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From our comment privilege help page, comments are not for answering the question:

When shouldn't I comment?

Comments are not recommended for any of the following:

  • Answering a question or providing an alternate solution to an existing answer; instead, post an actual answer (or edit to expand an existing one);

As it suggests, you're meant to instead submit an answer. Answers actually have our full rigorous quality assurance process applied, comments have almost no QA at all: we can't edit them if they need correction/improvement, we can't downvote low quality comments, we cannot cast delete votes or flag them for review queues, they don't bump the question to draw critical attention by reviewers who might vote or take action on it, and so on.

I've encountered some comments like this one which are just an answer in comments, and also redundant because there's an actual answer available. I've flagged these for moderator attention with the reason "answer in comments, delete" or something like that. The recent occasions have been declined. (I would flag such comments even if there wasn't an answer to make it redundant, since whoever wrote it should have submitted an answer instead for proper peer review.)

Why are these flags being declined instead of the comments being deleted?

I request they actually get deleted, as a matter of site quality maintenance. I don't expect the mods to hunt them down around the site, but if someone (anyone) takes the trouble of flagging them for mod attention, I'd prefer the mods delete them rather than leave them lying around.

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I flagged an answer-comment once on Board and Card Games. It was deemed helpful.

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You raised the same type of flag, and it was rejected. That tells me that our moderators probably handle these types of flags differently. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case I think our moderators need to be consistent. I expect answer-comment flags to be handled in a consistent manner, be it "helpful" or "declined".

You mentioned the Help page. There is another far more obvious sign that answer do not belong in comments. If you click on the "add a comment" anchor:

enter image description here

Avoid answering questions in comments. The text has been there since before I joined eighteen months ago.

I asked about the extremely high quantity of answer-comments on English Language and Usage (ELU) Stack Exchange, and I was pointed to this meta post. I realized that ELU is unique in that a large portion of the questions have a multiple correct, extremely short answers. It makes sense for them to bounce ideas around in the comments. It makes sense for them to be less strict.

We primarily deal with questions that have a single correct answer. It makes sense for us to enforce stricter quality standards. Answers belong in the answer box, where the remainder of the community can mold it into something better.

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In practice, "no answers in comments" is not enforced in the main StackExchange sites (like StackOverlow), and what is done there is what most people get used to.

It can be difficult to decide if some text is worthy of an answer or if it should be just a comment, and since answers are heavily moderated and can be downvoted, comments are less restricted.

Sometimes an user wants to give a quick answer and he or she just writes a comment because they don't want to spend time with a thoroughly written answer.

Deleting a comment that gives information that is not found in an answer would be detrimental to the question. If the comment is included in some answer, you can flag it as obsolete.

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  • I will disprove that sweeping negative: it is enforced on RPG.SE. I don't know if there might be others though, not using other stacks much. The others I use often where I'd notice this stuff are sites like SO where the moderation burden is too great to enforce such policies. (The moderators there are dealing with a hundred thousand more questions than RPG.SE has.) – doppelgreener Aug 23 '15 at 22:21
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    @doppelgreener OK, I don't participate in that site, I'll fix the wording in my answer. It is not enforced in StackOverflow, where it is quite common to get a quick answer in comments to a question. Usually, what is done in StackOverflow is also done in most sites. – Pablo Aug 23 '15 at 22:24
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There is no comment flag for "this is an answer". I don't see every such comment as deserving of deletion and will respond accordingly.

The consistency you seek is there. It is the same that it has ever been. When you flag, a moderator will respond to your flag in the best way we can.

I tend not to delete newer comments that are not harmful to the site. This comment was upvoted a couple times, it's from a newer user. I do not see the harm in its existence.

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  • I explained the harm of the existence of answers in comments. We as members cannot do a thing to moderate them, at all, except turn to moderators, who can only do so much. Whether it's a new user or not, whether it has a couple of upvotes or not, change nothing. Whether there's a flag reason for it should also be immaterial if two separate places say this should not happen. I would just flag as Too Chatty, since it's not using comments for their intended purpose and is being too chatty, but these kinds of flags are better with a brief explanation of the specifics. – doppelgreener Aug 19 '15 at 12:15
  • @doppelgreener - I understood your point, I just don't agree on the harm. – Pat Ludwig Aug 19 '15 at 15:49

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