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Here's the deal-io: users under 50 reputation cannot comment everywhere, they can only comment on their own answers and questions.

If you are one of these users and you really need to say something on a foreign post, what do you? Super User is just some fancy forum, right? One can just write a comment using that nice big box instead, no?

Wrong. The question's owner gets a disappointing inbox notification sad and your "answer" will get flagged.

flag


So,

What can Super User do differently to make the above scenario happen less or stop altogether?

  • Do we allow all users to comment everywhere?
  • Hold answers for review if the user has less than 50 reputation?
  • Impose an answer length requirement for such users, since comments are usually short?

What are your ideas and/or opinions?

  • 4
    I did this when I had less than 50 reputation. An admin rudely rebuked me. I don't think they understood I couldn't comment. – Colonel Panic Jun 7 '12 at 12:58
  • When I knew I couldn't comment, but I knew my question about the question didn't qualify as an answer, I just held my tongue. Sometimes there isn't anything to be done for it. To lower the thresholds because some are by rules being told "Don't speak until you have something of worthy to say" doesn't make sense. I appreciate the annoyance with the limitations imposed on new users, but an answer based on bad premises (that couldn't be checked due to comment inability) is better than "burning" an answer to ask, instead of assuming a possibility and then editing later. – killermist Jun 14 '12 at 2:20
  • Whereas I took the easy way out; I went looking for things I could answer and "levelled up" quickly. But then I got my first bounty on SO on my second day, so my time here hasn't felt that onerous. – Ben Sep 30 '13 at 5:09
14

I have now reviewed around 7000 posts. Since I review mostly first / late answers (because I see the questions at the front page), you can more or less take this as a statistical sample of what really happens.

  • 6960 reviewed
  • 1032 edited (and they really needed to be edited)
  • 387 were flagged (that's around 5.5%)

I don't think this is a lot. Of this 5.5%, the majority are spam posts and "same problem" answers, which didn't even need to be a comment in the first place.

Do we allow all users to comment everywhere?

No, massive spamming will prevail. New users won't know how to use comments and mistake them for some kind of live chat. Random strangers will ping you asking for help, et cetera. Since comments don't bump posts, they're much harder to review too. This is really not a good idea.

Hold answers for review if the user has less than 50 reputation?

If roughly 95% of all answers are a genuine attempt to solve the problem stated, then I'd say this is more counterproductive than useful.

Impose an answer length requirement for such users, since comments are usually short?

I've flagged non-answers (that really could have been comments) that were almost a thousand characters long. But just not an answer.

Short posts usually land in the "low quality" review queue anyway, and some of them get an automatic flag by the system. This makes it even easier to peer-review them, and moderators can act on them right away (by deleting or converting into a comment).


TL;DR: I currently do not see a problem with the whole "new users can't comment" thing.

If you're really desperate to say something, you'll try to get 50 reputation and then do it. If you manage to phrase an additional answer on that post where you wanted to comment, even better. Or, you could just improve the existing answers – that's the whole point of anonymous or peer-reviewed editing.

  • 3
    +1 It's true that getting started might be frustrating for some areas of expertise (troubleshooting questions come to mind), but giving random strangers, as well as spambots, more permissions isn't a good solution when considering the whole community. – Daniel Beck May 26 '12 at 9:52
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    One possibility would be to auto-flag answers containing words to the effect of "this should probably be a comment but". I see a surprising amount of those. – nhinkle May 26 '12 at 18:04

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