I seem to be stepping on another member's toes because I made a comment that she felt I should not have made. link to post

I do not have to answer or comment and I did not come here to pick nits or bother anyone. I am not trying to be nasty, I am honestly asking if non experts are welcome to comment or answer here. I have tried to be honest about my own lack of grammar skills. That was why I started participating in the first place.

If I am/we are welcome to comment and answer, I am perfectly capable of ignoring anything I think of being 'not nice'. On edit: I am not saying this person was rude or nasty. Seriously I am not trying to stir the pot.

If you feel it necessary to delete this post, I'll have my answer. Thanks!

  • Well, it isn't at all uncommon for someone to comment or answer something, only to be corrected by someone else. Heck, Catija herself was corrected again by Araucaria! So I frankly don't know what's wrong here. The fact that you were corrected, or a comment was directed at you doesn't mean your presence isn't welcome here. (Says a non-expert)
    – M.A.R.
    Apr 22, 2017 at 19:02
  • @M.A.R. as I said, I am not trying to be touchy. The comment that caused me to question, was deleted. It was something along the lines of "don't answer in comments". I had commented because I was unsure of my answer from a grammar point of view. The same person had said to me that my comment on the sound of the answer was 'not right' because it was about the written word, not the sound. So after two comments about how I was mistaken, I wanted clarification that I could comment, not answer when I was unsure of the grammar. I am fine. I just wanted to know if it should only be experts.
    – WRX
    Apr 22, 2017 at 19:24
  • Oh, well, the funny thing is I just answered a question about comment-answers. See this also. They're frowned upon whether they're right or wrong. It has nothing to do with expertise.
    – M.A.R.
    Apr 22, 2017 at 19:34
  • @M.A.R. My comment was, "I think both are correct, but I'd say, "My house has just been built." To my ear it sounds better. I think that is because of the word 'has' -- and all the 's' sounds. My house's value is $123456, works." I should have made think bold perhaps, but I was unsure. This was why I commented. I was going on the premise that answers are meant to be correct -- researched and understood by the person answering.
    – WRX
    Apr 22, 2017 at 19:54
  • I understand. You set the bar higher for answering, and that didn't qualify for an answer. Catija was just saying you should refrain or consider posting an answer in the future. That's all. You're taking comments way more seriously than you should.
    – M.A.R.
    Apr 22, 2017 at 20:01
  • @M.A.R. I am trying to fit myself to the site. I do not like certain things about SE -- downvoting without giving a reason is something I won't do. I have been a moderator on forums for decades and because of that, I am also not much for editing other people's posts. I think it is better to either ignore it, or help the OP by letting them know where the error is. I am most certainly in the minority on those issues. However, I can and will try to fit myself to the model as much as I am able to. This was why I asked. I am not upset with the poster, but she did cause me to ask.
    – WRX
    Apr 22, 2017 at 20:09
  • Well, those are other, different issues. I wouldn't want to clutter up this post with irrelevant comments. You can come to chat if you ever wished to discuss them.
    – M.A.R.
    Apr 22, 2017 at 20:13
  • @M.A.R. No thanks, not going down that path again... ;)
    – WRX
    Apr 22, 2017 at 20:15
  • Possible duplicate: ell.meta.stackexchange.com/q/2777/4376
    – Chenmunka
    Apr 25, 2017 at 11:17

3 Answers 3


The “posting an answer as a comment” debate has been going on for as long as I’ve been a member of the Stack Exchange, and I’ll bet it stretches further back than that.

One reason people don’t like to see answers posted a comments is that comments are immune from downvotes, and it can be frustrating to see people giving erroneous guidance.

Perhaps if you’re a little unsure of your “answer”, you can state that from the outset in your comment. And if people say that you’re dishing out bad guidance, you can delete the comment if you feel like they are right. And just realize that some purists will feel a little consternated if they think you are giving too many answers in comment form.

That all said, to answer your fundamental question: No, you don’t have to be an expert to answer on ELL. Your answers and comments are welcome here.

