I really want to comment on this post and want a clarification on an answer that has been posted there. Unfortunately, I do not have enough reputation to leave comments.

That leaves me with two choices:

  1. Raise a new question about the answer to that question. In my opinion it does not add any value to the site, the community or that post (because the author of that post does not get informed automatically).
  2. Leave an answer to the post when a comment is clearly more appropriate (the small banner that comes up when you reply says exactly that).

Shouldn't we be more liberal on allowing comments than we are on allowing answers? Don't answers damage the quality more than the comments?

Also consider this, if I ask a duplicate question and my question gets closed, how do I participate in the discussion for the duplicate question? When closing questions as duplicates, should we automatically allow the author of the duplicate question to post comments?

P.S.:- To prevent spam can we not check the user's profile on other SEs? For example, my profile can show that I am a human being who means no harm.

  • You seem to have enough rep now!
    – Thursagen
    May 31, 2011 at 6:06
  • :) I do. But I still think 200/50 is a bit too high for new users.
    – user8944
    May 31, 2011 at 10:01

5 Answers 5


— Why is the speed limit on my road 30 km/h?
— To keep the road safe.
— But I know the road well. I know what times of day my neighbours, and their children, are around. I know how it gets slippery in wet weather. I’m a good driver, long experience, no accidents. On a dry day, when everyone’s out, I know it’s quite safe to drive at 40 km/h in parts. Isn’t that OK?
— I believe you about that being safe then, but it’s still illegal. The speed limit is 30 km/h.

The comment vote limit exists to keep stackexchange sites free from spam and trolls. It’s unfortunate but probably inevitable that a few meaningful contributions will get blocked — to be effective, it has to take a fairly blanket approach.

50 was presumably chosen by the designers/developers as a balance between being an effective filter while not being too exclusionary. 10 or 20 would, I’d guess, be quite easy for a bot or troll to get without much effort. To get 50 rep takes at least a little positive engagement with the community, but with a little patience (a good comment will keep a few days!) it shouldn’t be out of anyone’s reach.

  • 4
    Very nice argument. Probably someone designing a troll can sit and contribute meaningfully for a while but not for more than day. Even then, we have pretty active users (on all SE sites) and they can easily flag such comments. So not much incentive for one to waste more than a day. My objection was for imposing such constraints on users who have been active on other SEs. But as RegDwight pointed out, users get 100 free when they have 200+ on any one site. So all in all my concerns are resolved but I still feel 200/50 is a bit too steep.
    – user8944
    May 30, 2011 at 5:20

There is actually a third option:

Earn more rep on the site by providing valuable contributions

Being able to comment is a privilege that one earns. Earning rep is a measure from the community, and with more earned reputation, the more privileges you are given on the site.

There is nothing stopping you from adding questions and answers that are of quality such that they get upvotes. Each upvote on an answer gives you +10, and each upvote on a question gives you +5. You can also earn rep by suggesting edits to posts (+2) and tag wikis/excerpts (+4). If you put a small amount of effort into it, +50 is not very far away at all.

Note that working around the rules of the site, by posting a comment as an answer, for instance, will not help you along the way towards more rep. It only goes to show that you don't know how (or won't) use the site appropriately.

In your case, from looking at your profile, I would also suggest searching before you ask a question so that all of your questions aren't duplicates. Not running around deleting all of your posts would probably be a step in the right direction.

Note that there are also chat rooms which are linked at the top of the page which require less rep to participate in. This might be suitable for getting a quick clarification.

