From the help center:
What are comments?
Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer. They can be up-voted (but not down-voted) and flagged, but do not generate reputation. There's no revision history, and when they are deleted they're gone for good.
When should I comment?
You should submit a comment if you want to:
- Request clarification from the author;
- Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post;
- Add relevant but minor or transient information to a post (e.g. a link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the question has been updated)."
When shouldn't I comment?
Comments are not recommended for any of the following:
Suggesting corrections that don't fundamentally change the meaning of the post; instead, make or suggest an edit;
Answering a question or providing an alternate solution to an existing answer; instead, post an actual answer (or edit to expand an existing one);
Compliments which do not add new information ("+1, great answer!"); instead, up-vote it and pay it forward;
Criticisms which do not add anything constructive ("-1, see previous comments you scallywag!"); instead, down-vote (and provide or up-vote a better answer if appropriate);
Secondary discussion or debating a controversial point; please use chat instead;
Discussion of community behavior or site policies; please use meta instead.
Because our answers can oftentimes be subjective, it's important for us to have the ability to rank each answer in order of best to not-the-best. The problem with answering a question with a comment is that:
It removes that answer from the community review process. Not allowing it to be viewed in comparison to other answers.
There is a 600 character limit for comments. That is the length of a short answer, so there's not much reason why it can't be an actual answer.
If the comment is too short to be an answer, some effort should be taken to make it into an answer, or simply wait for someone else to answer and upvote their answer.
There are no downvotes on comments. One upvote is enough to cancel out the reputation lost from 5 downvotes. It shouldn't be any cause to try to avoid them using the comment section. That also just seems like a cop-out to me. If an answer can't stand as an answer, it shouldn't stand as a comment either.
I don't see any reason why we would want to keep comments that try to answer questions around. Certainly they have the risk to cause more harm than anything. But when I looked at the possible flags, the options were:
- rude or offensive
- not constructive
- too chatty
No option for flagging as a comment as an answer.
So should I Be flagging these comments as "Other" and say that it's an answer not a comment? Or is this just a peeve of mine that I should work on ignoring? What do you think?