16
\$\begingroup\$

Yesterday I asked a question, and while I received some really solid answers, I found the most helpful response to come from a comment.

I have already urged the commenter to boil down the essence of their linked article into an answer of its own. Not just because I found the resource particularly useful and "answering", but mostly because I believe it's the most complete answer for anyone who has the same question as me.

For me, that is what SE is essentially about, anyways. Not just about getting an answer for myself, but getting a useful Q and a useful A for everyone.

So far, the commenter hasn't taken it upon themselves to post it as an answer.

However, I'd feel like a punk if I'd take the linked article, write the answer myself and then accept my own answer to my question. Specially since the current answers are quite good, but didn't 'do it' for me as much as that linked article did.

So what should I do?

\$\endgroup\$
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I eagerly anticipate the excellent answers-as-comments this post will no doubt accrue. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW May 14 '14 at 10:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I say, do it. If nothing else, I might get a Populist badge off of it. :) \$\endgroup\$ – lisardggY May 14 '14 at 14:25
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I simply haven't had the time to do it. I keep thinking about it, every time I get a spare second at work! If you can get around to it before I do, then by all means, post your answer. After all, you know exactly which bits you found helpful or unhelpful. Now the interesting question is... should this comment be an answer, or is it too specific to your case? Answers are supposed to be general, right? I'm not sure "I give you permission to deny me reputation" should be an answer, even in meta. \$\endgroup\$ – TheRubberDuck May 14 '14 at 14:45
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Even more meta, should the question in the previous comment be its own question? I now have an endless tower of "Should the previous question be its own question?" questions. My brain hurts. \$\endgroup\$ – TheRubberDuck May 14 '14 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Considering I have time tonight, I'll start writing my answer. If you've beaten me by that time, kudos. I will probably accept it as the answer to my question if it clearly highlights the article's main points. \$\endgroup\$ – Marc Dingena May 14 '14 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Heh, I was actually going to make that answer myself; I'm really glad to see those articles catching on. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 15 '14 at 2:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk I'm not sure the edit you just did was constructive - "prick" is equivalent to saying "jerk", and no more of an expletive, and in this case, entirely appropriate to say. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 15 '14 at 5:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @lisardggY When my answer reaches a score of 10, you've got that gold badge in the pocket! :) \$\endgroup\$ – Marc Dingena May 15 '14 at 13:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarcDingena Technically, 11: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6851/… \$\endgroup\$ – lisardggY May 15 '14 at 13:05
25
\$\begingroup\$

However, I'd feel like a punk if I'd take the linked article, write the answer myself and then accept my own answer to my question.

Do it. It'll be beneficial in every which way.

If you want them to write it themselves, give them a day or two to have a chance of doing so. But if they refuse or show no signs of doing so, go ahead and create an answer based off their comment if you want.

You'll be rescuing information. That's good.

Comments are going to be deleted, no matter how valuable they are, unless they're doing what comments are for: requesting improvements or clarification. It would be a shame to lose that information, so someone should recover it in an answer if the person who posted it doesn't want to.

So if you want an answer, go find it, then share it with us and get some unicorn points for it. Go ahead and claim the credit. You did the effort of crafting an answer; you earned it.

They either won't care (good) or they will (also good).

If they don't care, everything's dandy and we don't need to explore any further.

If they do, though, maybe that'll motivate them next time to actually make their answer an answer if they care to — if they wanted credit for an answer, they should've created one. If they don't want to or don't care next time, they'll probably just post a comment as usual and we rinse and repeat.

If they complain saying they were in the middle of their own answer, tell them to post it anyway. If they do (with or without complaining first), you can both reap whatever votes your answers have earned and enjoy that. (If you feel so inclined, you may also delete your post to "make way" for theirs, but I personally recommend against doing this - sometimes people will find your answer more helpful than the other.)

If they complain outright that you did this at all, that falls under the "they do care" path of this section.

A healthy attitude of snoozers losers works fantastically overall for dealing with answers-as-comments, so go ahead and employ that attitude and turn comments into answers if the author won't do it themselves.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ I agree, just do it. Comments are ephemeral, answers are forever (except when they're not). \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross May 14 '14 at 10:55
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ "Answers are foreverish"? \$\endgroup\$ – BESW May 14 '14 at 11:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll give the commenter some more time to consider adding it as an answer, before I'll take the time to compile those articles into a solid answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Marc Dingena May 14 '14 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ "A healthy attitude of snoozers losers works fantastically overall for dealing with answers-as-comments" -- weird attitude; the commenter accomplished their goal, which was to share information. They "lose" fake internet points. \$\endgroup\$ – starwed May 14 '14 at 23:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @starwed and if that was their only goal, proceed down "they don't care." We get an answer preserving that info, and they're ok with it, and all is well. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 14 '14 at 23:12
2
\$\begingroup\$

Just Do It

However, tag the commenter, and invite them again to answer. And if they do, then you can delete your own. If they don't then everyone benefits by the answer being there. And if they do, no harm no foul as you delete your own answer (and optionally, incorporate the bits from your answer that might be unique into your question).

A good example is this question. As the commenter was a mod, he deleted the answer for me. But it still applies.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Er... might be a good idea to explain the basis on which the mod deleted your answer, to alleviate "why the heck would they do that?" reactions like the one going through my head right now. Did you request that they do so if they wanted to post their own? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 18 '14 at 22:40
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @JonathanHobbs - Yes, I asked if it would be ok and if Mxy wanted to post one and if so just to delete mine. In the meantime, I'd made a comment, which some nice soul had incorporated into the question. I didn't know the etiquette at the time... so they both helped me out. \$\endgroup\$ – Chuck Dee May 19 '14 at 2:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .