What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 130 Stack Exchange communities.

This came up because of this SO question. It's a good question, that got a good, correct answer. It had already been answered by the time I looked at it so instead of posting a duplicate answer which would benefit no one, I added a new answer that did not answer the question at hand, but is related to the topic and might prove useful.

The OP is writing minesweeper. I added the answer because I wrote minesweeper a few weeks ago and had a problem and wanted to pass on the information that I learned. I thought I was helping, but I got a -1 for it.

If the question already has an answer, is it considered bad form to not answer the question but try to provide extra info that might be helpful?

share|improve this question
    
You should read this question. –  Won't Feb 27 '12 at 16:57
    
@Won't that table is excellent. Maybe it should be added to the SO FAQ? –  jb. Feb 27 '12 at 18:33

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

There is nothing wrong with posting a new answer to a question if you can provide new or additional information. In fact, I would say that this is good form—a diversity of solutions to a problem is welcome. Obviously you don't want to duplicate information that has already been provided in another answer, but if you have something fresh or original to contribute, you should not hesitate to post an answer of your own—even if an answer has already been posted and accepted.

Of course, if your "answer" doesn't actually answer the question, and instead just provides useful interesting or related information, you probably shouldn't post it as an answer. Instead, just post a comment to the question. Answers should be reserved for things that actually answer the question.

Finally (and I suspect this is the reason someone downvoted the specific answer you link to), answers should be more than just a link. If it's a link to an external site, you should reproduce enough of the information found in the linked page to make your answer self-contained. This is particularly important to stave off link rot, but also important in our journey to make Stack Overflow a self-contained resource and repository of information. If it's a link to another question/answer on Stack Overflow, that should definitely left as a comment. Those don't amount to an answer to the question, and the question might even need to be closed as a duplicate.

I think the answer you left should have been a comment:

By the way, I wrote my own Minesweeper game a few weeks ago, and needed to know how to click both mouse buttons at the name time on a number to unveil all the covered boxes surrounding it. I asked an SO question about it; you might find the answers useful.

But I would definitely encourage you to continue posting such helpful comments in the future! I do this frequently. Even the person who asked the question thought it was helpful, commenting:

Cool, that might come in handy

share|improve this answer
    
It is a comment, now. –  Won't Feb 27 '12 at 16:57

An answer really should answer the question. Relaying extra information that is only related or interesting to others should be left in the comments. That being said, your example really is more of a comment.

share|improve this answer

I think this comes into play when you have an answer that technically answers the question, but leaves out important information that could be useful. In such a case, I think it definitely makes sense to provide an additional answer. After all, answering the question for the OP is one part, but the long term information provided to Google searchers is where the value of SO really shines.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .