One measure of the success of an SE site is number of answers per question. Many times an answer is in the form of a comment (What's the use case of commercial optimizer when we have Tensorflow? is an example but I'm not picking on that one: there are others). What is the best way to discourage this practice?

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    $\begingroup$ Leave a comment under theirs to remind them to post it as an answer. If they don't respond for a long time you can provide a (CW) answer on their behalf. And this comment clearly has no irony. :) $\endgroup$
    – TheSimpliFire Mod
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ @TheSimpliFire, don't forget to post this as an answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 1:09
  • $\begingroup$ I would also add (as a comment, since this does not directly address your question...!) that the Area 51 stats don't really play a role in allowing a site to "graduate" from beta anymore, except the questions per day stat, and even that seems to be going away. So we should definitely encourage answers, not comments, because it's a better way to provide useful answers, but we shouldn't worry about the stats too much. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 12:32

2 Answers 2


I think the answer is not very easy. Here are a few scenarios and solutions that can come to mind:

  1. People post a comment because it's actually just a comment. They may feel that it doesn't fully answer the OP's question. In that case, which I guess is not the scenario you're talking about, a comment should be kept as a comment.
  2. The commenter may feel the answer is partial or very short, so they post it as a comment. There can be another reason that the answer can be valid, but for whatever reason, they feel it can be downvoted (and no one likes that!) In any case, if this actually answers the OP question or it has the merit to become an answer rather than a comment, I think a few options are valid:

    a. Ask the commenter to repost their comment as an answer.

    b. If no action after a while and especially if you are the OP, to make sure the question doesn't become an unanswered question, post that comment and accept it as an answer (basically, these first two are what @TheSimpliFire suggested)

    c. You can always flag it for moderator's attention (if you're not comfortable posting it as answer)

    d. And of course, the least that can be done is to upvote the comment to make sure it shows up first.


As I'm directly affected by the mentioned question, I might just give you a glimpse of my reasoning to rather first post a comment than a full fledged answer. This time as an answer ;)

As EhsanK already wrote the first comment was rather short and - in my opinion - just not enough be be a complete answer. My claim is to write answers that state some insight on my reasoning on the given solution, maybe provide some links to relevant material and thus can be seen as self-contained covering all aspects of the question.

At the moment of writing the comment I simply did not have enough time to compile an answer that seemed fit but in the comment I "teasered" the answer. Would you say that posting a comment should be discouraged if you do not have enough time to write a full answer?

  • $\begingroup$ I think it’s still an answer, even if it’s incomplete. You could post an answer, and in your answer say you don’t have time for a full answer and you’ll come back later. But I also think a comment could be appropriate in that case. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ People can answer/comment as they wish and it is far better to do either than to not respond at all! But recognize that 1) some people will see it as a perfectly fine answer but it will be buried since the normal plusses for answers don't apply and 2) one metric for se.or is number of answers, not number of comments. So I would urge erring on the side of answers! But I agree sometimes a comment is appropriate. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 14:19

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