One parameter that gets evaluated in the process of graduation of a beta site to a full-blown StackExchange site is the number of unanswered questions. According to Area51, this is now 80% ("Needs Work"), while the target is 90%. I just browsed through a number of unanswered questions here and I noticed that sometimes a discussion starts in comments and the information presented in these comments could, combined, be converted into an (acceptable) answer.

Is it considered acceptable to do so, converting/combining other users' comments into an answer? How would one refer to, as a means of giving credit, to the original comments? Can this be done by any user? Or should he/she have a minimum in reputation? Or even be moderator?

  • $\begingroup$ Just to have a comment to link to... $\endgroup$ – Christian Clason Apr 30 '19 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ I would say that a good idea is to create a Community post based on the comments. Although, as suggested by @ChristianClason, it is also a good idea to gain reputation. $\endgroup$ – nicoguaro Apr 30 '19 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ I think that @AntonMenshov has done a little bit in this direction. $\endgroup$ – nicoguaro Apr 30 '19 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ One parameter that gets evaluated in the process of graduation of a beta site to a full-blown StackExchange site is the number of unanswered questions.That’s not true anymore. $\endgroup$ – Wrzlprmft Apr 30 '19 at 16:33

I think the etiquette on SE is to first comment on the comment and suggest that (one of) the commenter(s) convert/expand their comment to an answer. If they don't react (say, within a week), that'd be carte blanche to do it yourself. In this case, I'd say referring to the comments ("As @x wrote in their comment, the answer is...") is sufficient; if you want to go beyond, you can add a link to the relevant comments -- you can get the target from the time stamp (in light gray) next to the comment -- like so!

I don't see why there should be any requirement on who can do that. (In fact, it might be a good way for new contributors to get started on gaining reputation!) If you feel unsure, you can always mark the answer as a community post; this may be appropriate if you're just literally copy&pasting comments,1 but if you're also expanding on them (adding explanations, literature references, examples), I'd say you deserve any points the answer gets you.

However, I'd temper my expectations on increasing the answered question percentage -- old questions are often essentially abandoned, and receiving an answer this late won't necessarily mean that it will be accepted. (I assume this will be the main reason why people are less motivated in answering old questions.)

[1] But be aware that if someone considers comment copying "reputation stealing", they wouldn't be mollified by a community post since you still deprive the comment author of the chance to get reputation -- even if you don't get any either. But this is a non-issue if you give the commenters time to write their own answer first.


@Christian Clason pretty much described the current state. When I am in the mood, I go through the old questions, and among other things – refer to some commentators asking to convert their comment(s) to an answer. Sometimes, it happens. And sometimes, it even happens for questions that were asked several years ago.

However, the alternative way most often has to be used. In such situations, I prefer to mark my answer as community wiki. Though, I don't think that it has to be always the case. If significant efforts were required to create an answer out of scattered thoughts in the comments, the reputation of the "gatherer" is fully deserved. Especially, if one had asked for a comment to be converted to an answer initially and had given plenty of time.

Even if the question is old, the community would still benefit from the question being formally answered. The fact that it won't likely be accepted can be easily compensated by the community voting. Which, I would say, is another issue.


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