It looks like, at least in some sections (Seekers of Perl Wisdom), when you hit the comment link, it creates the response for you. In this Perl Monks Discussion section, I hit the comment link to make this reply, then went back and reloaded your original question. No empty reply there.
in reply to How do I correctly abort a response?
Seems like an inconsistency to me. Hitting Submit or Stumbit or whatever it's called today should be what creates a new note. (You can check this if you have the XP nodelet enabled -- when do you gain experience for adding a writeup? After you hit the reply link, or after the first time you hit submit?)