In 2011, Paul Ford wrote about the “fundamental question of the web”:

“Why wasn’t I consulted,” which I abbreviate as WWIC, is the fundamental question of the web. It is the rule from which other rules are derived. Humans have a fundamental need to be consulted, engaged, to exercise their knowledge (and thus power), and no other medium that came before has been able to tap into that as effectively.

I found this interesting in part because it explains my greatest frustration with Stack Overflow and all of the Stack Exchange sites: the fact that you need a certain “reputation” score to be able to upvote or comment.

Apparently, Stack Overflow has a problem with submissions that should have been comments. I see this comment on a lot of answers: “This should have been a comment.” I’ve made edits to other people’s answers, adding relevant information or adding emphasis to a point that was already in the answer, and had my edits rejected with the explanation: “This edit should have been a comment.”

But this is a problem entirely of their own making, because guess what: I’m not allowed to comment. When you don’t let people write comments, and two main ways of earning the points that let you write comments is by answering questions or editing answers, then what do you expect?

The norm on internet platforms is that if you have something to say, you can say it. By showing me a conversation where other users are able to weigh in, but I am not, Stack Overflow is violating that norm, and it can be incredibly frustrating.

Stack Overflow wants to be more welcoming to newbies. Allowing them to upvote and comment would be a good way to start.