this is no thought exercise, this has happened to be more than once.

Q: What happens to expert users in a field , that just join an Ask* site? A: They have very little chance of progressing in the point system of such sites. And indeed they are being banned from sharing their (expert) opinion.

A little background: I am a long time slackware user , so alot of the frequent difficulties I had with linux, I have solved in the past, before Ask* sites even existed.

So currently, that I am trying Ubuntu, I will come in and ask question that are more complex than "how do I place a shortcut on my desktop" ? In fact most of the questions I ask , the average ubuntu user can't answer. So no points earned for this . If possible I'll go back and answer my own question (something that has happened frequently in several ask* sites).

Additionally, I can not answer simple ubuntu questions because I haven't used ubuntu for long! no points earned from there either.

Not having points, is also "bad" for other users. If I see an error in someone's reply, I can not comment to correct them! Arggh! It is most frustating seeing an error in someone's reply and not being able to notify them so that they can change it or at least up vote their replies, which could potentially reward me as well and "unlock" some usability.

I can't recall another example at the moment but this has happened to be in more than one situations, and it is really bothersome.

All this reduced usability is not helping to drive the community forward. At least not if you have new comers that do HAVE some experience to share. Does anyone else have this problem?

  • I recommend expanding this with clarification on a couple of points. "And indeed they are being banned from sharing their (expert) opinion." Tell us more about this, please. When, where, and how has this been happening? "In fact most of the questions I ask , the average ubuntu user can't answer. So no points earned for this" Can you explain what you mean? You don't earn reputation just by having other people post answers to your questions, or by having answers to your questions upvoted. The main way you get rep from questions is upvotes on the questions. – Eliah Kagan Aug 29 '13 at 13:01
  • @EliahKagan By banned I meant, "are not allowed" (frustration of the moment for the lack of better words). please see comment#3 in reply below. Also, While upvotes on Q only give points to OP, it is regular that comment discussions clarify things that give some points (I think) to either side (OP included). – nass Aug 29 '13 at 13:30
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    How would comment discussions confer reputation? There is no reputation awarded for posting comments, or even when a comment is upvoted. Also, why wouldn't there be comment discussions on harder questions? Those seem like the ones where such discussion would sometimes be most necessary. (And you can comment on your own posts and on answers to your own questions, though ordinarily it only makes sense to do so in response to someone else's comment.) – Eliah Kagan Aug 29 '13 at 13:33
  • @EliahKagan "Also, why wouldn't there be comment discussions on harder questions?" I must have been misunderstood. I never meant something of the sort. Problem exactly that I can not comment as a newbie, which is fine for most cases to "shut up", but what if you have something important to say? You can't be allowed to speak unless people upvote for you in other situations. And indeed many, many times before you are finally allowed to speak. – nass Aug 29 '13 at 13:43
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    Well, five times, if the upvotes are all on answers. Ten, if they're all on question. As Oli says, you can rep from editing also. In any case, you make a good point: there are serious disadvantages to the way we do things, and then compliment the various, also significant advantages of the Stack Exchange approach. This is one of the reasons it's important to have a variety of support resources that work differently. (In particular, Launchpad Answers is a "lower tech" Q&A, where anybody can comment.) – Eliah Kagan Aug 29 '13 at 16:01
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    The workaround for when a comment should be posted, since you have over 50 reputation network-wide, is to say something in chat. – Eliah Kagan Aug 29 '13 at 16:01
  • I disagree, I went through the OPs posts and added the information from the comments into the question. There is zero reason to put useful information in the comments. The entire point is to edit the questions and answers so the next guy doesn't have to read through a ton of posts to find out what is going on. – Jorge Castro Aug 29 '13 at 16:02
  • @JorgeCastro People can already post comments on their own questions and answers, and this meta question is (mainly) about situations where people cannot post comments. I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with (or even if I said it), but I totally agree that users should almost always add information relevant to their own posts by editing their posts. nass is talking about situations where there's truly relevant commentary to be made on someone else's post, which would be totally inappropriate as an edit, and which can't easily be turned into a separate attempt to answer the question. – Eliah Kagan Aug 29 '13 at 16:06
  • OK fair enough, I was just saying that it was easy for me to update the OPs questions to make sense and remove the need for comments on the questions. – Jorge Castro Aug 29 '13 at 16:06
  • @nass new users can definitely gain reputation - look up how long I am here, and there are several others who came even later and gained a lot more rep than I did. – guntbert Aug 29 '13 at 18:21
  • Take this guy for example. – Seth Aug 30 '13 at 18:43

In an effort to avoid the rambling comments, here it is, compressed into three points:

  1. Privileges are not rights. We aren't like other support sites so people need to adapt and learn how we work. That's what we need to work without disruption. This is particularly true with comments so their use is limited until you've earned it and that avoids widespread abuse (spam, chat, waffle, etc). 50rep is considered an easily acquirable level.

    Any "harm" this limit causes is easily countered by the number of bad comments it stops.

