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This can be considered as an ethical question.

I was wondering if, when seeing someone's comment answering the question on which it was posted, I can add an answer based on that comment. Of course, that only applies if the commenter did not answer himself already.

When wandering across the site, I came upon a few comments that could be answers or that actually solved the problem (comment of the OP saying that "it worked") but which never turned to be posted as answers. This for various reasons, I would guess the main ones are : user got deleted / removed his account, user forgot about comment and question, user resigned from answering (for unknown reasons).

I was also wondering if the answer should be made a community wiki since the commenter deserves credit but all the credit that could be given will go to the answerer (which only maybe formulated the answer better).

If this was to be done, credit to the commenter and link to comment would of course be given.

3 Answers 3

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There probably is something on Meta.SE on this, but turning a comment "answer" into an actual one is fine, assuming some time (months) has passed between the moment the comment was posted and "now". Posting the answer as a community wiki is a good approach in such cases.

And of course, as always, answers which are more than just copy/paste from the comment are highly appreciated :-)

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  • Hey, I have seen this post which is from a comment. I think it should be made a community wiki. (It also needs some details and clarity)
    – Thinkr
    May 23, 2023 at 5:51
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Related question: Does this site have different rules about answering in comments? - English Language Learners Meta Stack Exchange.

TL;DR: if a moderator strictly obeys the rules, answers-in-comments will be deleted without warning at any time.

From that I'd conclude that creating an answer based on comments would be a good thing to do (lest those good answers get thrown away), even without a long waiting period.

One thing that is clear, you should (nay must) give credit to the author of words you post here as they are licensed with a creative commons license. But writing an answer that is based on, or inspired by, comments shouldn't require giving credit, especially as the official purpose of comments is to provide information that will improve questions and answers.

Given that answering in a comment is against the rules, I wouldn't worry about it if you are genuinely getting significantly relevant information into the proper space with attribution.

In fact do it often enough, and they might start following the rules.

One exception though (because I sometimes do it :-), would be comments of the form "I don't have a full answer, but a good answer should include … .", which implicit gives permission to steal this idea.

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I'm going to chime in here because what I believe was the impetus for this post turned a somewhat decent comment into an altogether incorrect answer.

Regarding your answer which you sourced from a comment in the question, you rewrote the comment from:

   ...which allows you to "click" onscreen elements by typing...

to

   ...which can trigger a click at a specific place on your screen with a 
keyboard shortcut.

This answer is now incorrect. Shortcat does not allow you to click on specific areas of your screen.

From the Shortcat website:

Shortcat indexes your Mac's user interface and makes them available to you in a powerful command palette.

A specific area of the screen is an coordinate (X,Y) value where you can initiante any number of actions including a mouse click. Shortcat indexes the elements in the preference pane so you can select them with your keyboard . This is similar to the Alt key navigation in Windows where you hold the Alt key and a letter will appear next to each selectable element.

Answer indemnifications...

Finally, the comment starts off with an "I don't think..." which is a clear indication that the commenter wasn't certain but the person wanted to be helpful. Thusly, (and correctly) didn't posit it as an answer.

When an answer on the other hand, starts off with this language it basically says "I'm guessing here so I could be and probably am wrong and here's a bunch quasi-related topics to read." Not only that, the answer was paraphrased incorrectly, completely changing what the comment actually alluded to.

TL;DR

If you're going to convert a comment to an answer, make sure it's correct before doing so. Secondly, if you must paraphrase, do so accurately. Don't change people's original words.

How do you do you ensure that what you're writing is correct?

Test it out.

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  • I have edited the answer appropriately. Also, the OP said that this solution, posted as a comment, worked for them; if that's the case and they explicitely mention it, why couldn't I post it as an answer?
    – Thinkr
    May 12, 2023 at 18:56
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    @Thinkr Do you believe everything posted with the words "it worked for me" is accurate? You've posted several very inaccurate answers based on other posts/comments only to have it come back and bite you in the a***. That question is 6 years old. How do you know it works with 64bit operating systems like Catalina an newer. Does it work with Apple Silicon? You don't know these answers but you're writing an answer like you do.
    – Allan
    May 12, 2023 at 19:00

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