I stumbled in a comment discussion on a question here : Customer search using LINQ followed by conditional filtering of results

The first comment from the OP :

Awesome, thank you for the Order By tip. However, what if i had 20 if statements, thus making my function huge. Would you have a suggestion as to how the function could be re-written?

And the response from another user :

@ShareYourKnowledge We don't review hypothetical code, only the real thing.

My first reaction to the second comment was that even if the comment was asking a question about hypothetical code, it was a comment. It's not a real question of this site, so I don't mind people asking question about hypothetical situation since it's only a comment in response to answer.

Can a question in a comment really be off-topic ?

Is this a problem for this site if user ask questions about hypothetical situation in response in an answer ?

The problem that arise from that discussion is an argumentation about what is on/off topic for the site which was more damaging in my eyes than asking an hypothetical question.

If a comment is really off-topic, should we not flag it instead ? Comments are second citizen so if they are a nuisance we should get rid of it.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't know if "off-topic" is the way I would characterize the comment. I think that the original poster was trying to seek clarification, but it ended up being closer to an unreasonably broad follow-up question instead. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 17:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, that was bad phrasing from me. It sounded like the OP was about to ask another question, so I was trying to warn them ahead of time that the question they were asking was off-topic, and I failed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nic
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 2:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was reading the off-topic reasons the other day, and reading your question reminded me of the nice request that was made at the bottom of the example code close reason. "When we point out issues with your fabricated example, just play along. Please don't reply with "what if…" comments." \$\endgroup\$
    – Peilonrayz Mod
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 8:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @QPaysTaxes I understand what you were trying to achieve and this is why I asked this question. I was trying to see if it was legitimate or not and see what action should I take if it happens again. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marc-Andre
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 12:59

3 Answers 3


Comments aren't on or off topic. Comments are just that: comments.

I read OP's comment as asking for further clarifications about the scalability of a proposed solution, which is exactly what comments are for.

I deleted that noisy comment thread.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the clean-up. I did not flag right away, since I wanted to ask the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marc-Andre
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 18:04

Comments are not questions. In principle they cannot be off-topic for the site (since they're not questions, right?)

But Comments can be other things. Among these is "too chatty".
A comment like this invites extensive discussion in a way. As such it's not a good comment. It would be helpful to refer the participants to chat where they can have a proper discussion.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I like the option to propose a chat if I see something similar in the future. \$\endgroup\$
    – Marc-Andre
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 18:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Speaking of birds, did you know that the Great Blue Heron is only related to the Little Blue Heron at Class level? That is to say they are both "birds" rather than even being in the same family? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 13:45

A question in a comment is just that: a comment.

If you want to answer it, feel free to do so. However, do note comments aren't supposed to last forever. Questions posed there are likely to only benefit the OP, not to the rest of the visitors.

Don't feel obligated to even reply to such comments with an answer. Explaining comments aren't supposed to be used for questions is a valid response. However, comments can't be off-topic. They can be 'too chatty'. They can be 'not constructive'. But technically there's no such thing as on-topicness for comments.

Comments are supposed to be used for clarification. Request for clarification, suggested clarifications, etc.

Comments are not supposed to be used for questions. However, questions posed in the comments can provide context and/or clarification about the intent of the author.

Is this a problem for this site if user ask questions about hypothetical situation in response in an answer?

No. It could be unwanted, it could even be noise, but it's not a problem.


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