  • Another important reason that answers in comments aren't good is that they can discourage other people from writing up a proper answer. A person may come along intending to give basically the same answer you did, but now feels it's pointless because the OP already has gotten the answer in the comments. Or a person might feel that giving basically the same answer as you already did is "stealing" your answer, and will avoid writing it up because of it. -- Knowledgeable users who have been reassured about it know that's not the case, but new users, particularly, might be discouraged.
    – R.M.
    Apr 29, 2017 at 21:27
  • Now we just need to do something about the multitudes of users who are not mods filling up comments sections with garbage such as "that comment should be an answer". If only ...
    – user428517
    May 2, 2017 at 23:35
  • @R.M. In my experience, an answer written as comment has never stopped users from writing a proper answer.
    – apaderno
    May 14, 2017 at 13:46
  • @kiamlaluno The fact that someone was not stopped from posting an answer doesn't mean that no one was stopped. -- Also, I haven't dug through all 1000-some questions on ELL with no Answers, but a brief spot check reveals some (like here) with what amounts to a satisfactory answer (to OP) in the comments but no "Answer", even a month later. -- Granted, I have no way of knowing if the answer-in-comments dissuaded anyone from writing up an Answer in this particular case, but it calls into question the strength of your conclusion.
    – R.M.
    May 16, 2017 at 15:48
  • @R.M. If nobody wrote an answer, I can imagine two situations: The answer was not that easy as the comments made suppose, or nobody felt brave enough to write an answer. I find the latter harder to be believed.
    – apaderno
    May 16, 2017 at 18:27
  • @kiamlaluno - I can imagine other situations as well. Sometimes a question is worded so trivially that there's not much to say after someone has written a comment.
    – J.R. Mod
    May 16, 2017 at 18:57
  • Well, there is something more to say: the answer. ;)
    – apaderno
    May 17, 2017 at 5:31

Someone correcting (or trying to correct) you on a matter of factual accuracy is not trying to shut you down and stop you from participating. They are just trying to make sure nobody gets the wrong idea.

That said, Stack Exchange is built around the idea of easy, plentiful judgements on correctness, and a heavy focus on right answers over feelings. So if you don't like people correcting you, then you probably will have a less pleasant time participating on any SE site.

You don't have to be an expert to ask or answer on ELL. But you do need to be willing to be corrected if you're wrong.

  • I am more than willing to be corrected. That was not the reason I asked. I was trying to make certain that I had not missed anything. Had the original comments been in place, it might be easier to understand why I asked. I am reassured that I can comment or answer regardless of the amount of expertise I have with grammar. Nathan, I have been corrected here more often than not as I am no expert and have no clue about grammar. I use it, but either have it wrong or, it's blind luck. That was why I came here. I'd like to learn it.
    – WRX
    Apr 24, 2017 at 11:37
  • Downvoted. Doesn't appear you even read the question, and this answer is quite rude.
    – user428517
    May 2, 2017 at 23:35
  • 3
    @sgroves: I read the question and the linked post; since the problem came up over a question of correctness, I addressed it from that standpoint (rather than confining myself strictly to the assumptions of the question as written). I do not believe it is rude to tell people something factual such as "you need to be willing to accept correction on SE", as long as the manner is not itself rude, and hopefully I avoided that. If you have a specific problem with the way I said it, perhaps I can edit to make my meaning clearer and less irritating, but the OP does not appear to have been offended. May 2, 2017 at 23:41

No, you should feel free to answer or ask anything you like without feeling self-conscious. This is a site for everyone to learn and to teach.

I think the veteran users here might benefit from taking note that people might feel the way you do. Especially since you have 4000 points yourself.

  • Thank you Ringo. I will wait to see what a mod says as I am not here for anything unfriendly at all.
    – WRX
    Apr 22, 2017 at 17:32
  • 1
    I read the comment and it seems like the person disagreed with you -- but it didn't seem unfriendly or rude to me?
    – Ringo
    Apr 22, 2017 at 17:42
  • I wondered if I had stepped out of line. . I just want to know if it is okay for me to comment and answer. I was not saying that person was rude or nasty -- just saying that once I understand the rule, I can ignore that sort of comment or the nasty ones. Sorry, if that was not clear. I'll edit.
    – WRX
    Apr 22, 2017 at 17:49
  • 5
    I think there's a big difference between disagreeing with someone and thinking you don't have any right to answer the way you did. I'm pretty sure that person just disagreed with you but is happy that you gave an answer. In fact, I know this is true. I think she was just saying the written word is more formal than the spoken word, and that the contraction is ok for informal but not written.
    – Ringo
    Apr 22, 2017 at 18:01

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