What is the etiquette if I come to a question that is thus far unanswered and I have an answer in mind, but before I post my answer I see that in the comments, someone has already said the same thing, and perhaps has received some votes for it.

Is it poor etiquette for me to go ahead and post my answer, which might then go on to be accepted and voted up, even though someone else already suggested that answer in the comments?

Or is the general consensus a "you snooze, you lose" policy?

What do people think about this?

  • I think the perspective on mine is different enough, and I think the formation of my question is more likely to echo the thoughts of other users who encounter this problem than the linked question. However, if you disagree, I shan't put up too much of a fight.
    – Karl
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


It's absolutely fine for you to post an answer regardless of what people have said in comments. If you have a definitive answer that will cover what the OP asked, have at it!

The most obvious justification for this is simply: "if the person who posted the comment wanted the chance at upvotes/being selected as the correct answer, they wouldn't have posted their answer as a comment."

I've seen several instances lately of questions where someone made a suggestion in the comments which was later posted as an answer by someone else (though they elaborated on the comment and linked definitions) and this was actively encouraged by the original commenter.

Whether to post answers as comments is a pretty polarising issue around here, I've found, and is especially controversial on ELL. The general consensus seems to be that it's best to use comments for clarification/tidbits that don't fully answer the question, while answers are for...well, answers.

  • 2
    The key point is that the Answer elaborates (usefully) on the Comment and provides links. If the answer adds nothing at all to the comment, it's still legal, but ethical only if you thought of it independently. If it is a direct copy and paste, without attribution, it is plagiarism, although I have not noticed any such example.
    – ab2
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 18:14
  • 2
    @ab2: not everyone views it that way. Some users have said they don't mind if people post any sort of answer based on their comments, even if it is not significantly different. (A direct copy-paste would be odd, though.) I forget the other user who has said this, but for example, I wouldn't care. Plagiarism is more of an academic concept. But it's true that there are higher standards for an answer than for a question, and an answer should probably include links.
    – herisson
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 18:23

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