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I'm not sure I understand why extra reputation is required to be able to comment on questions and answers. (At my level of reputation--16 in CrossValidated, though higher in some other areas of StackExchange--I can't do this, although I can ask and answer questions.

Suppose that I want to add to a question, or ask for clarification of it, or ask for clarification of an answer, when I don't have an answer myself. I can't answer the question, and it would be counterproductive to start another question thread. It seems as if commenting ought to require no more reputation than answering.

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    $\begingroup$ There is a site for questions about how SE behaves in general: its meta pages. There, this question is asked and answered: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/66140/…. (Finding this thread was not so easy; Google came to the rescue.) In your case, please see Anna Lear's solution for increasing your reputation enough to comment. $\endgroup$ – whuber Feb 3 '13 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks whuber. I wasn't sure whether the policy was different at different SE sites, since I hadn't experienced this before now. $\endgroup$ – Mars Feb 3 '13 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ That's a good point about the possibility of differing policies. Reputation thresholds are not under the control of individual sites. If there are any differences--and I'm not aware of any at all--they must be rare and specific to the needs of particular sites: one would hope that these are documented in those sites' faq or "about" pages. BTW, closing your question is in no way prejudicial: I hope the closing (with its references to the Meta site) has provided quick and useful answers for you, as well as a new resource for use when similar questions arise in the future. $\endgroup$ – whuber Feb 3 '13 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ I can definitely empathize with your frustration. At least on this site, it leads to some of the most common need for moderator intervention (i.e., converting answers to comments). That said, one very good argument for the status quo is that any question or answer that's added causes the post to pop to the top of the active list. That puts eyeballs on it and makes it easy to catch counterproductive behavior and general site misuse. If new users could comment everywhere, nefarious ones could cause great damage that might go unnoticed for much longer. $\endgroup$ – cardinal Feb 3 '13 at 21:21

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