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I am new to StackOverflow and I feel that, even if I can answer some questions, I don't think I can answer it in the most constructive possible way.

My main concern is that it doesn't take more than a few minutes for a question to get two or more answers and these answers often just look all alike. I feel it's not worth contributing to a question that is answered perfectly but I have noticed that despite a great answer, people keep answering the same question in a different way but doesn't really bring more into the subject. But they still get upvotes.

I'm asking to people who visit and contribute to SO on a daily basis : what is your usual way to work with the site ?

Do you care about trying out the question's scenario in your development environment in order to add code to your answer ? Do you keep any sort of code project structure for the SO posts that you are answering ?

I feel I can contribute but I want to do it right. I have read the FAQ and looked at how verterans answer questions, but I would like to get advice or tips that would help me contribute without hesitating or thinking that my answer wouldn't be worth it.

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closed as off-topic by Martijn Pieters, Shadow Wizard, Aziz Shaikh, ChrisF, Sompuperoo Aug 12 at 10:41

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Just post an answer. If you are doing it wrong then you'll find out. –  Uphill Luge Oct 27 '12 at 18:09
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From Jon Skeet: msmvps.com/blogs/jon_skeet/archive/2009/02/17/… –  Oded Oct 27 '12 at 18:09

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If I feel I can help the person asking the question by providing an answer, I'll post the answer.

Users come here seeking help, and there are far more people seeking help than users that can provide quality answers to their questions, so if you have an answer that works and a better answer isn't already posted, post your answer.

In the beginning my answers were fairly basic and would typically only provide the answer the question, but over time I like to think the quality of my answers have improved as I usually try to explain my code now in addition to providing an answer to the question. This teaches users not only how to fix their immediate problem, but also why the problem occurred in the first place so they can better understand the code or language they're working with.

So if possible, try to include an explanation of why or how your answer works, but the main point behind answering is to help the person asking the question. So if someone needs an answer and you have an answer, post it! :)

As for your second question about a test project for code or not... I actually do have a test project I keep around for testing code from SO, but I find I don't need it for most questions. Its typically only used in cases where I want to test the code provided to see if I can duplicate the problem, or if I am unsure about my answer and want to test it before posting, or if I need to setup a test scenario to find an answer to a problem that has caught my attention and I don't actually know the answer.

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Thanks, Rachel ! About pasting code (example : C# code), do you think it's better to provide the actual working code of a given console project or code snippets are enough ? –  user200514 Oct 27 '12 at 18:41
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@SteveHémond I find code snippets are usually best for answering questions. This way the relevant code is the only code listed, so users looking at your answer can easily find the code needed to answer the question instead of having to search through code for a sample project to find it. –  Rachel Oct 27 '12 at 18:44

Jon Skeet on answering questions on StackOverflow:

http://codeblog.jonskeet.uk/2009/02/17/answering-technical-questions-helpfully.aspx

Jon Skeet on asking questions on StackOverflow:

http://codeblog.jonskeet.uk/2010/08/29/writing-the-perfect-question.aspx

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Great reference ! Thanks ! –  user200514 Oct 27 '12 at 18:09