7

I keep bumping into questions with perfectly good answers that are not marked as accepted or can't even be marked nor voted because they're in comments. Even if you politely ask the "commentswerer" to move his solution from comments to answers they deny any rep being awarded for their help in an equally politely manner (Hence "rep shy")

UPDATE: Added headings to make more sense.

Disclaimer

Now, I know "Accepting doesn't mean it's the best answer, it just means that it worked for the person who asked" as stated in the about page and the help documentation (right here).

Justification

But this is affecting the rep of the site/community as a whole, and the comments-for-answers and answers-for-comments issues must be a burden for mods for sure, the labor of maintenance and cleaning of the data must be arduous because of this.

It'd be better if this wasn't left only to mods because they have loads and loads of responsibilities, instead a device to involve the community could be implemented in the form of a special flag or another type of devised functionality.

Reasoning

For users with the intend of asking a question it gets harder to browse and search for answers to their issues before posting a question, because without answers, many questions are easily dismissed because they appear to have no answers, its discouraging.

Real life case scenario

Even if that user finds a question with the same issue he/she has and enters to try and participate with the hope to bring the question back to life, will find out that because of having little or no rep he/she won't be able to comment nor upvote on a question that's been dead for months in order to remind someone that he/she shares this problem and needs an answer, also making it a favorite wont do any good, so this new user will have to post a new (duplicated) question.

Risky

So I'd debate Jeff Atwood on his posture towards this issue This "50rep for comments" he defends is problematic as described above.

Not sure if debating is the right word. I don't mean to be impolite.

Alternative

A better solution I believe, would be to welcome new users with the about page and prove their acknowledgement of the rules with a brief questionnaire as a pre-condition to posting questions. An "informed" badge triggered by browse-down events in the code is not enough and a stronger measure would be discouraging for new users.

A persisting problem needs innovation.

This trend goes on and on. I think it is giving the whole site a bad rep of not having answers for questions asked.

This is not new, it goes back ages.

I've read various posts dealing with this similar topic so I'm certain you have previously recognize this as an issue.

In summary I propose three things:

  1. That there was an easy way to politely suggest/remind the asker to mark an answer as accepted.
  2. That a new flag function be created to route a comment into the answers where it belongs, giving the user a choice (either he/she lets this flagged comment be an answer or be deleted).
  3. And that the new users are required to read and acknowledge the about page before they post anything with the benefit of gaining the right to post comments since day one (subject to loosing this privilege if misused).

Accordingly to what I've been reading, comments are second class citizens and will be eventually force to deletion anyways. So why not force them to be answers when it applies?

I hope this doesn't become yet another question full of "commentswers" or that we get just one answer by the usual suspect saying something in the line of "Leave a comment for the commenter or turn the comment into a community wiki answer" and no one else daring to propose something different and staying silent. It is counter-intuitive and becomes a self-defeating measure. Suggesting that things stay the same wont do anyone no good.

I'm just saying we the users can help reduce mods' overload of work (this is not speculation, in this post a mod named Oli clearly states the wide scope of things to be attended by moderators).

The main point I'm trying to make is: We need more efficiency to get answers and effectively reflect the real state of questions already asked and answered. This will lead to a better community, more easily maintained by the awesome mods.

  • 5
    I know it's ironic that I'm commenting with this, but this is also an often-discussed topic that usually ends up with the same "Leave a comment for the commenter, turn the comment into a community wiki answer." I'll leave it to someone else to turn that into an answer, since I'm not particularly fond of the question right now. Oh, also: If your feature request includes the word "force", there might be something wrong with it. ;) – user98085 Jul 13 '13 at 11:09
  • I change the word "force" for something that sounds better, and yet I'd point out that flagging a nonconstructive comment to be deleted is also "forcing" some action. And accordingly to what I've been reading, comments are second rate citizens and will be eventually force to deletion anyways. So why not force them to be answers when it applies? I fear the same outcome @FEichinger , but hope this doesn't become yet another question full of commentswers. It is counter-intuitive and becomes a self-defeating measure. Mods with an overload of work suggesting that things stay the same. – JorgeArtware Jul 13 '13 at 11:24
  • I have now added my view as an answer. And I'm now also downvoting the feature request, because in writing my answer, I feel you have some fundamental misunderstanding of how Stack Exchange works and as such, this suggestion is not viable. – user98085 Jul 13 '13 at 11:33
  • Is it just me or someone just changed the required rep to "comment everywhere" on meta.stackexchange.com just right a minute ago? required rep is 1 now – JorgeArtware Jul 13 '13 at 12:49
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    SO - and in particular MSO - have largely different thresholds for privileges. – user98085 Jul 13 '13 at 12:51
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    @JorgeArturo Just a side note: this is meta, you should not worry about any downvotes or upvotes, its not wrong to ask or suggest and you should not worry about people agreeing or not with you. Discussion is normally innovation and if no one does it we are stuck on the same place. Does not mean I agree with what you wrote though... :) – Bruno Pereira Jul 13 '13 at 13:10
  • @FEichinger OK, but I already had an account there and I got the comment everywhere privilege just now. It was kinda extrange. || @Bruno , thanks for the nod and the info, it's good to know that I can go open minded about this family of sites, I plan on spending a lot of time here in the next couple o' years. I might as well try to leave a positive mark while at it. :D – JorgeArtware Jul 13 '13 at 13:45
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    @JorgeArturo cheers and welcome! :) – Bruno Pereira Jul 13 '13 at 16:02
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    I've only read your edit... the rest was tl;dr. If someone posts a half answer in a comment instead of forcing that comment into an answer (and it wouldn't be a good answer, comments never are) you should take up the information and write an answer yourself. Comments weren't meant to be answers and would certainly not make good ones. – Seth Jul 14 '13 at 22:40
  • suggest edit: remove intro – geezanansa Aug 8 '13 at 16:09
23

