A moderator encouraged us to bring such issues to meta, so I'm writing this question.


A What Should I do? question was asked and I voted to close it. Then the following happened:

  1. A user wrote an answer
  2. The same user cast the last VTC
  3. The answer received a DV and the user deleted it
  4. The user copy-pasted their answer into a comment underneath the question

enter image description here

Update: The comment is gone now.

We are not supposed to write answers in comments, so when I noticed the comment, I flagged it as no longer needed, but my flag was declined.

Why was my flag declined?

I hope for feedback so that I don't flag comments that are considered okay by moderators in the future. This causes just unnecessary work for everyone involved.

  • 2
    I've been having this happen as well; see also chat.
    – Mithical
    Dec 29, 2017 at 8:30
  • 1
    For the record, one of the mortal sins of Stack Exchange is answering a question AND voting to close that question.
    – corsiKa
    Jan 10, 2018 at 23:20
  • FWIW: this is exactly the same IMO. Add the link to the comment, then you have a LQ answer... well, kind of...
    – OldPadawan
    Mar 2, 2018 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


I believe you are referring to me as the moderator who declined the flag. So I feel compelled to post here.

Some preliminary remarks:

  • Users are encouraged and welcome to flag anything they think is flawed for one reason or another. But that does not guarantee that everyone will agree with you or even each other. Part of that population is the moderators. I found it as no surprise when I had some of my flags declined on other sites. I find it as no surprise that it is happening here.

  • Almost nothing here is straight black and white. Everything here is always some shade of grey. Where that cut line is between what’s acceptable and not acceptable varies by person. I’m afraid that is going to be the way it is here. I fully expect that will be the case in the future as well.

Some notes (and opinions from my point of view) regarding this question:

  • The question was eventually put on hold as primarily opinion based. So this question has some aspect to it that makes it borderline at best. So now there’s a good chance that answers and comments are likely to have this quality as well.

  • A user posted an answer that was not well received. I’m trying not to be too specific here so that this post at least may have some lasting value. The person who posted this may have agreed with the DV’ers, perhaps because the answer was simply two sentences.

  • But they saw value in their desire to help, so they applied the two sentences as a comment. The notion that, since it was an answer at one time, it can no longer be a comment is simply not so. In all likelihood the very reason that it was a poor answer (two sentences) makes it a candidate to be a fair comment.

  • I personally saw the comment as a genuine desire to help. The OP stated “Any advice is welcome”. Recognizing this statement makes the comment quite possibly relevant – and that is just my opinion. The comment was flagged “No longer needed”. I declined it because of the rationale above.

  • Another moderator did not interpret this comment that way, and they deleted it. Personally, I fully realize the borderline nature of this question, so I have no disagreement here.

  • 2
    First of all, thank you very much for taking your time to answer my question! "In all likelihood the very reason that it was a poor answer (two sentences) makes it a candidate to be a fair comment." Can you elaborate? I have seen those "I can't comment, so I post it as an answer" type of answers, and would tentatively agree about them, but I have a hard time imagining a genuine answer as a good comment. The reasons are the downsides of comments (no DVs, no commenting on, no editing). Dec 29, 2017 at 18:13
  • 22
    I'm having a really difficult time with this explanation. Something being too brief for an answer doesn't mean they should be comments. This is something we've been fighting since the start of this site and something that has been a founding principle of our comment moderation. Having these declined by one mod and deleted by others causes our users confusion and makes them less interested in flagging at all. How does your interpretation follow the site policy against answering in comments?
    – Catija
    Dec 29, 2017 at 18:18
  • 3
    @AnneDaunted I agree that a genuine answer would not be a valid comment. But this answer was DV'ed probably because it did not fit what an acceptable answer is. The reasons being possibly: (1) the whole question is borderline at best, and (2) the answer was too short. As the user's intention was genuine, the very thing that made it a not-so-good answer made it fair comment (again, in my opinion).
    – John Mod
    Dec 29, 2017 at 18:25
  • 3
    @IamSoNotListening It is network wide policy... whether a specific site enforces it or not isn't always consistent but it's definitely something mods are encouraged to act on if flagged.
    – Catija
    Dec 29, 2017 at 18:37
  • 5
    @IamSoNotListening If the information is "valuable" it needs to be in an answer and thoroughly explained so that it can be both upvoted and downvoted. If someone isn't interested in doing so, we can not reward their refusal to use the system the way it's designed to work by letting them get away with comment abuse.
    – Catija
    Dec 29, 2017 at 18:45
  • 1
    @Catija There is no reward for commenting.
    – user1856
    Dec 29, 2017 at 18:45
  • 5
    @IamSoNotListening Having it sit around permanently is a reward, particularly as comments on the question appear before the actual answers. This is not okay.
    – Catija
    Dec 29, 2017 at 18:47
  • @Catija okie dokie. We can agree to disagree. Is the information in that META post invalid here?
    – user1856
    Dec 29, 2017 at 18:49
  • 1
    @IamSoNotListening Clearly we are interpreting that meta post differently because from my reading of it, it clearly agrees with the policy here. Answers in comments don't fulfill any of the three bullet points.
    – Catija
    Dec 29, 2017 at 18:58
  • 4
    @Catija Clearly, because the highest voted answer is this "When should I flag a comment? When it will be shown to future readers but offers them nothing of value." There are many, many, many cases across stackexchange where comments add value to the question and\or answers for the OP and future readers. This decision to be extremely restrictive with useful comments has a bearing on the success of this site. In all seriousness I appreciate the fact you at least looked at the post.
    – user1856
    Dec 29, 2017 at 19:03
  • 1
    And, I find it ironic that the first comment on this question is of the Me too!! type.
    – user1856
    Dec 29, 2017 at 19:04
  • 2
    @IamSoNotListening That question is a FAQ and was asked and answered by the same person. It makes no mention of answers in comments at all but it clearly outlines what comments should be used for (as I pointed out in my previous comment). The answers are actually a single answer broken up for easy reading. One having more votes than others doesn't mean much as the answers don't compete with each other. Also, meta is different, so comment moderation isn't acted on in the same way.
    – Catija
    Dec 29, 2017 at 19:20
  • 3
    @Catija There are many sites on stackexchange that do not moderate comments in the same way it appears is happening here. Most seem to abide by the if it adds value leave it alone rule. If I choose to participate further on this site, I will abide by the only full blown answers are helpful rule. Thanks again for taking the time.
    – user1856
    Dec 29, 2017 at 19:25
  • 13
    @John - An unacceptable answer in the comments is even worse than an acceptable answer in the comments. One of the reasons why comments as answers are so bad is because we have no way to acertain the information. If something didn't meet the standards as an answer, that's no excuse for keeping it around as a comment.
    – Mithical
    Dec 30, 2017 at 16:44
  • 2
    @IamSoNotListening - IPS and related sites such as The Workplace need to keep a tighter rein on comments, due to the very nature of those sites.
    – Mithical
    Dec 30, 2017 at 20:45

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