I notice quite a few of the unanswerred questions actually do have an answer. But it is buried in the comments. One pattern is where the poster asks a question, has a discussion in the question comments, and then posts an "Aha..." comment with the answer. That leaves the question with no answers, or one or more answers that were not the solution and therefore can't be marked as answered. Unanswered questions are hurting our stats.

In this situation, should we encourage the questioner to answer their own question and accept it?

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some of the questions you mention have a flag hanging over their heads :-) We have asked to move comment to answer but are awaiting them to do so. –  Anders Rask May 20 '11 at 21:03

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

First: Yes, if the author came up with the answer on their own, they should post that answer to "give back" for the help they received.

Second: About the answers posted as comments —

Answers posted as comments are actively harmful to this system. They break the mechanisms of how this site is supposed to work.

  • Comments cannot be properly vetted (voted on for correctness)
  • Comments are not wiki editable
  • When users see "answers" (as comments), they are less likely to contribute proper answers
  • Comments are not as discoverable in search. For those searching for the information, they are less likely to come here to find it.
  • Questions with comment-answers remain marked as "unanswered", so that does not bode well for this system.

You should leave a comment to to the author to post their information as an actual answer and flag the comment for moderator attention. Moderators — If the comments are not re-posted properly in a reasonable timeframe, they should be deleted.

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Should we delete the comment only or the whole question? What about moving the comment to be a Community Wiki answer? –  Kit Menke May 21 '11 at 16:57
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In addition to @KitMenke's comment, why can't we move OP comments to answers? This mistake is almost always done by newish users who are trying to do the right thing. I don't agree with deleting comments if they are answers - they are answers that need to be moved to the correct spot. –  Alex Angas May 22 '11 at 0:30
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Thanks for the answer - that was my feeling too. I suppose a moderator (or anyone else) could re-format the comment-answer as an actual answer. Still leaves the problem of being unanswered. –  SPDoctor May 23 '11 at 16:16

Yes. This also lets people with the same problem in the future easily see the resolution, and makes it obvious that the question is closed.

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Ah, the irony. I thought I would answer my own question by saying that I am now noticing an anti-pattern where the questioner asks a question without enough detail, gets a few people having a go, then reveals, in answer to their own question, the solution. Nobody could have deduced the problem from the question, only the OP. OP then accepts their own answer which is not generally helpful. Example:

Q. I have SharePoint configured correctly and everything is working but I can't navigate to my records centre.

A. .... (Several answers from experts suggesting things to try to solve the problem).

A. (from OP) Ok, I managed to solve the problem without your help: the server network cable had come loose. (tick - accepted answer).

I think this is the problem with allowing the questioner to answer their own question. In these cases I wonder if we should vote to close.

I am so tempted to accept this as the answer.

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Well, I think this is really a symptom of an unanswerable question. These should probably just be closed. Perhaps as "Too localized" (only applies to OP). I feel like I need to ask the question, "What are the steps to troubleshoot a SharePoint error?" –  Kit Menke Jul 28 '11 at 13:47
    
@Kit Yes, I think that is the solution for questions that don't lead to the answer in this way; close as too localized. The question "What are the steps to troubleshoot a SharePoint error?" would be a good starting point for a book. –  SPDoctor Jul 31 '11 at 13:29

There's another option that I see here: there's an answer known and shown, but credit should go either to the answerer or to the community. So my take is to encourage refining the answer from the comments as a community wiki post that may or may not be accepted, but still shall be votable without giving improper reputation boost to re-poster. Is there anything wrong with my perception?

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