So say a question has been answered in the usual fashion, but by answering the initial question the user has ran into another problem which has been made apparent by a comment thread. The problem is very likely to be separate from the initial question and not related in any way.

What should we advise the user do?

In my mind, the original question has been answered - and therefore any issue that is not related to it is outside the scope of that question. It would benefit from a new question being asked, so that it would have the raised visibility to other community members, the comment threads aren't polluted with information not relevant to the new question etc etc..


If the person asking the question asks follow-up questions in comments on an answer, it's usually best to ask them to ask a new question.

Caveat: answers should be complete if possible, and we should really make an effort to understand the asker's real problem, so if follow-up questions occur because the answer doesn't fully address the original problem (which may have needed clarification through comments, ideally on the question, and edits) then the answer(er) has responsibility I think, and should edit accordingly.

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    Re Caveat: Very well said. If I had a dollar for every time I edited an answer to add clarity I could probably make an extra mortgage payment. – Elder Geek Apr 19 '17 at 23:54
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    @ElderGeek haha same, I think I tend to err on this side and occasionally end up extending my answer more than I probably should – Zanna Apr 20 '17 at 5:24
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    Nothing wrong with that. Too much information is far superior to too little. – Elder Geek Apr 20 '17 at 11:59

Comments are not meant for chat. Flag it. Let a mod deal with it.

I'd suggest "It really looks like this is a separate problem. You probably want to post a new question referencing this about that" if you must comment

  • I would think twice before bothering a moderator with anything this simple. See my answer here – Elder Geek Apr 19 '17 at 20:27
  • The mechanics of the site allow for that and it's typically something I handle as a mod with no issue. Deleting comments needs mods. – Journeyman Geek Apr 19 '17 at 23:10
  • I agree that deleting comments requires either a mod or the original poster of the comment. I also agree with "It really looks like this is a separate problem." I just don't see flagging as first order of operations in this context. – Elder Geek Apr 19 '17 at 23:44

There is no hard and fast rule here. I think you need to handle these things on a case by case basis.

If the comments are closely related to the original question and you have the capability then by all means edit your answer to cover the new feedback.

If they seem unrelated or beyond the scope of the question answered (or your ability to answer) then you should certainly suggest that they open a new question to cover that topic or point them toward an existing answer that covers their concerns.

I would hesitate to involve the mods on anything similar to the aforementioned. There's no point in adding to their burden with something you can easily handle yourself or with the help of the community

If the comment could be construed as rude or offensive, too chatty, or non-constructive, then yes by all means involve the moderators, if not you can certainly take one or more of the actions mentioned above to help the member reach a solution. Of course my slant on this is doubtless clouded by the fact that I'm actually eager to help. Others may take a different view.


In my opinion, this depends on how related the new questions in the comment section are. For example, if someone asked a question like how do they revert back the settings of say gnome-terminal and you answered that question, then in the comment section they asked another question about reverting back the settings of say gedit (text editor) then the two questions are different and they should be asked to ask another question.

However, which happens more frequently is, OP thought procedure Y would solve their problem X, so they asked a question about how to do Y. When answered, it has been revealed that OP's problem cannot be solved with Y, so they ask follow up question revealing more information about their original question.

In this second case, I believe these comments can be edited back to the question as a sequence of trial and error cases OP has done on the problem, provided that the revealed problem is completely different. And you too can update your answer accordingly.

But this shouldn't happen too often. If this happens with a question more than once or happens with the OP frequently, then I'd say there is a problem and flag should be used to inform the moderator.

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