Going through the review queue I saw a late answer from a user that has 1 reputation. The answer should very much have been a comment, since it only pointed out a mistake the OP made in their derivation.

I was keen to flag the answer as not an answer but then realised that the user could not comment since one can only comment once you have 15 reputation (I believe). I therefore just stayed with No action needed.
Of course I had the option to just use skip but then someone else would have had to make the decision which is perfectly fine, but I would like to know what to do in a situation like this for future reference.

I would like to think that this would be a problem that has come up in the past, but I have not been able to find any information on it. Any thoughts on how to handle a situation like this in the future?

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    $\begingroup$ Was there a "real" answer in the thread, and did pointing out the OP's error actually answer their question? If there was no better answer, and if this answer actually addressed the concern, then I would rather have a short answer than none at all. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ @StephanKolassa No, there were already two other answers that seems like they answer the question. I use "seems like", because I don't come from a very mathematical background and therefore could not follow the maths all the way. The OP has not accepted any of the other two answers though... $\endgroup$
    – Stochastic
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 16:51

2 Answers 2


♦ moderators have the ability to convert answers into comments. I'm a moderator on a few other sites in the network, and Not An Answer flags are the primary way the community notifies me of these situations.

Of course, using the Not An Answer flag will also send the it into the Low Quality Posts review queue, and the reviewers there may delete it before it can be turned into a comment. If you're worried about this, it's fine to add the comment to the question yourself (with attribution) and leave a comment under the answer like the one provided by the AutoReviewComments userscript:

This is really a comment, not an answer. With a bit more rep, you will be able to post comments. For the moment I've added the comment for you, and I'm flagging this post for deletion.


New users cannot comment until they reach 50 reputation, not 15. This is part of the design of the SE system. It is a feature, not a bug. Preventing new users from being able to comment reduces the amount of spam and nonsense on the site and help keep it clean. On balance, the benefits of this design choice far out weigh the costs. Sooner or later, someone with the privilege will comment on the thread.

You should flag the (non) answer for deletion. It is nice to leave a polite comment for the OP explaining that they need to earn the reputation before they can comment, and that they should not post comments as pretend answers in the interim. As @Glorfindel notes, moderators can convert the answer to a comment, if they think it best. I used to do a lot of that when I was a moderator.

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    $\begingroup$ Quite often a new user is clearly well informed and keen from the start and starts posting good stuff straight away. Such users may be frustrated by their inability to make comments too. I agree with @gung that anyone who merits the ability to post comments will quickly get enough reputation. Nevertheless many of us -- and I think I have seen gung do this -- will look around for a post to upvote to nudge the person over the threshold. A purist would maintain that posts should be upvoted on their own merits, but I don't feel guilty helping someone out in this way. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 15:10
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    $\begingroup$ I have been once on that frustrated side. I had once made the mistake to give a bounty on the math site when I still did not have a lot of reputation there and it prevented me from being able to comment on the question to which I gave the bounty. I see this happen with others on stats as well occasionally. People that provide bounties which kill all their privileges including the ability to comment. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ @SextusEmpiricus I see bounties as a separate issue. despite the similarity. Bounties are in effect a penalty that it is presumed is willingly paid. Having enough reputation to comment depends on the approval of others for your work. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 13:29

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