7

Today I ran across this question, which I think is a pretty good example of a situation where a full answer may not be warranted. It was a bit messy in the original edit, but there was a correct (if incredibly trivial) answer available to respond with. So...

Is the comment-only answer ever constructive?

If yes, under what circumstances should it be used?

Prior related discussion in the meta

  • 1
    I think your excellent edit may have somewhat made the OP look stupid (if their failing to understand that simple error message didn't already do so, that is). I mean, the way the question now looks, so clear, well formatted and even with a link to the docs, is quite in contrast to the triviality of their issue. Makes the impression of investing a little too much effort into asking the question instead of taking a minute to just think about it. Oh well. – Andriy M Jul 19 '18 at 9:36
  • My thinking was that it could go one of two ways... 1) It's a bad question & will be deleted. 2) It's a valid question and should be improved. Improving it wastes only my time if it's going to be deleted. If it's not going to be deleted, then make it as readable as possible for the next person who whiffs on an obvious error message ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It sort of feels like posting an A validates an otherwise questionable Q - which isn't to say the asker doesn't deserve help. – Peter Vandivier Jul 19 '18 at 10:15
13

No

  • Questions that are trivial enough to be answered in this way are too simple for dba.se and should be closed
  • If it does warrant a full answer, posting the answer as a comment makes the solution less discoverable for future visitors.
  • Answering a "poor" question in a comment encourages another poor question instead of improving the current one. After all, it worked!
  • Answering in a comment misleads new users into thinking it's OK to do that in general.
  • Comments only support upvotes, which award no reputation. The only way to point out an incorrect comment-answer is to add another comment.
  • Comments can't be improved by others (e.g. to add detail or maintain information over time). Comments can only be edited by the original author for a short time (currently 5 minutes).
  • Comments have no public revision history (like answers do).
  • Comment answers may dissuade others from writing a more detailed answer along the same lines.
  • Comments are more easily deleted than answers.
-4

Yes

  • If it's a good enough question, Paul White's comment sock (or some other good samaritan) will convert it to an answer at some point anyway.
  • It makes it easier to delete the question in the future if it's deemed to be clutter.
  • We don't alienate a new user. They still get an answer and a chance to reply asking for further help. They can always learn more about the site by self-posting an answer as well!
  • 5
    I created Comment Converter as way to show people how much better answers are in answers than comments. It is not intended to be used as a service (it is time consuming). Why make work for others? Answering in comments does new users a disservice by illustrating how not to do things! – Paul White says GoFundMonica Jul 19 '18 at 14:03

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