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In the question How do I politely tell a stranger to stop making annoying noises I can't name? I posted a comment basically saying there was no good way of doing this and get some noise cancelling headphones.

Why was that comment removed? I specifically posted it as a comment and not an answer because on the one hand it wasn't really an answer, but on the other hand it was highly relevant to the question. (and up-voted quite a bit.)

Sometimes the best answer to a question is: you shouldn't.

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    This answer is also posted as a comment to prove my point: A brief and cogent answer can be shorter than the longest allowed comment. As already pointed out in the earlier answer, an answer can be downvoted but a comment cannot. Comments are not considered our permanent contribution like a Q or A, and are likely to get deleted at any time either by moderators or by flagging, especially if the comment reads like an answer to the question. Moreover upvotes on your answer will earn you reputation, unlike comments. So I strongly encourage you to write that answer rather than write it as a comment! – English Student Oct 27 '17 at 12:14
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"Sometimes the best answer to a question is: you shouldn't."

Emphasis mine.

Note that on stackexchange the comment section is not to be used for answers. This is because the system isn't designed to treat them with the same priority as the answers.

There is quite a bit of discussion on the topic on the meta question here.

Take for example your point:

but on the other hand it was highly relevant to the question. (and up-voted quite a bit.)

This in itself is a problem - because those comments cannot be downvoted. If 5 people agree and 27 disagree, that might not be clear from the voting; making a bad suggestion look okay (not to say yours was a bad suggestion - I believe I actually upvoted that comment at the time but wasn't surprised to see it disappear).

If you have an answer, either take the time to flesh it out as an actual answer, or sit on your hands and hope someone else says what you were thinking so that you can upvote it.

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  • I was under the impression that "don't do it" answers were kind of looked down on on stack. Because the site is about answers, and that answering a "don't even try" anser, wasn't seen as an actual valid answer. – Pieter B Oct 27 '17 at 12:32
  • @PieterB that's usually not a solution indeed and as such bring few value, but that's still true as an answer or comment anyway. – Tensibai Oct 27 '17 at 12:38
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    @PieterB Just saying "Don't do it" isn't a good answer. Saying "You shouldn't/Don't do it" and then expanding on your reasoning is different. That makes a perfectly fine answer if you can justify from an interpersonal perspective why it shouldn't happen. But if all you can say is "Don't do it" without offering reasons and alternative approaches to the situation, it's probably not worth trying. – JMac Oct 27 '17 at 12:41
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A brief and cogent answer can be shorter than the longest allowed comment. [As I demonstrated by posting this answer as a comment under your question, the content of this answer is 52 characters less than the maximum allowed for a comment.]

As already pointed out in the earlier answer, an answer can be downvoted but a comment cannot. Comments are not considered our permanent contribution like a Q or A, and are likely to get deleted at any time either by moderators or by flagging, especially if the comment reads like an answer to the question.

Moreover upvotes on your answer will earn you reputation points, unlike comments. So I strongly encourage you to write that answer rather than write it as a comment!

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I wonder if it mightn't have been better to phrase your comment as a question ... Something like, "Are you sure you want to try? There is no good way of doing this; get some noise cancelling headphones." This is more in line with the idea of influencing the asker to change the question (in your case seems like you're advising OP to remove/abandon it).

I don't agree with your advice, but do think there's an argument to be made that it could've been a comment.

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  • What would have been the use of such a comment? I'm asking specifically for a polite IPS approach and if none is to be found, you could easily flesh it out into an answer and people actually did right that. But "You shouldn't" simply doesn't meet the SE quality standards, it requires an explanation. – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Oct 28 '17 at 5:53
  • @AnneDaunted maybe I'm on the wrong track here, but I'm seeing the comment in question as a form of custom request to close. Not sure if we need answer level of exposition for this. (This is sort of an abstract argument here, as I thought it was a worthwhile question myself). Consider the comments on this question: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/5797/… There are a bunch of terse comments there whose theme was basically "give it up". I'm comparing Pieter's deleted comment to these. – akaioi Oct 28 '17 at 6:03
  • The question you are linking to was closed, because it was too broad. The OP didn't try to notify anyone that my question was too braod and should be closed for that reason. Also, we have many questions about asking strangers to (not) do something, but a question about "all girls" seems a little bit different from that, don't you think? – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Oct 28 '17 at 6:08
  • Well honestly, it should be Pieter making this argument, but ... the deleted comment that's getting all this attention seemed to me like a "close as it's fruitless to pursue this" request, which isn't baked into the system like "close as too broad" is. What it really comes down to is this: is it okay to challenge OPs premise in a comment, or does it require an answer? I'm suggesting that with a modicum of tact and laconic word-mastery, could be done in a comment. – akaioi Oct 28 '17 at 6:15
  • If you want to close a question, vote to close it. – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Oct 28 '17 at 6:19
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    @AnneDaunted I don't know about you, but I'd be willing to put in a "are you sure you want to do this? seems futile" comment in without voting to close. – akaioi Oct 28 '17 at 6:26
  • The question here seems pretty straight-forward to me "Why was my comment removed", not "Should we close this question?" or the like. Everyone can ask a question on Meta to start a discussion on whether my question should be closed or not. This would be a good way to present your arguments and for counter-arguments to be brought forward by others. An open discussion is certainly preferable to a (transient) comment. Even an answer to my question is preferable since it allows for voting to decide the issue. I really don't see how a comment is a good way to communicate it in this case. – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Oct 28 '17 at 11:07

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