If people aren't posting answers properly, do it for them. From the stackoverflow announcement:

Want to know an easy way to earn reputation? Find a question somewhere with several good, but incomplete, answers. Steal all the answers and write one long, complete, detailed answer which is better than the incomplete ones. Sit back and earn points while people vote up your comprehensive answer.

Just provide proper attribution/credit. I don't think your idea of forcing people to a questionnaire will fly, people are already shown the how to ask page whens starting to use the site.

  • 3
    Great! I didn't know I was allowed to do that, it seems the help pages omitted it. Good thing that Joel made that announcement :D Now, your answer @Jorge Castro, IS helpful, but I still think some changes could sure help this site get even better and bigger, enhancing new-user retention by using education to close the gap between an alienated agent and an active participant. I'd like more stackexchange sites to grow faster&clean from spam, to be as big as stackoverflow. We ubuntu users for example, could sure use some help. – JorgeArtware Jul 13 '13 at 14:04
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    @JorgeArturo askubuntu.com/help/privileges/edit gives details of privelege Edit Questions and Answers. Which a newer user could try to apply principles of. An additional option to Jorge Castro's advice could be to downvote if you think the answer or question that is being read is not worthy of an upvote adding a comment as to why you downvoted. Check askubuntu.com/help/someone-answers The point is as you highlight is to vote (either up or down) and then maybe a new user could make suggested edits. You can do this by adding a prefix "Suggested Edit:" to reason for edit. – geezanansa Aug 8 '13 at 15:49
  • or you could add suggested edits in comments as i have done here.. nudge nudge – geezanansa Aug 8 '13 at 15:53
  • A new user has the ability to vote but can not comment to anything other than their own q or a. Which privilege is being encouraged to be used? – geezanansa Aug 8 '13 at 16:32
3

I respectfully disagree with your position. I'd hate to see any of my "bread crumb" comments converted to an answer. Ideally, following Jorge Castro advice makes the most sense to me. Convert these tiny partial answers to a full fledged good answer. This may require any number of efforts on your part from further research to editing for clarity and comprehensiveness.

Regarding your suggestions.

  1. There is an easy way to politely suggest/remind the asker to mark an answer as accepted. It's called a comment. I've done this and I don't find it to be an onerous task.

  2. creating a new flag function to route a comment into the answers where it belongs (perhaps), giving the user a choice... While at times, a number of comments can be combined to create a valid answer (I have done this as well and again did not find the task to be painful.), I have yet to see a single comment that qualified as a valid answer. I believe this approach would result in more poor answers.

  3. New users are already provided with the information. You cannot force reading and comprehension on those who are unwilling or unable to do so. Allowing users to post comments on day one would increase the effort required to maintain the site, resulting in more account related work (warnings, suspensions, terminations?) and increase the number of useless comments that need to be cleaned up.

Note that these are still my opinions based on 2 years, 9 months months of service here.

  • 1
    Tahnk you, I respect your opinion very much. It's been 2 years and I've learned a lot since I made this post to meta, if I were to revisit my position, I'm sure I'd change some substance. Though I still find some comments that solved the poster's issue and could be expanded just a bit to qualify as answers that could be useful for everyone who lands on that page. Maybe that's simply unavoidable and will have to trust the SE team know what they're doing. Cheers. – JorgeArtware Jun 5 '15 at 21:41
  • you could've answered you answer as an answer instead of a comment though. – zulu34sx Nov 26 '15 at 23:49
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    @zulu34sx Was this comment intended to get my attention or the previous commenter’s attention? Note that comments on questions are always forwarded to the questioners mailbox and comments on answers are always forwarded to the answerers mailbox. If you wish to get a specific users attention you need to include their username preceded by the @ symbol. I hope this helps you. – Elder Geek Nov 29 '15 at 17:45
2

First of all, something that really struck me in your suggestion was the word "force". We should never, ever force anything on this site - with the exception being the removal of malicious content. We cannot and should not force users to do anything, as long as they aren't harming the site gravely.

Next, you largely post speculation about just how much work it really is for the moderators. I contest your claim, as I've mostly seen questions with comment answers either deleted (because they're too simple, etc.), or answered completely.

Then there's this section:

Even if that user finds a question with the same issue he/she has and enters to participate with the hope to bring the question back to life will find out that as per little or no rep he/she won't be able to comment on a question that's been dead for months in order to remind someone that he/she shares this problem and needs an answer, so this new user will have to post a duplicated answer.