  2. Any user can earn reputation. Your argument suggests they can't and that's plain wrong. If you're an "expert", you'll find answering things pretty simple. If you're not a general expert in "all things Ubuntu", pick the tags that work for you. You'll pick up the rest in time.

  3. Reputation is available for more than just answering. If you can't progress through writing good posts, you can contribute to the editing of the site. You can suggest improvements and that will earn you a little reputation each time.

    There are an extremely high number of posts that can be edited in some way to improve them (dozens of new ones every hour, hundreds of legacy posts). If you want rep it's out there for the taking.

And that's how things are. There's no conspiracy to silence experts, we just require people of all backgrounds to go through the same life-cycle.

You say it's not polite to say "go away if you don't agree with how this site works"... I'd pick different words but I'd essentially be saying the same thing. If you can't get along with the system and the rules we place around it, you're not going to last long.

To answer the question "What can I do if I can't comment on something?"

  • If it's a simple correction or enhancement, submit an edit suggestion. People will review it and the original poster will be notified if that all goes through. This will apply most often.

  • If you're suggesting something that's loosely based on their idea, post your own answer and reference theirs. If you're copying portions of their code, note the CC-BY copyright agreement on the site. Link to their profile and their answer.

  • If you feel their answer is irreparably unfit for purpose, flag it appropriately.

  • like I said, I know little about ubuntu, so I normally can't answer most of the -simple- questions. If I am able to help somewhere is with linux, and perhaps other stuff. What happens when I can not answer questions but I see a bug in someone's reply? After him having spend a considerable time to reply, you can't just expect me to copy his answer just to fix their bug.... – nass Aug 29 '13 at 12:55
  • @nass How to deal with this depends on the nature of the problem in the other user's answer. If it's a mistake, like a syntax error or accidentally incomplete information, such that the fundamental meaning of the answer would not change if it were fixed, suggest an edit to the post (by clicking the edit link under it). If the answer is deeply wrong, such that an edit to fix it wouldn't respect the intent of its author, and you know a right answer, then your answer really is substantively different, so go ahead and post it. Ordinarily it wouldn't be helpful for your answer to be copied. – Eliah Kagan Aug 29 '13 at 13:04
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    @EliahKagan indeed you "edge" cases you mention I'd go about in the same way. But right now for example, I see a fairly complete and thought through answer. It has only 4 upvotes even though clearly the Poster put effort in their reply. He bases his answer on a piece of python code that does not work for all cases. I would like to point it out to him, as I am not a complete newbie. I can't. – nass Aug 29 '13 at 13:11
  • @nass you can then use your own answer with what you consider the correct answer, then is the work of the community evaluate if your answer is indeed correct and useful, or edit the incorrect code (here is a short of a grey line where you can update the code so it improves, but not make it so extensive so the original answer losses meaning). – Braiam Aug 29 '13 at 13:27
  • BTW, most of my answers have 0 votes as I'm tenacious but even so, I did some shady jobs that gained me some reputation. – Braiam Aug 29 '13 at 13:30
  • editing is possible but will not necessarily lead to a better answer. I am just as entitled to error as the rest. A comment discussion might breed more fruitful results and give the change to the main Replier to correct his error and know what it needed correction. – nass Aug 29 '13 at 13:35
  • also, what if I don't know the answer, and I would just like to point out to the Replier that "I see that your code does not work in my case, could you please fix it?" etcetc. This is constructive critisism and it is banned from weak-pointed people who could offer their 2cents. – nass Aug 29 '13 at 13:50
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    @nass we don't edit to correct, but to improve. You can't hope to improve an incorrect answer (in such cases we downvote), what you can do is update the answer for completeness, or write an answer on your own. – Braiam Aug 29 '13 at 13:56
  • @oli, your argument is sound , as far as the merits of keeping newbies are concerned, but as I see you agree that there is a brutal level of constrain. It is also not polite to say "go away if you don't agree with how this site works". Also, I am not an expert in the field of Ubuntu, but you'll agree that Ubuntu is not an entity of its own. It is a sum of alot of different sorts of programs and applications from various backgrounds. So you can't be suggesting that it is alright to shut an expert unix user up, because they don't speak ubuntu... – nass Aug 29 '13 at 14:01
  • @Braiam true about improve vs correct, but what do you do in such cases as the one I stated earlier. The Replier has a thorough answer, based on a bit of python code that does not work for all cases. It is unethical to copy and correct his answer, it is not correcto to edit his answer, and I can not be allowed to comment. Heck, I can't even message the lad to notify them! – nass Aug 29 '13 at 14:04
  • @nass in such cases I say "adding to \@someone answer, for those that do not work due X reason, uses this instead" of course the introductory line is up to you, or if you want to make further explanations why yours works instead the other, etc... – Braiam Aug 29 '13 at 14:28
  • @nass I've edited to distil everything I said before and everything I've thought while reading the comments in an effort to draw this to a close. As others have said the direct solution here is to edit. And that's not a workaround. Even if you could comment, it would be far more efficient to suggest the edit. – Oli Aug 29 '13 at 14:43

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