13

Is it ok to comment an answer to the OP because you can't test it, and then you answer if it works? Or should you just answer?

13

I'm a bit more relaxed about this than Jacob, mostly because I agree with the last sentence. Comment answers are a real pain because people trip over themselves in politeness to not transcribe it out into an answer.

  • If you're just asking for output, it's a comment.

  • If you have reason to think something will work, it's an answer. Explain that reason, what you think is wrong, why you think your solution will fix it, and you probably have a good answer.

  • If you're doing both (eg you're guessing that it's a specific type of video card based on the symptoms and have a solution for that), explain all that and it's an answer.

It doesn't really matter if it's wrong or you made the wrong assumption. You can edit. We can edit. You can delete. We can delete.

Obviously if there's huge uncertainty, you could save yourself a lot of effort by asking the OP to improve their question with specific detail before plunging in, but more than a few times I've ridden an assumption through to an accepted answer.

  • I agree here, see No Ubuntu-Desktop Yet Again to see "a polite way" to lead Poster's to improving their question. – eyoung100 Jun 30 '16 at 18:30
  • Ironically... "we can delete" has scored yet another hit on the link that @eyoung100 commented. :-\ – gravity Jul 8 '16 at 0:29
9

If you are unsure if your answer works, often it is because the question lacks important information or isn't clear on all points. To clarify the question or request additional information, that would be the goal of a comment in general.

If you are unsure however if your answer is correct, I'd do some more research to find out the validity of your answer.

Having said that, it happens to all of us from time to time, but if you do, make sure to keep an eye on the question to convert the comment into an answer if it turns out to be working; comment-answers are a pain.

  • I say this because high-rep users do it sometimes? – fosslinux Jun 28 '16 at 6:21
  • They do? They shouldn't :) The only occasion I do it (as far as I can remember) if I want to help out, but don't have the time to answer at that moment. Then either I come back later to write a full answer or upvote an answer that was (possibly) based on the comment, but elaborated. – Jacob Vlijm Jun 28 '16 at 6:31
  • Example askubuntu.com/questions/791888/… – fosslinux Jun 28 '16 at 6:53
  • @CollDue96 Ah, but these are comments with suggestions to improve the existing answer. It shows maturity and is actually excellent! – Jacob Vlijm Jun 28 '16 at 6:57
  • Viljm. Aha, now I see! :) – fosslinux Jun 28 '16 at 7:05
4

I believe it's okay, I have done it like since forever. But the point is:
convert your comments later to an answer if it works.

I have been in many situations where something comes to mind first on reading a question, but it's a general "something" like permission issues or cache or anything else.

I would first comment on that and ask for more information. If it turns out I am right, I will convert it to an answer. If not, I just leave the comments there.

Some Examples:

  1. This was a permissions issue:
    Where is .deb package location after I run apt dist-upgrade on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS?

  2. Download server settings:
    My Ubuntu 14.04 doesn't update anymore

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