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I'm new here, so this might be obvious... I couldn't find an FAQ about it though.

Suppose I ask a question, and somebody gives me an answer, but I don't fully understand the answer. So now I'm asking a question about an answer, as in:

Me: How do I do X?
Answerer: You can do that using feature Y.
Me: What the heck is feature Y, and how does it work?

If you were talking face to face with a human, there would probably be a whole series of back-and-forth questions and answers. But Stack Overflow seems to be set up for "you ask question, there is one true answer, you accept that answer".

So what's the best way to proceed here? Post a comment asking the poster to expand on their answer? Post a brand new question for each thing you don't understand?

Also, what happens if you post a question like "how do I do X?", and then a few hours later you think "hey, does feature Z help with that?" Do you edit the original question, post a comment, what?

Just trying to work out the best way to do things.

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Stack Overflow chat or Stack Exchange chat. Find or create a room. –  ChrisF Jan 26 '12 at 11:50
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This thing has chat rooms? o_O –  MathematicalOrchid Jan 26 '12 at 11:52
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It also comes in Pints! (I'm getting one!) –  cdeszaq Jan 26 '12 at 13:24
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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Those solutions are all ok but there is a difference:

  • Comment: I'd comment if the question is just a short clarification of something that was said in the answer. For example, "There, did you mean X?", this would be a comment. Also "How do I do X?", if it was included in your question, the answerer can clarify and add content to his own answer.

  • Edit your question: You should edit your question if you see that, from answers, your problem has not been addressed the right way or completely. So editing to clarifying your question is the way to go, usually.

  • Post a new question: If your question is related but still a different topic (so much that it changes the question if edited), then post a new one. For example, for ("What the heck is feature Y, and how does it work?"), that would be a whole new question, most likely.

  • Chat: Like ChrisF suggested, you can also create a chat room, or use the main chat room, and continue the discussion there.

I know that this might seem too general as a description, but these simple indications are a good rule of thumb on how to act. You'll understand more as you keep using the SE sites. :)

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Though I'd like to suggest that What the heck is feature Y, and how does it work? might be best asked after doing some independent research on Feature Y, at least give it a few minutes of reading somewhere... –  sarnold Jan 26 '12 at 23:31
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Well just adding my two cents here...Others might not agree with me,

But I think if you answer a question and you receive an answer where you don't quite get the answer you can always add a comment relating to that answer seeking further explanation. If you look at SO you will find plenty of examples. Cases where not the person asking the question but other users adding comments to an answer for e.g. providing a better way of doing things etc.

Well I think for the second part it may depend on the question, is the amendment relating to the question asked and if so edit the question else raise a new question I believe. As when you edit your question any other user keen to reply will also notice that the question is also edited and besides you can also add a text in the main question as "Edited" etc for example.

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If you don't understand an answer, then you should write a comment asking the answered to expand the answer. Clearly, an answer such as "you use feature X" is never a complete answer; the answerer should write an answer that is understandable from everybody who read it, not just from who asked the question.

Asking another question again just for the fact who answered didn't give a helpful answer is not what you are supposed to do. That is not what you should do even in the case an old question of yours didn't get any answer.

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"Use feature X" is never a complete answer. But if the actual answer involves feature X, which you've never seen before, it might perhaps be more than can be explained in one answer. So does that then become a whole new question, or...? –  MathematicalOrchid Jan 26 '12 at 20:36
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