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  • I understand that users with a low reputation are not allowed to comment other people's posts in order to prevent spam, since comments do not bring the posts on the top of the Recently active tab and therefore benefit from less reviews.

  • I understand too that, in theory, users with such low rep have the possibility, if they have no other choice, to post they comment as a new answer so it gets reviewed and if it is legit manually transformed into a comment by a moderator.

However:

  • I notice that the flag meant to raise moderator's attention toward such posts happily mixes in a single bag valid and useful posts which should be kept and transformed into comments and posts which should be deleted:

    not an answer: This was posted as an answer, but it does not attempt to answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether.

  • When such a flag is raised, the post is added to the Low quality posts lists where one has basically the choice between "Looks OK" which is not right because it is not a valid answer, and "Recommend deletion" which is not right too because the content is valid and should be kept (as a comment),

  • The meaning of this flag seems to be badly perceived by the reviewers, by the past I raised a few flags to signal such posts needing to be turned into comment, I think such flags were systematically disputed because these posts were not meant to be deleted while the post itself was effectively turned into a comment (I see this as a direct consequence of the previous point).

  • The automatic comment left when using this flag always seems a bit rude to me.

    This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post.

    When I read this from a newcomer perspective (which should be the primary target of this message), I see "This is not a valid answer, use comments instead, too sad you cannot!", which seems a bit rude even-more when the poster already apologized of not being able to post a comment as I often see in such circumstances, and I understand some may take this wrongly (link useful only until the Nazi related comment gets deleted...).

Why isn't there two different flags?

  • One for actual low quality posts which should indeed be either edited or deleted,

  • Another for comments posts which should be transformed as a comment?

I think this would greatly clarify the handling of such situations, and accompanied with a more productive automatic message (why not link to a canonical explanation why newcomers are not allowed to comment? Wouldn't this make them better understand the situation, what is going to happen, and how this site has been thought? As newcomers, they may not know meta and the help center, and deserve some friendliness to encourage them to stay.).

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    I'll add that sometimes there is valuable information in the comment-as-an-answer and its associated comments that you don't want to lose. – Neil Smithline Jan 1 '16 at 18:13
  • You mention converting a comment-as-an-answer post into a comment. Are you thinking of that as a mod-only activity? I wonder how that will affect their workload. – Neil Smithline Jan 1 '16 at 18:19
  • @NeilSmithline: It's an open discussion, I'm thinking about nothing in particular apart that it has been several times I face this issue and think "I must ask this on Meta as soon as I have enough time". Currently it is already a mod-only activity to manually migrate answers to comments. I can imagine a gold version where a post could be automatically migrated as comment to the original question through a voting system, but this may require quite some dev and since it seems to be a relatively rare situation I don't know if it does worth it? – WhiteWinterWolf Jan 1 '16 at 18:28
  • I'm concerned about adding work to the mods. That said, I'm also distressed about turning off new users and I feel that this is one of the ways it happens. So I'd like to fix it too. Maybe we should clone our mods? – Neil Smithline Jan 2 '16 at 0:33
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Some of my personal thoughts:

Converting

As far as I know, converting answers to comments and vice versa is allowed to 10k rep. users.
Ok, this is false - thanks @grawity.

Personally, I think that merging this privilege with 3k rep. (close and reopen votes) or 10k tools could help solve problems quicker.

Commenting privilege

New users cannot post comments because of spam. Commenting privilege is granted on 50 rep. - that is 5 upvotes on answer. However, the privilege "Remove new user restrictions" is granted on 10 rep. - 1 upvote on answer or 2 on question. A user who has already provided a good answer or a good question should be able to comment. If somebody think that this will not be enough, then 20 rep. is also better.

"Low quality posts" queue

The queue should beside "Looks OK" and "Recommend deletion" have one other button - "Recommend conversion".

Message

This is a full text of current message:

This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post.

Already mentioned "Recommend conversion" button should leave no message at all.

Flag option

I see another flag option unnecessary. I will be problematic both for flaggers and anyone revising it - at least initially.

  • Do the "mod-only vs high-rep-only" rules vary between sites? I mostly spend time on SuperUser and I've never seen the "convert to a comment" option there. – grawity Jan 3 '16 at 13:28
  • I am not a 10k user, so this could be false. I made this decision from secreenshots and texts of 10k tools on meta SE. However, please check the "mod" link under the answers. – Vilican Jan 3 '16 at 15:02
  • The "mod" link is only available to elected moderators, I believe – regardless of their rep. – grawity Jan 3 '16 at 19:41
  • @grawity - Ok, edited. Thanks for info. – Vilican Jan 3 '16 at 20:05

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