First of all, thank yous :)
We have many wonderful community watchmen (too bad most of them don't have any super powers) who love to flag (thanks!) wayward answers, such as those that should really be comments or are from a lost OP adding information to an answer that should be in their question. You guys do amazing work and keep the site running like a smooth engine (or one of these... things).
However, I've noticed (sadly) that not many people are making use of the pro-forma comments and leaving a comment for the "offender" so that they know where they went wrong. Of course, the moderators could just do this ourselves, but there are a few reasons I would prefer that community members do it more often.
Let's suppose that user 9999999 posts an answer (that's not really an answer, but a well disguised "Me too bro, me too."). If the answer is short (like a one, two or three liner), we can usually spot it right away and deal with. However, if it is one of those two-page spreads with a feature article and lots of pictures (you get the point - this is metaphorical here)... we will only see a summary. The lack of a comment from the flagger(s) leaves us to have to read (sometimes) the entire thing before we can confirm the flag. Beyond that, it sometimes may seem to the poster that they did something perfectly fine, since their answer has been sitting for an hour and not been removed (they won't see flags on their own post).
In such cases... your comment goes a long way.
- It's not as frightening to new users.
- People are afraid of authority, naturally, so it's always good when a "peer"* shows another "peer" the way.
- It saves moderators a little time.
- I think I can speak for all the mods here (without asking) and say, that it always helps when the community has gone the extra mile before flagging, so that we only have to do the "dirty work", such as deleting a non-answer or converting it into a comment. Of course, we don't mind doing something as simple as leaving a comment, but it takes up our time when there are a lot of flags to handle at a time.
- It's more likely to get the point across quickly, and possibly avoid moderator intervention.
- A flag without a comment is fine, but sometimes, the poster needs to know why their answer is not fitting, if not they will simply repeat their mistake. When we mods delete their answer, they will still be able to see it, but often times, we get to the issue long after the answer has been posted (and had time to "age"). Some users never even notice their mistake. However, with so many vigilant eyes, we can let these users know why their answer doesn't fit, promptly, and avoid a repeat - sooner, rather than later.
How can I get these "pro-forma comments"?
This answer http://meta.askubuntu.com/a/1327/1992 has all you need to know. Make sure to use (and if you can, contribute to) the remote source - it's a great way to build up a list of useful comments, even for fringe cases, and it's always kept up to date if anything changes :)
When should I leave a comment?
There are a few common cases in which you should leave a comment. If your flag is "Not an answer" - that is the best of times for a comment explaining why. This is especially true when someone asks a "Me too" question an an answer, or asks for more information.
What are these "review" comments of which you speak?
Well, to be honest I couldn't find a name for them, but they are comments that are automatically generated when you use the review tool. If you're not using the review tool (and have access), please commence :)!
Well, that's all for now. Have fun Ask Ubuntu-ing...ish.
*Moderators are peers too, but most new users won't be aware of that.