There is a comment template, meant to be used when a user posts an answer which really should have been a comment, which reads:

This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post.

The problem is that it is often used for answers which, although arguably should have been a comment, in no way resemble a "critique or request for clarification". This just leads to unnecessary confusion and appears rude. It's not so bad if the recipient realizes this is a template response, but most people will just think "WTF is he talking about?"

Recent example - Two numbers equality formula. Happened to me as well - Substituting the value $x=2+\sqrt{3}$ into $x^2 + 1/x^2$.

Should anything be done about it? A reminder that this template should only be used when appropriate in context? Changing the text of the template to be more generic?

  • $\begingroup$ A related recent question: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/21592/… $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 15:47
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ If you vote to delete an answer because it is no more than a comment, then this comment is automatically written under the answer. That might explain some occurrences of this specific comment. $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 19:34
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Thomas one can chose "no comment." $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 19:34
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @quid: yes, but if one selects the reason, then it leaves a comment. I wasn't initially aware or this and was surprised that I left a comment automatically when I voted to delete like this. Again, this might just explain some of the occurrences. $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Thomas I see what you mean. I think the issue is that the reason one selects is called is "this is commentary on a post, not an answer" and many take "is commentary" as "could/should have been a comment" which is close but not really the same. $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ @quid: Exactly how I thought about it. $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Thomas: Is the text of the template specific to math.se, or general SE text? Because I don't recall seeing this problem elsewhere. Whatever the case, the text should be changed. Even simply prefixing with "(auto-generated comment)" would go a long way. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ @MeniRosenfeld technically it is not site specific. But the "hint-culture" might be somewhat site-specific and this is responsible for a lot of it. $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ I will just add link to the comment template you are probably talking about. As already explained in comment here and there, the type of comment you mention probably is not added by user but it is added automatically by the SE software. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 8:15
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak: The fact that the comment is automatically added doesn't make it ok. This is still a problem that needs to be resolved one way or the other, either technically or culturally. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ @MeniRosenfeld I am mainly concerned about terminology. For me the term comment template means something from the list I linked to. I did not know that the same term is used for auto-generated question. If there are two different meanings for the term you are using in the post, you should, in my opinion, clarify which of them you are talking about (or that you intend to talk about both of them). $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 10:23
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak: I don't know what is the correct terminology. You could say that I am talking about both types, because my question is agnostic to this distinction - it talks about a problem, not specific underlying causes. Possible solutions will have to take into account the underlying causes, and an answer to my question could discuss how to fix it for various scenarios. I should note, I've stumbled upon your link while researching my question, but it didn't occur to me that people are supposed to copy-and-paste from that page; I figured it refers to templates obtained via other means. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 11:24
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak I disagree a bit with " the type of comment you mention probably is not added by user but it is added automatically by the SE software." It is not really added automatically. AFAIK it is added only when a user specifically selects this comment from a list via marking the respective radio button, where the first option in said list is "no comment." I would say it is not formulate by the user, but it is still added actively by the user (though some might not realize they do it). $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ I have posted a separate question to clarify when such a comment is added. (Partially in a response to the previous comments by quid.) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ This description still sounds as poor as it sounded when I opened the post mentioned by quid a month ago, in my opinion. $\endgroup$
    – Aloizio Macedo Mod
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:02


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