This is something that has been hovering my mind for a few weeks now and because I keep seeing questions going out unanswered (because the valid answers were posted as comments), I decided to ask about this.
In relation to comments, the tour states:
Use comments to ask for more information or clarify a question or answer.
Now, I won't link to any specific posts to prevent singling out users, but I have noticed a definite trend in people using comments to post what would actually be perfectly valid answers; and those comments get voted accordingly... while at the same time the question itself remains officially unanswered.
If you go back in Crypto.SE history, it shows the problem isn't new. Even some older questions show how good questions and related comments that answered it, resulted in questions that are officially unanswered and unaccepted up to today. So it happened before, it's happening now, and it is bound to happen over and over again.
On the other hand, people are also frequently complaining about answers being used for comments and flag those "comment-answers" accordingly. So there's obviously no issue which keeps people from understanding what a comment is.
To me, this feels a bit contradictionary and non-constructive for the community (Crypto.SE) as a whole.
Therefore, I would like to know…
When comments do not ask for more information or clarify a question - as defined by in the Tour/FAQ - but practically answer a question, are they still to be regarded to be comments (instead of answers)?
- If the answer is "yes, they're still comments" – Why? After all, I'm not talking about link-only comments etc., but about such comments that completely answer the question. Flagging them might motivate the commentors to post such comments as answers.
- If the answer is "no, they are not comments but answers" – Should such comments be flagged accordingly? After all, we also flag answers that are actually comments.
Don't get me wrong, this is not a question asking if it's OK to dive into a flagging-frenzy. I'm asking to personally understand how we should generally handle such things around here. So, it's rather a call for clarification, hoping that - on the long run - we might be able to gain more answered (and accepted) questions instead of allowing perfectly valid answers to hide in the related comment areas.