I think most meta users must be familiar with the issue of questions being answered in comments. First of all, do people even consider it an issue? It's not a huge deal if people are getting the answers they need, but the system is meant to have real, accepted answers -- if it's only happening some of the time, why bother with the system at all?

Also, I wanted clarification on how to remedy a question with answers in the comments. I remember someone saying I could copy and paste the comment into an answer. Which I tried last week for the first time, but someone downvoted my answer, saying I shouldn't have copied a comment. So did I do something wrong?

Is an answer expected to be "fluffed up" and made nice if it's taken from a comment?

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    I wanted to add to this. I just feel like comment-answers should be frowned upon a little more heavily (I suggest we all start getting botox injections). Comment-answers are bad because they 1) make the OP settle for an inferior answer; 2) teach bad habits to newbie learners; and 3) reinforce bad habits for veteran teachers. I feel like if one doesn't care enough to give a quality answer, let someone else answer it. Stop going around and ripping the cherry off everyone's sundae. My 2 cents. – Ringo Apr 25 '17 at 20:41

Can I re-post a comment as an answer?

Yes. Comments on this site are licensed under a Creative Commons license, which means you can take anything posted in a comment and use it in an answer.

However, this license requires attribution. You can't just re-post a comment as though you wrote it yourself; you have to make it clear that it's a quote, tell us who wrote it, and where you found it. That's true even if the comment is posted on the same Q&A as your answer.

It's possible that your post was downvoted because it contained the exact text of the comment, but didn't contain any attribution or quote markup. This technically counts as plagiarism on our site, so I edited your post to fix these problems. As long as you make sure you follow the attribution rules in the future, you are perfectly free to re-post comments as answers on SE. The community opinion is a bit mixed on these re-posts, but they're perfectly fine as far as the site rules are concerned, and in my opinion you're helping the community by doing it.

When should I re-post a comment as an answer?

Even though you can do this, it's not always appropriate to do so. Here are a few things you might like to take into consideration:

  1. Have you encouraged the commenter to post an answer? Although some commenters ignore these sorts of requests, other people remove their comments and post them as answers when they're asked to do so. This way, the author of the comment can get the reputation they deserve. If they don't respond in a few days, you can go back and do the re-post yourself.

  2. Is the comment useful and correct? When you re-post an answer, you're doing so because you think it answers the question in a useful way. Once in a while people re-post bad comments as answers, but this doesn't help anyone.

  3. Is the comment a complete answer? Here on ELL, we'd really like for answers to contain enough supporting details to stand on their own. If a comment is correct but doesn't really seem complete enough to stand as an answer on its own, please only re-post it as an answer if you're willing to add those details yourself; see Submitting Answers that merely answer the question

Should I mark re-posts as Community Wiki?

People often use the Community Wiki feature for re-posts because it prevents them from receiving reputation points for someone else's work. That's okay, but it's not really what CW is designed for, and site policy doesn't require you to mark re-posts as community wiki.

It is part of the ELL community culture to use CW this way, though, so if you feel more comfortable marking your re-posts CW, in my opinion you should feel free to do so. On the other hand, if you're making a significant contribution yourself and your post isn't just a quote, feel free not to use CW. Please use your own judgment as to whether CW is appropriate.

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    I would say it's pretty rare that a comment wouldn't need to be significantly expanded on to be a good answer, and if someone does add more in-depth explanation, examples, or references that they should feel free to get the reputation for it. – ColleenV Apr 23 '17 at 14:29

I think most meta users must be familiar with the issue of questions being answered in comments.

Yes. They're referred to as comment–answers. I don't know why people on language sites make such a big deal out of them, as opposed to non-language sites. Maybe SO et al. have other, bigger problems? Or maybe erroneous undownvoteable comment–answers are much more common around here?

