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Android starting new activity has inspired me to ask this meta question.

I believe the author of the question to have a limited grasp of English and of the concept of the site format; however, he did seem like he was making an effort.

He asked a question with limited information, I provided a possible solution to the question but also prompted him to provide more information. I was told by a third person that the answer belonged in the comments so I moved the info request into the comments but left the remaining answer as it was and I subsequently got down voted.

Comment threads are discouraged and although I used the comments to try educate the original author on why and how he should provide more information, I refrained from putting possible answers to the question in there as it would only increase the size of the thread, I also figured the answer had some value even if the question was vague.

How should I have handled this (bearing in mind that not all people want to or are able to use chat).

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I believe the author of the question to have a limited grasp of English and of the concept of the site format; however, he did seem like he was making an effort

If you believe there's something salvageable in the question, by all means, try to help. Post an answer that's as detailed as you can be including asking for the question to be edited. If you can, edit the question to clarify it. Be sure to return to your answers to questions like these -- a simple answer like you posted will need to be updated if/when the author clarified his question.

I was told by a third person that the answer belonged in the comments so I moved the info request into the comments but left the remaining answer as it was and I subsequently got down voted.

This could be because they found your answer from /review and didn't take the time to read the entire question and understand your situation. Often people trawl /review looking for things they can flag to increase their flag weight. Bad practice, but many do it. Don't let it bother you too much.

Comment threads are discouraged and although I used the comments to try educate the original author on why and how he should provide more information, I refrained from putting possible answers to the question in there as it would only increase the size of the thread, I also figured the answer had some value even if the question was vague

Long comment threads are discouraged in favor of chat, because long comment threads distract from the value of the question and chat is a better alternative. But if the person you're commenting to can't/won't use chat, then comment threads are the only viable alternative.

How should I have handled this (bearing in mind that not all people want to or are able to use chat).

Looks like you're doing fine. Just stick with it, this question needs some TLC. If you can add anything to your answer about how to solve the problem, definitely do so. Continue to guide the OP on how to ask good questions/improve this question.

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Thanks, I have a technical problem editing other peoples questions because of an upload restriction on the proxy where I work, however I am able to edit my own questions which is a bit weird (but perhaps another question altogether). Wasn't aware of review section, will read up on it. –  zode64 Dec 15 '11 at 15:01
    
Link me to your meta question about that @whatsthebeef and I'll see if I can help, or at the very least upvote it. Also, you don't have enough rep for /review yet, but there's plenty of good posts about it here on MSO: review –  The Unhandled Exception Dec 15 '11 at 15:04
    
I will do a bit of investigation before asking, when I am complete I will pass you the link –  zode64 Dec 15 '11 at 15:34

Well, how else would you get the Reversal badge?

Okay, that's glib, but it's a serious answer. Most badges, including Reversal, exist to encourage certain behaviors. In Reveral's case, it's clear that the encouraged behavior is "provide great answers whenever you can understand what's being asked, even if reaching that understanding takes a little extra effort."

It's part of the larger philosophy that good answers are the ultimate goal at Stack Exchange.

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(I'm not going to address your specific case because TheUnhandledException already covered that nicely.) –  Pops Dec 15 '11 at 14:58
    
Why thank you @Popular Demand –  The Unhandled Exception Dec 15 '11 at 15:12

If you are going to give a comprehensive answer that covers most of the possible cases you think possible for what described in the question, that could be fine; if you are going to give a too generic answer, then that is probably not fine. What I read now in your answer better suits a comment.

When the OP is not giving the necessary information, it is probably better not to answer it, as when the OP adds the necessary information, the answer could not be anymore valid. In any case, it should be better to avoid guessing the cause, and write an answer when it is possible to understand what the real cause is. Comprehensive answers would be better, but even those answers would contain a part that doesn't apply to the question, when more details are given.

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My intention was to work through the question with the OP, although I understand what you say about providing a more comprehensive answer. I try refrain from loading the comments for the reasons that have been stated previous, would the other option then be to request more information in the comments and if it doesn't arrive vote to close (bearing in mind the OP just seemed a little misguided)? –  zode64 Dec 15 '11 at 15:07
    
I have provided a more comprehensive answer. –  zode64 Dec 15 '11 at 15:18

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