We all know that answers should be posted in the section marked Answers. This is explained in the help section about our commenting privileges:
When shouldn't I comment?
- Answering a question or providing an alternate solution to an existing answer; instead, post an actual answer (or edit to expand an existing one);
It is important enough and abused enough that it has to be explicitly mentioned when trying to write a comment:
Avoid answering questions in comments.
There are a number of reasons for why answers in a comment are detrimental to the site, including but not limited to:
- Comments can not be downvoted, so a user only sees upvotes
- Comments can not be edited or corrected.
- Comments can not be accepted (or given a bounty)
- Questions will be listed as unanswered
- Discussions of the comment will be interleaved with other comments and can lead to long discussions with the original poster and more important comments can be missed
- Comments can be deleted at any time
- Comments may be skipped by people using screen readers, or worse - interpreted as an actual answer
- They are not indexed in the same way as answers by search engines such as Google
Why can't I just post anyway? It doesn't harm anyone.
But why shouldn't you just write out whatever you know about a topic in the comment section, it might help someone, right? They can build their own answer on my comment?
If they know enough about the subject to write an answer, they don't need a short blurb to start. If they don't know enough about the subject, your short sentence won't help them to write a quality answer.
What's worse is that they show up before any actual top-voted and accepted answers. The first thing a user sees is the off-hand half answer. On my screen I see the question, then I see the comments, and to see that there even are actual answers I have to scroll down on the page.
You have in effect pushed yourself ahead of the quality queue. Someone coming here from a search engine (the main goal of Stack Exchange) will not know the difference between something that is written just below the question, and something further down with different numbers next to it, especially if they're used to traditional forums.
What prompted this post is the following exchange. A user asked a question, heavily reduced to the following:
When I use the ifconfig command it shows that the link is UP. However, when I run the ip link command, it is down. Can someone please explain?
Another user then wrote a short comment, answering the question:
This is normal, if you have no containers running on that network. It will change when you start a container.
Question. Answer. Pretty clear. When I pointed this out, the commenting user gave this as an excuse, and then asked me to bring it up on meta:
This comment does not suffice as an answer, which is why it is a comment.
No, it is most definitely an answer to the question, but a low-quality and mostly pointless answer because it does not give the whole story. Had it been posted as an answer it might have been downvoted, or perhaps edited to include more information.
Using the comment section is no excuse for posting low quality answers. Doubly so for diamond moderators and high-rep users who set examples for everyone else.