If this has already been proposed, I apologize. I have noticed that many questions are answered through short discussions in the comments; it is obvious that the OP is satisfied, so no one bothers to post an official answer. You don't have to look too far to find this sort of question, but here is a recent example. I have found several Meta questions (e.g., this, this, and this) about this very issue; the prevailing solution that I have seen is to either ask the commenter to post their comment as an answer or to post it as an answer yourself. This seems like a perfectly fine solution to me, except for the fact that I have never seen it done. It may happen regularly without me seeing it, but it still remains that there are questions that are left in this condition, which seems like a problem to me. These questions will go down in the archives of the site as unanswered, and they will likely never receive an answer. This has a negative effect on the organization of the site and poses a problem for people browsing old questions.
This is why I think that there should be a review queue for old (one week, for example) questions that don't have an answer. The reviewer would be able to distinguish between good questions that no one has been able to answer yet, bad questions that slipped through earlier moderation efforts, and questions that were answered in the comments. The first variety would move on as intended by the site's design, the second would have another chance to be altered as needed, and the third would have a specific opportunity to have the comment turned into an answer (it seems like turning it into a community wiki would be the fairest option). Thus, potentially low quality questions would have a chance to be looked over before they are relegated to their future of likely inactivity in the archives. It seems to me that this process would be immensely beneficial to the quality of the site's archive of questions, which is good since Stack Exchange emphasizes that its questions are meant to be a permanent resource.
I haven't been active on this site for too long, so I would appreciate any response on why this is not a good fit for the site if it is not.
Edit (sort of): Having written my above question, I searched on Meta Stack Exchange to see if this had been asked there before posting; sure enough, I found this question that in essence is the same as mine, albeit without the emphasis on dealing with questions answered in comments. The answer states that review queues are best suited for resolving issues through community consensus, and that tasks like the one I am suggesting should be done on one's own. I would just like to say that I don't think that answer is satisfactory; sure, many review queues deal with gaining a community consensus on how to handle a question, but the First Post and Late Answer queues are similar to my suggestion and seem to work fine. Also, I am asking this question because a significant number of people have not taken it upon themselves to police questions that are about to go into the archives and because a review queue would make this process easier, more accessible, and more visible.
Edit: Now that I have had some responses, I would like to rephrase my idea (hopefully more clearly) and add some new information.
First, I am trying to express the fact that I think we need a way to filter out questions that are answered in comments rather than with "official answers"; the questions I linked earlier in this post seem to support this. The solution to this in the past has been to hope that users repost such answers as official answers, but this isn't entirely effective. Thus, it seems to me that the best way to filter out these answers is with a review queue that contains questions that are still unanswered after a week; thus, the reviewer can easily repost any such comment answers as real answers and make any other modifications that need to be made.
I would like to know whether:
- Others think that having answers in the form of comments is an issue
- The current method of hoping for users to notice this and modify it is sufficient
- A review queue is a viable option for fixing it (if necessary) or what a better method would be (if any)
I have gotten the sense that people do see it as an issue that is not completely resolved, but that the effort adding a review queue would entail is not worth it. I would like to know why.
Second, I used several searches to gather some information that may be pertinent:
- Seven days ago, 162 questions were posted.
- After seven days (today) 40 remain unanswered.
- Out of those 40, 18 were put on hold, closed, migrated, or marked as duplicates; 2 needed modification to conform to site policy (not pertaining to being answered in the comments); 11 were fine; and 9 were answered in the comments.
This makes me think that we do in fact need to make some sort of change to address this sort of post; assuming these data are representative (which I think is fairly safe) and putting the first category aside, a user looking for old, unanswered questions has roughly the same chance of finding one that doesn't fit their criteria as they do of finding one that does, which would be very frustrating.