The question "Mathematic notation: What does "$a|p$" or "$b|c$" mean?" received an answer-in-a-comment:

Assuming you are referring to a and b as (say) integers, then a∣b means a divides b or b is an integer multiple of a.

It also received an actual answer:

For $a, b$ integers, $a|b$, read "$a$ divides $b$", means there exists some integer $c$ such that $b=ac$. For example, $3|6$ (where $c=2$) and $4|20$ (where $c=5$)

The answer-in-a-comment no longer provides anything useful, as far as I can tell, so what should we do with it?

The answer to the meta question "Dealing with answers in comments." states that the answer-in-a-comment should be reposted as an actual answer (preferably by the person who originally posted the comment). Okay... done. What's the next step, then?

Some options:

  • Ignore the comment; it's not worthwhile to do anything about it.
  • Flag the comment as no longer needed. (I did this in this case, but the flag was declined.)
  • Something else?
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    $\begingroup$ I, usually say something in my answers to said questions, along the lines of "as stated in the comments ..." or " just to get this out of the unanswered que ... " . As to the comments I'm also unsure what to do. $\endgroup$
    – user645636
    Aug 12, 2019 at 21:11
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I don't see any harm in leaving this kind of comments alone. Unless the comment is misleading, wrong or irrelevant to the post, there's no reason to delete it at all (in my opinion). There's a lot of redundancy on this site. I leave comments more often than I post answers, and while I'm not very attached to them, sometimes I go back to my own comments for some links or information. They don't take much disk space or visual space $\endgroup$
    – Yuriy S
    Aug 20, 2019 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ I second Yuriy's comment: as long as the comments are constructive and within the rules there's really no need to delete them. They can reveal how the asker added more information or provide context, and even if redundant with an answer might still subtly differ and therefore still be useful. Different people will measure redundancy very differently is another point to keep in mind too. $\endgroup$ Aug 23, 2019 at 22:51

2 Answers 2


I think it depends a bit more on the specifics and the timeline than your question suggests.

In the specific case, it is not clear what the final state of the thread will be. As we discuss this, the question is "on hold," but it might be improved and reopened. Moreover, we are not really talking about a repost of a comment as an answer. It seems more that the two were given independently.

On the one hand, the poster of the comment might (then) decide to expand their comment into an answer (or not) and they may be inconvenienced by the delete. On the other hand, there is some value in having the timeline preserved for a thread where there might be a discussion regarding "on hold."

Also note the comment is in a way a request for clarification of the post it says that assuming something (unconfirmed) some answer is given. This clarification is not yet given (at least not directly).

Finally, if the question does not get improved it will likely be deleted and the question is moot. And as a further aside there are other comments that could be deleted, too.

Thus, in brief, in the specific case it is too early to decide what should happen and thus the comment is kept around.

For general guidelines:

  • In a case that matches more closely what is described in the linked to meta question that is, the content of the comment is reposted and it is made clear that the answer-post is based on a comment (especially if it is the comment of somebody else) as described in a comment here by Roddy, I'd say yes, the comment then can be deleted.

  • Yet, just there being a later answer that subsumes a comment does not make it directly eligible for deletion, especially not somewhat close in time. The poster of the comment should at least have had a chance to expand their own comment before it gets deleted or otherwise finalize their interaction with the post. Also, the timeline should be preserved at least for a while.

I don't think we need to provide a record of everything forever, but in the specific case the flag came in two hours after the initial comment. For my taste that's too early in this type of situation.

  • $\begingroup$ whats wrong with keeping a "record of everything forever" as long as the record isn't cluttered with spam or negative content? $\endgroup$ Aug 23, 2019 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ It's also not ideal if it is just cluttered. Lengthy comment threads are a potential distraction. That said, I only said, at least that was the intent, that it is not necessary to keep the record. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Aug 23, 2019 at 22:59

My own preference for really simple cases like this is to copy the comment to a answer, and mark it "Community Wiki", so that I'm not stealing credit for anyone else's work, but the answer ends up where it belongs, where OP can "Accept" it and close out the question.

If the comment's in the middle of a long comment trail, OP (or other readers) may miss it, but see the CW-answer.

If it's the only comment, then there's a little harmless duplication of content, with the possibility of more resolved questions.

If the comment trail is modest, ... meh.

I usually wait for a day before doing this, to give the original commenter a chance to "take credit" with an actual answer, which essentially never happens. (Sigh.)

  • $\begingroup$ In this case an answer saying the same thing existed already, so most of your suggested process would have been redundant. $\endgroup$ Aug 26, 2019 at 11:36

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