I found an answer from me has been converted to a comment - should I take any action? Should I delete that answer or does it get removed eventually "by the system"?
Like Macro said, if your answer was converted to a comment by a moderator, it will automatically be deleted.
If someone just copied and pasted your answer into a comment on the question post, go ahead and delete your answer. You don't want to collect any additional down-votes, and you're saving the moderators the trouble.
Remember that once you delete an answer or a question, you can still see it yourself, and high rep users can also see it. It's just hidden to every one else, and can't be voted on any more.
Delete your answer anytime you think:
the answer is not appropriate (doesn't answer the question, for example, or it's really a separate question, or the like).
If you find that one of your answers should be removed by a moderator, you should go ahead and remove it.
the answer doesn't help anyone.
(But note that if the question isn't closed as too localized, and your answer was helpful ones, it's somewhat likely it'll be helpful again. If someone posts a better solution, that doesn't make your solution no longer something worth knowing about. It might even be improved by editing.)
You might choose to delete an answer for other reasons, but usually this is not good practice. For example, if you think an answer is good or helpful, but it gets downvotes, you can regain the lost reputation by deleting the answer. But the lost reputation from downvotes is very small; therefore this is basically never a good reason to delete an answer.
The same thing shouldn't be both an answer and a comment. But that doesn't mean you should always delete your answer when someone posts its contents in a comment.
- If it really should have been an answer and not a comment, don't delete your answer. Flag the comment. Remember, comments (at least on main) exist for three narrow purposes: asking for clarification; criticism that is specific and helpful to the author or community; and adding information that's valuable but too minor to answer the question, or which is only temporarily relevant. Anytime you see a comment that fails to pass this test, you should flag it. (Unless you posted the comment. Then you should just delete it.)
- If it should not be an answer and should not be a comment, delete your answer and also flag the comment.
People often comment saying an answer should really be a comment. But moderators only occasionally convert an answer to a comment. It's more common for an answer to simply be deleted.
This is a question and answer site, and comments serve a secondary purpose. Any information that needs to go unforgotten should be elsehwhere (usually an answer), as comments may be deleted or edited (by moderators) without warning, the comments they depend on to make sense may be deleted/edited, comments are licensed CC-BY-SA 3.0 like all other user-contributed content but I don't think they appear in data dumps, and basically no comment editing history is ever kept. Comments cannot be undeleted or have their edits rolled back.
In my view, a good philosophy of questions, answers, and comments for Ask Ubuntu (or any SE or SE-style site) is:
- Questions and answers are basically good, but can have characteristics that make them bad.
- Comments are basically bad, but can have characteristics that make them good.
So a random piece of text that happens not to be a good answer is unlikely, merely by virtue of that, to make a good comment.
This lists several things not to use comments for (and explains what to do instead): corrections, answers, praise that doesn't add information, criticism that doesn't add information, discussion about issues related to (but not) the post, or site issues.
In particular, please take note of these common pitfalls, where people often think something should be a comment when it should not:
- Answers that are incomplete, bad, wrong, or confusing. Answers can be improved and voted on.
- Answers that are very short, but fine.
- Answers that are very short, and not fine.
- Answers that are just a link or links.
- Answers that are just code.
- Answers that really should have some code.
- Answers that are much simpler than other existing answers.
- Answers that are worse (or better) than other existing answers.
- Answers that are more autobiographical than other existing answers. (Usually you can just edit out anything that resembles a personal reflective essay.)
- Answers that deserve downvotes but you don't want to lose 1 rep (or you're out of votes).
- Posts that (like the above examples) answer the question, but there's something "wrong" with the question. For example, answers to questions that are subsequently closed as duplicates of other questions can be left alone (often the best and most helpful thing to do), deleted, or merged into the master question. They should not be comments.
That is to say: if it answers the question, it should be an answer, not a comment. If it answers the question but so poorly it shouldn't be an answer, it should not be a comment either.
There is something that might be considered an exception to this: If you answer a question by telling someone it's a duplicate of another AU question, that should be a comment.
- I don't really see that as answering at all. If you ask a mall employee "where is the food court?" and they point...not toward the food court, but to a map that shows where the food court is, is that an answer?
- However, I can also see how such comments might seem to "answer" the question, as they are (or should be) more helpful than being pointed at a mall map, and since they often contain information about how the answer applies. Nonetheless, if the question should be a duplicate, and the main point of what you're saying is that it should, that should be a comment.
Link-only non-answers (where the linked site is somehow relevant but does not answer the question) can be comments. But most of the time, it's even better for them not to exist at all. (If you can connect a useful resource to the problem and explain how to use it to fix the problem, perhaps you should post an answer. If you cannot...)