OP has to select the best answer from all answers, don't be afraid and take a stab at it next time.

Troubleshooting is an answer too, it points to a solution because we are not Wizards either. I say you post the answer and leave the comments so people can also up-vote your comments.

Hunt that Yeti, oh great intergalactic Llama!! :P

  • 1
    True, but a lot of what happens is "Did you check this?" or "Is this currently running?", so in a sense, asking for the info can cause the answer to be revealed, ie "The required program is actually not running..." may answer the question, but just as well could've been a request for info. Answers should ask for information. – Zzzach... May 15 '16 at 2:18
  • @Zzzach... Update – userDepth May 15 '16 at 3:16
  • You have a point, of which you just presented (editing your answer). However, if everybody did this, then there would be many "answers" troubleshooting the problem, many answers asking for the same information. I think "troubleshooting" is very similar to "asking for information". Troubleshooting questions in the answers section sounds borderline inappropriate: http://askubuntu.com/help/deleted-answers. Note: I realized I made a typo in my last comment: Answers should NOT be asking for more information on the question. – Zzzach... May 15 '16 at 3:58
  • @Zzzach... I believe that "Troubleshooting" is just a branding for "Asking questions". – userDepth May 15 '16 at 12:22
  • @userDepth A large portion of the troubleshooting that goes on requires asking questions of the askers, and then acting upon information from it. Consider that there are literally hundreds of questions which information is omitted on by the OP, ranging from missing info about the computer to actual commands executed and output from them necessary to troubleshoot. In all of those cases, if the answers posted are asking for more information from the user, posting those as comments is the correct policy, as answers to questions should not be asking for clarifications - that's why comments exist. – Thomas Ward Aug 11 '16 at 12:32

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