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102

There are two ways in which you can view a Question/Answer site. One is as a real-time "I've asked this question and I want a quick answer now" type of site, and the other is as a longer term repository of questions and definitive answers. I think that many of us here take this latter view of the site. As a result, we have lots of very high quality answers, ...


55

I also often find myself dropping a comment instead of answering. In addition to what was already answered here, my reasons mostly are Might be too localized. If the answer to a huge question is a one-liner, then more often than not the real problem was a little thing the OP overlooked, having nothing to do with the perceived question at all. In that case, ...


41

I completely agree, and I've been thinking along similar lines recently. I can only answer for myself and not for anyone else, of course, and only describe what I now do. What I try to do now is make the "unanswered" list (and specifically those in my tags) my main point of call. I take a look at new questions, though I try to concentrate on helping ...


41

I think any improvement on an existing answer is valid. It would be far more helpful to have current information than to have outdated yet functional answers. Even if this means you replace 50 lines of code with a new \usepackage and a single command. The reason should be obvious: Answers here are meant to benefit the community, which is always changing. ...


38

In general, you are correct that something which answers the question should be given as an answer. However, there are some subtleties to this. The first is as marczellm says that a one-liner may not really 'feel' like an answer: it may be the core of an answer but need expansion, for example. There is then the question of whether the comment really answers ...


32

I'd like to start by saying how much I respect tex exchange and all of its users. I am quite often amazed by the wizardry that some people have. @Werner's comment above However, I can see a discouraged feeling when ill-commented high-rep answers (like "Try this..." or "Here you go...") win discussion-filled and correct low-rep users. completely sums ...


32

As a low-rep, but growing (or am I already med-rep?) contributor I only partly agree. I worry that first page users will get "burnt-out". Actually, I worry more that some of you guys eventually get your thesis done and no longer have the time to contribute here :-) (On the other hand I am pretty sure that new grad students will follow you. So I agree ...


28

Joseph's post speaks about it slightly, but I would like to add one comment. This often happens when there is not enough information in the question, usually because of a missing MWE. This makes the question difficult to answer, so we often just try to guess what is the problem and we shoot a possible solution, as a comment. If later it is found out that the ...


28

Opinion We have, or at least had back in beta days, an informal understanding that Context answers were appropriate responses to Latex questions if it was thought that at least a few Latex users would find the existence of the alternate approach interesting. More than anything, I think Will's comment on an answer of Andrew Stacey's to Why are there so few ...


27

Solutions using alternative tools which fall within the 'TeX sphere' are entirely appropriate and have always been welcome. Obvious examples are that plain or ConTeXt solutions to LaTeX problems are often possible, or that picture mode, MetaPost, ... answers to TikZ question are often illustrative. For that to work, of course, there needs to be some care in ...


26

As a (very?) low-rep user, I feel like there are two worlds - the world of mortal (wo)men with, say, less than 500 reputation, and the world of supernatural beings with the gods at over 10,000 reputation. The gods interfere too much and too quickly in the affairs of men, while we should probably be encouraged to try to sort things out on our own, helping ...


26

I agree that we should resist the urge to answer bad questions, but at the same time I think we've done well so far with a policy that resists closing questions early until they get fixed (which is what happens on some of the other sites.) And that's really the only policy that would prevent people from answering such questions. Also I think there's a ...


26

Typical procedures include the following sequence of elevated proposals: Comment on the answer, requesting some feedback on your updated request/criteria. Visit the chat room and see if one of the local experts have time on hand to look into modifying the existing (or creating an altogether new and awesome) solution. Spend some of that well-earned ...


25

Officially the OP should accept the answer which was the most useful to him/her. This doesn't always need to be the most technically correct answer. However, this can be helpful for other people who have the same issue. There can be multiple "correct" answers, even if they are different. They should of course all be up-voted. It is OK for the asker to change ...


24

It may be that people don't consider a one-liner solution to be worth an Answer. There's the feeling that an Answer with capital A is something more detailed. This feeling is (at least in my case) strengthened by the fact that somehow, on this site, there are much more detailed answers than one-liners. The Answerers usually go to great detail even about ...


