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Posting a question as discussed here in the comment thread.

Answers in comments have various drawbacks, for instance:

  • they cannot be downvoted, and hence they avoid the quality and reputation controls of the SE approach.
  • they cannot be edited and improved, even for trivial changes such as fixing links.
  • they tend to create long comment threads that are difficult to navigate, since the only way to respond to them is adding other comments.
  • they cannot be marked as accepted, and hence the question stays in the 'unsolved' category.

It has been suggested here that users can spontaneously convert them into Community Wiki answers, but this is only a partial fix, in my view.

If I raised the issue of people littering the road, you would not just tell me "well, you can pick it up yourself if you don't like it". We must also educate people not to do it, or this is just becoming additional burden on well-behaved users.

Are there other ways to deal with answers in comments, and in particular discourage users from posting them?

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Generally, I prefer to have an answer in the comments rather than not having any. I also don't have a problem with gently asking an author of a comment to post a proper answer and then after a certain time creating a CW answer.

Overall, I would say that:

  1. Comments are definitely not a good place to host important information.
  2. I would still recommend creating CW answers or your own answers based on a comment and [optionally] asking an author of a worthy comment to create an answer.
  3. I would also not be against more active flagging by the community on the "no longer needed" comments. There are many posts where comments can be completely removed. If you see them, please, flag them.

One size fits all approach of "Answer in the comments" -> "Delete it right away" does not sound right to me.

Unless our community establishes a different standard, I would be using the guidance from the main Meta.

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I think that the moderation should be more aggressive in removing comments containing answers. What if we flag answers in comments as "no longer needed" and get them deleted, without necessarily posting their content as a CW answer?

Answers are, effectively, unwanted content inside comments. And this approach fits better the vision of Stack Exchange that the pages of this site should look like a well-curated FAQ rather than a discussion forum.

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  • $\begingroup$ As a moderator, I can be more "aggressive" regarding answers in comments. But what about just moving them to CW answers instead of removing them? $\endgroup$
    – nicoguaro Mod
    Feb 2, 2023 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ @nicoguaro I explained in the question why I think it is not advisable: it does not discourage the "bad" users, and only puts additional work on "good" users. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2023 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ I understand your explanation, but I do not agree that it works as an incentive in the way you are thinking. $\endgroup$
    – nicoguaro Mod
    Feb 2, 2023 at 16:17

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