Many answers on Stack Exchange are done through the use of comments attached to the question, rather than using the answer input below. Being new to Stack Exchange, I am wondering what benefit commenting versus using the answer provides? I can see comments on the question sometimes aid with clarifying the question. However, it seems confusing that the answers are sometimes in the comments and sometimes in the answers.
Both problems are seen on StackExchange sites:
- Some answers are written as comments.
- Some things that should be comments are written as answers.
The benefit of commenting vs using the answers
StackExchange sites are not fora: if every single little comment is at the same level in the thread, how do you find the relevant answer?
Thanks to votes, maybe. But since the thread does not retain the post order, how do you understand what happened?
So, answers are answers, nothing else.
Why are some answers posted as comments?
In my experience, this happens when the poster does not know the full answers and only has elements to put you on a track. Sometimes, it is enough for you to solve your problem, but it might not be a full answer.
This depends on posters, on their exigence towards the quality of their answer. Sometimes, they only don't have time to write a detailed answer.
What to do if your question was answered in a comment
This is my personal approach.
- I write a comment suggesting the poster to change his/her comment to an answer you can accept, because it solved your problem.
- If, after a while, the poster did not react to my comment, I write an answer myself, based on the comment and not forgetting to leave a link to the user page along with some credit for his/her solution. That way, I can accept an answer (showing the question was solved).
- If, after another while, the poster reacts and writes an answer, I can unaccept my answer and accept his/hers (give Cesar his due). And, unless I added some details which are missing in the new answer, delete mine. Of course, if the quality of the new answer is way below my version, I keep my own, just add a link to the new answer for original credit (this is due to my vision of community enhancement and contribution, but I am willing to get better if SX recommends otherwise).