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I stumbled upon The most actors playing the same role in one movie? today.

I immediately remembered that Bob Dylan movie that even stated all actors on the poster, but what was the name again...?

About to start a search I noticed a comment that looked like this:

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and I'm Not There come to mind.

At least this is how I remember it because it is deleted now. (I think it takes even more than a ♦ to see deleted comments if they are kept in the system at all)

I'm Not There is indeed that Bob Dylan movie I was trying to remember with 6 characters playing one role. While being short and without further reference, this is an answer and not a comment. (my opinion)

So what should I do in such a scenario?

  1. Ping the commenter with another comment?

    @commenter post this as an answer.

  2. Flag the comment?

  3. Post the comment as an answer myself (with reference to the commenter)?

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    There's nothing wrong with posting an answer, even if it exists in the comments. There are a variety of reasons why people leave hints, or even full answers, in comments, but if you want to post an answer (ideally with some more detail) then that's totally fine - don't worry about "stealing" someone else's work. – Andrew Martin Mar 1 '16 at 18:37
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    There's also nothing wrong with creating a CW, and it suited that type of question quiet well. But it would have been quite helpful if you'd been explicit about why you'd created a community wiki. Having said that, this post may be of interest to you. – Andrew Martin Mar 1 '16 at 18:39
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    I asked similar (not duplicate) stuff long long ago Is it good habit to submit a community-wiki answer on behalf of asker? – Ankit Sharma Mar 2 '16 at 7:03
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I am the infamous commenter. Since I have been mentioned here multiple times let me clarify a bit.

The reason why I wrote a comment was because I was 99% sure that it wouldn't be a correct answer, i.e. that there are movies with more actors playing the same character (and Andrew's answer proved I was right). However in my opinion these movies were still worth mentioning. I was aware that someone may us it in an answer and I didn't mind.

That said, I wouldn't want this post to be off-topic (in terms that it doesn't answer the actual question). I lack Stack Exchange savoir-vivre knowledge and experience of Andrew and Napoleon, but I can still describe the approach I take in such situations.

Less preffered approach is suggesting the commenter that they should write an answer. This is due to the fact that usually they comment, because they don't want to answer (as it was in my case). However this is the approach I prefer when I have essentially nothing to add to the comment content.

Preffered approach is writing an answer myself and giving credit to the commenter. As mentioned above usually the comment content is just a part of my answer, I prefer to add also my own content to it. In my personal opinion credit to the commenter should always be given. It costs absolutely nothing and otherwise it's just stealing, even if officially you're playing by the rules.

  • thank you for stopping by and explaining =) – unknown stuntman Mar 1 '16 at 22:59
  • And by complete coincidence I found a nice example. – Chanandler Bong Mar 1 '16 at 23:13
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    I think your approach is just fine, and very much showing savoir-vivre :) I think the only time I would post answers without crediting the commenter is where the commenter says something I was already in the process of writing, or has made a comment so general that my answer would already include the information. But if the comment quite literally answered the question (e.g. by giving a correct movie suggestion) I'd always prompt them to leave the answer themselves or finally post an answer and credit them. – Andrew Martin Mar 1 '16 at 23:30
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Fleshing out my comments a little, here's my take on the situation:

Ping the commenter with another comment?
@commenter post this as an answer.

This is my usual option. Sometimes people have answers in mind, but they aren't certain as to their validity/correctness. Sometimes they consider the question too simplistic to bother writing an answer instead of a comment. Sometimes there are other reasons.

In all of these cases, if you really feel strongly that the comment is the true answer (and an existing answer doesn't cover it), you could ping the commenter and ask them to convert their post into an answer.

Generally, I only do this is the question is at least a day old, as often commenters will flesh out their comments into answers later in the day, or someone else will already be working on an answer that would make the comment redundant - after a day, this usually doesn't happen, so I'd ping them then.

Flag the comment?

No. Moderators aren't needed here.

Post the comment as an answer myself (with reference to the commenter)?

This is totally fine, with or without referring to them. Whilst people dislike the concept of "answer stealing", the prevailing view is that it's the commenter's responsibility to post their work as an answer - not yours.

