There was this question asking why it is "generally accepted" to use "good to hear from you" while the OP thinks "good to read from you" is better.

I replied:

"Hear" has the following meaning:

(hear from) Be contacted by (someone), especially by letter or telephone: ‘if you would like to join the committee, we would love to hear from you’

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

So you can't say it is wrong to use "hear from" in your example.

There was one comment:

The funny thing is, this does not answer the question one bit. Dictionaries follow usage. So basically you merely just repeated the question right back at the OP. They know that "hear" has that meaning. Their question is, why does it have it.– RegDwigнt

I commented back:

I don't think it is always true dictionaries follows usage. How long do you think our ancestors lived without proper dictionaries? How many words did you learn by looking up dictionaries especially those derived from Latin? Your logic doesn't work unless you learned to speak all those Latin words verbally from your parents or siblings. If he is asking for a word that is not listed in a dictionary, your logic might work, though.

Then, I thought it would be better to change my answer even though I felt a bit annoyed with the comment as my asnwer is not different from that of Centaurus.


  1. Is my answer really funny? How should I take the comment?

  2. Is it fair to comment only on my answer when the other poster's answer is almost same as mine?

  3. I don't think it is fair to express your opinion in the comment without writing your own answer. This is a Q&A site, not a comment-only site. If I had been him and found any other anwer funny, I would have posted my own answer myself. Is there anyway to force such a comment-only-poster to post their own answers?

  • 8
    He means funny in the strange and interesting sense, not funny in the humorous sense.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:05
  • 7
    I fundamentally disagree with assertion (3): that's what comments are for.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:14
  • @DanBron There are several parts of (3). What are answers are for, then? Just to be ridiculed by someone just because he thinks he has a better comment?
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:20
  • @medica The link in your related question is gone. I can't see whether it is related or not.
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:25
  • Related: Answering in comments. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:30
  • @medica Such as "this one" is deleted.
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:31
  • 2
    Again, I don't know how to address your concerns sometimes. What do you mean by "such as 'this one' is deleted?" Some people do use comments to ridicule people, which is sad. Those should be flagged. But answers in comments are common on almost every SE site, policy or not. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:32
  • @medica Did you read the full context? He was not giving an answer to the question in a comment. If he had, I would not have posted this stupid question.
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:33
  • @medica I can't open the link in the link you posted. Did you try yourself?
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:35
  • Yes, and it did for me. Twice. If you can't get it to open, search the site for "answers in comments". The linked one is second in line. There's lots of info in the others too. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:35
  • @medica Strange. I tried several times. Not the link of "Answering in comments", but the link inside "Answering in comments."
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:37
  • 2
    Great balls of fire! You've been around for a while; that just means the answer has been deleted. The answer is old. If you had sufficient rep, you'd see it in pink.10K, I believe. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:39
  • @medica Then, why would you link it when I can't see if it is really related with my question? I am not asking if answers can be made in a comment. I think you misunderstood my question in the first place.
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:41
  • 7
    And I think trying to help you is like taking a very defensive kitten by the tail. I'm outta here. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:43
  • @medica Good. Thank you for not helping me at all.
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:44

2 Answers 2

  1. 'Funny': You are taking things way too literally, not as much as the OP but still. Both for 'funny' and 'hear'.
  2. You are taking things way too personally. Maybe you just happened to be in line first. Or maybe people really are out to get you. Wear a mask with big eyes on the back of your head to scare away tigers, they will fucking eat you.
  3. You are being way too ... ok the parallelism doesn't work. You want to force people to do things? Because you feel slighted? Sure, we're all curious about why someone did something off from our expectations, why dammit can't they do it right? Because you're not them. Frankly you're not you either in that situation, you are just saying what you think you'd do, not actually being in the situation.

Sorry for answering your questions so literally one by one. I think you're just upset at Reg. Don't take things so seriously.

  • This is such an "interesting" answer... dare I say funny? +1 for giving me the idea of how to let the people following me that I know they're there. Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 2:23
  • 2
    I read that the tigers caught on and now the backward-facing masks don't work.
    – ab2
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 23:53

The advantage of an answer, of course, is that it can yield upvotes and increase your reputation score on the site; the disadvantage is that it exposes you to downvotes and to comments that are not themselves subject to downvoting. The advantage of commenting is that it insulates you from downvotes (aside from retaliatory downvoting of other questions you have answered, which I think is pretty rare); the disadvantages are that it doesn't earn reputation points and that comments may disappear without warning at the whim of a moderator. So there's a trade-off between responding in answers and responding in comments.

I frequently find that a comment that challenges some aspect of an answer I've submitted functions as an invitation to revisit and reconsider that critiqued aspect, which may lead to my improving the answer by removing a flaw, addressing a previously neglected issue, or bolstering an argument that wasn't as persuasive as it could have been. I always feel a bit of trepidation when I see that one of my answers has drawn a comment, but I also think that many comments have helped me make my answers much better.

When a comment isn't helpful, I either ignore it or try to explain why it is off-point. But in general, the usefulness of a comment is far more closely tied to its insight into the issue it raises than to its seeming friendliness or hostility to the posted answer. As ab2 observes in a comment under Mitch's answer, people who post comments (and answers) have different voices and different moods. If you take what is useful from them and discard what isn't, you gain from them—even (and sometimes especially) from the ones that sound prickly or pugnacious.

For the record, I don't think your answer was "funny," and I don't think that the commenter meant to mock it by opening his comment with "The funny thing is..." As the example of Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas establishes, certain words can trigger unexpectedly intense reactions, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the person who said or wrote them intended to provoke such a reaction. To me, "The funny thing is" reads like nothing more than an innocuous preface to the comment's main point, which was to challenge the pertinence of your answer, but not to demean or humiliate you.

All in all, I think the comment system at this site is extremely useful, and I wouldn't change it. I urge you not to think of commenters as snipers lurking in hiding places and taking mean-spirited potshots at honest answerers as they march down the street. To the extent that everyone here is trying to contribute to good and meaningful answers, everyone is on the same side—even when they disagree about how to achieve that goal.

  • Insulating a comment-answer from downvotes seems like an anti-feature.
    – user28567
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 1:42
  • 2
    What's a 'comment-answer'? The software only has answers and comments. I sometimes feel like a comment is worthy of downvoting, but there was an explicit design choice made for comments not be so worthy. If I put something that could be construed as an answer in a comment, I do it deliberately because I don't think my content is worthy of being a full-fledged answer.
    – Mitch
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 17:24
  • 2
    @Mitch (& snailboat): I wonder what the effect of making comments downvotable would be. It might restrain intemperate and irrelevant posting in the comments, or it might encourage harsher squabbles and more-severe partisanship when a dispute arose. Ultimately, I think, a system in which only upvoting is permitted encourages people to be more generous with their upvotes and may make the site less hostile, not more—despite the absence of a palpable negative consequence (beyond deletion of the comment) for incivility. I share Mitch's appreciation of commenting as an alternative to answering.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 17:45

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