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First off before allowing all to tear into the meat of what will be written like some saber tooth cat let us cleanse the palate first with a little bit of preface time for those who may not know me. Let me say that I seem to be a Contrarian when it comes to Stack Overflow having written some posts like

That sampling of mine seems to bring a different view to the mix of answers and questions here on Stack Overflow. Note that I am not trying to go against the grain, per se; for it is a learning experience and I have really learned a lot since posting those questions and am truly humbly thankful. I find Stack Overflow’s community very dynamic and its loss from the development community would be profound.

Ok, so you know that some of my questions go against the grain alcohol so to speak, so it should not be surprising that my answers can sometimes do the same. Which harkens to the title of this post but sublty rephrased:

Is diversity in answers really allowed?

Now I understand that not all my responses to questions are the Wonka’s Golden Ticket to a happy result in the burbs, and frankly some of them are downright feral dogs of an answer. But my intent is to provide an alternate line of thinking; for sometimes in development there are more than one way to skin that saber toothed cat. Or maybe I can provide insight on a side topic which is not the answer but could help someone or the originator of the question with an alternate line of help. Isn’t that what a community is for…to provide all possible solutions?

With that backdrop I find myself being targeted and heavily critiqued for some of my, to quote one of the someone’s response “Another not really relevant answer” (emphasis mine) answer. In a span of an hour I became a target of multiple people who began to enumerate my responses and pulled out the worst of the worst (with a couple exceptions) to expose to the world the ones they felt broken some cardinal rule. They took one answer, which I replied two almost two years ago, (where it was marked as answer) and made it a comment (though nobody else answered or helped the OP) and told me and I quote

“Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, we would like you to include the essential parts of the linked article in your answer, and provide the link for reference. Failing to do that leaves the answer at risk from link rot.”

Wow…link rot? The blog linked to is from Microsoft’s SQL server team blog! The article is not a simple how to, but a laundry list of things to try.

Ok, I get that my posts will be marked down and that to me is a learning experience; but isn’t it better to provide an answer than not provide one at all?

I have a blog where I have taken the time to drill down into different topics and yes I link to those articles. The blog has zero ads and I pay for it out of my own pocket. But one individual felt that I am spamming the world by linking and provided this feedback

“There definitely seems to be a pattern of answers you post that are very weak, and simply excuses to link to your blog.”

I get that some answers may be thin…but did the person who went through my queue take time to reward me for good answers?

No, for criticism, sadly, only seems to go in one direction. Did he reply to the good answers where I linked to my blog which turned out to be very forward thinking such as this one: Read MS Exchange email in C#. The criticism implies I only do bad answers…for how about the answer:

Equalizing lines of data according to DateTime

Where I came back time and time again to craft the answer via multiple edits. It only has 1 markup, but frankly that answer to me shows my modus operandi, that if I am on the right track I will continue and work with an OP. I am actually very proud of that answer.

I guess I am just venting here, but I won’t be bullied either. I believe it is insightful for answers to be downvoted and criticism provided, that is not my gist, but to be labeled and sought out; that to me doesn’t seem to match the spirit of providing answers to users.

What can I or someone who comes after me learn from this experience? What does the community think and how should I proceed?

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by Anthony Pegram, JNK, Andrew Barber, Gilles, Mark Trapp Jan 16 '12 at 19:45

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Any chance you can summarize in a TLDR version? Interestingly, your posts that are around 100 words both have positive scores. Your posts with over 200 words have negative scores. This post has 809... – Farray Jan 16 '12 at 19:13
Any chance of a movie version? – Yannis Jan 16 '12 at 19:16
I up voted you twice today, OmegaMan. Way to make unfounded accusations. Now I've also down voted you twice today. – Andrew Barber Jan 16 '12 at 19:16
As for the answers in question being thin, that is an understatement. Multiple of the answers I marked had nothing to do with their questions. – Andrew Barber Jan 16 '12 at 19:20
"Isn’t that what a community is for…to provide all possible solutions?" This is a notion you need to disabuse yourself of and quickly. We are not interested in all possible solutions. We are interested in the best possible solution. And by definition, a solution that doesn't even attempt to address the actual question is not going to be the best possible solution. – Anthony Pegram Jan 16 '12 at 19:22
+1 for the entertaining metaphors! – Marvin Pinto Jan 16 '12 at 19:22
Brevity is the soul of wit. Also, you can spam and be considered a spammer without actually making a single dime off of what you are promoting. – Won't Jan 16 '12 at 19:31
@Won't Is there any irony in the fact that you edited that comment to add to it? ;-) – Andrew Barber Jan 16 '12 at 19:40
@AnthonyPegram - There is often no best solution for every circumstance. A solution that doesn't apply to the OP's situation but could reasonably apply to that of people reading it can have its place. Though my guess is you wouldn't place the answers in question even into that category. – psr Jan 16 '12 at 19:41
up vote 8 down vote accepted

As you mentioned, most of your post is kind of a rant (venting, as you called it), so I'll respond to the main point:

Is diversity in answers really allowed?

Of course! Having a variety of approches to reach a solution is great. Bring on the diversity.

But, the common denominator among these approaches is that they need to be good answers. There are so many descriptions of "What is a good answer?" on this website (here on meta, on the blog, in the faq, etc) that I'm not going to go into what that entails.

For instance your answer here is great. It is much, much better than the first revision, where you just linked to your blog. You give a brief explanation and an example.

On the other hand, this other answer to the same question was also great, even though it takes a completely different approach (explaining, in laymens terms, the nature of the problem and how it can be solved).

If that is not diversity in answers being viewed very favorably by the community (indicated by the upvotes on both answers), I don't know what is.

It seems like you're frustrated by some negative experiences you've had. Learn from those experiences; try not to see them as a personal attack, but as an opportunity to improve your future posts. If someone took the time to go through your answers and judge them, learn from that as well.

share|improve this answer
An excellent answer. Side note: My comments on those answers, especially the old ones, were basically meant for the OP and myself. Aside from the mod who handled my flag, no one else would have known of them were it not for this question. – Andrew Barber Jan 16 '12 at 19:47
Thanks @Andrew. I figured as much. Honestly, it sounds like you were giving the OP some much needed guidance on what is acceptable in the community, and they just took it personally. – jadarnel27 Jan 16 '12 at 19:50

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