Are some of the new-user restrictions counter productive? If so, which.

My example: Until I had +50 rep, I could not post comments on answers. Instead, when I had something important to say, I had to post an answer which looked like this (and I've seen it done by others as well):

(I don't have 50 rep, but this is a response to John Doe's post above): .......

(For the record, I get why most of the restrictions are there, but there are one or two which really are counter-productive.)

  • 3
    I think the best way for new users to build reputation is by asking questions (which has no entry barrier) and asking really good ones. This is more important than voting or chatting or even answering.
    – koushik
    Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 1:34

2 Answers 2


In short, when this has been brought up on other StackExchange sites the answer has always been the same. If you need to leave a comment on a question and can't - move to another question. Comments are really second class citizens in the network. If it's a pressing enough detail then there is a high chance someone else will ask that question.

However, there is a way to Constructively comment on a question. For instance if a question is extremely too vague to even provide an estimated answer - just move on. Though if you can provide a ballpark answer you can try the follow.

Can you please provide X, Y, Z details in your original question?
You can also try the following:

This way you're providing feedback to the user, who can either comment on your answer, edit their question, or ignore it completely. Lower rep commenting rules work as follows: If you're the author of the question you can comment on any answer. If you're the author of an answer you can comment on your answer. Thereby allowing you to address each accordingly. It's designed to strongly ingrain the idea that Comments aren't required and should be used sparingly.

This is best discussed and demonstrated on Joel Spolsky's Blog post: Stack Overflow Launches

Note: This blog post was written before the comment system existed on the StackExchange network However, for low rep users the same concept applies.

While we encourage users to cut the extended discussion to a minimum it's often necessary to gather the minimum data to give that accurate, awesome, authoritative answer.

Along with helping to focus users on how to properly use the system - it's design (whether by design, or accidental) encourages users to participate by rewarding them for gathering reputation and providing a sense of entitlement. Now you can comment, create new tags, edit other peoples posts, vote to close, 10k user tools. If you work to gain 2k reputation then abuse the editing power your account will have actions taken against it and you'll have to work twice as hard on a new account to gain that level of destruction again. So just as much of an encouragement to participate it's also a deterrent once you gain that power.

It can be frustrating at times - being a new user and having such a low restriction - but the system is truly designed around one purpose. Questions & Answers.

  • Thanks for the answer Marco, but what is the functional difference between allowing a user to comment on a question, and allowing a user to comment on an answer. Why is one restricted and the other one allowed, what do we gain by not allowing users to comment on answers?
    – Jeremy
    Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 1:45
  • 1
    To answer my own question, I guess that one is intended to clarify the question, whereas the other is intended to correct / clarify someone else's answer. So, I guess if the justification is "We don't really trust you enough to let you question other people's answers yet", I could live with that. The fact remains that posting a new answer to comment on someone else's answer is more intrusive and less useful than commenting on an answer.
    – Jeremy
    Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 1:48
  • 1
    @Jeremy - In the end it is. Well it's not that we don't trust the user, it's designed to discourage forum-like discussions which detract from the site. How Comments work for under rep. If you're the author of the question you can comment on any answer. If you're the author of an answer you can comment on your answer. Thereby allowing you to address each accordingly. In the end the SO team stands by their decision and don't plan to modify that limit any time soon. Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 1:54
  • I don't like it, but it's fair and it makes sense, which is much more important than me liking it! :)
    – Jeremy
    Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 1:58
  • @Jeremy It also gives you entitlement. You earned the ability to comment, edit other peoples post, vote to close, create new tags. It also contributes to a motivation factor. Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 2:11
  • @Jeremy: Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you, but there isn't a difference in rep required between commenting on a question and on an answer. However, you can always comment on your own answer (in order to respond to others), and to any answer on a question you ask (in order to respond, again).
    – Roger Pate
    Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 16:20

As the comments of this question pointed out, having minimum 20 rep for posting in meta is not helping.

  • Which isn't a detrimental issue - because we can migrate to meta.askubuntu.com Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 1:30
  • Good point, but the original example still stands (see comment on your answer)
    – Jeremy
    Commented Oct 17, 2010 at 1:46

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