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I've seen an increase in prevalence of new (or seemingly new) users posting answers which are basically just comments, which don't really contribute to the question. Such answers aren't going to gain the user any reputation, and thus do nothing to aid their journey towards being able to comment.

Personally when I started out here there were times I wanted to comment on a question but couldn't, so I had to post an answer. I understand why this is the case, but then I was in a better position to provide concrete, upvotable answers than your average bear.

Given that someone asks a question expecting solid answers (otherwise why post it?), wouldn't the ability to answer questions be arguably more important than the ability to make comments? Comments are generally, as far as I've seen, used for tongue-in-cheek humourous responses, non-verified clarifications, or just general points of consideration that aren't fleshed-out enough to be considered true answers to the question.

That said, I suppose that it wouldn't be feasible the other way around, since upvotes on comments don't give you rep, but does anyone else think the way it works just now is perhaps limiting to new people being able to contribute meaningfully?

I suppose the main point of discussion I'm opening up here is why commenting is a rep-locked feature in the first place, as being able to do so doesn't hugely affect one's ability to be a valuable member of the community.

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    This is really more of an SE meta question, since it would apply to the whole of the Stack Exchange, not just ELU. You bring up a very good point; however, I think the rationale of the founders was that they didn't want people commenting until they at least got the hang of how the site works – presumably to cut down on flame wars and the idle chatter often prevalent on other interactive websites. As a footnote, the general solution to the dilemma you point out would be to flesh out your comment into a more meaningful full-fledged answer. – J.R. Mar 12 '16 at 13:01
  • I can see where you're coming from there, it just seemed a bit to me like having it work that way is somewhat similar to requiring your child to have a full conversation with you before you'll let them babble. ;) – John Clifford Mar 12 '16 at 13:14
  • (also sorry for not posting in the general SE Meta, I didn't realise there was one) – John Clifford Mar 12 '16 at 13:19
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I am happy to see you settling well on English Language and Usage (ELU). As far as I understand, your question has been discussed extensively on Meta Stack Exchange as in:

Lower the amount of reputation needed to comment

50 reputation for making comments is too high

I will not repeat what is in the answers to the questions. I agree with one of the answers that says the rep-locked feature is there

to encourage new users to avoid commenting since the site's focus is questions and answers.

Answers and comments are two distinct things on ELU. Some members use a comment to post an answer and some including many new users use an answer box to post a comment, even a question or just crap.

The thing is those worthless low-quality answers (or questions) are flagged automatically (if it is too short) or by frequent users who find them unfit for ELU. It is not a difficult process to delete those flagged answers by voting in a low-quality review queue.

However, in order to delete a comment, you need to flag it as

(1) rude or offensive, (2) not constructive, (3) obsolete, (4) too chatty, (5) other (with your own reason)

Imagine those new users start to make comments as they post a low-quality answer. Our moderators will be extremely busy deleting those comments with flags. I personally think the 50 reputation threshold is a good policy to prevent new users from abusing comments. Especially, under the circumstances a new user can post any comment to his/her own question or answer, I think it does more good than harm and getting 50 reputation points is not that difficult.

You can get a "Pundit" badge if you have 10 comments with 5 upvotes or more.

New users need to learn how to adjust themselves to ELU first before being able to comment on any post. I think that is much more important.

Edit: If a question is protected by a user who has more than 15,000 reputation points, one-reputation users or 101-reputation users (with association bonus of 100 points) can't post an answer and only users with more than 10 reputation points (or 111 reputation points) can answer a question. We only protect popular questions like the one in the link or old questions with a few low-quality answers posted by new users.

  • Those are some great points Rathony, thanks for your input. – John Clifford Mar 12 '16 at 13:15
  • @JohnClifford My pleasure. You need to cross 3,000 reputation points first. Hurry up! :-) – user140086 Mar 12 '16 at 13:17
  • 506 to go, no sweat. :) – John Clifford Mar 12 '16 at 13:17
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    @JohnClifford Half of them will be mine. No sweat. – user140086 Mar 12 '16 at 13:20
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    +1 This answered all my doubts regarding the same and even those doubts I didn't know I had. – NVZ Mar 12 '16 at 16:22
  • A few clarifications: flags can delete comments (two for spam/offensive, three for other types). And the 10-rep lower limit is 10 points on this site, so 101-rep users who only have the association bonus are also excluded. – Andrew Leach Mar 13 '16 at 9:03
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    I wish protection also required 10 rep on the current site for comments. – snailboat Mar 13 '16 at 9:27

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