I suppose this is a straight forward enough question, but I see this happen from time to time. Someone will ask a question, and then in the comments, a user will give a suggestion, or ask "have you tried 'XYZ?". Then not much longer after, an answer is posted and voted up and accepted with this suggestion or query for information starting with something like "as mentioned by..." or something similar by yet another user.

So my question is, do we have a generally accepted best practice for giving someone time to give a good answer if they have posted a viable solution in the comments to a problem, or do we not? I would expect that most people with the intent of answering questions have read the comments as well as the question in detail, so would likely have seen if someone had just given the same idea, and in my mind should be given a chance to answer and earn the reputation deserved for a good answer.

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    $\begingroup$ Related: meta.blender.stackexchange.com/q/436/599. $\endgroup$
    – gandalf3
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 4:18
  • $\begingroup$ The person chooses an comment submission or answer submission. You stated [should be given a chance to answer]. What do you meant by that? Is that an amount of time? $\endgroup$ Commented May 7, 2016 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ Once or twice I have mentioned the comment author by name who may have enhanced or inspired an answer in any temporal order. A useful comment may come after an initial answer is submitted. The comment does not always come before. On one hand many comments are useful. On the other hand comments may not be a direct answer to the question. If someone takes time and energy and 5 comments and creates a better summation as an How to Answer than the comments then I say [Bravo]. Having excessively clear questions or answers is not a problem at BSE. Attribution is easy to achieve if necessary. $\endgroup$ Commented May 7, 2016 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ Remember that answers can be downvoted, while comments cannot. This makes answers a riskier type of post if you don't have time to explain the answer well. I have encountered many questions that I wanted to answer in detail but due to time constraints I left a comment instead. If another user uses the info from the comment to post an answer that's perfectly fine. But if we post a comment with the intention of answering later, we should state that intention, like "I'll post an answer soon, but for now..." and in that case I think others should give the commenter time to answer. $\endgroup$
    – Mentalist
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 0:42
  • $\begingroup$ I think it's important that all users at stackexchange have the mentally that it's not all about earning points. It's all about helping your fellow human beings on the topic. So usually I have no problem with people using my comment as answers ... as long as it's a clear answer to the initial question. I hope we can all have that mentally so that we are all focus on the questions and not all about points. $\endgroup$
    – hawkenfox
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 1:13

1 Answer 1


I asked a similar question a long time ago: What to do with questions which have been answered in comments?.

From the accepted answer:

I would try to notify the user first to give them the opportunity to answer the post and get the reputation. If they don't respond in a few days then answer it.

Note that this was written way back while we were in beta and only got a few questions a day. Since then the site has picked up a lot more traffic and generally runs at a faster pace. So maybe instead of waiting a few days, it's fair to wait a few hours instead.

That said, I wouldn't expect other users to always follow this sort of etiquette. It's a nice gesture (I always try to do this), but be prepared to graciously forgive others for "stealing" your comment answers.
If that happens, consider writing up an answer anyway, even if their answer uses all the same techniques which you planned to answer with. A new explanation of the same thing can sometimes make all the difference. In other words, the more answers the merrier.

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    $\begingroup$ I totally agree. It's a bit frustrating as an asker to see someone make a comment that COULD be a really great answer if they'd take the time to write it up and add the detail I need to fully understand their answer. As an asker and and answerer I'll often say something like "That'd make a great answer! Write that up!" Other times, if it's clear that they've had a chance to make an answer my thinking is "getting your answer stolen is the cost of not using the site properly." $\endgroup$
    – Matt
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ When someone posts an answer saying the same thing as someone else's comment I usually like to leave a comment referring them to that meta post. $\endgroup$
    – PGmath
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 2:01
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    $\begingroup$ I think this makes perfect sense, I had missed the post linked despite searching for something to clarify. Nonetheless, it is understandable that not everyone will follow the same etiquette across the site. $\endgroup$
    – Timaroberts Mod
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 6:29
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    $\begingroup$ I personally feel as if someone does post someones comment as an answer, they should not get angry or upset, as it's not a game, it's a Q&A site. $\endgroup$
    – Luka ash
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 22:30

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