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In the case that a new user has a salient comment to make that is not an answer, but has not the ability to comment, is an answer a viable alternative?

Ref: Can I see through an open doorway?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Let's not forget in all of this that comments are 3rd class citizens. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Aug 17 '12 at 3:06
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Answers are for answering the question.

New users should try to post actual questions and answers until they have the measly 50 rep needed to post comments. As mentioned in the linked answer, this is not a discussion site.

If the new user's comments can be reformed into an actual answer, then they can post that, and add their other thoughts as a comment to their own answer (you can always add comments to your own answer, your own question, and any answers to a question you asked).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Exactly. "Your salient comment can wait till you've earned enough street cred to open your mouf." \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Aug 15 '12 at 22:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk: superbly harsh. ^_~ \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion Aug 17 '12 at 8:13
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"Welcome to RPG.SE. This looks like a comment and not a complete answer. Could you restructure it into being an answer? When you've answered a question or two, you will have enough reputation to leave comments. We're eager to have you share your knowledge and insights."

Honestly, one of the few things I find discouraging about SE for RPGs is the mechanical feel of rejection of our new users (negative vote totals, etc.) Anything we can do to soften the transition from message boards to this format would be immensely helpful to our growth.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I tried that, but unfortunately to new users there is the hurdle to overcome that you have to generate a reputation to get a privilege. Merely a change in paradigm, I know. But yes, I like the personal touch rather than the mechanical touch also. \$\endgroup\$ – Chuck Dee Aug 16 '12 at 20:12
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Just flag it as a not an answer. Or use a custom flag that indicates it should be converted to a comment. In this case neither is really a good choice here so you're move of leaving a comment indicating the answer was inappropriate was the way to go.

The only real advice we can give to someone is that they need to do their time posting answer, asking questions and editing until they have enough rep to comment. Commenting is a privilege not a right and the rep to earn commenting privileges is low enough that it should only require a post or two around here.

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As a new user, I find it completely baffling that I can't comment. Doubly so because (unlike with downvotes) it's not obvious why. I initially thought I just didn't understand the UI.

If the rep required is "measley", why is it there at all?

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    \$\begingroup\$ The rep requirement is so that we don't get comments that are spam/porn. I think that new users should be able to comment earlier. Frequently, I see a question that is vague, a bunch of comments on the question which changes what the original questions meaning/intent, then good answers come from it. If new users cannot ask for clarification, their bad answers will get down-voted which kills their enthusiasm for the system. Maybe require n00b comments to be approved until they have the 50 rep? \$\endgroup\$ – Pulsehead Aug 18 '12 at 12:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess I don't quite follow how comments are harder to patrol than answers, in terms of spam/porn. \$\endgroup\$ – starwed Aug 18 '12 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ The site isn't for discussion, so commenting is prohibited to new users (who are used to forums) to prevent new users from treating the site like just another forum for discussion. The minimal rep requirement is in place so that users can only comment once they've figured out how to use the site as intended enough to earn that rep. (Note that you can always comment on your own posts, to facilitate clarifying posts.) As I understand it, it's not to avoid spam, rather well-meant but misguided discussion that just makes the site "noisier" and lowers "signal". \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 18 '12 at 17:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Answers are voted up/down by the community and have richer tools to flag and edit. Comments generally don't and so are harder to police. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Aug 19 '12 at 5:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pulsehead: That's from the user not coming back; you're always allowed to comment on your own answers, your own questions, and answers to your questions, regardless of how much rep you have. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Aug 21 '12 at 1:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ starwed, it appears I jumped a gun and got it wrong. However I do remember seeing a spam-fest on one of the stack sites I login to, and they had answered every.single.question. wiht their spam. I can only imagine how much worse it would have been if they could comment as well. @ObliviousSage, but my point on comments is if the new user is an expert on a topic and wants to answer the question but cannot ask for clarification. \$\endgroup\$ – Pulsehead Aug 21 '12 at 12:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pulsehead: So they can put up a "it sounds like you're asking A, in which case the answer is Z, is that what you're asking?" answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Aug 21 '12 at 15:33

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