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Several times e.g. here and its links, people have discussed the issue of questions of effectively answered in the comments, both here and on MSE, which remain in the unanswered queue.

Despite the answers to these questions (mainly, someone posting an answer, which is possibly CW), in practice it seems like this is not done so much. (Personally, I often prefer to comment rather than answer because I do not want to write down/work out many details. Also, I'm not super keen on reputation. So I don't really like the current given solution, especially for MSE.)

Anyway, my question is: is there a reason there is no "answered in comments" flag that moderators can set, which would just have the effect of removing the question from the unanswered queue? This would seem to be a potentially easy solution to many instances of this problem. Or do moderators not want this authority/responsibility for some reason? I realize that there may be many cases where it is not clear if a comment constitutes an answer, but in many cases it is (and often also clear that the OP is satisfied with the answer in the comments).

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't think such flags are needed. A sensible way to proceed is to vote to close such questions -- unless the question answered in a comment is good and clearly on-topic, this is what I favor -- just give as close reason 'other' -> 'The question has been answered in the comments'. Concerning poor questions with score 0 (or score 1 with at most 1 comment): just downvote them if you see no reason for keeping them -- then they get automatically cleaned up (i.e. deleted) after a while. $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Jan 30 '15 at 0:20
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    $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl: Perhaps an explicit "This question has been answered in comments" close reason would be useful? $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Jan 30 '15 at 0:42
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    $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl Sorry, I meant for questions which are on-topic and reasonably interesting. Is closing a good solution for such questions? Presumably someone could flesh out a proper answer if interested. $\endgroup$ – Kimball Jan 30 '15 at 1:16
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    $\begingroup$ If you see an interesting and on-topic question that has been answered in the comments, upvote the question and ask the commenter to give a full answer or give one yourself. (If you feel something should be done and you can do it, do it!) A short answer that repeats the key comments is easy to write and requires no moderator action, so I see no reason for flags for this purpose. $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Jan 30 '15 at 5:15
  • $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG.Dorais: Yes, I think adding such close reason as one of the main alternatives would be useful. -- Would it be possible to add such close reason, without removing one of the present alternatives? $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Jan 30 '15 at 14:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Kimball: I'd say: summarize the relevant comments in a CW answer wherever you deem it worth the effort, and vote to close otherwise. If it's a question of a regular MO user, they will likely deal with the case themselves, and you don't need to do anything. If in doubt, leave a comment as a reminder. $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Jan 30 '15 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl: Yes, there is room for one more. Just make a separate meta question so the community can comment on the proposal. $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Jan 30 '15 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG.Dorais: Ah, I see. -- If I understand you correctly that there is room for precisely one more close reason, of course besides whether an "answered in the comments" close reason would be a good thing to have, there would be the question whether there is no other close reason which would be even more important to have. $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Jan 30 '15 at 17:51
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    $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG.Dorais: My overall guess from what I see here is that people seem to be not overly enthusiastic about adding a close reason -- though given the low viewcount of this thread, I'm not sure. $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Jan 31 '15 at 18:48

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