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People discuss the quality of questions a lot here and on SO. I see less thought put into how to write really great answers. Unfortunately, too many answers seem to be worried about how to write a really fast answer.

  1. Does SO need a "How to write great answers" page?
  2. What are the qualities that make a really great answer?
  3. What things are most unhelpful in an answer?
  4. Should a page like this discuss the things that will get you into trouble with the moderators?
  5. Are there other pages on the web about answering technical questions like "How to Write Questions the Smart Way" already explains how to ask?
  6. If we had such a page would anyone read it?
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2 Answers 2

Are there other pages on the web about answering technical questions like "How to Write Questions the Smart Way" already explains how to ask? If we had such a page would anyone read it?

Apparently not. Also see Jon Skeet's excellent Answering technical questions helpfully. (I know, it's linked in the sidebar of the "How to Answer" page, but most people are conditioned not to look there.)

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Like I said, I hear a lot about how to ask, but little about how to answer. Thanks for reminding me about that page, as I did follow that link, but forgot all about it. I was prompted to ask this after reading about whether or not it is a good idea to recommend a debugger as an answer to a newbie question. It got me thinking about teaching someone to fish and the like. I think a snide answer is bad, but showing how you got your answer is good. These are the types of issues I am looking to address. I would like to see this info in an easy to bookmark place. –  Sinthia V Oct 22 '11 at 22:55
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I have a fairly strong view on what makes a great answer to a beginners/entry question:

For me personally what distinguishes a "great answer" to a beginners question is that it doesn't just fix the problem they asked about, it provides some kind of discussion of the deeper issues to help the beginner (and other readers) see not just what they solution is, but why it's the solution.

That is to say a great answer to an entry level question not only addresses the specific lacking knowledge, but positions it within in the "bigger picture" to enable the beginner to progress more generally.

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