I often see questions completely answered in comments. Sometimes these are elaborate comments or even sequences of comments; in that case I suggest to the commenter that they should post their comment as an answer. But sometimes the answer to the question is trivial, e.g., “Yes, your calculation is correct.”, and the comment is a one-liner and there isn’t anything more to say than that. It seems silly to ask someone to post their trivial comment as an answer, so in these cases I write a community wiki answer along the lines of “As has been stated in the comments, your approach and result are correct”, so that the answer can be accepted and the question doesn’t stay unanswered, clogging the system.

Every once in a while (and more often recently) I get negative comments about such answers; often copy-pasted boilerplate comments like “This does not answer the question. If you want to comment on a question, do X...”. It’s a bit annoying when you think you’re performing a service to the community and the feedback from the community is that apparently you didn’t understand how the system works and we’ll explain it to you.

My questions are:

  • Is the practice of asking users to post their answers given in comments as answers and otherwise posting community wiki answers oneself, as suggested in the accepted answer to Dealing with answers in comments., still the recommended approach?

  • If so, how should such answers be phrased so as not to invite negative comments, and how can we stop people from posting negative comments about them?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think you can stop people from posting negative comments about such answers, but you can flag their comments for moderator attention and ask the moderator to gently educate the ignorant user. I bet the user won't have to be told twice. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Mar 25 '20 at 4:33
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    $\begingroup$ I see applaud your efforts and the care you take in service to this site. Using CW posts for summarizing comments in an answer field is of no benefit to the answerer doing so. I do have some problems with answerers posting trivial answers, often a copy and paste of another's comment without designating the answer CW. $\endgroup$ – amWhy Mar 25 '20 at 10:54
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    $\begingroup$ Related: Community Wiki answers to avoid reputation $\endgroup$ – amWhy Mar 25 '20 at 11:01
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    $\begingroup$ One potential approach for the second issue is to put a note at the top of the answer to the effect of "this is a CW post recording the discussion from the comments so that this question might be marked as answered". $\endgroup$ – KReiser Mar 25 '20 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ @KReiser: Thank you. I think I should go back to doing that. I used to do it in the olden days, and then someone complained that this was virtue signaling (i.e. I was emphasizing that I wasn't doing it for reputation). $\endgroup$ – joriki Mar 25 '20 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ "then someone complained that this was virtue signaling" - please ignore those people, they clearly are not accustomed to how things are done here and should be educated. Hopefully this thread should help them with it. $\endgroup$ – J. M. isn't a mathematician Mar 29 '20 at 14:55

Unfortunately, I think that some appropriate uses of CW is lost on a lot of users who are reviewing CW posts flagged, inappropriately, as NAA or "this is at most a comment....", and on the flaggers as well, ever since CW has faded out of common use, in the past few years. So a lot of current users don't even know that anyone answering with a CW answer gains nothing in the way of rep; that doing so merely helps to bring closure to a question, answered in comments, that would otherwise be destined to "unanswered questions."

I think your strategy is entirely appropriate, and necessary, and in keeping with the spirit of this site and SE.

With respect to your last bulleted question, one thing that popped into my mind is that it might be wise to find a link explaining why a user may designate a post as "CW", to link to in a CW answer like you describe, but I could not immediately locate such an explanation.

Also, with respect to your question "Is the practice of asking users to post their answers given in comments as answers and otherwise posting community wiki answers oneself, as suggested in the accepted answer to Dealing with answers in comments., still the recommended approach?" I think another additional option, not replacing fully either option you mention, is to encourage askers who commented in a way so as to indicate, "Oh, I get it",in response to a comment without answer, to post a solution the their own question, noting the comment(s) that helped them reach it.

That, too, helps keep an answered question out of the "unanswered pool".

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer, in particular for the additional option – I immediately applied it here :-) $\endgroup$ – joriki Mar 25 '20 at 15:57

An example of how I would prefer to write such an answer:

Yes, your actions are appropriate. Though, as pointed out by KReiser, if the answer uses something from the comments, I would recommend noting it like so, and to make your intentions clear by stating explicitly the purpose of the answer.

Further elaboration, nitpicking, or alternative solutions can also add on to make the answer less of a comment, when appropriate. Alternatively, it is often appropriate to ask the OP or the original commenter to write their own answer, which helps avoid making it seem like you are fishing for rep. If you do write the answer yourself then I would recommend making sure a few days have passed since the question has been asked and unanswered.


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