The system prevents new users from doing some actions until they have enough repution. One of these restrictions is the ability to comment on any other answers (needs 50+ reputation).

I frequently see comments posted as answers due to missing privileges. Seemingly new users want to contribute enough that they're willing to take the hurdle of creating an account in the first place and then notice they will need reputation points to proceed. That is however too much a hurdle and thus often an answer is posted instead of a comment.

To boot, those users' first impression is criticism from us for violating the rules. From the new user's perspective this may lead to frustration and some may immediately turn their back on this site.

It's discourage malign usage versus lower the entrance barrier for benign users. Our site is rather low volume and I have the strong impression that our user base is split in two halves: Questioners and answerers (who share their expertise). Often really good people are rather impatient with such things.

Would it be worth thinking about relaxing the comment everywhere privilege?
Or would this just drive up spam and moderator's work?

EDIT. Maybe this would be interesting to know:
What percentage and number of accounts has the ability to comment everywhere?

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See arvind's answer for exmple. Should be a comment. –  ce4 Nov 9 '12 at 11:01
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I don't understand this either, it seems backwards that someone can post commentary or other crap prominently first, and in a less obtrusive manner later. That said I'm sure this has been discussed to death on MSO.... –  Matthew Read Nov 9 '12 at 14:47
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@MatthewRead: Indeed, there's a pretty long discussion on MSO: Lower the amount of reputation needed to comment One of the main arguments for keeping the rep threshold in place is that it is much easier to police answers than comments (so an influx of bad/spam comments would be harder to find than an influx of bad/spam answers). –  eldarerathis Nov 9 '12 at 14:48
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I didn't have a look at MSO beforehand I must admit. IMHO, SO has however a much higher percentage of malign tendencies (hidden product placement, spam, SEO for own site, bad up/downvoting, sockpuppet accounts, etc.). Not so here. Plus: We have a split userbase into experts/answerers & askers. Lowering this would benefit new answerers as a questioner has already the ability to comment on all entries in his/her question. Besides this: I don't want to spin off a new lengthy discussion, I'll personally accept a short "no" too. –  ce4 Nov 9 '12 at 16:00
    
This has been discussed to death on Meta Stack Exchange. Since this would be something that would be changed network wide, that's the correct place for the discussion. But, before you bring it up again, note that someone asks this very question at least once a month and the answer remains the same. –  Al E. Nov 10 '12 at 3:27
    
Some other example: I didn't notice this answer at all, should have been a comment on my answer. I have just now included this problem into mine. –  ce4 Nov 13 '12 at 21:21
    
I agree - it can be quite difficult to get up to 50 rep to begin with, and people that are new to SE sites just don't understand the system. When I first signed up, I admit, I though it was ridiculous. I am just wondering whether it is hight because of other SE sites? If so, each site should really be able to have independent privilege settings. –  Liam W Nov 27 '12 at 17:57
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Also new users get lot of down votes because of posting a comment as an answer. That's really not encouraging for a new user. You are new into the system and you immediately start getting down votes! On StackOverflow I had seen a question with six "answers" and none of which was a real answer. And when I commented asking the users to post comments they said they don't have enough rep to do that, and went on posting more comments as answers! –  Suraj Bajaj Dec 1 '12 at 16:07

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