8

I raised an issue I see a lot when reviewing new users posts, in that the answer the user had given was more of a comment, if anything.

The user replied that they were forced to supply an answer to provide the information they had, as higher reputation is required to add comments.

Sentinels of the Multiverse crash

Is this something others can confirm? I was not personally aware of the requirements, but it explains why I see so many "comment answers" as first posts.

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    yep, it's dumb, while not applicable to your example owners of the question should be able to comment on any answer as well as the question – Aequitas Jul 15 '15 at 2:27
11

Whilst Ashley's answer covers the requirements, I think it's worth knowing why this is the case in the first place. Here is my understanding of the reasoning behind the reputation barrier:


The 'minimum rep' idea steams from Stack Exchange's paradigm of: "Ask questions, get answers, no chit-chat". The idea of Stack Overflow (and later, the entire Stack Exchange Network) was to bring the useful information to the forefront, without all the surrounding noise:

...There's far too much great programming information trapped in forums, buried in online help, or hidden away in books that nobody buys any more...
- Coding Horror: Introducing Stackoverflow.com (Jeff Atwood)

This is still the case to this day, to the point where it's ingrained in every site's Tour Page:

This site is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum. There's no chit-chat.
Just Questions...
...And Answers
- Tour

As such, comments aren't treated the same as questions and answers. They have no edit history, if they are removed they are deleted permanently (as opposed to soft-deletion). They don't 'bump' questions and aren't handled by the review process, and thus can go unnoticed for a while.

Comments are second class citizens on the Stack Exchange network, not designed to hold information for all eternity. They may get cleaned up at any time. Generally, truly important information should be incorporated into an answer of its own anyway.
- Meta.SE: Why do I need 50 rep to comment?

Judging from the majority of answers we currently get from low-rep users, most comments would say something along the lines of "I have the same problem", "I agree" or "Thanks, this helps". These do not add any value as either answers or comments, and would have to be manually processed as comments. It would also be a problem with spam accounts if they were allowed to comment from the get-go.

Thus, the 50 rep limit is to help reinforce the question/answer paradigm and to reduce noise.

  • I was always curious about that. Thanks for the clarification :) – Ben Jul 15 '15 at 5:50
  • Thanks, this helps – Braiam Jul 21 '15 at 15:51
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    ^ this is also bad, because you have to check the question. (and some people get annoyed because they could comment but couldn't upvote) – Braiam Jul 21 '15 at 15:52
  • @Braiam Upvoting is allowed before commenting (15 rep vs 50 rep), though downvoting is at 125. Is that what you meant? – Robert Wertz Jul 21 '15 at 20:08
  • @RobertWertz part of it, yes. – Braiam Jul 21 '15 at 20:33
  • So to keep from getting 'me too' comments or comments trying to clarify the questions, we get completely useless answers? How is that better? Why are comments harder to deal with than answers? I'm still really new here and I certainly don't think I'm going to ride in and "fix everything," I'm just trying to get the hang of all this. – Dallium Jul 27 '15 at 18:50
  • @Dallium - It's not just to prevent 'me too' comments: the paradigm that the Stack Exchange model is following is that the question and the answers are everything, and 99% of comments (in general) are superfluous. Why are comments harder to deal with than answers? Because it's built to be that way. The sites have been built to focus solely on the Q&A. – Robotnik Jul 28 '15 at 0:44
  • (cont.) Why don't they have the rep requirement the other way around? Because then they would be no different to a forum, where everyone comments and useful information is buried under a wall of useless 'thanks' posts & signatures which was the entire problem space that Stack Exchange was trying to solve. – Robotnik Jul 28 '15 at 0:46
  • That's sorta what I mean. Questions and answers are paramount. Comments are best used to improve questions and answers (and then preferably deleted). So why do they get protected? Brand new users, who post comments as answers, don't know what the site is about. They want to provided input and do it the only way they're allowed. I accept that, for whatever reason, the site was worse when comments were allowed for everyone. I accept that this practice makes sense objectively. It just still doesn't make sense to ME, which is why I'm still reading ancient meta posts and endeavoring to understand. – Dallium Jul 28 '15 at 0:53
  • @Dallium - Another thing is that users are expected to contribute to Q&As - SE doesn't want lurker accounts with 1 rep just commenting on everything and never contributing towards questions and answers. We're here to 'build and curate a library of useful Q&As' - which is why other people can edit your posts, or post solutions for Xbox/PS when the question asked for PC: Questions and Answers are meant to be helpful to more than the OP. The earliest iterations of Stack Overflow didn't even have commenting I'm pretty sure, it was only added begrudgingly after enough people requested it. – Robotnik Jul 28 '15 at 1:11
2

You can answer with 1 rep, but you need 50 rep to leave comments on posts that aren't your own.

See here for a more detailed breakdown of how much rep you need to unlock various privileges on the site.

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