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Answer or comment, which one do I use?

asked 2020-07-20 10:57:54 +0200

keme gravatar image

updated 2020-07-20 11:08:55 +0200

When there is a question I choose to provide feedback on, I may use answer or comment.

My approach:

When I have feedback which I believe may resolve the asker's issue, I suggest an answer. The exception to this is when there is already an answer, to which my suggestion can be supplementary, like an elaboration or explanation. In such cases I will rather comment on that answer.

When I have feedback towards the understanding of a question (precision, completeness, relevance), I will comment on the question.

Those are the more obvious cases.

Not so obvious cases

  • If the question is complex and I have feedback which at best provides a partial resolution, I think I will still use "Suggest an answer".
  • If my feedback is towards the user's appearance (demeanour, own effort, competence) and a suggested change is a step on the path towards a resolution, I would also use the answer.
  • In some cases the asker is mentally locked into a way of doing things which will not lead to the desired result. With experience we learn to read between the lines and identify the cause, and suggest a procedure aside of the verbatim question presented. Despite not answering that question, I will still choose "answer" if I believe that my feedback helps to resolve the issue.

For the former, I recognize that the askbot only allows one answer to be selected as the correct one. Multiple answers which in sum resolves the issue as presented may create "noise" when the asker wants to confirm two solutions.

For the two other there is obviously the risk of offending the asker and receive a downvote in return. Comments have little bearing on "karma" and cannot be downvoted. I would not lose much sleep over lost karma, and a downvote may be a useful feedback that perhaps I should have worded my response differently.

Finally, the question

Is there a general consensus on when to use answer? Should we avoid using it in some situations? I ask because I see rather frequent comments which are really answers, in that they provide info towards resolving the issue. The asker would like to select it as the correct answer but cannot,because it is not entered as an answer in the first place.

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Comments

... and the suspense ... Will responses be by way of comment or answer, or perhaps just a "blunt force" downvote.

keme gravatar imagekeme ( 2020-07-20 11:05:09 +0200 )edit

... if only 90% of questioners on this site would make 10% of your thoughts about that issue, we wouldn't have any comment, any additional question or supplemental information as an answer. That's my simplified view on the (real) issue and the rest remains easy to deal with.

Opaque gravatar imageOpaque ( 2020-07-20 11:50:45 +0200 )edit
2

Your approach provides a sound basis for the dilemma answer/comment.

For your very last remark (solution provided by a comment), if questioner returns appropriate feedback about the problem being fixed by your suggestion, you can add an answer, perhaps elaborating more than you did in the comment because of the limited volume.

Downvoting very often should be explained. It is not always obvious that question/answer is off-topic and this negative assessment should be clarified for author's benefit (encouraging him/her to better describe question/answer or reconsider the topic).

Spam, when recognised as such, is a different thing. Contributors with enough karma can delete it.

ajlittoz gravatar imageajlittoz ( 2020-07-20 12:01:05 +0200 )edit

@Opaque - Thanks, and yes, in a perfect world I guess that would be all!

However, I say we must recognize that people have skills in different areas. Explaining, even describing, things you don't understand is sometimes difficult. That is one important reason for that "reading between the lines" I mention.

Not sure whether that is what you refer to as "the rest...".

keme gravatar imagekeme ( 2020-07-20 14:44:08 +0200 )edit
2

"However, I say we must recognize that people have skills in different areas

@keme - I'm sorry, but this is not the question and adding answers the way we face here, not reading a Getting Started page, not providing Help -> About info and starting to rant if being asked for additional information, definitely is not a matter of skill (and btw, lack of skill isn't a problem at all, since we all suffer from lack of skill in many, many areas). And no one should expect me accepting this due to an "we must recognize ..." attitude. This site is not a "one-way" road (Couldn't resist, though I'm fully aware that this site is not a discussion forum).

Opaque gravatar imageOpaque ( 2020-07-20 15:22:54 +0200 )edit
1

@ajlittoz,

if questioner returns appropriate feedback about the problem being fixed…

But many questioners see the solution in the comment, don't find were or how to accept it, and don't come back more.

May be we need to add another line saying, "If this is not the solution hoped, leave a comment".

LeroyG gravatar imageLeroyG ( 2020-07-20 15:47:00 +0200 )edit

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answered 2020-07-20 22:32:55 +0200

Jim K gravatar image

updated 2020-07-20 22:41:10 +0200

Is there a general consensus on when to use [an] answer?

Here on asklo, we have rather loose standards, and many people prefer using it more like a forum than a question and answer site because that is how other sites for Star/Open/LibreOffice have worked. However, the issues you brought up are definitively answered on StackExchange.

I see rather frequent comments which are really answers

Yes, this is common and there are good reasons for it. See https://meta.stackexchange.com/questi....

The asker would like to select it as the correct answer.

At some point, someone should post an answer so the question can be properly completed. Anyone can do it, including the asker. This may simply be a matter of copying and pasting the comment into an answer, or more information or formatting may be required. See https://meta.stackoverflow.com/questi....

I have feedback which at best provides a partial resolution.

Yes, add an answer. https://meta.stackexchange.com/questi...

If my feedback is towards the user's appearance (demeanour, own effort, competence) and a suggested change is a step on the path towards a resolution, I would also use the answer.

Not sure I understand what you are talking about here, but to give feedback about improving the question, add a comment, and possibly downvote. That encourages the asker to edit the question to fix it, and then any downvotes can be removed. Answers should generally be kept clean of such responses so that they can focus only on providing a solution.

As people tend to take downvoting very personally, downvoting is used rarely on this site, which can be good to the extent that it encourages people to be involved. On StackExchange, downvoting is more common. Also on SE, downvoting only causes -2 reputation for the poster, but here, it causes -10, which can be a significant penalty for new users.

Despite not answering that question, I will still choose "answer."

This is sometimes necessary, but what we like to see if possible is a clear connection between the question and answer. That makes it easier for people to understand when searching for information. One thing which helps is to ask something specific in the question, as you have done in your "finally the question" section.

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Asked: 2020-07-20 10:57:54 +0200

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Last updated: Jul 20