I'm a newbie to the forum and I notice that questions sometimes get both comments and answers, or sometimes just comments, and wonder what the rationale is for this distinction. Does the difference merely denote a difference in formality of the response, or are there other reasons?

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    This Meta-question has been asked and answered numerous times. Short story is: laziness, convenience, lack of a complete answer, lack of confidence in one's answer, a desire for feedback on a potential answer before significant time is spent in producing an answer proper, etc. And, in case it's not clear, most comment-answers could not be posted as answer-answers verbatim; we have a much higher standard for answers than we do for comments, particularly as it pertains to sources and substantiation.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 20 '16 at 1:01
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    @DanBron I think you should group all your answers posted as comments about why users post answers in comments, and finally post an answer in the older question. Then when another newcomer asks why do people answer questions in comments, you could just post a link to your answer instead of posting another answer as a comment. phew
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 20 '16 at 6:29
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    The problem is that users, for a numbers of reasons, tend to misuse comments, and the system allows (incentivises?) them to do so : meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/5394/…
    – user66974
    Jun 20 '16 at 10:47

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