On What do you call the process of combining two words to create a new one?, a new user posted as an answer something that was deleted by a mod, but which might even have picked up a few upvotes if it had been posted as a comment.

For those without the rep to see it, Clayton wright posted Two words combined .... = Tword

As it happens, I was laboriously typing a message to the new user, welcoming him to ELU, but warning that his answer/comment wasn't likely to survive long. In fact, it was deleted before I could post my comment.

My question is: in such situations, should it be standard practice either for such deletions to always be accompanied by "stock text" explaining the reason, or for the answer text to be converted to a comment? Given the spate of recent complaints about ELU being "unwelcoming", it seems to me we're shooting ourselves in the foot if we don't do something like that.

  • I might be misunderstanding you here. But if the purpose of the "stock text" is to provide feedback to the user, isn't it pointless as s/he will never see it? Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 18:23
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    I don't know how much rep you need to see deleted answers, and I don't know if the OP can perhaps always see his own deletions. But if not, the mod could always add another comment before or after the one containing the "moved" text, telling the OP what's been done, and why. Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 18:46
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    Comments always appear in the notification thingy, even if the answer has been deleted. So provided the comment is short enough not to be truncated, it can be seen. It's 10k to see deleted answers, and I don't believe that users can see their own answers when they have been deleted; that's come up here before. I don't see why that's the case.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 10:30
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    @coleopterist: I believe that all users do see their own deleted answers.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 17:09
  • @Marthaª Ah. I didn't know that. Thank you. Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 17:17

3 Answers 3


When I first joined just last week, I had to earn a certain amount of rep before I could even add or vote on comments, so I could only put answers in the boxes like this one. When I realised I could then do comments, I now do where I think it's appropriate. Other new users may try to comment too, but can't until they've earned however much rep it is.

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    In the circumstances I almost hate to say it, but this looks more like a comment than an answer than can be meaningfully voted on! Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 22:27
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    I think the point to that is that you're not supposed to leave comments until you have enough rep. But that empty box is just calling out to be filled! Well, anyway, you're not supposed to leave something that is not a answer in the answer box.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 23:21
  • Absolutely. I am sure that there a good reasons for limiting a new user's ability to add comments, but I'm not sure if people realize that this practice encourages the mis-use of answers. I imagine that user's join a community because they want to participate and contribute, but the only way they can do so is to post answers. Is anyone surprised that they do so?
    – Michael J.
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 11:55

Apparently, per this answer on the meta meta, all users can see their own deleted answers, presumably including any comments that were deleted along with the answer. The deletion automatically adds a link to the "why was my post deleted" section of the FAQ, but it certainly can't hurt to add a "Welcome to ELU..." type of comment as well, on the premise that we need to take every opportunity to be more friendly and welcoming if this site isn't to degenerate into a den of grumpy old descriptivists.

  • Ah. Perhaps it's deleted questions which users can't see, then.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 18:48
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    Actually it can hurt; an automatic 'Welcome to ELU' when your answer has been deleted is both hypocritical and patronising, as at least one 'sufferer' has commented recently. If somebody (mod or otherwise) is prepared to take the time to explain why this particular post was deleted, that is both kind and helpful; but it can't be mandated, and can't really be automated in any way that will help a new user. Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 22:26
  • @TimLymington: I wasn't suggesting an automatic comment. I agree, there's really no way for an automatic comment to come across as anything better than patronizing. I'm saying that it's OK to go ahead and add a comment to a non-answer that you know is going to be deleted, because the OP will be able to see it.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 22:35

Is there a way/should there be a way of allowing migration of new user comment 'answers' to a comment, on the question rather than another answer, as that is probably a crapshoot to discern, rather than downvoting/removing?

To a new user who hasn't fully understood the FAQ, it can appear harsh and unwelcoming, as others have pointed out to just be downvoted and deleted for trying to help, however misguided. Allowing migration to comments allows their potentially positive contribution to remain if it cannot be fleshed out into a fuller answer.

  • I believe moderators can convert answers to comments, but as far as I know, there is no community mechanism to do so.
    – choster
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 14:46
  • @choster - I don't mean to state the obvious, but an answer can be flagged, using the option "This was posted as an answer, but it does not attempt to answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether." Or, one could selection the "Other" option, and simply type "Should be a comment." So, there's no direct mechanism, but there's still a way to throw the opinion out there.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 15:19
  • @J.R. thanks, I have been using this option quite a lot since I was made aware of it!
    – Sam
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 15:22
  • @J.R. Unless I’m mistaken, that flagging option puts the flagged answer in a queue accessible by all high-rep users (not sure what the cut-off is exactly), but unless you’re a mod, you can only review the flag by editing the answer or adding a vote to 1) keep it as it is, or 2) have it deleted. If no mod happens to see the flag (or the answer itself), there is no way for it to be converted to a comment. The flag’s description is quite poorly worded, if you ask me. If you think the flag should be a comment, you basically have to flag it for moderator attention, not as “Not an answer”. Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 0:26
  • @Janus - I think you might be right. Either way, though, a mod will eventually see it, and fix it if necessary. I guess which option you select depends on if you want to "quietly" flag it, or do so in a way that lets other high-rep users weigh in with their opinions as well.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 10:06
  • @J.R. A mod will not necessarily see it—if five users get to it first and get it deleted, it disappears from the review queue and the mods won't see it—I think. Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 17:41
  • @Janus - The mods see posts that have been flagged, even after they have disappeared from the review queue—I think. (Seriously, I think that's how it works, but I'm not 100% sure.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 22:58

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