  • Hi Rebecca, sorry but that does not answer my actual question. I understand that the community considers commenting to be a privilege, my question is why does it do so. What does it prevent? Can it do more harm than good?
    – user8944
    May 28, 2011 at 20:06
  • 4
    @Monster Truck: Free Viagra and Cialis. Get the nicest hadron ever. Click here.
    – RegDwigнt
    May 29, 2011 at 0:47
  • 1
    @MonsterTruck, fair enough. I did focus on the first half of your question, not the second. May 29, 2011 at 1:02
  • @RegDwight That is very good concern and is chiefly addressed by the last point in my question --probably we can look up the user's profile at other SEs. Statistically, users with a good repo on one of the other sites won't leave such comments. Perhaps there can be a severe penalty for leaving such comments that will bring down the repo on all sites and may even make it negative --so that you have to work really hard to recover from it.
    – user8944
    May 29, 2011 at 6:44
  • @RegDwight Oh one more idea. You can also strictly disallow posting comments if someone's repo goes negative. Several technical solutions are available to keep junk out.
    – user8944
    May 29, 2011 at 6:50
  • 8
    @Monster Truck re: "look up the user's profile at other SEs", we already do just that. If you have 200+ rep on any site of the network, you will get a 100-rep boost on any other site — enabling you to upvote, flag, leave comments, and edit community wikis right away. You are only six upvotes on SO away from becoming a happy panda on all sites of the network.
    – RegDwigнt
    May 29, 2011 at 8:48
  • @RegDwight Cool then, as long as there is such a mechanism. By the way, no problems with 44 rep., I am almost there and as you, Jeff, and @Rebecca pointed out, 50 is not too much to ask. I was just wondering if the threshold was preventing meaningful contributions.
    – user8944
    May 29, 2011 at 10:34
  • @RegDwight/@Rebecca: I think I now have answers to the questions I raised. However, I cannot mark this post as an answer because the real answers lie in these comments. If one of you edit this post and incorporate the points in comments, I will mark the post as the accepted answer.
    – user8944
    May 29, 2011 at 10:37
  • I agree that this is not an answer to the question.
    – Marcin
    May 29, 2011 at 18:28

See my answer at New users can't ask for clarifications except as answers

We funnel users to the answer input box for a reason -- because the focus is on getting answers to questions, not meta-commentary. Commenting is a privilege that should be earned by providing useful answers. And 50 rep isn't much.

It's highly unlikely a random drive-by user will

  • understand our Q&A goals
  • understand our commenting system

So by the time they earn 50 rep, they should have learned roughly how things work, and be in a position to offer a useful comment and not a "+1 AWESOME ANSWER" sort of comment.

  • Jeff, all that is fine. So let me give you an example. Consider the post that I mentioned in my question. All I want to do is challenge the answer that was posted by providing a reference but I have no "actual" answer myself, what I have just goes on to strengthen the question itself! So, should that go as a new answer or as a new comment (or to my memory so that I can comment when I reach 50)?
    – user8944
    May 29, 2011 at 6:47
  • 3
    @monster how can you truly challenge an answer without providing a bigger, better, badder (aka more valid) answer yourself? May 29, 2011 at 6:50
  • @Jeff, my old comment got lost (weird!). So I am repeating it. Yes you can in several ways. For example, logs at the local server conclusively prove that I did not login to that server yesterday. So any answer based on that premise can be wrong and challenged, even when the challenger knows little about what I was actually doing at that time.
    – user8944
    May 29, 2011 at 7:04
  • Right, but this doesn't answer why 50 rather than 20 or 10.
    – Marcin
    May 29, 2011 at 18:28
  • @Marcin To reach a reputation of 10 would be enough to answer to a question, and get it up-voted; it would not be an effort at all. To get a reputation of 50 you just need to get 5 up-votes in your questions; it's not so difficult to get 5 up-votes on your answers, if you keep answering to questions.
    – apaderno
    May 30, 2011 at 0:31
  • @Kiamlaluno: Right, but if the threshold is say, 20, that is probably enough to ensure that they are not a pure drive-by user. By contrast, 50 actually requires people to hang around for a while.
    – Marcin
    May 30, 2011 at 9:23
  • @Marcin I don't think that answering to at least 5 answers would require people to hang around for a while. On EL&U, I got my reputation increased by 63 in a single day, and 125 in two consecutive days; at the end of my first week on EL&U, my reputation increased by 799.
    – apaderno
    May 30, 2011 at 21:05
  • @Kiamlaluno: In that case, I suppose anyone can do it.
    – Marcin
    May 30, 2011 at 21:14

One reason may be that a bad question or answer can be down voted, which hurts your "rep" and potentially reduces your privileges, while a bad comment won't have that effect.


I think we probably should lower the threshold. Something like 10 or 20 rep would surely be enough to ensure a user has spent some time on the site.

  • 2
    Or perhaps sum up the reputation across all SEs for the 200 threshold that RegDwight mentioned.
    – user8944
    May 30, 2011 at 5:21
  • @Monster Truck: That would also seem sensible.
    – Marcin
    May 30, 2011 at 9:21

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