We seem to have several questions that, like this one, have the basis of several good answers in the comments, but no answers posted.

I don't see any reason for not posting an answer based on someone else's comment (and you can give credit to the comment), but people don't seem to be doing this. Since we have a number of questions that are still in need of answers, I'd like to see discussion of whether there is any problem with promoting other people's helpful comments to full answers, and whether we can actively encourage this in order to ensure more of our questions get full answers.


2 Answers 2


I agree with Nero's points about giving credit and not just pasting the comment into an answer without expanding it. However, I am wary of waiting some time before acting.

  • If I write an answer now while I'm thinking about it, it's done. If I say "I'll come back in a few days and see if it still needs an answer", I will probably forget.
  • Everyone who would benefit from the answer, which is ready to be written, has to wait longer.
  • Having several answers from several people is how Stack Exchange works. Even if the commenter is going to write an answer in a few days, that shouldn't be a reason to avoid writing one yourself right now, even based on their links/comments.
  • If I write an answer now, it's done. If I plan to write one in a few days, I have to get back to this question again and refamiliarise myself with it. That's a small amount of extra work, but asking everyone to do this for every relevant question seems like a lot of additional unnecessary work. I would expect it to make the site inefficient.

I don't think delaying answers for the sake of politeness is helping anyone. Since we're all working towards the same collaborative goal, I don't expect anyone to take offence at their contributions being quoted. I think it would be unhealthy to regard "here's a helpful link" as something which should result in ownership.

In short, give credit, but don't delay.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't like stealing of answers. That's why I suggest to give the author a reasonable amount of time to write an answer. Rarely answers in comments read like Answer: Just do X to achieve Y. Oftentimes, as in your example, these answer-comments are more like asking implicitly Is this what you were looking for? Please clarify your question! So, when posting the comment it may not have been clear that the comment is actually the answer to the question. And I've seen this several times, especially on StackOverflow. $\endgroup$
    – Nero
    Aug 19, 2015 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ I also look to avoid offending or upsetting anyone, but I don't think this requires delaying. A comment requesting clarification leads to clarification, which leads to anyone who wants to posting an answer. I don't see this as rude since we don't have a culture of one answer per question. It's a collaborative process where comments from various people help to clarify what is being asked, and once it is clear then a number of answers come in from different people. On most SE sites this works well and people give credit to other answers and comments and it all seems very positive. $\endgroup$ Aug 19, 2015 at 16:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Despite having a rep system encouraging competition, I've always seen friendly competition inspired by it, where people are not only trying to get rep for themselves, but pointing out to others "you could post an answer here - it's just your subject" or "don't forget you can get extra rep by accepting". $\endgroup$ Aug 19, 2015 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ From the other perspective, if I post a comment on a question I fully expect it to be incorporated into any answers that wish to use it. I contribute to Stack Exchange precisely because everything posted here is available for the whole world to use provided they give credit. I really like that. See the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence mentioned at the bottom of every Stack Exchange page. $\endgroup$ Aug 19, 2015 at 16:11

We should give the author of the comment a reasonable amount of time to write an answer.

So, first reply to his comment and ask the author to write a full-fledged answer. If the author still does not post an answer, after some time you can go ahead and write an answer yourself and acknowledge his/her/their contribution.

But when writing the answer, do not just copy/paste the comment to an answer, just to have one. So bring the expertise to actually enhance it from the comment level to the answer level.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .