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When a user posts his first answer, some brief guidelines are displayed:

“Avoid asking for clarification to answers”

The message Avoid asking for clarification to answers confused a user on Mathematics, who inquired about it on Mathematics Meta. That question has 10 upvotes, suggesting people agree it's confusing.

The user interpreted it as meaning that asking for clarification etc. are not allowed at all on Stack Exchange:

Really?? Seems draconian to me, unless i miss something. What if the answer isn't clear?

mixedmath clarified that it was intended to only discourage doing so in answers:

When the guidelines suggest avoiding asking for clarification or responding to other answers, they don't mean to avoid asking for clarification at all costs. Instead, they mean don't ask for clarification in your answer. [...] So to end, one can ask for clarification on answers, but this should be done in comments as opposed to other answers.

The message should therefore be clarified.

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It isn't already clear that this only applies to "Your Answer?" I think this user just got momentarily confused. My perpetual state of mind when reading any SO question for the first time. – Robert Harvey Aug 15 '12 at 21:02
@RobertHarvey: The flow is not natural. We have to keep reminding ourselves that the paragraph below is describing "Your answer". – nhahtdh Aug 15 '12 at 21:03
Keep in mind this isn't supposed to be an entire "how to answer" guide. It's just a few common issues with a link to the actual "how to answer" guide, which does explain that such activities belong in comments. – Servy Aug 15 '12 at 21:13
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The reasoning why this happens is that the comments are not allowed for zero reputationers. The next obvious thing they then try is to answer the question with a question. And that is not the meaning of an answer.

Problem would be solved if everyone could comment but I think we don't want that, because that gives a risk of lot's of bot comments filling the site.

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Bot problem is better handled about questions - no-one can revise all commenting because they already are more wild than answers by nature. – mico Aug 15 '12 at 21:17

I think it's clear that text is referring to the answers, as:

  • The first line says, "Your answer"
  • The next line says, "Thanks for contributing an answer on [site name]."
  • The line next to that says, "Please be sure to answer the question."
  • The last lines says, "To learn more, see our tips on writing great answers."

The topic for that text is answers, and I don't see any topic change during that text. Question is used just once, in to answer the question, but the topic doesn't change from answers to questions.

I would avoid writing "Please be sure to answer the question." as it would be an item of a list, but that doesn't change the meaning of that text.

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