Some constructive feedback and observations from my visit here.
- Information being in comments that would make good answers can be detrimental to the site
- Information in comments are not always worthy of being an answer, but should still be shared if it's useful information
- Information being shared in comments is better than it not being shared at all (due to a rule that (essentially) states "no help, advice, or information in comments")
(1) is the (or partly) reason this site only allows comments that are request for info or improvement to the question - no info or advice etc. The problem with (1) is prevalent across Stack Exchange sites, and has been attempted to be resolved over and over again. There's nothing you can do about it other than ask commentors to instead answer, or create an answer if they don't.
However, having that rule impedes on (2) and (3), which is also detrimental to the site.
I understand why a site might want to implement specific requirements for comments if it makes sense for the context on that site. However, this is a very uncommon thing to do for a Stack Exchange (hence nowhere to make it official) and so could easily be confusing. On pretty much all other Stack Exchange sites comments serve for a very different purpose - information is allowed in comments.
Comments potentially being bad is not unique to this site. All (or many) sites suffer from:
- A loss of good answers because someone posted a comment instead
- Chatty comments
- Rude or otherwise useless comments
(1) is really bad and we try to avoid it to ensure quality Q&As on the sites, however while removing the ability to add info to comments removes the potential for someone to answer in a comment instead of in an answer, it in no way guarantees that they will instead put that information into an answer.
What it does guarantee is the potential for people to simply not bother sharing their knowledge. I have had some amazing advice in comments, and yes I'd argue entirely that they should have been answers! BUT the rule here means I potentially would NOT have even obtained that information.
Just because there is "information" contained within a comment does not automatically make it eligible to be an answer. Often it requires much more time and work to make it a decent answer, or to even be viable as an answer at all.
Trivial answers are not welcome, and short answer can even be converted to comments automatically by the system, this is why Stack Exchange has comments, for information that is not an answer. But by only allowing information in answers, you reduce a potential for good information.
I get that this site's required use for comments is also about the content you will receive here, not just generic problems with comments:
Comments can only be for asking for clarification or question improvements
Again, people coming here could be confused given how comments work on (pretty much) all other Stack Exchange sites. Not catering for this potential confusion and dissatisfaction and not making it very clear how your comments work is just potentially lining up the community of this site for a lot of arduous work and debates from newcomers.
I'd argue that you'll have more time spent chasing comments that don't belong here due to confusion around the specific requirements, than you would just allowing "normal" comments and cleaning up off topic ones. Certainly without it being made clear, but being limited to where you can explain this is another reason why I think it's just going to be more problematic than any gain it may bring.
So as there is no where on this site where I'm told I have to "officially" adhere to not using comments to give quick advice, means deleting my comment is just seen as a bit rude and too harsh moderating, and will just annoy people.
While changing the text of the "add comment" might work sometimes, it is not a great solution for those coming from other Stack Exchange sites, as I imagine most are like me whereby I just clicked the blue link under the comments and didn't even read the text. When it was pointed out to me that this site's "add a comment" wording is different, I had to go look for myself to see it, and I'd already left a number of comments in different places by that point.
Information Comments Can Be Good
It's just not that black and white to state "useful info should be in an answer".
Sometimes it is just quick advice that's not worthy of an answer, and there is nothing wrong with this. Surely the main value of Stack Exchange is "providing information" whether it should have been an answer or comment is a potential problem, but should we really lose that information just because it doesn't fit into where we want it? Is this not:
Cutting one's nose of to spite one's face?
That's not a Shog hunt, just happened naturally from the topics I was searching - 49 others agree with the two answers.
I made a comment that was deleted, on this question:
My mom is being "nice". But it's unwanted. How do I get her to stop?
You could suggest going shopping together and let you choose something for yourself. Just be tactful as her actions come from good intentions. I know that doesn't make it ok, but look at mothers in human and animals the world over, it's about protection, ensuring you're safe and happy. That often wont stop even when you get older. It's not a sign that they think know best or that you can't manage without her, it's more about the very nature of motherly love - they strive to make you happy in an entirely selfless way (not all of them, or always, of course, just generally)
The first sentence is fair advice, but alone is not worthy of an answer. I didn't want to write out a full answer due to being short on time but also there is also a comment asking for more information to be able to provide a good answer.
The rest of my comment is purely general advice and would not be construed as answering the question. I would have likely been downvoted.
So I didn't answer and instead commented. Had my comment been left there would be a little bit of nice advice there, for the OP or anyone else reading it.
Someone else tried to answer, and met with a downvote and moderator suggesting that "this reads more like a suggestion than an answer". I don't disagree, but is it really a good thing to entirely delete that useful information away from a site that is at it's core designed to provide information?