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This "answer" is not an answer in my opinion. However, I can see why the answerer resorted to this way of asking for clarification, because there is much to ask in the first place and he wanted to include a code block in his question.

So is this to be flagged as "not an answer"? And what is the alternative when you want to ask for clarification and want to use a formatted text block?

I know that limited code formatting can be used, but that would not have been sufficient in this case.


The answer has been removed in the mean time, so the link directs to the question now.

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Alternative: When I try the URL you provided I get a well-formed XML which tells me that the quota is exceeded. Can you please post the complete exception-message including the stacktrace? – Time Traveling Bobby Apr 3 '12 at 8:26
Maybe, but what if you really need to include some formatted code? (I've had that dilemma myself once or twice, but did not use the answer option). – Gert Arnold Apr 3 '12 at 8:31
Possible Duplicate? How do I post code in comments? – Time Traveling Bobby Apr 3 '12 at 8:34
@Bobby Don't think it is, see my last sentence. – Gert Arnold Apr 3 '12 at 8:40
I seriously need to get more coffee or something. -_-' – Time Traveling Bobby Apr 3 '12 at 8:42
Back to topic...I fear we need an actual example which can't be dissolved to evaluate the need. – Time Traveling Bobby Apr 3 '12 at 9:27
@Bobby. Coffee, wonderful stuff... I agree. After Tim's answer I doubt if such an example will ever show up though. – Gert Arnold Apr 3 '12 at 9:48
up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you're posting that much code in an attempt to get clarification, you probably feel like you've figured out what the OP wants.

You can try giving your best guess a go as an answer and wait for the OP. Something like this:

You weren't quite clear, but I believe you're trying to do this:

... parse HTML with INTERCAL .... .... more proper answer goodness ....

Then revise your answer based on feedback that you receive from the OP if needed.

However, if you really aren't sure - as in you don't have that gut 'I think I got this!' instinct, it's better to ask a more targeted question in comments.

As far as moderation goes, a post either is or is not an answer. If it is not an answer, it will be removed. Note, it doesn't have to be correct, it just has to be something that doesn't raise more questions than it addresses.

Another option would be using something like pastebin / jsfiddle and posting a link as a comment if you aren't sure enough to try your guess as a proper answer.

Unless you're really sure you've figured it out, it's better to just use comments.

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The reality is (as pointed out by @Bobby) that this didn't need to be posted as an answer, this could have been done as a comment because there was no need to post the actual XML. John could have used backticks or italics to convey the error message, and that whole message should fit within the character limit for comments.

So to answer your other question: yes, flag it as Not an answer, because regretfully it isn't. Whoever processes the flags may take the time to convert it to a comment or they may not, I wouldn't speculate.

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OK, thanks, I'll do that. I still wonder though what to do when you really need to post some formatted code in a comment. So far, I've always used backticks, but sometimes it's awkward. Well... that's life I guess. – Gert Arnold Apr 3 '12 at 9:12

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