So, here comes another list of questions:

And on, and on, and on.

Basically, IPS has an answers in comments problem. People are especially prone on leaving these on closed questions. Now, this behavior may originate in a genuine desire to help, but a comment answer has many problems, detailed here.

Now, there's one sentence in the answer describing our policy of not allowing them that strikes me:

That's why we need to delete answers in comments - or, really, just not let people write them in the first place.

We have a very good autocomment, asking people not to write answers in the comments. Can we perhaps be more pro-active, and post this on new questions as soon as they pop up? Or on questions as soon as they get closed? I realise that people might post answers in comments anyways, but perhaps by being a bit more pro-active about preventing them, we can reduce the amount of them we get.

Are there any other ideas on how to prevent answers in comments?


4 Answers 4


The only consistent method that seems to work is a bit whack-a-mole in the early days of a site's growth (and I know this site isn't young, but as it is more subjective than most, there are parts of this phase that are still going):

Let them know why their comment is going to be deleted, ask them to post it as an answer properly, and then delete the comment.

The problem is that visitors see answers being posted in comments, and it propagates that behaviour. Cull these - and cull them quickly. If they don't post as an answer in a reasonable timeframe, post it as an answer yourself :-)


The comment box has a message in light gray type that specifically asks users not to post answers in comments, but it is being ignored for some reason:

enter image description here

I am trying to suggest something that doesn't need a new "don't write answers in comments" official message bar similar to "protected question", "close message", etc.

This is the cautionary comment you posted under one of those questions:

Welcome to Interpersonal Skills! Please don’t write answers in comments. It bypasses our quality measures by not having voting (both up and down) available on comments, as well as having other problems detailed on meta. Comments are for clarifying and improving the question; please don’t use them for other purposes.

Really clear message. Now if that sort of comment could somehow be posted automatically, by the community user or under the name of a moderator, as the first comment immediately after a user posts a question...

Anyone would have to read it and still post an answer as a comment. It is not easy to ignore like the gray type in the comments box and moreover explains why we don't want answers in comments. It also links to the relevant page on meta. I trust most of our members to get the message. (I just hope this won't require a network wide change for which we will have to go to Meta.SE)

For closed questions I would add a further message like

this question is closed because an important deficiency requires to be corrected before it can be answered properly. Meanwhile, please don't post answers in comments.

If users think it is worthwhile the exact wording of the entire comment message can be discussed and finalized on meta.

Simplest option: automatic comments are not strictly necessary right now because the number of new questions per day is manageable and we have such an active community. Any user who is active in chat when Extroverted Main Man anmounces a new question can manually copy and post the comment.


If comments on closed questions are a problem, why are users allowed to comment on a question after it is closed?

That is an honest question, not a subtle jab. If there is no reason for it, then I suggest disabling comments on closed questions.

With that point out of the way, I largely agree with Rory.

People absorb norms everywhere they go. It is often automatic and unconscious. The only way to stop it from snowballing is visible correction.

Identify the offenders and root cause(s) if possible.

The Comment button is more accessible than the Post Your Answer form, as it sits right under the original post; if this issue is common across multiple SEs, then maybe a UI change would help.

Is this primarily new users, a wide variety of users, or a set of established problem users?

Consistent, visible correction will address the first two groups. The last group will require a graduated response mechanism.

I'm not a moderator, so I cannot suggest a detailed escalation of response for problem users; I do not know what tools are available.

  • 5
    Comments are allowed on closed questions because the purpose of comments is to help the op improve their post.
    – apaul
    Apr 5, 2018 at 23:28
  • 1
    That being the case, shouldn't the people who reported/voted to close the question comment before it is closed? There is a window of opportunity to provide that feedback from my understanding. Isn't the normal process to ask for clarification first and then close the question when OP makes no changes?
    – DoubleD
    Apr 6, 2018 at 14:05

I think you are really handling this rather strict on this stack. (more so than on the other ones I engage in)

What are you supposed to do with thoughts that are enlightening to the topic, but don´t qualify as a full answer? Put them in an answer and they will get downvoted. The text says "avoid" not "you are forbidden".

I often find these borderline comments helpful as they show a mood or even help develop into a full-blown answer, later on.

Also a little humor seems to be appreciated by a lot of users (see the up votes on those comments) It makes for the salt in an otherwise rather dry format, encouraging users to engage in the various topics

The site still stays usable in its original intended use, as you always have the option to just concentrate on the Q/A´s.

So to me, it seems rather strange that the Interpersonal, of all stacks, seems to have the strictest approach to ban all interpersonal stuff from the comments.

Also, I am surprised that a lot of the comments are actually deleted, even if the are not offensive as such instead of moved to chat etc.

  • 3
    AIC circumvent community feedback mechanisms, that is why we as a community have decided to not allow them. There are far too many comments on this site to sift through them all to find the good ones and treat them differently. Doing so would just create a lot of confusion for new users wondering why their comment was removed and someone else's wasn't. Best to have one clear policy that is uniformly applied.
    – sphennings
    Mar 14, 2018 at 15:08

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