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Athanagor Wurlitzer has recently been adding answers saying "This question has been answered in the comments" (see, e.g. https://mathoverflow.net/a/156051/3).

I'm inclined to delete these answers (which are being steadily flagged), and tell the author that the best thing to do in this situation is nothing --- even if it leaves these questions on the unanswered lists.

Does this seem reasonable?

There's previous discussion at Questions answered in a comment. The current batch of answers seem very unfortunate because often the question wasn't precisely answered in the comments, but rather it was explained why it was too vague.

Feel free to use this post to re-discuss this. Personally I don't think it's so bad to have these "answered in the comments" answers, although I suspect that the tiny harm they cause by unnecessary bumps outweighs their tiny benefit.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't see any good reason to have such answers floating around. Personally I feel that if a question has been answered in the comments and someone feels like getting it off the unanswered list, they should expand those comments into a proper answer (possibly CW depending on the amount of work this takes and personal preference). $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Jan 29 '14 at 11:56
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    $\begingroup$ With regards to bumping, unanswered questions are bumped automatically by the community user after some time. So adding an answer based on a comment does not lead to an additional bump, as the answer would otherwise be bumped automatically at some later point. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Jan 29 '14 at 12:22
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, but there would not be a dozen of them in a row. $\endgroup$ – Emil Jeřábek supports Monica Jan 29 '14 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ @MadScientist are you sure about this? I do not believe that questions without answer are bumped (at least not with any relevant frequency, and I mean the global frequency) [The questions that are actually bumped are those with answer yet still considered unanswered, ie no accept nonpositive score] $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 29 '14 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ @quid As far as I know any question that is considered unanswered is eligible to be bumped. I'm pretty sure that includes questions without any answers at all. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Jan 29 '14 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ @MadScientist do you have an example of such a question? I mean if this happens there should be examples where one can see this phenomenon (in the ective list). I for one never saw this happen (and on the old MO expanded some effort to find an instance). But I know it is claimed somewhat frequently this happens. Yet I think it is merely the documentation that is misleading; or perhaps it is an actual bug, or the algo is very much mistuned. But in any case I highly doubt that q without a are bumped with a relevant global frequency. If not, where are todays (or this weeks) bumped questions? $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 29 '14 at 13:40
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    $\begingroup$ @quid Seems you're right, though I'm not sure if that is a bug or intentional. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Jan 29 '14 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder if the bumping algorithm changed. There are a few old favorites I haven't seen in a while. $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Jan 29 '14 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG.Dorais I don't think so (at least not significantly). Which ones do you have in mind? For instance, the QxQ to Q polynomials questions we saw 1001 times on the frontpage (at least it felt like that for me) meanwhile has an answer with positive score thus it does not show up anymore. In my observation what the bumping does, and always did, is it gives visibility to relatively new answers that did not yet get any (positive) feedback provided the questions has no answers with positive score (or accept). I agree with M.S. it is not clear if this is by design, but also it might be. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 29 '14 at 17:47
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Ironically, this question has been answered in the comments by Tobias Kildetoft. If you see a question which has been answered in comments you can make a CW answer which incorporates that comment. You can also add some additions of your own, and if your additions are sufficiently substantial then it's ok to make it not CW. In addition to what Tobias said, you shouldn't do this to a bunch of questions at once as it floods the main page, but a few at once is ok.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the first sentence! (That was exactly my first reaction.) $\endgroup$ – jmc Feb 5 '14 at 8:30
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That could be another post, so feel free to ask me to remove my answer, but what about creating an intermediate category, such as 'waiting for clarifications', which would mark questions for which comments have required to clarify the question asked / verify that the suggested answer works which have not been active for e.g. 1 year ?

This would put the burden of declaring victory / writing out the full answer suggested by the comments in WC on the person asking the question, which is only fair as the person who asked the question in the first place should be interested in writing out the answer, or alternatively making the effort of explaining why the comments are not enough.

This would address the issue I was grumbling about, as old questions waiting clarifications could be happily skipped by other users.

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    $\begingroup$ This could be interesting but feels a bit complex for a minor improvement. Why not just close them as unclear? If they are unclear they should be closed. (One can and likely should be a bit patient at the start, but after a lot of time there is no reason to wait. Either OP does not care anymore anyway, or the clsure might wake them up, which then also could be undone.) $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 29 '14 at 14:28
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I deleted all the answers in question. There seems to be a number of superusers who prefer to have 8000+ unanswered questions in MO, the majority of which (I guess but who knows) probably are in fact completely answered, or adequately dealt this, by comments. This means that looking at the list of unanswered question, involves ploughing through comments to find out if the question was in fact answered or not, and therefore wasting a bit of time before finding a genuine question worth answering. I felt it was useful that one does not have to do it (and so I looked from the last page up this morning).

Since the regular requests to bump comments to answers have been denied in meta, and my initiative has been frowned upon, that's the way it's going to go.

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    $\begingroup$ No one particularly prefers to have unanswered questions, but likely many more readers are looking for an answer rather than an unanswered question they can solve, so a short pointer does not save them the ploughing. As Tobias mentioned above, the useful way to deal with these cases is to rewrite the comments into a proper answer. Needless to say, this requires much more work. $\endgroup$ – Emil Jeřábek supports Monica Jan 29 '14 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ @EmilJeřábek: I don't know if there are more users looking for answers than there are users looking for brain teasers/ fun problems. The playful aspect of MO should not be underestimated. Writing out the full solution is not fun. This is why many questions are just addressed by short comments, under the assumption that if it is a pro asking the question, as it is supposed to be, he/she should be able to fill in the details. $\endgroup$ – username Jan 29 '14 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ To document my point of view, my honest answer to the meta question why do you use MO received several positive votes. $\endgroup$ – username Jan 29 '14 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ If someone is just looking for a brain teaser, they do not need to care whether it was already answered, in comments or otherwise. $\endgroup$ – Emil Jeřábek supports Monica Jan 29 '14 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ Please note that the user that started the very old discussion on questions spoiled by comments also said MO is for procrastination. So the reception of that answer of yours might not actually document what you claim. That being said in general I support the activity you undertook; only I would suggest to sometimes rather suggest closure (via flag) than answering something unclear and to moderate/spread out the volume. But if a comment really [essentially] answers, I support even just copying (with attribution) it in an answer box . $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 29 '14 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ @quid: Thanks. I had done that at least for one question where the answer by Pietro Majer was clear and thorough, but that was also considered spamming in some way. Is there a clear policy on this? $\endgroup$ – username Jan 29 '14 at 14:37
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    $\begingroup$ Regarding policy, there is what is linked in OP and what is linked there, and basically this is what Noah Snyder says on the specific subject. And, there is some guideline that one should only bump about 3 old questions a day by maintainance tasks. The volume is really key. There is hardly any (generally visible) activity that is appreciated on the site at a rate of ten at once. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 29 '14 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ I think there is a hypothesis here that is not quite correct. There is nothing wrong with answering a question that is already answered. Duplicate answers are to be avoided but genuinely different answers are always welcome. $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Jan 29 '14 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG.Dorais the software distinguishes strongly between unanswered questions and thos with answers, via the dedicated list and questions without answer have a very different apperance (red instead of green). I think we should thus try to maintain some coherence of what the system communicates and what is actually the case. Just like we delete (or move to comments) things in answer boxes that are not actually answers. [Or we should try to change the software; but I think it is helpful to have a notion of unanswered question.] $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jan 29 '14 at 21:07
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    $\begingroup$ I used to look for unanswered questions to answer, but I gave up when it became clear just how many of them were answered in comments. $\endgroup$ – arsmath Feb 5 '14 at 0:02

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