Per the recent question Should Aviation.SE allow answers posted in comments? and general SE policy, answers to the question are not supposed to be answered in comments.

However, as Jamiec's answer to that question mentions, sometimes users drop bits of relevant information that might be useful starting points for a full answer or which might otherwise aid the construction of a full answer, but are not full answers of themselves. Sometimes this is because the user posting that information might not know the full answer to the question, while other times it could just be a matter of the user not having time to write up a full answer.

Should we allow these comments with relevant information that are not full answers to remain on the question or should they be deleted as answers in comments?

If they should be allowed, where should we draw the line between these and answers in comments?


Post answers as an answer. Post it (or expand it) later if you're on the phone and need to post/produce graphs and similar

TomMcW asked me the same question over the weekend in chat, so I'll repeat my answer here, and expand a bit on the reasoning.

TomMcW posed the following scenario:

When you have a possible line of reasoning, but you don't know if it's correct or you can't find a source, but somebody else might know of one

to which I replied:

I think I would keep it as a comment, but at the condition that it is not even a partial answer.
Q: What is the regulation for X?
Ok comment: I don't know, but I have searched here with these keywords. Partial answer: It is somewhere in PartYY.

That is, for me we should accept comments that help find the answer, but not comments that (however broadly) contain the answer (or attempt to, as in "I think that ...").

This does not mean that partial answers should not be posted. It is still an answer! You can explicitly mention that is only a partial answer, but it is much better than posting it as a comment: it is more readable, anyone can edit it and expand it, plus, it can be properly (up)voted. Plus, you can always come back later and expand it with all the information you think is needed.

Another case posed by kevin in the comments to his answer is

for that particular question you want to use diagrams or quote past incidents or quote regulations. I am on my phone so I can do neither of those. E.g. the comment might be "Do X and Y". The full answer might be "According to the B737 Manual, we do W followed by X. If X does not work, do Y and Z"

In this case, as said here, it is no problem if you decide to post the answer a bit later. I guess you don't have only your phone to visit this site, so if you wait until you can post an answer with diagrams, or quoting past incidents or regulations, it is not a terrible thing.

If you think you won't be able to do it for a long time (say, weeks), and you really want to give this information, we go back to the previous case: post it as an answer. It is much better than a comment.


Yes, relevant bits of information in comments should be allowed, and if I might say, encouraged.

I have not spent much time on SE in recent months, but this behavior is one which I sometimes do: I glanced a question, know the answer, but did not want to write up a full answer because either I don't have time or I'm lazy or I'm on my phone or whatever. So I write a comment, essentially the key point of the answer, then leave.

Other times it is the other way around, I see a question, someone has left a comment which essentially is the key point of the answer, but there are no answers yet. It has been a while, so it is unlikely that the commenter has an answer under construction. I take the idea in the comment, expand it a bit, maybe link to Wikipedia or add some pictures, and post an answer.

I don't see anything wrong with this approach, really. One member of the community leaves a note, another member comes along and picks up what is left. Overall the community functions well: we provided an answer to the OP.

Let's us for a moment, consider the opposite. A user posts a question. A number of members pass by, they know the answer, but because they do not have time to write up a full answer post, nothing happens on the question. It just sits there. The OP sits there, waiting for someone to come along. At least someone can provide a hint or direction, at least? Nope. It is either full, complete answer or nothing. What will the site become?

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    $\begingroup$ Why not just post the quick bit as an answer? There are many examples of one sentence answers here that score well. If you feel guilty about lack of detail, maybe make it community wiki? $\endgroup$ – fooot Apr 16 '18 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ @fooot say, for that particular question you want to use diagrams or quote past incidents or quote regulations. I am on my phone so I can do neither of those. E.g. the comment might be "Do X and Y". The full answer might be "According to the B737 Manual, we do W followed by X. If X does not work, do Y and Z". $\endgroup$ – kevin Apr 16 '18 at 16:32
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    $\begingroup$ "It is either full, complete answer or nothing." I'm sorry if this is what you understood from the other post. I can amend it if necessary, but the idea is to post any kind of answer in the answer field, even partial ones. Make it a wiki if much work is missing (chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/43992549#43992549) I've edited my answer. $\endgroup$ – Federico Apr 16 '18 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ If this answer ends up the community standard, please add a paragraph (or a different question) in which you discuss what mods should do with a comment that gets flagged (note that flags could delete a comment without moderator intervention) $\endgroup$ – Federico Apr 26 '18 at 7:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Federico Well, I would think that comments should still be considered temporary, and once their purpose is served (it has been incorporated in to an answer, etc.) then it should be deleted. No comments are supposed to be considered permenant, but they can still serve a useful short-term purpose before being deleted. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Apr 30 '18 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger some are flagged minutes after being posted $\endgroup$ – Federico Apr 30 '18 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ For those cases, and with appropriate guidance here, the flags should be declined if the comment is still useful and serving a purpose. Once they are incorporated in to the appropriate question/answer, then they should be deleted, just like every other comment on the site. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger May 2 '18 at 15:20

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