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This answer to another question of mine is the context for this question.

I have more than once, had the Post Your Answer button just move my answer to a question comment for me. But only if it meets or fails to cross some unspecified threshold. (Don't do that. Note that that is not encouraged)

Can we remove auto-conversion of sloppy answers to question comments?

This is a feature request concerning the automatic website conversion of a terse answer to a comment attached to the question. Let's stop that from automatically triggering. Specifically, because I think it has a detrimental side-effect.

IMO, this will help curtail (instead of actively encouraging) sloppy answers.

  • I spent the better part of a week expecting the website form to shuffle my answers into questions for me as I press Submit Your Answer. Good, of course not, but then why does the system do it at all? – zero2cx Sep 22 '12 at 2:29
  • Have you considered why it is there in place, especially after having read the FAQ and my answer? Have you thought about the possible consequences that removing this auto-conversion that they introduced could lead to? Have you done research on Meta Stack Overflow why they introduced the auto-conversion? Why does it bother you? Why do you think it's harmful? What side effects are you talking about? I don't see how this is going to contribute to curtailing sloppy answers. Can you please elaborate? – Tamara Wijsman Sep 22 '12 at 2:32
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    I believe this is only done to answers that contains links, but this might have changed in the mean time; see Answer appears automatically converted as a comment and Are answers that just contain links elsewhere really “good answers”? for more details why. – Tamara Wijsman Sep 22 '12 at 2:37
  • @TomWijsman -- I really only know that the process confused me into reapeating discouraged behavior, like six times or more. I am clear on what your answer was and I'm still re-reading it. I did search unsucessfully. I thought it was a novel and useful proposal. I'll retract the post as just noise, then. Thanks you. – zero2cx Sep 22 '12 at 2:38
  • Well, what you describe is somewhat irrelevant to this meta question; because this meta question has the opposite goal of what your previous meta question had, I think it's best to not mind about it given that it's thoroughly thought about by various people. The Stack Exchange people wouldn't put such algorithm in place until they are sure that it proves useful. There might be bad cases, but they need evidence like my first comment above. Once answered, you can't retract a question. Just leave it in place for others to learn from; or if you really must, you can try to ask a moderator... – Tamara Wijsman Sep 22 '12 at 2:42
  • The system in place effectively taught me to leave a question comment as an aswer only because I expected it to be fixed for me. Being aware of what a non-answer entails, the intent was always to leave a comment. The friendly system was helping me accomplish that, since I could not comment without assistance as a low-rep user. Whoops. – zero2cx Sep 22 '12 at 2:46
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    That's not true, the first thing you are shown when answering your first question(s) is a box above it that says you shouldn't be Asking for help, clarification, or responding to other answers. and I believe there's enough explanation in place about how to comment and answer as well. There's no indication that you should flag to turn them into comments. You have ignored those (information overload!) and thought it yourself, it's human behavior and perfectly fine. Don't worry about the moderator's response, it's merely a "warning to help you" and not a "you have been a very bad boy" message. – Tamara Wijsman Sep 22 '12 at 2:49
  • Thank you, @TomWijsman – zero2cx Sep 22 '12 at 2:50
  • It's not necessary to close a feature request question, you can let it stay and future users will be able to learn from that discussion. Thanks for the flag, but all we could do is "decline" it, but that is usually reserved for the Stack Exchange team, not us community moderators. – slhck Sep 22 '12 at 7:00
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You should know that to most people, comments are just noise.

Out of the whole page; people tend to read the gist of the question and answers, often they don't even read every sentence (unless you were to answer the question) simply because we're overload with information nowadays. People come to learn how to solve the problem, not read all the side story or useless yet relevant content.

In other words, the least they care about is the comments.

So, who actually does care about the comments?

Only the writer of the post cares about the comment.


So, to come back on your topic; if an answer doesn't constitute as a way to learn how to solve the problem, it just doesn't fit well as an answer. Note the focus on the word "learn", which means that an answer should not only be about giving the actual solution but also about learning how the solution was obtained.

These ain't just my idea, but is actually by the founder of the Stack Exchange network; Jeff Atwood:

If I had to summarize our network in a single word, that word is “learning”. People come to our sites to learn about topics they are passionate about. As the old Chinese proverb goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Every question and answer ultimately should be about teaching and learning — ...

Hence, sloppy answers are not encouraged here. They might fit well as a FGITW where you feel like you want to be first first and then improve your answer, but they should in no way be the final version of the answer. And even then, it's probably not a good idea to post a one-liner first. Being the first isn't about being the fastest, it's about being the most efficient. We don't want those fast people to post one-liners, and hence that automatic conversion system is in place.


Let's put this to the test, I'll put up a simple question:

Question: A virus has removed vital network services related registry keys, I removed the virus but I still can't internet. What can I do to get back on the internet?

Oh, that's simple...

Sloppy answer: Put back a restore point.

It's extremely short and feels more like a comment for the author than a well written answer aimed at a wide audience. People usually search a lot; so, the least that helps is an answer that requires them to do even more searching, it drives them away.

Let's suppose it were an actual answer, someone could ask:

Comment from question asker on the sloppy answer: How do I do that?

And then the answerer ends up explaining that in the comments, while it should have been in the answer in the first place. A lot of time is wasted (and interruptions are introduced) by hiding information / details / background from the answer. Most of them are trivial to provide and help a lot of people from having to research basic things, either by even more Googling or asking it through comments. This time waste and noise could have been prevented:

Proper answer: You can put back an earlier restore point, which normally still contains the registry keys of the network services as well as their configuration. Be sure to put back a restore point from before the virus took action, such that you don't accidentally put back the virus!

  1. Open up the Start Menu and right-click on “Computer”, and then select “Properties”.

  2. Click on the “System Protection” link at the left side.

  3. Select the “System Protection” tab to get to the System Restore section.

  4. Click the “System Restore” button, select a point and follow the instructions.

This will reboot your system and after that networking should work again.

Quite a difference, not really that much harder to type, don't you think so?


The same for my meta answer, what if I only had typed half of a paragraph?

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The quick auto-convert that I referenced in the proposal is in place on the website form for reasons beyond whatever I was focusing on.

No feature should be changed here.

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