Having said that, if you feel very strongly about it, you can community-wiki it as you did. @Robert Harvey has suggested as much elsewhere. However, it probably makes sense to make it clear why this is being done and to encourage further edits to the post if needs be. Additionally, @Robert Harvey was referring to an issue being solved, whereas in your situation you posted a possible answer - it certainly wasn't a definitive, final say on the matter.


I definitely prefer the first option, but don't be shy about posting the answer as your own. You're not breaking any rules. If you want to make it a CW, you can do, but it's not really encouraged or necessary.

Some reading material:

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It happens sometimes that users post bases for answers in comments. Those might give some first hints but might not be entirely fleshed out enough to provide a full answer. If you find a comment that you think should be an answer there are indeed various possibilities you listed, let's look at them.

1. Ping the commenter with another comment?

This is indeed a good approach. It gives the commenter a chance to flesh out something that he might not have thought worth an answer. But sometimes users just need a little encouragement that the thoughts they might deem unworthy actually make for good answers. Even 5k users, who should know what a proper answer is might not always be totally conviced about their ideas or might not have the time for writing a complete answer, rather than a little 3-liner. But a user saying "hey, that could be a very good answer" might already be enough to motivate them into writing it up as a proper answer.

Don't worry too much about cluttering up the comment section in this case. Comments that improve the site and its posts are always valuable and are exactly what comments are for. And if that comment leads to a user writing a good answer, then it obviously improves the site. Once the answer is written, those comments can always be flagged as "obsolete" and be cleaned up later.

2. Flag the comment?

There is really no need to involve any moderators on this matter right away. Flagging seems not the right action at all here. As it's also unclear what moderators could even do about the situation.

3. Post the comment as an answer myself (with reference to the commenter)?

Given the commenter does not want to write an answer, this seems to be the best action to do and that is of most use for the site. You can attribute it to the commenter if you want and it's a nice gesture, but not strictly necessary. You might want to precede that by step 1 to give him some chance to answer it himself, but you don't have to either. Afterall it's everyone's own fault if they don't post an answer as an answer and you're not to be blamed for writing a valid answer.

Neither should there be any obligation to make that answer Community Wiki. This is absolutely not what Communtiy Wiki is for. This is still your answer and frankly, if the commenter didn't write it as a proper answer, that's pretty much their fault. You still took the time to do so and flesh it out into a proper answer, especially since you did not just take the comment but went to the additional work of properly elaborating why this is a good answer.

You deserve that reputation and Community Wiki is not for eschewing the concept of reputation for good content on which the entirety of SE is built. Community Wiki is to enable the collaborative construction of an answer, which usually isn't the case when you just grabbed an idea roughly sketched in a comment and fleshed it out into a proper answer. The sole purpose of enabling lower rep users to easily edit an answer is not required in most of those cases at all and there simply is no other use for Community Wiki.

What happened with this specific answer?

Well, what happened here was that I saw an answer that was Community Wiki without seeing any clear reason why that was. I didn't even know this was for the (as explained above, flawed) reason of having been mentioned in a comment before, because, well, the original comment wasn't even mentioned in that answer. If your purpose really was to give the original commenter attirbution for his work, then you should rather have actually mentioned that comment. If that was not your purpose, then there is absolutely no reason for eschewing the reputation from that answer either.

While not seeing any reason for this to be Community Wiki, I still did not immediately undo that state, since I thought there might be another (and the sole valid) reason for it being CW. I thought it might be the attempt at a comprehensive single large collaboratively composed canonical answer. Those might sometimes make sense, as can be seen in this recent example (for now it's only answered by a single user, though, and once it's finished and most of it still came from that user, I'll remove the CW status, too, but in its current form that makes sense).

But once I saw another user posting another good answer, I felt it such a canonical answer was simply not necessary here (as they're also a little iffy sometimes anyway). So that single valid reason for CW vanishing, I turned it into a normal answer. Then I noticed that a comment on the question said pretty much the same thing, so I deleted that comment since it was of course obsolete now.

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