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Some questions are so easy that they can be answered with a comment. These questions are often posed as "what is the name of phenomenon X" or reference requests. Answerers often don't know the exact answer, but provide suggestions in the comments. Then, there is no response or a "thank you" and then the question is done. Probably little upvotes, no answer that is accepted, and not much interest in it after. This may seriously affect the answering rate and, therefore, the graduation threshold.

What could we do to prevent or help these kind of questions?

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If someone posts an answer as a comment, usually I reply to them asking them to post it as an answer; if they don't, I typically just post it myself in a Community Wiki answer with an appropriate citation. (I post it as a Community Wiki because it's not my work and I refuse to accept reputation for something that someone else wrote).

See an example here.

  • I've undeleted this post as I find it an interesting point as a matter of fact. – AliceD Jun 6 '17 at 11:53
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I occasionally post comments with potential answers in them. I usually do this when I'm not sure if my answer is what the OP is looking for. If the OP doesn't respond, there are no other comments about my answer, the question does not attract much interest, or others have already posted answers, then no further action. This does have the drawback that in some cases it may discourage others from answering as well.

My standards for answers are much higher than for questions. Someone asking a question is expected to not know stuff - eg, how to clarify their question so others feel more confident answering it. Before posting an answer, I try to do enough research to satisfy myself that the answer is reasonably accurate, comprehensive, and authoritative. As this takes time, I often won't commit to doing that if there is no interest from the OP.

A few times it has been suggested that I can copy my comment to an answer unmodified, which would improve our site stats, but not necessarily provide a quality answer, so I am reluctant to just do that. Having said that, I would not be the least bit offended by anyone who wants to copy my answer - this is a public forum after all, I provide answers for everyone else's benefit, not just my own.

There is already a lot of discussion on Meta about "Garbage Valley", which includes cases where someone posts an ambiguous, vague, or broad question, or one that is so simple that we wonder if we understood it correctly, and then the poster apparently disappears, leaving behind an unedited question, and losing general interest in the post. I don't see any problem with closing such questions.

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    I do this too. I think if we plan to continue doing this, it might be best for us to try to phrase the comment-answer as a clarification of the question, since I think that's essentially how it's intended. I most often do this for homework-like questions on Biology.SE that are otherwise poor, to try to give the OP a place they can try to look for more information even though I am doubtful they will ever come back and edit their question to show proper effort. – Bryan Krause Mar 25 at 18:17
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A question that has received an answer in the comments should be flagged by users with the "other" flag, with the explanation that the question is too short/simple/answered in the comments. Then, a moderator could change the comment to an answer. This way the information will not be lost, a user may gain some rep, and the answer rate goes up without harming the question rate. Win win win situation.

Downside of this method is that it may cost quite some effort to make it work, especially from the moderators.

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    We can't change comments to answers. Something you can look for perhaps on the main Meta site, might have been suggested before. – Steven Jeuris Nov 29 '16 at 11:16
  • Ideally, people shouldn't provide answer in the comment. In my opionion, some sort of question can't be answered exactly (for instance, too broad), so the answer consists in a kind of guide, and is more than a commentary, according to the question and the possibility it allows. – Quidam Dec 18 '16 at 5:49
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    If someone posts an answer as a comment, usually I reply to them asking them to post it as an answer; if they don't, I typically just post it myself in a Community Wiki answer with an appropriate citation. (I post it as a Community Wiki because it's not my work and I refuse to accept reputation for something that someone else wrote). See an example here. – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Apr 27 '17 at 17:31

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