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I was wondering why some people uses comments to answer a question, instead of posting an answer.

I know that the easy answer would be "there's no reason, they're just doing it wrong", but I've seen people with high reputation doing this in some punctual questions, and I'm just curious about if there's any special case when a comment is better than an answer.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. A user with more than 18k reputation makes what could be a detailed answer in the comments, instead of posting a new answer.

So, in which cases is it better to comment? Is there any unwritten rule I'm missing?

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    Most of the time it's because we don't have enough to time right a fully structured answer, but do have the specifically relevant information on hand. – Michael Frank Apr 20 '16 at 21:25
  • Most of the time if I "answer" a question through a comment, it is because the comment is not specific enough to answer, but I believe I know the answer. 10% of the time when the comment ends up being helpful, I get that feedback, and end up writing an answer. I break it down to the fact, I can either provide you the answer I believe it is, or allow the question to go unanswered more then likely for hours or even days. In the end if the comment is helpful, and points the person in the correct direction, I have given them enough information to answer their own question. – Ramhound Apr 21 '16 at 12:48
  • @ramhound And why not adding directly the answer, and If it's wrong, deleting it? I don't expect ALL answers to be a right, that's why you just can mark 1 answer as correct, don't you think so? – Hewbot Apr 21 '16 at 13:04
  • I don't see how the comment, gronostaj made, could be made into an answer to that question to be honest. – Ramhound Apr 21 '16 at 13:10
  • @Hewbot - Removing an answer is frowned upon. If I were to remove every incorrect answer, I would be banned from submitting answers, fairly quickly. You can only accept a single answer, just because it is accepted, does not mean it is actually correct. – Ramhound Apr 21 '16 at 13:11
  • @Ramhound Yeah sorry, I explained myself wrong, what you said is exactly what I meant on the second part of my comment: there's nothing wrong in submitting an incorrect answer. I think I have it all much clearer, thanks! – Hewbot Apr 21 '16 at 21:02
  • @Hewbot - I don't submit incorrect answers. I personally don't find incorrect answers, to be helpful, an incorrect answer (often) indicates a lack of clarify with the question itself. – Ramhound Apr 21 '16 at 21:09
  • Also note a lot of the time a comment of "it's not possible" is better than an answer in case it becomes possible later. – Raystafarian Apr 22 '16 at 17:20
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See what I did there?

I answered the question quickly, but without the detail and formatting that would make it a good answer.

Generally a commented answer is going to be short, concise, and more likely a nudge in the best direction to take than a fully formed answer.

In your particular example he probably could have actually answered the question, but perhaps he felt that his information was too anecdotal to be considered authoritative.

In the end, it all comes down to the time people like to take to write a worthy answer.

  • Yep, some comments are click bait to push the question asker to do some research effort. – Moab Apr 24 '16 at 23:16
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It depends on the user.

In some cases, it might feel like speculation - one might not have all the information needed. In this case he's sharing anecdotal information, rather than definitive, researched cited information.

Some users just abuse comments cause they're a little too gunshy to answer. Sadly I can't ban them from commenting temporarily, so I comment back suggesting his comment would do well expanded as an answer. .

  • Sometimes I'm just being nice in comments, hoping someone else will post the answer to earn easy reps, helps new users to continue contributing. – Moab Apr 24 '16 at 23:18

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