I don't really understand what you're saying here. Why would this new user post an answer if they share the problem? They should upvote it, or add it to their favorites, maybe link it somewhere - and wait for an answer. Or post a new question, that may or may not be duped to the original answer (for good reason). These all help to raise awareness of the question, which a comment wouldn't even do (as it doesn't push the question to the front page, and doesn't affect it in any outside-visible way either).

Your suggested alternative is also already implemented. New users are shown the /about page already, and they're bombarded with information on how to post, where to post it and more importantly: what not to do. This is also largely unrelated to the topic at hand - answers as comments have nothing to do with the new user experience, with the exception of not receiving a proper answer - which may have entirely different reasons.

And finally, to your three suggestions:

  1. That there was an easy way to politely suggest/remind the asker to mark an answer as accepted.

There is: You can always post a comment to inform them that they might add that as an answer.
We even have a canned comment for that:

[A]Half answer in a comment
Can you include a answer with instructions on how to do that? Leaving a half-answer as a comment can often cause more harm than good. Thanks.

This should cover most "comment answers".

  1. That a new flag function be created to force a comment into the answers where it belongs.

This has also already been suggested - And it was disagreed with. There are good reasons to post an answer as a comment - and an active user will openly tell you why and might even turn it into an actual answer once they think it's reasonable.

  1. And that the new users are required to read and acknowledge the about page before they post anything with the benefit of gaining the right to post comments since day one (subject to loosing this privilege if misused).

You cannot force people to read anything. This will just mean more work, because comments will have to be reviewed just like first answers or first questions - people need to look at them to remove the privilege from those who misuse it. Which just is not worth the effort for something that has always been a second class citizen.

The comment privilege is already open enough:

Please note that you can always comment on your own posts, and any part of your questions. However, commenting on other people's posts is a privilege.

  • Thanks for posting an actual answer :) Now, In order: 1- I swapped the "f" word (force) for one that expressed the meaning better 2- Referenced a mod stating the broad workload they handle 3- Made a correction on the case scenario it was meant to say "new duplicated question" instead of answer, my bad 4- Couldn't find help page stating bookmarking a question helps to raise awareness to it, as you said. 5- As a new user I assure you I was NOT shown the about page by default, I went there to read by my own will, and was not asked to fill a questionnaire to make sure I read and acknowledge – JorgeArtware Jul 13 '13 at 13:37
  • 6- Comments have everything to do with new user experience, I should know because I've been using the site for only 3days have read all the help and struggled to earn rep, not being able to ask clarification of confusing questions 7- My first proposal is not critical but important for new user retention 8- Canned comments and polite suggestions are ok, but flags are impersonal and accepted through accumulation by design, they make a statistical difference so mods get help from regular users 9- Previously rejected reform should be pursued again if needed and worht it – JorgeArtware Jul 13 '13 at 13:37
  • 10- I'm not saying partial answers should be totally banned, I'm saying users should have the choice to vote/flag when they see a perfectly good complete answer in the comments so the user who gave the answer will have to take action about it, this can't damage his rep only make it better (bcs comments don't effect rep, see help on comments and rep) 11- You can't force them to read but you can make it a pre-requisite to participate, otherwise they can be silent-anonymous spectators. – JorgeArtware Jul 13 '13 at 13:39
  • 12- I know commenting everywhere is a privilege, that's why I'm proposing a new way to EARN that privilege, by reading the about page and proving that you understand it by answering a fast test/questionnaire. – JorgeArtware Jul 13 '13 at 13:40
  • Thanks for the info on canned comments @FEichinger . Now I'm using them. :) – JorgeArtware Jul 15 '13 at 2:43
  • -1 Do not want to take away from point you make about the high workload for moderators and reviewers. Search main site questions and note how many first posts or other questions that have been reviewed have no vote at all. Then reread this question without reading the suggestions (or the intro). I think the "force" thing is a bit neurotic and the use of "speculation" is untrue so is a lie. – geezanansa Aug 8 '13 at 16:06
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    @FEichinger look in an English dictionary for the many definitions and use of "force". one of which in mine is "produce by effort". i.e. the athlete had to force himself to go training = positive outcome when applying force – geezanansa Aug 8 '13 at 16:22
0

I keep bumping into questions with perfectly good answers that are not marked as accepted or can't even be marked nor voted because they're in comments. Even if you politely ask the "commentswerer" to move his solution from comments to answers they deny any rep being awarded for their help in an equally politely manner (Hence "rep shy")

A new user could post an answer in order to convey their opinion as Jorge Castro answers. That is after reviewing the Help Centre and About features preferably.

Another feature that gives a chronological order of what privileges are available is to click on the privileges button when hovering over user name after logging on to Ask Ubuntu.
This will confirm that commenting is not available until rep of 50 has been achieved. The privilege of voting up is provided after gaining the rep of 15. Voting it would appear is being encouraged rather than other options available to more experienced users.

It may be reasonable to conclude the chronological order for privileges applies to both new and those with higher rep; with regard to how the site wants privileges to be applied by everyone.

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