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Someone asked a question that didn't show a lot of effort. It had a two-sentence description of the problem, incorrectly identified a data type being used, and included no example (though one would have been easy to provide). It was a bit vague, but I had a good guess as to what the OP was asking and how to answer. Another user commented that a minimum working example would help a lot. I waited about 30 minutes (no edits) and answered. Should I have waited longer and/or commented to encourage the user to improve the question? If the answer is accepted, should I go back and edit the question to make it more clear?

In case you're curious, this is the question. The OP isn't actually a new user, but seems to be a very infrequent user and has a low accept rate.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Why not both? I would see the act of answering and the act of advising the user and/or improving the question as two separate and distinct actions.

I'm all for improving the content and trying to guide users, and I encourage you to do just that. But I don't see it as a barrier for providing answers. To withhold perfectly good answers because the questions aren't entirely up to community standards seems counterproductive to the point of Stack Overflow to me.

If you have an answer, then by all means provide it. Hopefully the OP will be helped and you'll have solved his problem for him. As an added bonus to improve the community, go ahead and improve the question. It may end up being a lost cause to try to get some users to improve their own content, or it may not. But it shouldn't stop one from providing content of one's own.

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Okay, I agree. I was going to say that an answer could be the reward for making asking a good question, but that's what up-votes on the question are for. Thanks! – Gregor Dec 2 '11 at 18:09

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