I didn't used to mind the odd ROT13 comment, but this:
Code Movie Wall (in answers - Community Wiki)
is getting ridiculous.
Can't these discussions be held in chat? Or just dealt with professionally somehow?
whfg zl gjbcrapr
I both use ROT13 in my own comments AND find myself agreeing with you. It does make the comments section look a bit of a mess and could be off-putting to first-time visitors to the site.
I suppose we have to ask ourselves why people use it. They want to hide potential spoilers.
Puzzling is unique on SE in that people reading the questions don't usually want an instant answer. They want a try at figuring it out themselves. We use the spoiler tag to hide details in our answers, but this can't be used in comments, and comments on Puzzling serve the same purpose as everywhere else - to improve the answers. They do need to be hidden in some way.
Spoiler tags cannot be used in chat, so moving discussions there doesn't solve the problem, it just moves it. In fact, there would be no warning to either first time visitors nor seasoned puzzlers that clicking into a chat page might contain spoilers. ROT13 or something similar would just have to be used there, and it would look just as messy and be just as off-putting. Okay, so more people visit the main question pages, but everything negative you can say about ROT13 on the site still applies to chat.
Also, from my experience on other SE sites, once someone suggests that a discussion in comments be moved to chat it usually ends there. That can be a good thing - on some sites users get into arguments about different opinions. On Puzzling though that isn't usually the case - people aren't pushing opinions, just swapping ideas to improve answers and solve puzzles with a "hive-mind" mentality. It is a big part of the community to force into hiding on "chat".
I could understand abolishing ROT13 comments if there were some other way of masking spoiler comments that is no less "secure" than the spoiler tag.
On the other hand, would it be right to prevent two people from communicating in comments in any other language we did not understand? That would be linguistic discrimination. If two people want to communicate to each other in ROT13, should we stop them??
As the one who made the answer, I can agree that this is an issue. Unfortunately, I don't have a perfect solution to this, but I can offer my thoughts and suggestions.
I was a bit confused as to all the ROT-13 comments since I did make it a Community Wiki so anyone could have updated the answer. As such, I can think of a few potential reasons for this flood of encoded comments. These are based on experience and review of the comments and edit history.
However, I want to start with the belief that this is not because the user doesn't want to click more links or is being lazy. Encoding their contribution requires them putting forth the effort to go somewhere to encode it (or worse, do it themselves).
This scenario involves the users suggesting a potential answer rather than updating the answer. This would raise the question of "Why". The explanations I can offer for that is either the user would feel embarrassed if their edit was reverted or they are more interested in the process and being part of a discussion.
I'm not sure of solutions to the first once, since I don't believe there is a penalty for reverted edits or such. The community also seems pretty forgiving on mistakes or inaccurate suggestions.
The second could theoretically be solved with the "move to chat", but I doubt it would. The majority of comments are the only one from that user and having to click through to a chat room would just discourage participation. Also, I think the idea of a "chat room" is off-putting to some users for whatever reason.
With a Community Wiki answer, you have to go into the edit history to see who all worked on it and which sections they worked on. With a comment, the user's name is tied to their contribution directly below the answer.
I'm not sure of a solution to this scenario. Moving to a chat room would not work as it would be similar to having to to through the edit history to see contributions.
This could mean that users didn't see that the answer is a community wiki or that users are unfamiliar with how community wiki answers work. Either way, the resolution lies in educating/training users.
When commenting, you can cause an alert to go to a user. You can also explain what and why you changed. I'm not sure if users are unaware that the edit itself also sends an alert, but looking at the edit history, users seem to be aware of the "Edit Summary".
I think the ideal solution would be encouraging users to put answers into answers, especially if that just involves editing a community wiki. I understand that there are some cases where making an entirely new answer seems excessive and there is no community wiki to update. In those cases, the best option would be if the user could find a clever way to word the comment that doesn't give away the answer but helps the answerer get the point. This isn't always possible, though, and that's where the encoded comments start becoming a thing. I think this instance just seems worse because a movie title is hard to format in a clever way that doesn't give away the answer.
I think this site should have a policy of not using rot13 in comments, or similar methods of obfuscation. In fact it already does, it's just not really enforced.
There are two kinds of comments -- comments on questions, and comments on answers -- which I will cover in turn, since the reasoning for each of them is different.
Many Stack Exchange sites now have a policy against answering questions in comments. There are good reasons for this: it bypasses the quality control systems (since comments can neither be edited nor downvoted); it encourages low-quality, partial answers, which in turn encourages low-quality questions; and comments appear before answers in the page layout, making them more visible, especially to new users who are used to forums.
Since partial answers seem to be acceptable as answers on puzzling.SE there is no reason for this site not to adopt the same policy as other sites: if you have an answer, post it as an answer, not a comment. If it's not good enough to post as an answer, don't post it at all. This removes any need to use rot13 in comments on questions.
The use of spoiler tags in answers is customary. I suppose this is for the sake of new users, or people who just forget and scroll down by mistake, so that they can avoid accidentally seeing the answer. But to get to the comments on an answer you must scroll down past the answer itself (which is likely full of spoiler tags itself, which you have probably already clicked on if you got to the bottom) and start reading the fine print. It's really hard to imagine how you could get to the point of reading the comment thread on an answer and still be trying to avoid spoilers.
So for comments on answers, just don't worry. Post them without any kind of spoiler indication. It's less alienating to new users and makes everyone else's life easier with no real drawbacks.
There is an alternative method that would work without needing ROT13:
Unlike spoilers, this works in comments. (I literally just checked, but feel free to verify this yourself.) The downside is that it's not entirely obvious, especially on mobile, how to see the secret (on my phone I think you hold down the link to see it).
Here's the format, in a conventional spoiler, so that you know how it's done:
[Hover over this!](https://puzzling.meta.stackexchange.com/q/6376/25084 "It's a link with hover text!")
(Note that you actually need something that will be parsed as a URL, so I suggest simply using the question or answer's URL.)
I am for leaving the rot13. I didn't care when the spoiler tag didn't work on my browser. I didn't care when it started working. I don't care that people are leaving rot13. I could learn to read rot13 if I cared.
Puzzling is a diversion. If people wanna play w/ rot13 let them.