Personally, I'm not saying they're not annoying, but considering you can't possibly get rid of them — all of us run short on time sometimes, leaving a quick note to 'get the OP going' — and we have bigger, more objective issues to deal with (Cough) and the fact that there's an easy workaround, I consider them a non-issue.

I remember someone saying I could copy and paste the comment into an answer. Which I tried last week for the first time, but someone downvoted my answer, saying I shouldn't have copied a comment. So did I do something wrong?

You're not really exempt from giving credit where it's due. You should indicate that you quoted the commentator, and the answer isn't really yours.

Furthermore, some people might feel that rep earned this way isn't fair, so making it Community Wiki, although your choice, sounds like a good thing to do.

Is an answer expected to be "fluffed up" and made nice if it's taken from a comment?

That's partially true, yes. Comments can only contain up to 500 characters, while answers can contain up to 30,000.

Comments are, ideally, never used for answering. It's unclear whether hints constitute an answer, but comments should ideally be only used for asking for clarification and providing meta info.

Also, as I said, when you see a comment–answer, it was because the commentator did not feel that their comment was "fluffy" enough to be an answer of its own. It would be pretty weird to see more substantiated comments under a question than answers, don't you think?

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    I like it when someone mentions that a comment is a good answer. If no one posts it as a answer from their own comment, then I think it is fair to say, "I think 'so and so' had it right", and then answer. – WRX Apr 22 '17 at 20:03
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    @Willow of course, those are common as well. Such answers usually contain more input than just those comments, so kinda another issue. The answer OP posted that got downvoted probably either came off as rep farming or plagiarism. (Or Shrug, any other unrelated reason) – M.A.R. Apr 22 '17 at 20:05
  • @M.A.R. I think the language-learning boards are more sensitive to comment-answers, because there is usually one correct answer, whereas a developer's stackexchange might have many possible solutions. To me, I see a comment-answer as someone wanting the fun of being the first to answer a question but is otherwise too apathetic to spend a few extra minutes to format and support their answer as the system intended. – Ringo Apr 23 '17 at 15:22
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    I'd go so far as to say I think a comment-answer sabotages the question as a whole, because nobody wants to come in and clean up and do the unexciting work of fluffing up someone else's answer. I just find it mildly inconsiderate. – Ringo Apr 23 '17 at 15:29
  • I agree that pseudo-answers in comments suppress real answers, and I consider deleting them if the question has an answer. On one hand, it's important that the author of a question get an answer that helps them even if it is a comment, and on the other, comments are intended to be ephemeral. If an answer refers to a comment, that gives the comment more permanence than it should have. I would prefer if folks wrote answers inspired by comments and not citing them. (That's my opinion as a community member, not some official statement of policy) – ColleenV Apr 24 '17 at 14:27
  • @Colleen I said it's standard practice to "convert" a comment into an answer that way, not that it's going to be an exemplary one. (Or maybe I didn't, I mostly don't pay attention when I'm answering) – M.A.R. Apr 24 '17 at 14:28
  • Sorry, my comment was inspired by the discussion in comments more than your answer. I'm on my mobile, and typing is hard. I don't like the idea of converting a comment into an answer in a way that requires citing something someone said in a comment. In general, too many people assume that content isn't going to get deleted or rewritten. Answers need to stand on their own. It's fine to quote a complete comment with attribution. Often folks refer to what So-n-so wrote without actually stating what it was. The comment should go away when it is converted to an answer. – ColleenV Apr 24 '17 at 15:34
  • I agree in theory, but I worry about potentially valuable content being lost from deleted comments. (And what may be considered worthless to someone may have some value to someone else.) I personally would err on the side of having too much content than subtracting too much. In StackOverflow, I've often found useful tidbits in the comments. – Ringo Apr 25 '17 at 20:35
  • The very reason you found useful tidbits in comments is that they weren't in a sea of "thankz u +1 very answer good" comments. We should only delete comments that provide nothing useful to the discussion. – M.A.R. Apr 26 '17 at 4:31

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