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From the help centre:

When shouldn't I comment?

Answering a question or providing an alternate solution to an existing answer; instead, post an actual answer (or edit to expand an existing one);

Could the moderators please enforce this?…

Could anyone else just write an answer? If you really do not know, then do not answer -- consider a bounty maybe? And if you think you know, a little research could go a long way to both earning you pointless Fake Internet Points and making this site better.

Thank you.

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Could the moderators please enforce this?…

Well, yes and no.

When a ♦ mod processes that flag they (currently) have three options:

  • delete the comment
  • edit the comment
  • dismiss the flag

In the cases that you have flagged, editing the comment is not an option - it doesn't require editing. This leaves just two options - delete or dismiss.

Now think about this: if we delete the comment the information in it is gone forever. Personally I am reluctant to do that unless there are other problems with the comment anyway - I prefer to set a high bar for deletion of non trivial comments. As a mod it is my job to tread carefully and act as an exception handler, it isn't my job to be deleting content willy nilly.

I do agree that it isn't the most desirable way to leave an answer but IMVHO it also isn't the end of the world if someone does. As succinctly mentioned here, sometimes you are simply not interested in leaving a formal answer but you still want to contribute. In the past some sites have had major issues with this behavior but this site doesn't - two flags in two weeks (both by the same person) is the height of the problem. There are no behaviors here that need to be enforced.

You might also have noticed that there is no specific flag for answers in comments (it has been raised previously as a feature request but declined). This is because generally it isn't a problem that requires ♦ mod attention - if it gets out of hand then it requires attention from the whole community, not just a mod. If you do flag a comment as an answer some mods may action your flag, some may dismiss it, depending on their judgement. If a comment adds value to a question or answer I will tend to leave it unless there is a compelling reason to delete it.

Going forward options I suggest you use are:

  • write your own comment suggesting that the person leaves a formal answer. Don't be upset if they don't do it - it's their choice
  • do it yourself. Put the comment into a community wiki answer then flag the comment as no longer needed or use the custom reason and state you've made it into a CW answer
  • raise it as a public service announcement in Meta (as you've done here)
  • let it go (unless it is a real problem).
  • if your flag gets dismissed you can discuss it on a case-by-case basis here in Meta
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I am a moderator on another StackExchange site myself and actually know the problem quite well.

As the answer of @slugster points out, enforcing this is quite problematic. We can convert answers to comments, but not the other way round. We could delete these comments, but this only means the point is lost to the site.

In effect, moderators are bound to do what everybody else on the site can do as well: Encouraging the commentator to take the time and make an answer out of it, if must be at a later point in time.

The main point why I tend to do this as a moderator and would encourage fellow mods as well is that the comment of a moderator has more weight if it points out that in the time it took to write that comment (or even worse: several comments - with sources!), one could just as well have written a proper answer...and that answering is not what comments are for.

In other words: While there is no way of enforcing it, it is highly desirable that mods address this as problematic and encourage to answer properly in a comment of their own.

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I come across this scenario occasionally when I see a question which has been closed ("to prevent 'me too' and 'thanks'), and the existing answers are either unclear, or are wrong. I notice this in the StackOverflow section where technology changes, and the existing answers are right for the time period when it was answered, but wrong for the current time period. Or maybe the answers are correct, but I might have a new answer which isn't addressed elsewhere.

Other times, I might not have enough reputation to answer.

The only solution in either case is to ignore the question, or to answer as a comment. I'm against preventing answering when there is not enough rep, but I don't really know the history behind that design concept. I do get the concept of closing a question to prevent spam, me too, and thanks; but really, if I have a legitimate answer to a closed question, that robs the community of contribution. And still, comments can be entered as "me too" and "thanks", so the purpose of closing questions to prevent me-too/thanks answers has not really been addressed anyway. And open questions can also be answered with me-too/thanks... so really, what does closing questions do for anyone?

If someone answers in a comment and they don't have reputation, and the comment-answer is worthy of a bona fide answer, can the moderators bump the comment to an answer? Or flag it to be automatically bumped when the commenter eventually gains reputation to answer? Or must they resort to leaving yet another comment to the commenter, suggesting they answer it (which they might not be able to do if the question is closed or they don't have the reputation).

Otherwise, I completely agree with slugster: the problem doesn't seem rampant here, I think, so maybe best to let it go until it becomes a problem.

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    Questions are not closed to prevent 'me too' or 'thanks'. From help: "Questions that need additional work or that are not a good fit for this site may be put on hold [or closed] by experienced community members. While questions are on hold, they cannot be answered, but can be edited to make them eligible for reopening." Questions are closed because they are not a good fit for the site or are off topic. – mattm Aug 31 '18 at 18:24
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    Moderators cannot convert comments to answers (at least as far as I know). Users can simply answer. Moderators can convert answers to comments. – mattm Aug 31 '18 at 18:26
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    I think the maximum reputation required to answer a question is 10 (for protected questions), which is one upvote on one answer. Unprotected, open questions should be open to everyone to answer. – mattm Aug 31 '18 at 18:33

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