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I flagged a couple of comments to this question: What female mathematician can I introduce to my High School students? as "not constructive," but the reason the comments should be removed were actually "answers to the question do not belong in the comments."

Which flag should I be using for this kind of thing? My choices are [rude or offensive / not constructive / obsolete / too chatty / other… ]

Should I write "other" and type "answers to the question do not belong in the comments?" Or should I choose "not constructive"? Or should I not be flagging these at all?

See also Do we want to delete "obsolete" comments on this site?.

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This mainly echos what Jim Belk said. On a comment flag we can do exactly three things:

  • delete the comment
  • edit the comment
  • dismiss the flag, i.e., do nothing

In the present situation an edit cannot really help, so we could only delete, but this is rather not a good idea as relevant information could be lost. So, we are stuck with doing nothing.

What one could do if one feels somebody made a comment that would better be an answer, is to comment(reply) that they could/should expand the comment to an answer. (There is also nothing wrong with somebody else giving what is in a comment as an answer.)

However, I would also say there likely should be some room for half-way or tentative answers in comments. For example, one of the comments ended with a question mark. Perhaps OP was really not sure this would actually be an answer and wanted to "test" it as a comment first.

And additional point to keep in mind, and relevant in the current situations, is that the question is "protected" so that for some users commenting is possible but answering is not. (While the point limit for commenting is higher than that for answering protected questions, this can still happen since for commenting the association bonus counts while for answering protected questions it does not count.)

Generally, regarding which flag to use: when in some doubt I would say best use "other" and explain what it is about. It can be difficult to understand what precisely is meant.

(In the end, I also deleted one comment, since it duplicated an actual answer, actually two answers.)

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Though it's easy for a moderator to convert an answer to a comment (I've done this four or five times now), there doesn't seem to be any mechanism for a moderator to convert a comment to an answer. Certainly such comments should not be deleted, so there's really nothing that can be done about them.

This sometimes causes problems on Stack Exchange sites (such as Math Stack Exchange) when a question is effectively answered in the comments, but then remains in the "Unanswered" list. This seems to less of a problem for this site, since it's unlikely that a question here could be answered entirely by a short comment.

In any case, the main advantage of answers over comments is that they are more visible. If you think a certain comment could be viewed as an answer to the question, then probably the best thing to do is upvote it, which will prevent it from being hidden in the list of comments.

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