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I am a nice guy (sometimes).

I have some across a few OPs that just don't like giving up and the question/answer sometimes veers waaaay off into the distance.

For example this recent inquiry... Started off that I was answering the question then it got all technical and a little off topic, should I just stop commenting?

I have done that before for other answers. Once in a blue moon I have commented something along the lines of I am done. after the comments get too long.

What is the suggested length of time one could and should be vetted with one OP when the commenting back and forth seem to be getting nowhere?

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A similar (bit different) discussion that might interest you:… – jadarnel27 Feb 23 '12 at 21:18
@jadarnel27 quite similar, but a lil' different ^_^ – amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A Feb 23 '12 at 21:20
@amanaPlanaCAnalPAnaMA Why do you feel obligated to answer comments? – Some Helpful Commenter Feb 23 '12 at 21:27
@ConradFrix it can add to community at large and help improve my answer. – amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A Feb 23 '12 at 21:27
Are you suggesting there should be a suspension for who got involved in a discussion in comment that doesn't allow that user to write new comments? – kiamlaluno Feb 23 '12 at 21:37
@kiamlaluno I am not suggesting anything. – amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A Feb 23 '12 at 21:45
What would Rick Astley do? – jadarnel27 Feb 23 '12 at 21:51
@jadarnel27 am I being rick-rolled in comments? ^_^ – amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A Feb 23 '12 at 21:52
This is when you give up. – thirtydot Feb 23 '12 at 23:44
possible duplicate of The Help Vampire problem – Cody Gray Feb 24 '12 at 4:02
Yes, it's frustrating and happens to all those of us who frequently bend over backwards to help people. Sometimes you just get sick of it and turn into a grinch. Not a big deal, you'll be back in a few days (or hours) helping someone else who is actually appreciative of your time/effort. Don't feel obligated to respond to comments, and any obligation you do feel should decrease relative to the amount of effort put into the question and subsequent requests for help. – Cody Gray Feb 24 '12 at 4:04
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Well, you have to take into account the attitude of the OP, the amount of important information provided in the question body and whether English is the OP's native language. Then you multiply by the amount of interest you have in the topic plus the amount of knowledge you have in the topic. Factor in the amount of time you have available. Subtract the number of other people participating, with more weight given to answerers than commenters. Next, divide by the amount of off-topicness that's going on, and then divide again by how much of a chameleon the question is. If you haven't been using metric units, this is probably a good spot to convert.

Or you could just use your own judgment and leave when you feel like it on a case-by-case basis.

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Can we get that formula in standard notation, please? – Josh Caswell Feb 23 '12 at 21:47
I am glad there isn't any integral calculus involved. – kiamlaluno Feb 23 '12 at 21:49
@JoshCaswell Sorry, TeX isn't supported on MSO. – Pops Feb 23 '12 at 21:53
@kiamlaluno there is, after the metric conversion, but I was too lazy to write out the entire formula. – Pops Feb 23 '12 at 21:53
I just stepped out of Precalculus because I had too much of it and this is what I see. – Moshe Feb 23 '12 at 21:56

What is the suggested length of time?

Take as long as you want to help the OP, but realize that you aren't obligated. One's natural tendency to get frustrated with Help Vampires should usually give you enough time to address the OP's concerns without feeding them too much and letting them suck you in to a black hole. When you've had enough, just move on.

Should I just stop commenting?

That's fine, it's probably better than an unnecessary comment like "I'm done" which may also be taken offensively or could start a new off-topic comment stream.

  • Use the chat when comments aren't effective enough or get to be too many.
  • If the question does veer into another topic unrelated to the original post, suggest resources like the search feature or related posts. If there are none, suggest that they post a new, separate question.

See also: Exit strategies for "chameleon questions"

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