A similar question was asked over on rpg.se, and I thought I should bring it over here and ask the same thing. I feel this topic is a bit similar to Answering a question using someone else's comment as well.

So! On to the question.

I actually came across an answer that used the comment to add a "post-note", which I felt was not the proper use for the comment section, so I edited the answer, added it to the text then flagged the comment as redundant.

Is this the correct practice?

I understand there are other situations where another user might have something to add, and out of courtesy, rather than shoving it into the answer without asking, suggesting it in a comment, to be added at the answerer's discretion, or if a user does not have the time/exact knowledge they might add a comment on the original question.

So how much should the comments be used to answer questions?

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    imo: not at all. in your example it 100% should've gone into the answer, as it provides information about the question, it was even posted within the grace period. As for other users who add on to an answer as a comment, I don't think this is good. It would better serve people who come to the question looking for an answer to see all the relevant information in the answer and not have to read all the comments. If I see answers in comments I'll usually edit it into the answer. and yes I specifically answered your question in a comment ;P – Aequitas Jul 9 '15 at 0:22
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    Good practice. That way they can't downvote you :P – Ben Jul 9 '15 at 0:24
  • Seen this and knew straight away this would be one of my answers :P Sometimes I will add extra information in a comment. Typically this is stuff I think OP should know, or things that have a small chance of influencing the answer. While OP had asked what the symbol was for, I could only base my comment on an assumption, so I was hesitant to add it to the main body of the question. – user106385 Jul 10 '15 at 11:02
  • @Timelord, I can see the separation, however anything that contributes to the answer, or if it is relevant to the answer, it should be in the answer. If you feel it doesn't meet these quota, then it probably shouldn't really be in there at all, even in the comments. – Ben Jul 12 '15 at 11:10
  • @Wipqozn Out of curiosity, is there a particular reason this was just marked featured? – Schism Mar 11 at 19:25
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    @Schism - It's occasionally helpful to bring older discussions to the forefront, especially after a few years when newer users may not have seen them, or older users have forgotten about them. – Robotnik Mar 11 at 22:23
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Answers shouldn’t be posted as comments, and is actually discouraged on the commenting privilege page:

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

Comments lack quality control, are harder to find than answers (making them a lot more likely to be missed), can be deleted at anytime without warning, and don’t have as robust formating as answers (i.e. no images, shorter, no paragraphs) which make them harder to read than answers as well. If you see a low-rep user posting an answer as a comment then feel free to encourage them to post it as answer, since they may not fully understand the difference or realize all the benefits that go along with posting an answer. If they’re a higher rep user then they likely already know all this, and decided not to post an answer for whatever reason, so I wouldn’t bother commenting at all.

However, every comment which contains helpful information isn’t an answer, and they shouldn’t be treated as such. There’s a bunch of reasons why users might post helpful information as a comment, but the three most common reasons I see are:

  • Helpful Resources: A user might not have an answer themselves, but they might know another resource (i.e. another question, a wiki) which could help the asker (either by answering the question, or providing enough information for the asker to figure it out themselves). Posting a link like this wouldn’t be acceptable as an answer, but it's totally fine as a comment.

  • Incomplete Answer: A user might be able to answer part of an askers question, but not all of it. A user might then leave a comment containing what they know, in the hopes they it’ll give the asker enough information to figure out the rest for themselves. Like in the above scenario you might even see the commenter follow up with an actual answer later, once they’ve had time to do some more research.This is another example of a post which wouldn’t have been acceptable as an answer, but still contains helpful information for the asker, making it a solid comment.

  • Uncertainty: A user might think they know the solution to an askers problem, but they might not be sure (either about certain parts or the whole thing), and so aren’t comfortable posting an answer. Instead they post a short comment, since they really want to help the asker, but then follow up with a more in-depth answer later on once they’ve done some further research. This is the only comment which could have actually been an answer, but users who post this kind of comment will usually just delete it once they’ve had time to do some research.

Each of these reasons is quite a bit different from each other, but the key thing they all have in common is that they’re posting helpful information before a proper answer has been posted. In some cases this proper answer will be posted by the commenter, but other times that helpful comment they left could actually lead to the asker or another user to figuring out a solution to the question. If that happens then an answer would be posted by whoever figured out a complete solution, which is good for everyone.

Once a complete answer has been posted the comment isn’t really useful anymore, but that’s totally fine, because comments are only meant to be tempoary ‘post-it’ notes anyways. If one of these comments has outlived it’s usefulness then it can be flagged for deletion via the obsolete flag, just like any other obsolete comment. There’s no reason to delete the comment before that, though, and we’d just be doing a disservice to the site by doing so.

So, in summary, no answers shouldn’t be posted as comments, but just because a comment contains helpful information doesn’t mean it’s an answer. When those helpful comments are posted either upvote them or ignore them, but don’t flag them, at least not until an answer has been posted which makes the comment obsolete.

Answers should be posted as answers, not comments

Comments and answers follow different rules, and have clearly defined purposes:

Answers draw the majority of the attention in the page, they can be upvoted, downvoted, and accepted to show how accurate and useful they are. They can be edited and deleted/undeleted even months after their creation in order to improve them, with each action leaving a lasting record in the answer's history.

On the other hand, comments are small, they can't be downvoted if incorrect, and they can't be accepted if useful. They can vanish at any time without leaving a trace, and can't be edited for improvements or to fix mistakes after a short time period. By their nature, comments are meant for quick, short clarifications and suggestions about a question or answer, not to provide lasting information which can then be peer-reviewed.

It is additionally apparent that comments should not be used for answers when a closed question can't have any answers added to it, while comments are still allowed.

Wipqozn's answer is blatantly false or ignored when flags on comments like this are declined. For the record in case it does get deleted:

It's 1/4000 for each pokemon in the game, execpt for shiny lock (some legendaries) pokemon that will never be shiny. There's strategy to increase your chances. Search for "shiny hunting" on the web.

Good luck, Arqade.

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    I think you're looking at comments in an entirely wrong way. Yes, they're not meant to be an answer to the question, but does that mean all possible speculation about an answer should be avoided? If I post some speculation towards an answer, and it happens to be right, does that make my comment inappropriate? If my speculation is wrong, is the comment appropriate? – Kaizerwolf Jul 7 '17 at 14:27
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    @Kaizerwolf If you're providing an answer, no matter if it's correct, incorrect, speculatory based on previous similar experiences, or pulled out of thin air, it should be posted as an answer and judged as such. – Wrigglenite Jul 7 '17 at 14:31
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    Typically, and this is across other SE boards as well, I will post something as a comment, more in suggestion for something that the user should try. If that works, then I'll post it as an answer. I see no reason to tarnish my own reputation by posting an incorrect answer. That wastes my time, yours, the OP, and other users. – Kaizerwolf Jul 7 '17 at 14:35
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    @Kaizerwolf Instead of posting potential answers in comments, ask questions that provide additional information on the problem, helping the real solution come to light. And vote to close the question as "Too broad" while you're at it. – Wrigglenite Jul 7 '17 at 14:38
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    You misunderstand. I do not always post an "answer", though what constitutes as an answer seems to be largely subjective between our viewpoints. I could post a suggestion that the user may try, and if they say it works, then I will post it as an answer to the question. – Kaizerwolf Jul 7 '17 at 14:41
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    @Kaizerwolf "A suggestion that the user may try" is an answer if it attempts to solve the asker's problem. – Wrigglenite Jul 7 '17 at 14:41

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