In Unknown Asian/Chinese registry keys, @user27140 described a security concern which @bobince then identified in his answer as a software bug with (apparently) Syncovery. A new-minted user named @Syncovery then posted another answer stating "Thanks for the report! It will be fixed in the next update."

In a comment to @Syncovery's answer, @Xander pointed out that @Syncovery had provided a comment, not an answer, which is where it should have gone - but as a new-minted user, @Syncovery didn't have the reputation required to comment upon anything but his own post.

This seems to me to be less than ideal. @Syncovery did "the right thing" - a problem with his software came to light; he went through the trouble of creating an account (and replacing the icon with what is presumably an accurate picture of himself) so that he could document that the vendor is aware of the problem and will fix it. This puts the information people need - "this will be fixed" - right where they'll find it when they need it (while searching for "What's this crazy Chinese registry key?"). The policy disallowing comments for users without reputation prevented him from doing so properly; he did so in the only way he could.

There's a good reason for requiring reputation for comments, and this is an outlier case. But is there anything that could alleviate this issue? Perhaps allow new users at least one comment before they need to build reputation up? That might permit valuable drive-bys without giving spammers and harassers the ability to paste comments over multiple posts without earning reputation.

How many times has someone found a post here through Google and thought "Gee, I have valuable information to add, this site looks good, but I can't add valuable information until I level up?" Those people are going to go away and not come back. But maybe if they can leave that one comment it's worth it for them to stick around, and end up being more involved.

Just thinkin' out loud. I was going to post this in a comment to @Xander's comment but first I followed his link to where comments are appropriate or not and decided it belonged on Meta instead :)

Also, there is another security issue here - no verification that @Syncovery is actually in any way related to the Syncovery software; no authentication that he's qualified or authorized to speak to it as he did. But that's not an unknown or novel issue.

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    Go bother stackexchange.inc on meta.SO. it's their anti-feature. Little we can do about it. Jun 15, 2013 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


New users can:

  • Post an answer to provide information that answers the question.
  • Edit an answer to add a little information or correct a minor mistake.
  • Ask a new question if they want explanations about an answer.

That covers a vast majority of cases. In the rare cases where a comment would really be the right thing, there is a way to sneak it in: moderators can convert an answer to a comment.

In this case, Syncovery posted an answer which was converted to a comment by a moderator. There is no problem to solve here, the solution already exists and was applied.

Allowing users one comment would open the spam floodgates — spammers would create one account at a time, as they do now. Answers bump a thread to the front page, so spam is quickly spotted and eliminated; it would not be so with comment. That isn't the biggest problem with not allowing comments from new users though. Stack Exchange is a questions and answers site. That's something people who are new to SE often don't understand, because it differs significantly from the usual discussion interfaces. New users are forced to start with what constitutes the meat of the site: questions and answers. That gives them a bit of time to get used to how we do things.

In this specific case, I think it would actually have made sense to keep the answer, and edit it to be self-standing rather than replying to bobince:

This is due to a bug in Syncovery. Thanks for the report, it will be fixed in the next update.

To be edited to mention the version that fixes the issue when it comes out.

Users have the right and ability to remain anonymous on Stack Exchange (insofar as online anonymity can be achieved). Stack Exchange doesn't want to get into the business of verifying identities.

If you want to link your Stack Exchange account with some other web identity, you'll have to do it a different way. For example, write a page on your own site that claims that you are a particular Stack Exchange user, and prove your ownership by using an email address on your site's domain (which nobody else would think to use). If you use Gravatar as your user picture provider, the link to your picture includes a hash (MD5) of your email address.

  • Thanks, that makes sense. I hadn't thought through the mode where spammers will open N accounts just in order to post N comments.
    – gowenfawr
    Jun 15, 2013 at 0:01
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    I was wondering why comments were forbidden "to prevent spam" forcing all new user's to wrongly post their comments as answers which often result in "spam-like" mess mixing everything up. However, your "Answers bump a thread to the front page, so spam is quickly spotted and eliminated; it would not be so with comment" explained it, thanks :) May 2, 2015 at 12:48
  • Note that the Gravatars as used by Stack Exchange are no longer plain hashes of emails. They apparently use a salt now that is specific to this site.
    – forest
    Apr 25, 2018 at 2:48

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