The question What is the difference between “[I] may [be] …” and “even though … ”? was recently locked.
I had posted the following comment:
In this context, may normally implies the possibility of something—it means might; Even though implies the absolute existence of something, where something else happens despite it. Why do you think they mean the same thing here, and what is the meaning that you are ascribing to both?
In addition to posting that clarifying question, asking why the the original poster thought there was a difference, I also voted to close the question as lacking research. (And if the original asker had said, "Oh, my mistake," I would have left my close vote, in favour of closing the question as poor quality rather than having any actual answer provided at all.
As far as I'm concerned, I was not providing an answer to the question in any way. I was looking for additional information. In order to get that information, I had to provide some references and common definitions. I might also have retracted my close vote and then posted an actual answer had the question been clarified, based on my comment.
After that, the question was locked immediately after I received this comment:
@JasonBassford Please don't write answers in comments; they are harmful to our site. Doing so bypasses our community-moderated quality measures by not permitting community editing or paired up- and down-voting available on comments, as well as having other problems detailed on meta. Comments are for clarifying and improving the question; please don't use them for other purposes.
As my comment indicated, I had posted it for clarification of and improvement to the question. In order to actually answer the question, I needed more information that could only be provided in response to the comment I posted.
First of all, that's not an actual policy. Second, even if it were, it's never been applied consistently before. Third, that's awfully subjective, and it makes no sense for you to start locking question when you simply don't like the comments. If you really think that should be something that should be done going forward, you should decide that with the other moderators, probably user input, and announce a policy change.
The link that to the Meta discussion, is merely a link to a Meta discussion. It is not any sort of official Stack Exchange policy, nor is it a stated policy of English Language & Usage in particular.
There has been no official adoption of it, nor have any kind of guidelines been laid out as to when a comment is not a comment but an answer, nor if a comment is disallowed if somebody actually votes to close a question.
In this case, my own comment clearly sought clarification on the part of the person who'd asked the question. I didn't just post a statement and then leave it at that, but I also asked for an explanation. Also, I voted to close the question—thereby preventing me (on principle) from also providing a proper answer even if I wanted to (without retracting my close vote).
If we're now going to provide "supporting" evidence for what is and isn't allowed, I shall reference Answers in comments, as posted two years by @Andrew Leach, a moderator here, to this particular meta.
In that question, a poll was taken, where the community was asked to vote on how comments should be handled. All other results aside, the most clearly popular viewpoint was the following:
Option 3: Answers may be made in comments where the question is off-topic but we still wish to help the asker.
Barring my comment being just one of clarification, even if it were interpreted as an actual answer, my vote to close the question as off topic would have warranted the information I provided in the comment.
So, I shall repeat my previous question. Why are questions now being locked when a particular comment is simply not liked? This procedure (which is not an actual policy), seems to do more harm to questions than good—because it prevents any kind of clarifying comments that could lead to a worthwhile refinement of questions, or, thereby, to any resulting actual answers of good (and relevant) quality.
How is it objectively determined when a comment is an answer "in disguise" and not just a clarifying comment?
Why are questions being locked rather than the comments (which are always considered ephemeral anyway) simply deleted?
If a question has been voted to be closed, why has the community sentiment of still being able to say something in the comments to help the questioner been ignored?
Despite protestations to the contrary, why has this behaviour of locking questions for comment answers suddenly been introduced? I have only seen this being done by one moderator, only in the past couple of weeks, and also in an inconsistent manner. This is not something that has occurred on any kind of regular basis in the past several years at all.