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    • CommentAuthoralgori
    • CommentTimeDec 28th 2009
    Currently, one has to have at least 50 reputation points to be able to post comments on Mathoverflow. However, anyone can post questions and answers. I know a couple of people who at some point wanted to post comments to somebody else's posting but weren't sure yet if they will be visiting the site regularly. So they had either to post a new "answer" or to walk away altogether, which is a bit of a shame. So I was wondering if the 50 point condition can be relaxed or eliminated.

    Btw, many thanks to everybody for this wonderful website!
    The following discussions are relevant:

    I think for now everyone understands that a new user/passerby often has something valuable (or at least not unhelpful) to say as a comment but has no choice but to "answer," so comment-answers from new users are fine. Higher rep users could rewrite such posts as comments with attribution, and I have seen this done.

    @algori: while I understand the inability to post comments seems like a bug, I encourage you to view it as a feature. Comments are currently non-editable, math and markup have different rules there, etc., so they are kind of advanced tool in a technical way. Importantly, comments also don't bump the question to the top, so if they were going to post some important information about the question/answer, their comment won't be as useful as the answer.

    So, yes, they should go ahead and post comment as answer. They might even get 50 reputation from that :)

    @Ilya: That argument makes me more inclined to view the non-editability and differentness of rules in comments as bugs, rather than viewing the inability of new users to post them as a feature. (-:
    This is perhaps not the appropriate spot to make this comment on comments, and perhaps it has been made many times before.
    Nevertheless: It would be useful if, when someone posts a comment, it renders the MO Question active. Right now, it appears that correcting a typo in one answer makes the Question active, whereas posting a perhaps substantive comment goes unnoticed.
    (I do understand that the MO admins have little control over the software.) :-j

    If by making the question active, you mean bumping it to the top, I don't think that is a good idea. I expect that new questions might get bumped off the front page too fast in this case.

    That said, it is a problem that comments too easily go unnoticed. I don't know what a good solution might be. For example, I'd like to be notified of comments to posts I have commented on myself, in case it is my comment that is being commented upon and I would like to reply. (Which makes this post a comment on commenting on comments to my comments. Pardon me while I go and gaze at my navel for a while.)


    If you think that a comment merits a bump, you can bump "by hand" along with the comment; for example, with sufficient rep you can make an edit without changing anything, or you can post a new answer and then delete it. (If you have 10k+ rep, you can see and edit deleted answers, which is an even slicker way to bump a question.)

    • CommentAuthorJeremy
    • CommentTimeJun 13th 2010
    I don't suppose we could sort questions by something like, "answers within the past x minutes" followed by "comments within the last x minutes" followed by "answers within the last 2x minutes" etc? That way comments could bump threads, but would not push questions with recent answers off of the main page? Or is this another kind of thing we have no control over?
    As I don't see that much difference between a comment and an answer---both are signs of activity, and we've all seen the useless answer and the spot-on comment---I like the spirit of Jeremy's suggestion.
    • CommentAuthorHarry Gindi
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2010 edited

    Take a second and imagine how often questions would be bumped if we did that. I rest my case.

    The fact is, there are significantly more comments than there are answers or questions combined.

    > The fact is, there are significantly more comments than there are answers or questions combined.

    Yes, I've started noticing this. I've also noticed that in my recent usage of MO I more often write comments than answers. I wonder if this is a good trend.
    • CommentAuthorJeremy
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2010
    @Harry: That's why I said they should be sorted strictly after questions which have had new answers posted.

    But it's annoying to not see updates to questions I'm interested in, or to miss responses because they were made in a comment. I also occasionally see substantive comments to questions that I would like to see answers to, but never get responded to, because apparently no one notices them. This particularly happens in threads with lots of answers.

    Jeremy, sometimes those questions don't get responded to because a complete answer is more or less given in the comments. This is especially likely if BCnrd is one of the commenters. In that case, one option is to post a CW summary of the answer given in the comments so that the question can be correctly labeled as answered.