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Suppose you see a question which is very interesting and you spend some time thinking about it, and you have something to say about it.

You start writing as an answer, because you have several points which are deep and useful. However they do not answer the question, but just act as possible flags for those who may want to approach the question later.

The topic for discussion here is what should be the norm about posting such answer as community wiki.

My thoughts go both ways.

  • Favoring CW: Well, no one gets reputation for comments. Even really really good comments that offer wonderful observation, furthermore if I'd see an answer with a very short observation I would flag it as "Not an answer" and hope to see it converted to a comment. Why should an answer posted as a very long comment should be subjected to a different treatment? Reputation is not something to be earned by comments. Rewards in the form of badges for the hard work are enough, if one seeks the "material gain" and if you have come to a complete answer you can post a new and complete answer altogether.

  • Against CW: Writing pointers can be as useful as writing an actual answer sometimes, as seen in some cases that a remark in the comment is actually more than a complete answer on its own. It can be a hard and demanding process to write a useful comment, and if it got too long, then you are certainly entitled to the reputation more than just the possible badges.

I would very much like to hear the community's voice about this, and whether or not we should start pushing towards CW in "this is a long comment" sort of answers.

(On that breath I would like to sound a minor protest against answers as comments by some users.)

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    $\begingroup$ I don't exactly see the necessity in trying to codify this as a community norm... $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Sep 18 '11 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @Willie. A society of adults should be able to accept that others take somewhat different views on such matters. Down/upvoting is a sufficient tool, if not for enforcing any abstract norm, then at least for culling large deviations from the said 'norm'. It is unlikely that we could agree on where to draw the line anyway. Therefore any judgement would have to be done case-by-case, and that's exactly what the voting mechanism allows us to do. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Sep 19 '11 at 4:59
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    $\begingroup$ While I agree that there is little necessity in codifying this as a social norm, I also think this question is valuable in soliciting people's opinions and arguments about a debatable topic, if only to inform one's actions in the future. For example, I started trying to avoid posting answers as comments, after reading some convincing arguments here on Meta. $\endgroup$ – Rahul Sep 19 '11 at 5:18
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    $\begingroup$ Regarding your last (parenthetical) sentence, given that mods have the power to convert not-an-answer answers to comments, it would be nice if they also had the power to convert not-just-a-comment comments to answers. $\endgroup$ – Rahul Sep 19 '11 at 5:19
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    $\begingroup$ I strive to write my answers in a comment as hints to a struggling student. The idea is that the comment would be identifiable as an answer only to those who can come up with the answer on their own power. At those times I have put on my teacher's hat, and am preparing to follow up with a suggestion that the student write out any eventual answer in their own words for the rest of us to judge. I mean, sometimes I take the view that a person with a doctorate answering questions posed by freshmen is complete turkey shoot. I do violate this rule myself, when not on my high horse. Case-by-case. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Sep 19 '11 at 6:15
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    $\begingroup$ I wonder if a comment that received more than, say, 10 upvotes, should deserve some reputation gain for the author of the comment. $\endgroup$ – MAK Oct 1 '11 at 6:57
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    $\begingroup$ @MAK: Sometimes popular comments has "comic relief" content. Or even worse "I completely agree!" can be given more than a few upvotes as a comment, while as an answer it would get flagged and downvoted. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 2 '11 at 7:01

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