This is my first post on meta, so I hope to say something that makes sense.

I often see comments that if they had been posted as answers they could be acceptable ones. The problem I see in this is that other users are refrained from posting answers that would add little to the comment, leaving the question virtually unaswered when actually it is not.

My question is, why does this happen? I am the only one who believes that this is a problem?

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    $\begingroup$ I think a lot of people agree it can be an issue; there's been extensive discussion about this already here, here, and here. $\endgroup$ May 23, 2013 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ Why the deuce do I have the crazy impression that you are a fan of Leonardo Pisano Bigollo? (Sometimes called Fibonacci). $\endgroup$ May 23, 2013 at 19:52

1 Answer 1


I can only answer for myself.

Usually I write a comment in lieu of an answer if I believe that any vaguely competent mathematician could answer the question at least as well as I and that it would be fussy to transform the comment into an official answer.

It may happen however that I give an answer to a very easy or standard question if I feel that this answer has some twist that I (subjectively) find unexpected or elegant: here is an example and here is another one.

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    $\begingroup$ Is this why you decided to comment on the question, and only later wrote an answer? :-) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    May 24, 2013 at 2:50
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    $\begingroup$ "vaguely competent mathematician" --- I think I'll put that on my business cards. $\endgroup$ May 24, 2013 at 9:27
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    $\begingroup$ Dear @Gerry, although the qualification is totally absurd when applied to a mathematician of your caliber, I admit that your comment made me laugh. $\endgroup$ May 24, 2013 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ By this behaviour you leave a potentially valid answer that everyone may consider solving the question and thus leaving the question dwell forever in the unanswered questions list. Basically you break one useful tool to find interesting questions to answer. If you feel too humble to obtain rep for such a - by your standards - simple answer, just turn it community wiki instead. That way you also permit others to expand on it if deemed necessary while you don't have to bother with the trivial details ;) $\endgroup$ Aug 13, 2013 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ > I can only answer for myself. That's a refreshing attitude. Thank you. The opposite end of the spectrum is the people who pontificate as if they speak for the entire mathematical community. $\endgroup$
    – bubba
    Sep 20, 2013 at 9:35

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