24

In my opinion, the main criterion is "does it answer the question?". If yes, then it is an answer, if not, then it can be part of the question. In particular, if the question is about getting a working answer, a first attempt with dirty code or a hackish workaround is perfectly suitable as a self-answer (bonus points for mentioning the limits of the answer, ...


23

The code in the answers and its documentation is cc-wiki with attribution required, so you are allowed to use this code for making packages if you fulfill the requirements, i.e. link to the answer and the profile of the user who contributed, in the package code and in the package documentation. Note, some users offere a more relaxed licensing, have a look ...


23

The issue can be often be solved in advance by simply not accepting the first answer right away. Instead the questioner should wait at least a couple of hours if not a day until the answer is accepted. This way other people have a chance to give an answer as well. Another thing is when a new answer is given after a longer period of time. It happens that ...


23

Personally I think you should only ask for a MWE if the presence of an MWE would help you to answer the question. A MWE almost always helps even if only to avoid the answerer having to write some standard article class boilerplate to make a test file. But it doesn't always help, and unless you have contemplated producing an answer and the lack of an MWE is ...


22

There are a few different things here, and all are worth discussing. Many of the 'high-rep' users have been around TeX for many years, and answer questions in a number of places. You can look at the first three pages of the user list, at least, and find very active TeX people. So I think 'burn-out' is unlikely. To some extent, all Q&A sites or forums ...


22

The quality of the answer is important. So it's better to make it clearly understandable, improve your original answer, without edited or 2nd edt remarks. The history can still be read. To let the reader understand comments, you could add the necessary information in the comment area, following that comment. It belongs there. Perhaps directly address the ...


22

Code-only answers are usually avoided, since the value added does not pertain to a wider audience as much as an explanation would. However, the amount of explanation is varied (as you noticed). For example, some people like an answer structured in the form: Minimal explanation... some code Broader explanation... while others tend to enjoy Broad ...


22

Let me expand a bit on my comment. I think that there are some basic guidelines for this sort of thing (note: guidelines, not rules). This is a question-and-answer site. So make the question bit a question and the answer bit an answer. Imagine that you are a user with a problem and phrase your question accordingly. As you already know the (or "an") ...


22

I completely disagree with the proposition that we should refrain from answering questions in order to educate new users. I simply don't think it's my job to educate new users about how to ask questions. And I don't really agree with the idea that withholding useful information is a good way of educating people. Like all of us, I don't theoretically like (...


22

Let me give an answer from the point of view of a LaTeX user who is sufficiently expert to do most of the things they need but not enough expert to understand most of the underlying details. If I look at the question and at Enrico's answer, I wouldn't be able to understand that that's a bug or that the incompatibility would be solvable by a bug report. So, ...


21

I can see where you're going with the question and am sympathetic to the general suggestion of avoiding bad questions, however I'm confused by the particular example. The question doesn't seem bad to me (and I'm surprised to see it marked down so much). I'd started to put together an answer to that as well but @egreg's was better so I never completed it. ...


21

I sometimes posted advice in a comment, because of being pretty sure that the question has been answered before and I just did not find the duplicate yet. As soon as I would find the duplicate, I would add a link. It would be good to check for a duplicate at first, before quickly firing answer for rep and badges. I guess commenters often avoid adding an ...


19

Ask a new question that's focused on the thing you've actually been searching for. It seems like it wouldn't be a duplicate because you're actually looking for something else than the question in which you found the relevant information. Having several questions that can be answered similarly, i.e. with the same tools, is fine. Also, asking questions to ...


19

All sorts of things get upvotes: it doesn't mean that they are necessarily answers! Alan is of of course right that unhelpful answers can be voted down, but sometimes what should be a comment or edit gets posted as an answer then upvoted. Those should be flagged: it's not the votes that are important, nor the correctness, but whether the 'answer' is at ...


19

Some simple ideas: If you want to answer just-do-it-for-me questions, answer them. If you don't want to answer them, don't. If you want to leave a comment explaining why you answered, leave a comment. If you don't want to leave a comment explaining why you answered, don't. In general, trying to legislate behaviour, especially of people who are giving ...


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