I noticed that somewhat Islam SE users do not add their answers to answer section. Instead they are using comment section. From first page I got these:

There are many others in which users give answer in comment section.

In regarding this behavior, I observed that people do not add answers unless they give long explanation and references.

Recently @Sassir commented on my answer as "This really doesn't look like an elaborated answer" on this question: Punishment for killing your slave?

My answer was "Does everything needs elaborated answer?"

Combining these two, I want to ask; is giving answers in comment O.K.? Should we add these "comment-answers" to as answers?

p.s. I found just these two question in meta maybe somewhat related, but they are talking on different subjects:

p.s.2: My concern is, if we do not give enough answers to a question, we will be beta forever.

StackExchange meta suggest adding these comments as community wiki: Question with no answers, but issue solved in the comments

  • Related: Comment promoted to answer
    – nim
    Jul 20, 2016 at 13:12
  • related: Answerers who only use comments
    – nim
    Jul 20, 2016 at 13:52
  • 1
    I can speak only for myself, but I often post a comment rather than an answer because a comment can't be downvoted. On islam.SE and christianity.SE, people use downvotes to express their sectarian disapproval and/or their emotional reaction to the answer (or the question), rather than basing their votes on the quality and usefulness of the answer (or the question) -- hence numerous downvotes with no explanation. I try not to get too hung up on reputation, but it does make me pause, knowing that even the best questions and answers will be assessed on strictly sectarian/emotional grounds. Jul 20, 2016 at 18:46
  • As for the question about the Beni Hashim, that was my question. The one comment began with "As far as I can recall", which in my mind justifies it being a comment. My understanding is that an answer should cite at least one authority. The one answer to my question was not an answer at all, as it referred to a time period I wasn't asking about, and would have been better as a comment. Jul 20, 2016 at 18:55
  • The question about Tafhim al-Qur'an was also mine. The comment clearly fit into the category of comment. The answer is entirely sectarian, which in my mind makes it inappropriate material on SE to begin with, but even overlooking that, it isn't a real answer. It would have been better as a comment. Jul 20, 2016 at 19:02
  • To your p.s.2: IMO we don't have enough activity here to leave the beta status and in my pessimistic hours i'm even afraid that the site might be closed some day.
    – Medi1Saif Mod
    Jul 21, 2016 at 8:23
  • I agree with GreatBigBore about people being unreasonable sometimes in downvoting answers, A better downvote rules will improve different related points.
    – M.M
    Jul 22, 2016 at 16:01

3 Answers 3


Does it fully and completely answer the question? Post it as an answer.

Does it not fully and completely answer the question? Don't post it as an answer.

The crux of this issue seems to be less about whether or not to post an answer as an answer, so much as whether or not to post an answer as an answer even if it's not a good answer.

If it's a truly bad answer, it probably should not be posted anywhere. But if it must get posted, it's important that it gets posted as an answer so that the community peer-review can actually judge its merit and, if necessary, vote it down so that everyone else can see that it's a bad answer.

If it's an okay answer (but not a great answer) it's still important to post it as an answer. The community peer-review is essential to how the Stack Exchange model works; if only great answers are posted as answers, while "okay" answers and "bad" answers are relegated to comments, there is absolutely no way for future users to rely on peer-review to determine which of those comment-answers are "okay" and which ones are "bad" (especially if there's still no "great" answers to read instead). And with no way to distinguish "okay" from "bad", it's pretty much impossible (or at least highly disrecommended) to trust any comment-answer for any reason.

And if the answer can't be trusted, there's pretty much no value in posting it.

I have seen many users use comments to post answers explicitly because they're trying to avoid downvotes. For users who understand how the Stack Exchange model works, this is usually a very good sign that the poster doesn't actually trust his own answer, or knows that it's not even welcome on the site as an answer for whatever reason. In other words, they know that any such answer needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

For future users who don't know the Stack Exchange model, however, this will often be the first "answer" they see; comments can garner upvotes which promotes them to the user's view, but they by design can never be downvoted, never be improved, and are pretty much immune to any form of constructive criticism or peer-review that makes Stack Exchange answers actually valuable. This gives them undue weight which makes them seem more valuable than they actually are.

This is why I'll purge answers whenever they're posted as comments; whether they're "right" or "wrong", "good" or "bad" is irrelevant: Comments have a very particular use, and that very particular use is not answering questions.

If your comment provides a hint or a suggestion that can help the questioner or a future answerer to develop a full answer, go ahead: Comments are great for that. If you're not 100% sure about your answer, go ahead and say that you think maybe possibly the answer might be such-and-such but you're not sure and will look into it later, knock yourself out: Speculation and guesswork isn't an answer, but it can totally help others find the answer.

