Increasingly people only write comments or even lengthy comments to questions or existing answers.

I do believe this is bad. To improve this site's content we should put more effort in writing good answers than in writing many comments.

Have I missed any good reason why writing an answering comment instead of an answer makes sense?

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If I consider my statement not an answer worth then I comment. Simple, isn't it? –  Em1 Oct 2 '12 at 12:33
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And in my book the question must be: Why should I comment rather than answer? - We really having too much crap answers. And this is the reason for the downvote sprees musiKk is talking about. –  Em1 Oct 2 '12 at 12:35
    
Without linked examples, it isn't very probable that we talk about the same comments. 1-3 cases can be talked about individually. To see a pattern, I guess, we need at least 8-10 cases. Since I comment often, I could explain my comment criterias, but I don't think that I'm afraid of answering. I do answer, if I think it is worth. –  user unknown Jan 15 '13 at 20:21
    
@userunknown: There are users who dislike that their comments may be deleted. That's why I brought the matter up again. See my answer which includes some relevant SE links on the topic. –  Takkat Jan 15 '13 at 20:31
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3 Answers

A comment is (or should be) a critique of a question. As such, it corresponds more closely to editing than answering. You should edit if you feel that you can do a better job of fixing the question (e.g. a misspelling in German) than the OP. But a valid comment might be, "you need to add a link," or you need to provide more context or evidence of research," which is the OP's responsibility.

If you can answer the question, then do so, rather than comment. OK, a good comment might be, "you might want to check the attached link." But if you feel that you (the native speaker) are likely to understand the material in the link better than the OP, then put the link along with your explanation in the answer (not comment) box. It's that simple.

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Pure speculation: This may be the result of some of the downvote sprees that occurred in the past. You can't downvote comments. People don't like being downvoted. Ergo: People write more comments.

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Perhaps one might argue like that but I don't think that you hit close to home. –  Em1 Oct 2 '12 at 12:31
    
Comments also can't ean reputation, even when upvoted. Meaning that the way to earn "rep" is to write answers. –  Tom Au Jun 28 '13 at 13:44
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up vote 0 down vote accepted

The intention and purpose of comments are clearly outlined in the FAQ to be read at the point when we gain the privilege to comment:

In any case we should be aware that comments are temporary only and may be deleted any time, e.g. for clean up.

Lengthy comment threads will not help finding an answer to a given question but will rather clutter answers to a question with more or less relevant details. Therefore it is much better to edit or suggest an edit when there are obvious errors. In case we have additional information we may consider writing an anwer.

After sucessful clarification from a comment on a post we then should delete the comment. See also:

Please do not use comments on discussions that are not related to the question or answer, as these comments will have to be deleted as off topic in any case.

To discuss matters all of us are invited to join our chat room where we can talk in both German, an English. Transcripts of the chat will not be deleted. Therefore we can search and read even old discussion in the chat transcripts. This can not be done with comments.

Note that there is no reputation limit to suggest an edit, and the privilege to talk in chat needs less reputation than posting comments. This is intentional to make comments less attractive for discussions or for improving posts.

Related further reading:

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"To discuss matters all of us are invited to join our chat room where we can talk in both German, an English. Transcripts of the chat will not be deleted." I find this bass-ackward. A "chat" is people talking off the record, sound waves dissipating into thin air, with no permanent record. At the same time I am amazed at the ease with which comments that do not violate the terms of service are routinely deleted. Both practices are the opposite of what they should be in my opinion. Am I going to go to MSO to propose they be changed? Hell no! –  Eugene Seidel Jan 17 '13 at 11:26
    
@EugeneSeidel: Just in case you did not know this: the chat transcripts are not deleted, they are acceessible from the first post. They also are searchable with Google, and they may eventually pop up in the search results there. Try a search for "Jaqueline Drosciewskievic" ;) –  Takkat Jan 17 '13 at 13:19
    
Well that's my point exactly. SE defines "chat" differently from how the rest of the world defines the word. People like me, for example. When I chat I do not expect to have a verbatim transcript of my words pulled out years later. It's highly annoying that SE handles this differently. Nonetheless, thank you for alerting us to the difference. –  Eugene Seidel Jan 18 '13 at 0:23
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