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I am new here, so sorry if this has been addressed somewhere before.

I realized that with no reputation points, I still can answer but not comment (for example, ask for clarification) on a question. This seems odd to me as answering means you have something important to say and commenting is rather to improve the quality of the question itself.

Can someone shed some light on this, please?

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    To provide some background. Mahdi submitted 7 answers in under an hour. Since I find it hard to answer even a single question in under an hour I found that odd. A majority of his answers seem to actually be comments asking for additional information, perhaps one or two sentences that might or might not be deemed helpful. Since he is under 20 reputation, and can't go to the chatroom to ask this question, this is the only other place I know that can guide him to posting actual answers and not just a bunch of comments. – Ramhound Jan 14 '15 at 18:57
  • @Ramhound Thanks! – Mahdi Jan 14 '15 at 18:58
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    Edits, and not really comments, are for improving the quality of a question. I do quite a few edits. Comments are more for "That's a very good point." or "Could you explain what you mean by [X]?" or "Have you tried super-simple-solution [X]?" – killermist Jan 14 '15 at 19:10
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    @killermist Thanks for the clarification. I thought editing someones question is only for admins and is a no-no for regular folks. I think I have a classical forum mindset... So if a question is vague, then I should edit the question and ask for clarification there? That seems a little awkward... – Mahdi Jan 14 '15 at 19:15
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    @Mahdi no, killermist mean clarifications as in improving the question/answer. Basically, comments are to ask for clarification, edits are to improve/clarify the post itself, and answers are to provide a new solution. – nhinkle Jan 14 '15 at 19:26
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    Have you read the tour? – nhinkle Jan 14 '15 at 19:27
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    @nhinkle But that is exactly the point of my question. I should be able to ask clarification question (i.e. comment) before being able to answer a question. Thanks for the tour. – Mahdi Jan 14 '15 at 19:28
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    Something which I was completely unaware of until it happened for me was the association bonus. Once you reach 200 points on at least one Stack Exchange site you will be given 100 points on ALL other SE sites. This is the key factor which makes all of this livable. You need to bite the bullet and do that, then you won't need to deal with this any more. stackoverflow.com/help/whats-reputation – krowe Jan 24 '15 at 15:10
  • @krowe I did not know about it too! That will really get you going. – Mahdi Jan 25 '15 at 19:04
  • @Mahdi Then get going and earn some reputation points so you can comment. It’s not that hard. If you spent a fraction of the time you spent on this thread whining about not being able to comment by actually contributing to the community, then you can comment. No disrespect, but your whining about not being able to post comments is the exact reason there is a 50 point rule for comments: It is a natural barrier to allow true contributors to have a voice. Don’t like it? You are free to post your thoughts & ideas elsewhere. – JakeGould Jan 28 '15 at 2:52
  • @JakeGould I actually earned enough to do things is about 24h from the time I asked the question. You would have probably figured it out by now, but apparently you are so busy preaching. – Mahdi Jan 28 '15 at 3:04
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What separates comments from regular posts is that they do not undergo review. Whenever someone posts an answer (or a question), it is shown on the front page. When you edit it, same thing. First posts from new users are placed in special review queues too. This is all done as a kind of quality control measure.

Comments cannot be reviewed that way. Even if it was technically possible, it just wouldn't scale. There would be too much to review.

New users might not understand how the system here works. They'd litter the place with "I have the same problem" comments (they do it in answers, too), they'd insult people, or some of the more nasty folks would post spam where it's very hard to catch.

We really want users to be trusted members of the community before they're able to leave comments everywhere. Enabling everyone to comment would certainly increase the amount of noise that we so desperately try to avoid.

I would really encourage you, as a new user without commenting privileges, to focus on answering questions first. The kind of question that does not need to be clarified any further. Then you'll be at 50 rep in no time.

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    Comments also have no edit history, nor are they kept after 'deletion' (hidden) like answers are - in essence you never want important info or long discussions in comments. – Robotnik Jan 24 '15 at 6:10
  • There is no need to review all comments. Just a few first comments from the new users that currently cannot comment at all. They should not be that much too many. – user36811 Jan 25 '15 at 13:45
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    @user36811 We get lots of new users. And unfortunately, quite a few of new (and unregistered) users' contributions end up being deleted for various reasons which essentially boil down to them not meeting the quality standards of the community. Comments posted as answers, non-answers, or even outright spam is much more common from unregistered or newly registered accounts compared to those who have put in the effort allowing them to earn evn 10 or 20 reputation. And like slhck said, getting to 50 rep really isn't that hard. One or two good answers will get you there. – a CVn Jan 25 '15 at 13:51
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    Since comments don't award reputation, unless we want to set some limit and just review the first N comments (which would allow anyone who knows that to trivially bypass the review process) we'd have to review every comment until the user making them meets some reputation threshold. At that point, we're basically back to where we started, minus things like that comments don't bump an question to the top of the front page which edits and answers do. – a CVn Jan 25 '15 at 13:55
  • I really don't see the value in opening the floodgates. The few gems we get we can even convert to comments or edit into the answers where appropriate. – slhck Jan 25 '15 at 13:56
  • You can also ask questions. Reputation gains aren't just limited to answering questions. – James Mertz Jan 26 '15 at 16:45
0

Apart from slhck's great explanation partly based on which things come up for review, there's another point. Even a new user should be able to figure out that answers aren't for chit-chat, and that if you're going to post one, it should be a good one.

