So for far too many questions I've asked I have received answers but in the form comments. While I am truly grateful, I am also fearsome that these comments can be lost (by deletion)? And I think it goes against the spirit of having an answer button honestly.

Some examples:

Extending Leibniz’s Relational Philosophy of Physics from Bodies to Fields

Removal of the distinction between the "initial condition" and the "laws of physics"?

Non-demarcation between internalist and externalist accounts?


How can I incentivize the conversion of some of these comments to answers? Personally I wouldn't mind typing an answer summarizing (and giving the respective authors their due credit) them but this may not be acceptable to them?

4 Answers 4


It's permissible to write up other people's comments as answers.

It's also permissible to answer your own question.

So you can convert them yourself.


I'd say the best practice is to ask them in comments whether they would write up an answer as the comment was most helpful or one should do that oneself with due credit. That way, they decide what happens with their contribution.

Generally, it is considered bad practice to answer in comments as comments are supposed to be used only to improve the post at hand and may be deleted any time if they don't. I repeatedly tried to point that out to the users who do that most frequently, alas to no avail.


My impassioned response is simple. Many contributors enjoy giving a lot of a little. I don't judge that, but I'm on the same page you are on. As an amateur (I'm in IT in the private sector), this site is one of my favorite learning tools.

If you want to improve the content on the site, I'd encourage you to answer your own questions as suggested here folding in all of the fragments and pointers you get. As long as you give a little credit for the sake of comity, quote wholesale, beg, borrow, and steal to come up with a good response. No answer has to be perfect, and if you use and link to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and other sources, you can put together a decent answer in short order with the help of others. And if you run into a question, you have the same knowledge base to ask and receive help.

You can also offer bounties when you have enough status. I've justed posted about finding ways to improve bounties here.


The trouble is that Stackexchange has two principles

  1. Dont answer in comments
  2. Answers should have some minimum "weight" ie length.

The first is the rule, the second a suggested but non-mandatory directive.

In practice the mandatory/suggestion get flipped!

[An old example of mine]

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