I am sifting through some of the "Unanswered" and "No Answers" list, and — like so many before me — am finding that many of the questions have apparently been answered to the OP's satisfaction in comments. But with no answers posted, these questions will never fall off the list.

Is it bad form to write up an answer that is clearly just an extension (or even outright copy) of a comment? Or should I ping the original commenter in a comment, to try to get them to move their comment to an answer?

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    $\begingroup$ See meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/1559/… and meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/1148/… $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 18:32
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    $\begingroup$ BTW if you are interested in helping with old unanswered questions, this chatroom might be interesting for you. (Although lately it has not been very active.) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ Comments are intended to be temporary, to go away after a while. So by all means make them into answers. But (of course) wait a reasonable amount of time for the commenter to do it himself. $\endgroup$
    – GEdgar
    Commented Sep 16, 2014 at 12:22
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    $\begingroup$ Agree with GEdgar. Most of my "answers in comments" are meant to guide the OP. Later they are fair game. I'm sure that people who answer the question can either come up with the same solution under their own steam or, if they benefited from a comment at a key step, they will mention it. I think that frequent commenters are aware of the difficulties they may cause to others. But hinting in comments may miss the target in so many ways (aim too high, too low, at the wrong target,...) that it is pointless to lose sleep over these. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 7:59
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    $\begingroup$ (cont'd) Having said that, if I see from the comments that someone is currently trying to engage the OP in a dialogue that does raise the bar to posting an answer very high. Mishaps have taken place. Say the exchange in comments came while I was composing an answer, or similarly somebody else was composing an answer while I was involved in commenting. No biggie, shrugging those off. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 8:03
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    $\begingroup$ You probably did not want to write bump the original commenter but ping the original commenter. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 8:17
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak: Thanks; changed. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 10:53

4 Answers 4


No, it's not. However, you should mark any such answers as Community Wiki, so you don't gain reputation from someone else's work.

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    $\begingroup$ If verbatim copy, then marking CW is better form. If the answer actually extends the comment, then there's own work involved in that too. $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 19:10
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    $\begingroup$ Ah yes, I overlooked the "extension" part - obviously, if you've added sufficient content, do as @Thursday says. $\endgroup$
    – apnorton
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ -1, it is ok to post them as answers but but I can't see any reason to make them community wiki if you don't want. $\endgroup$
    – miracle173
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 7:49

I agree with the previous two answers because:

1) Comments are not for low quality answers

Comments are for asking clarification, discussing an answer, etc. Even if the answer is a 1 liner, it should be an answer and not a comment in my opinion.

2) Helpful comments should not discourage complete answers

Some users might not have the time for a full answer, so they only write a comment. This should not discourage a user from offering a complete answer (if appropriate) even if 90% of it has been covered it comments.

There are a few other reasons too in my opinion, such as that it simply looks better to have an answer rather than a spiderweb of comments. Like the other posters said, don't plagiarize, give credit as a courtesy, it makes friends.

However I disagree with the other answers on the point of marking your answer community wiki. I think you should not mark it that way (unless you want to). First, if the commenters valued the reputation of the answer, then they would have written an answer, but they didn't, so you are not "taking" anything. Second, you are helping the site by putting answers in an answer location, where they belong, so you deserve credit for that.

I agree that you should "ping" the commenters to put their response into an answer first though. It is courtesy. But I doubt you'll get much of a response, and when you don't, it would be best (to me) to just complete the question like it should be completed.

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    $\begingroup$ You probably did not want to write bump the commenter but ping the commenter. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 8:16
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak Thanks, corrected the vocabulary. $\endgroup$
    – DanielV
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ Similar thoughts on CW here: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/22842/… . $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 22:18

Only if you make it sound like you came up with the whole thing yourself. For example, I'm going to suggest that you mark your answer as a Community Wiki answer, and I'm going to tell you that A. Norton was the first to suggest this.

It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to put in a comment addressed to the commenter saying something like "This actually answers the question and maybe you should put it into answer form."


As GEdgar has pointed out in a comment (which is still here at the time of writing) to your question:

Comments are intended to be temporary, to go away after a while. So by all means make them into answers. But (of course) wait a reasonable amount of time for the commenter to do it himself.


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