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There's a question I may be able to answer on SuperUser, however the question is not clear enough to be sure that my answer would actually help the original poster.

Other users expressed confusion and asked for clarification in their comment on the question. As a new user on SuperUser (1 reputation), I can not add my comment on the question. If I could, I would have suggested a better way to phrase the question.

Not being able to comment, my next thought was to suggest an edit. That edit would be significant and could, if I'd misinterpreted the question, change the meaning of the question, in violation of one of the How to Edit instructions:

clarify meaning without changing it

The related question Are answers that guess at an answer, given a bad question, a good idea? offers some advice, basically, to answer if I'm 90% confident that it would suit the question. That might work well for error messages; it does not with this Excel question.

My guess is that this kind of question comes from the wish from new users to provide an useful answer and get some reputation, while avoiding wasting time and getting downvoted by chasing the wrong goose. Right now, this situation is stressful and frustrating. I think it'll wear off after some time.

As a side note: I tried to ask this question on Meta.SuperUser and could not, since asking a question on Meta requires at least 5 reputation. That seems weird to me: isn't Meta also supposed to guide new users?

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You need 50 rep to comment. Answer a few questions and the problem is solved. Maybe even 1 good answer is enough to get you there. –  juergen d Feb 18 '13 at 13:56
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In regards to the meta requirement - 5 reputation is a single upvote. One good question or answer and you gain the privilege. –  Oded Feb 18 '13 at 13:58
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On Stack Overflow if you post a very short answer it will be converted automatically to a comment. I don't know if that works on other sites as well. –  user000001 Feb 18 '13 at 14:00
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I do find sense in requiring 5 rep in per site meta; being tied to a site, it's expected from the user reporting/asking for help to do something on the site first. –  Shadow Wizard Feb 18 '13 at 14:04
    
Consider this use case. First time user would like to do something well, as there is much emphasis on quality here on Stack Exchange (which I support). Before his first jump, he'd like to be helped, so he turns to meta or chat. But he can't ask for guidance since he first needs to do something... The loop is completed! This -valid- choice has 2 consequences: less daring users will be excluded and community may have more cleaning/maintenance to do around newbies. –  raph82 Feb 18 '13 at 17:41
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Many aspects of life as a new Stack Exchange user can be frustrating. Rest assured that the limits have been imposed after lengthy consideration and much debate and are, on the whole, a good thing for the community.

As suggested in the comments, it will take only a few good answers (or questions) from you before you begin to lift these restrictions and can participate more completely.

With regards to your particular problem, I would suggest you answer the question with a clear caveat at the beginning that explains your assumptions about the question.

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Thanks for your support. I went ahead and answered the question. I struggled a lot with a short caveat and finally gave up :( I'll wait a few days see how my answer is perceived before accepting yours. –  raph82 Feb 18 '13 at 17:48
    
That's a great answer you've provided. You've got a +1 from me. –  Duncan Feb 19 '13 at 7:46
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