But comments that deign to answer the question itself, even if you don't have the time or inclination to make it great instead of just okay, should still be posted as answers. Or not posted at all.

(As a side note, any question that can be fully and completely answered in a single comment is possibly a terrible question in the first place.)

Even if you can't be bothered to dig up all the references and do all the research to make an incredible answer, that doesn't mean your answer is worthless, or even bad; sometimes any answer is still better than no answer. But if nobody's posting okay answers as answers, nobody else is going to feel encouraged to do so either. So you end up with a bunch of unanswered questions, or questions which attract a lot of bad answers, not because because nobody knows the right answers but because nobody is willing to post the right answers because they're not "great" enough.

We're trying to make the Internet a better place here. As long as posting an "okay" answer is better than the alternative, post it. Otherwise, don't. But either way, an answer is still an answer, not a comment.

  • I agree on most of the post. However I found contradiction between "Does it not fully and completely answer the question? Don't post it as an answer." and How should we deal with “half-answers”?
    – nim
    Jul 25, 2016 at 12:22
  • @nim "half-answers" in the context of that meta discussion is mostly referring to much the same issue that I'm referring to here; questions that do in fact completely answer the question asked, but just fail to provide any references that support that position. Unless the questioner is explicitly asking for those specific references, they're still "answers".
    – goldPseudo Mod
    Jul 25, 2016 at 16:44
  • See also meta.islam.stackexchange.com/a/713/22; I have never condoned this attitude that questions need to quote references (especially when the questioners themselves don't indicate any ability to derive rulings from the primary sources) and feel that that's a huge reason why our answer quality is still so low even four years into beta.
    – goldPseudo Mod
    Jul 25, 2016 at 16:46

I confess that I'm mostly doing it the same as GreatBigBore.

Especially when a question is a new unregistered users question I'm in first place checking whether he can get his information from other posts and maybe give a short answer. First it's unclear whether this user will ever come back and read, so why waste some time to answer a question that in ~80% of the cases has already an answer or could easily be answered if one just do some search here on the main site. Second if the person is/was interested in having more information he/she would come back and ask for.
See for example here.

Sometimes I leave a comment hoping that somebody else would give a full answer. Or with the intention to answer the question when I might have time (for example when I'm online with my smartphone). Note when i started here I once gave a answer draft and it was deleted by a Mod because (low-quality maybe plagiarism, as it was 90% a quote) therefore I'm very careful in giving half-answers, so if i felt like answering would take too long and I had made my research, but have only the time to start answering I would point at it in a post.

And maybe I got tired and bored of all these dream-interpretation, talaq, advice-request questions, so that I don't feel like answering any rather than giving a hint of the answer as a comment. On the other hand as an example: I think 90%-99% of the question about zakat are about how to calculate zakat for a very special situation (IMO those are all duplicates, as one needs to know the rule and then apply it, we can't apply it here for every case, as we need more information).

  • I'm referring to my comment on your answer:

IMO it is too short and should be explained, have you checked whether life for life is applied in case of a master who killed his slave? I guess not.

  • Now on other comments I'm involved:

You may see that my answer is more or less a guess or something I'm not sure about and need to look for or a hint for OP to either elaborate his question or show, that this question might be hard to answer. If OP wants this as an answer I'd post it, but honestly I don't like to post something I'm not sure about as an answer, especially if it is a fiqh issue!

IMO comments are there to:

  • give a hint for the OP to elaborate his question, if information is missing,
  • or maybe correct a false view if one doesn't have an answer but noticed that OP's view was wrong in some part of the question.
  • or discussing answers,
  • asking for elaboration on some points quoted in an answer or question,
  • pointing at some missing or good things in answers or question in general
  • And maybe for not fully answers if doesn't know the full answer,
  • or as a hint to already given solutions
  • or parts of the solution of a problem....

For example if you followed the comment discussion here a fast answer was needed and Medi1 gave it and many have objected this answer as it seemed a bad advice. But later Medi1 posted a full answer explaining the Issue and why saying one should go along fasting was a necessary answer, as any other advice at the time maybe would be misleading and bad.

  • 2
    "And maybe for not fully answers if doesn't know the full answer" How should we deal with “half-answers”? In this topic I agree on answer "I believe they still have a place on this site.."
    – nim
    Jul 20, 2016 at 10:36
  • 1
    This site is not just a scholar. Neither all other SE sites. If you have and answer, you can just write in a good format. People will judge you by upvoting and downvoting. You can add simple answer from your knowledge. And if you want to improve your answer, edit your answer. Also you can add second answer.
    – nim
    Jul 20, 2016 at 10:45
  • I'm not totally disagreeing with you. But especially when more information is needed and when a comment isn't an answer at all as for some misunderstandings etc. one cannot post them as an answer!
    – Sassir
    Jul 20, 2016 at 11:23

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