(Obvious opinions are opinions.)
Should I not answer in comments? Should I edit the question to make it more relevant (I'm hesitant to do this)? I'm aware that an Answer is preferable, but answers in comments are quite frequent anyway.
No, you should not answer in comments. The only time an answer in comments is appropriate is:
- If you are unsure of your answer
- If you are confused by the question and need further clarification
The reason answers belong as answers is relatively straightforward:
- The asker can mark the answer as accepted, thereby helping future visitors also get an answer to the question. Otherwise, they would have to read all of the comments and simply hope that the most upvoted comment is the best answer.
- Other members of the community can comment on and help improve the answer.
- Other members can vote the answer up (or down) appropriately.
- It allows the site to track metrics on questions that have been appropriately answered. Answers in comments are impossible to track and clog up views such as the Unanswered section.
Not caring about your own reputation isn't really relevant. Reputation exists as a carrot in order to get people to post answers. This is because answers are good. At some point, the carrot stops looking attractive but it doesn't change the reason the carrot is being offered.
All of that being said, there seems to be some debate around whether people should answer "bad" questions. If you are willing to answer the question in a comment then it suggests you believe the answer to the debate is yes, you should answer "bad" questions. So please put the answer in an answer.
My opinion on that subject is that answered questions are better than non-answered questions regardless of the question's quality. If the question is "bad" enough then it should be closed; but the only time an answer is actually inappropriate is when it is (a) wrong (b) the question is unclear and likely to be edited or (c) you are unsure of your own answer.
Downvotes handle (a) just fine and comments are appropriate for (b) and (c).
The reason I do care strongly about this issue is simply because I will get around to your answer in a comment eventually and will convert it to an actual answer. So you aren't really accomplishing much other than giving me more work.*
The other related subject would be whether to answer a question in a comment after the question has been closed. I think you should spend your energy editing the question to be more appropriate for the site but, honestly, I don't really care that much. If the question ever gets reopened then you should move your comment to an answer.
As for people who "dislike" answering on "bad" questions, they are misusing the site and don't understand what downvotes are for. But since the premise of this question is that you don't care much for gaining points I think you should be able to not care much for losing points.
In the end, you need to answer for yourself what goal are you trying to accomplish on this site and then set about achieving that goal in the best way possible. If your goal is to help users get answers then the best way to achieve that is to use answers; not comments.
* Assuming that no one else answered the question, the question stays open, and the question doesn't have a negative score.