So railroading people into actually contributing until they understand the place was the goal I assumed, as an infrequent poster not involved with review / meta stuff.

  • Railroading? That's a pretty obnoxious way to approach the way a community works. Just because one can type in words and connect to the Internet does not me they get free access to post whatever that wish. – JakeGould Jan 28 '15 at 0:41
  • The railroading of new users that stackexchange does seems like a necessary tradeoff to keep the signal to noise ratio up. My answer isn't trying to say that it's a good thing or the best design, just saying that's why I thought it was designed that way. – Peter Cordes Jan 28 '15 at 1:25
  • Your use of the word "railroading" implies there is some kind of con-game happening here when in reality is this is a free community which simply rewards people based on their positive contributions to the community. Don't like that? Well then the community is not for you. But to characterize that as "railroading" implies a certain entitlement based on someone coming out of nowhere and expecting to just be granted access based on their mere presence here. – JakeGould Jan 28 '15 at 1:33
  • I'm using railroad in the role-playing game sense that you don't actually have options. That's the right way to treat new users. You sound like you're reading my answer as a big criticism of the site, but that's not at all what I intended. The site doesn't let you comment until you gain rep (usually by answering). So your options are limited to only the path that the site lets you take. That's a GOOD things for new users, because it stops them from doing things that will get them yelled at. (Because "me too" comments hurt the site.) This is like railroading in a good game. – Peter Cordes Jan 28 '15 at 1:41
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You answer your own question when you say this:

This seems odd to me as answering means you have something important to say...

Yes, you have to have something important to say. This site is not a chat room or some place to constantly ask "Did you do this..." endlessly. If you prefer that, there are tons of online communities that allow people to pop in from out of nowhere, post nonsense and never really become a part of the community.

That said you need only 50 points if reputation to comment. And you can score that reputation by doing simple things to help the community such as editing posts.

If you cannot even make the basic effort to be a part of the community, what makes you so special that you believe you need to be an exception to these very basic rules?

So if you have something important to say that constitutes a true answer, then post a true answer. Past that none of these rules/controls are difficult to deal with.

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    Your answer comes across as pretty arrogant to say the least. – Mahdi Jan 28 '15 at 1:23
  • @Mahdi The only real arrogance here comes from users appearing out of nowhere & expecting entitlement based on the fact they can type words and not much else. There is nothing arrogant about stating that the reason this community is valued s because the whole place is structured on quality. Do you think someone who is looking for an answer to a question wants to wade through endless posts from people who are constantly providing non-answers/comments? Not really. They want answers from people who make an effort. Make an effort & you can comment. Don’t make an effort, then who cares? – JakeGould Jan 28 '15 at 1:38
  • I understand the rules and their necessity. I do not believe many folks come here with any sense of entitlement. Useless questions and responses get voted down, besides search engines doing their job ranking things. Nothing, however, affects quality of a community than the attitude of its members. BTW, just not b/c a user does not have much reputation does not mean they know less or are inferior; they just might have more important things to do (as perceived by them). – Mahdi Jan 28 '15 at 2:12
  • @Mahdi Your comment right now is a pitch perfect example of why you do not get it. If you want to comment earn at least 50 in reputation points. PERIOD. Make an effort to be a part of the community. Create an answer of value. Edit a post and have those edits accepted and earn rep that way. Then you can comment. But this whole “…does not mean they know less or are inferior…” is counter to “I do not believe many folks come here with any sense of entitlement.” You believe you can come in out of nowhere and just change the rules to suit your needs. THAT is entitlement. – JakeGould Jan 28 '15 at 2:50
  • I did not ask for changing the rules, I asked a question that. As the highest voted answer suggests, and I think is correct, cit is merely an structural and operational issue and dies not mean that answers are less important than comments (which is what the question is about). – Mahdi Jan 28 '15 at 2:58
  • @Mahdi As I said in my answer you face-palmingly say this, “This seems odd to me as answering means you have something important to say…” Yes, you need to have something important to say. Otherwise this site would degrade into useless nonsense. You are not asking to change the rules, but complaining because you didn’t even bother to understand the basics when you came here. Apologies for my tone, but if I had a dime for every single person I have seen on StackExchange sites who complains about not commenting I would be fairly rich. Your attitude is sadly not unique. – JakeGould Jan 28 '15 at 3:06
  • @JakeGould, why are you assuming that everyone is arguing against you? If you actually read what people are saying, instead of assuming that every reply is part of a shouting match, your replies would probably make more sense. I don't think there's anything wrong with wondering why the site is designed how it is. For someone that wouldn't be inclined to leave waste-of-space comments, the problem isn't immediately obvious, and an answer like slhck's clears it right up. – Peter Cordes Jan 29 '15 at 1:22

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