This is a followup to Short answers as comments — please resist the urge and to Removed comment.

It is often the case that we get questions asking for camera shopping advice, or which are otherwise very obviously likely to be closed — perhaps completely off topic, or perhaps just really, really broad.

I think it's accepted convention that answers to these questions should be discouraged, as they just invite more of the same. However, in the interest of being friendly, it's often awfully tempting to comment something like

_Hey, this question will probably be closed because it's off-topic. But, I just wanted you to know that [some half-answery-thing-here]

I'm pretty convinced on discouraging answers as comments in general, and likewise on discouraging answers to off-topic questions, but what about this case? Do the two situations cancel each other out?

Are there some situations that are okay ("We don't do camera recommendations, but check out this superzoom buying guide from dpreview ...[link]") and others that are definitely bad ("This is off-topic but you should totally buy the Canikon D9000+ it's the best!")?

Basically, what practice do we want to follow and enforce here?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've been generally deleting "answerments" after I see that the target has been back since it appears to be a drive by. In general, mods have been encourage to do this because comments are often being used to avoid answer voting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 22:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ IMHO comments like mentioned above "We don't do camera recommendations, but check out this ..." should be accepted. Even if the question is deleted there is some timeframe when OP will/can read this recommendation \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 8:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ JoanneC: is the irony intentional there? ;) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 10:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RowlandShaw - I wasn't really answering his question. :) However, perhaps I should... \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 10:22

1 Answer 1


As I commented, moderators are generally encouraged to delete comments that attempt to answer as these comments are often avoiding the voting mechanism. People don't seem to realize that it's okay to have a partial answer and say so, it could take several answers to arrive at a more complete response and nothing wrong with that.

With respect to off topic questions, I'm even less in favor of comment answers. I appreciate the desire to be friendly, but I think it's better to explain why the question is off topic in the comment then to answer with one. These questions are often not asked by people intending to participate, so they often don't care how they get an answer, as long as they get one. Net effect, I think it still encourages others to ask off topic questions.

It's also worth noting that answers can be provided to questions being voted on. The point of closing or holding a question is that correcting it could lead to answers being useful.

tl;dr - I don't think answer comments are good or desirable.


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