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I provided this answer for a question on Stack Overflow, which was intended to answer this "question within a question" near the end of the post:

Is this will work in all browsers?

Anyone have an idea?

I got a few down-votes and a comment, "Not an answer to the question." So is it not appropriate to answer these "sub-questions"? Should the user not have posted the question that way to begin with? I'm feeling a little bit like I took the bait and took the fall.

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I would have personally left it at a comment. Helpful, but not answering the core question. – Bart Feb 9 '13 at 21:28
up vote 6 down vote accepted

You have three options:

  • Leave a comment on the question. Since it isn't answering the core question.
  • Answer the core question, plus add the details on the "sub-question".
  • Edit a current answer to include those details, thus making it complete.
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Is editing someones else's answer with new content the done thing? That seems wrong to me. – Eric Feb 9 '13 at 21:44
@Eric: As long as the original meaning of the post hasn't changed, adding details to an answer is fine. It's a misconception many people have, the point is the quality of the answers, not the pride of a specific user having his post changed and details added to it. – Madara Uchiha Feb 9 '13 at 21:50
I agree with the concept of editing a current answer as the right thing to do, but if you use Kevin Reid's approach, then both users are able to generate rep for their contributions (even partial answers) to the question. Do you feel like his approach is also a valid option in these circumstances? – wxactly Feb 11 '13 at 17:45
@wxactly: No. Because if sometimes in the future, John Doe decides to remove his answer, your loses context unless you answered in full. – Madara Uchiha Feb 11 '13 at 19:06
@MadaraUchiha: Fair enough. And I also understand it wouldn't be appropriate to copy the accepted answer into your own answer, effectively giving you credit for someone else's work. So, the only options left are the ones you mentioned. – wxactly Feb 11 '13 at 19:12

When I write a sub-answer, I usually start it with something like “While I agree with John Doe's answer about your main problem, I'd like to expand on…”. So far, nobody's complained.

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