3

(It may be useful to read the comments to this answer before reading my question.)

Often times new users post answers when the content is really just a comment. This is understandable, as new users do not have the 50 reputation necessary to comment on someone's question and if they have something to say the only place to put it is in an answer.

When this happens, more experienced users often point this out to the new user. There is apparently a "canned response" (to use DonielF's language) that says as follows:

This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker.

The first part of this "canned response" directly addresses the issue. Namely, it points out that in order to qualify as an answer something has to actually answer the question. It also points out that new users will not be able to post comments. The links contained therein provide more information as to the nature of comments, and other related useful information.

The result of this setup is that if a new user has something to say that is not technically an answer there is no venue for them to say it. However, if they have something to say which does answer a question, they are able to answer any question they want.

This leads us to the second half of the "canned response" which seems to be either a strange non-sequitur or downright inaccurate. This clause recommends that the user provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. If this is simply a general reminder to always incorporate as much information into an answer as possible to avoid having to later clarify, then it has nothing to do with the previous clause. It would apply to all users and has nothing to do with the difference between a comment and an answer.

If, on the other hand, it is meant to tell the user that because he cannot comment he should only post answers that won't require further comments to clarify, then it is misleading the user. Any user, no matter their reputation, can post comments to their own question and answers (and will therefore be able to provide any necessary clarification). In fact, one of the links in the "canned response" is to the privileges page, where it explicitly states:

Please note that you can always comment on your own posts, and any part of your questions.

So, what is the second half of the response actually saying, what is its purpose, and how is it relevant (specifically) to someone who posts a comment as an answer?

  • 2
    That comment comes from review and I agree that the second half often isn't a good fit. I sometimes go back after reviewing and edit it out of the comment (you have five minutes). – Monica Cellio Mar 29 '18 at 13:03
6

I think a much clearer and to the point response would be something along the lines of:

Answers are only for content that directly address the question. Any other content relevant to the question should be posted as a comment to the question. However, posting a comment to someone else's question is a privilege you earn with 50 reputation. There is no reputation threshold to answer questions (this one, or others) but to qualify as an answer the content must directly address the question.

Of course this can be edited for brevity or niceness etc. but it clearly explains the issue at hand, unlike the current version of the response.

2

Based on the link to Why do I need 50 reputation to comment? What can I do instead?, I understand it to be the as follows in a point by point analysis. That meta.SE post happens to be excellent, and always worth a read.

You said:

The result of this setup is that if a new user has something to say that is not technically an answer there is no venue for them to say it. However, if they have something to say which does answer a question, they are able to answer any question they want.

Correct, which leads into the next part of the "canned comment" (which, BTW, I believe comes from review).

You continued:

This leads us to the second half of the "canned response" which seems to be either a strange non-sequitur or downright inaccurate. This clause recommends that the user provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. If this is simply a general reminder to always incorporate as much information into an answer as possible to avoid having to later clarify, then it has nothing to do with the previous clause. It would apply to all users and has nothing to do with the difference between a comment and an answer.

No, this is a general reminder to (new) users that it is okay to post an answer that will address what you understand the question to be asking, and you don't need to clarify first. In the words of the linked Meta Post:

Answers don't have to be exhaustive or infallible, they just need to try to answer the question. It's perfectly fine to post an answer saying, for example, "I'm not sure what the cause of your problem is, but if it's X, you can solve it by doing Y. If that doesn't help, try Z and let me know what it says."

(It also has nothing to do with later clarification, because they can comment on (and edit) their own posts.)

So essentially, the comment can be summarized as follows: What you wrote was a comment, not an answer. You'll be able to comment later. For now, just answer the question based on your current understanding.

  • So you are saying that I am misunderstanding the phrase "answers that don't require clarification from the asker"? I thought it was referring to the asker needing clarity on what the answerer answered; you are saying that it refers to the answerer needing clarity on what the asker asked. Correct? – Alex Mar 29 '18 at 4:08
  • Alex correct... See my new answer being posted in a bit. – רבות מחשבות Mar 29 '18 at 4:09
  • Okay, I don't think your reading is clear enough from the text, and even within your reading it should be unclear whether it is saying to not post an answer when clarification of the question is needed, or to post without seeking clarification. Also, the "instead" doesn't really fit. If this is truly the intent of the message, perhaps it needs to be made more clear? – Alex Mar 29 '18 at 4:22
  • @Alex, I see your point It is clear from the linked Meta.SE post that one should post an answer when clarification of the question is needed, but the comment sort of sounds like "provide an answer to something else, not this..." Am I understanding you correctly? – רבות מחשבות Mar 29 '18 at 4:26
  • Yes, I think so. – Alex Mar 29 '18 at 4:28
  • Well then I think the below suggestion should help. However, since (or if) the message comes from Review, I'm not sure it will be that easy to change... – רבות מחשבות Mar 29 '18 at 4:34
  • 1
    @Alex FWIW I also read the response like רבותמחשבות. What I think is going on is that SE assumes that the answer posted by the new user is actually a comment seeking clarification from the asker, in which case the 'canned response' makes sense (although is a little clumsily worded in my opinion.) || What I think you want is a canned response that can be used when a new user's answer is really a comment providing additional information, without being a direct answer. – Joel K Mar 29 '18 at 8:30
  • Spot on, רבות. I attempted to explain this previously but you did a much better job of doing so. – DonielF Mar 29 '18 at 11:41
  • @JoelK Yes. I don't know if my experience is indicative, but every use of this response that I recall seeing has been for the latter type of comment, not the former, but the response is apparently designed for the former. – Alex Mar 29 '18 at 14:07
-1

To have this as a separate vote, I posted this as a separate answer...

If so, would it be possible to change the disclaimer to be the following (or something similar?

This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, post an answer to this question that doesn't require clarification from the asker before answering.

  • So, here you have the response specifically refer to the current question. However, that only addresses the case where the new user posts an answer which is really a request for clarification. what about the (majority? of) cases where the answer is simply a comment that does not answer the question. – Alex Mar 29 '18 at 4:31
  • @Alex - that user still wrote in the "Answer" box pushed the "Answer" button. We are telling them what they should be writing in that box before they push that button, namely, an answer to the question. – רבות מחשבות Mar 29 '18 at 4:33
  • But it seems strange to be telling them to post an answer when they might not have anything answer-worthy to say. The point we are trying to get across is that what's currently in the answer box is not an answer. – Alex Mar 29 '18 at 4:36
  • @Alex correct, then they shouldn't be posting in that answer box. Would you prefer that the welcoming comment say something along the lines of "answer the question or go away"? We are telling them that they are welcome to post an answer in that answer box! – רבות מחשבות Mar 29 '18 at 4:38
  • Not in a mean way. But it should say something to the effect of: "Don't post something to this question that doesn't answer it. When you earn enough reputation you will be to post that information as a comment. In the meantime you can answer any questions (this one, or others) by following the guidelines of what an answer is." – Alex Mar 29 '18 at 4:40
  • @Alex it would probably still come across as mean (although apparently we don't care about that all that much...), but what's the worst thing that can happen if we tell them to write an answer that they don't have? – רבות מחשבות Mar 29 '18 at 4:43
  • It's not a worst thing. It's that it's confusing/unclear. – Alex Mar 29 '18 at 4:45
  • @Alex perhaps you are right. Feel free to self-answer or edit my post as you see fit. Unfortunately, I need to get going now, but good luck getting this dealt with! – רבות מחשבות Mar 29 '18 at 4:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .