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Naturally, it is possible to get the same errors because of multiple reasons and several times I've seen valid answers with negative scores, which have solved my problem (unlike the accepted answer). However, a comment by the OP stating that they didn't solve his/her problem caused the downvotes. So my question is:

If the question doesn't provide enough information (not because of being low-quality) to immediately pinpoint the problem, but a user is aware of one possible answer (based on say personal experience or docs), should this possible solution be considered a valid answer (even-though it may not solve OP's issues) or is it more of a comment? Should we post the answer, hoping that we won't get flamed or should we just move on?

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2 Answers 2

However, a comment by the OP stating that they didn't solve his/her problem caused the downvotes.

This isn't necessarily the case; most people, I find, vote on their own, without reference the whether the OP believes it is correct; especially when the question is unclear.

If the question doesn't provide enough information (not because of being low-quality) to immediately pinpoint the problem, but a user is aware of one possible answer (based on say personal experience or docs), should this possible solution be considered a valid answer (even-though it may not solve OP's issues) or is it more of a comment?

If there is not enough information, comment. Ask for the relevant information. If you take a stab at it you may well be correct and you may get upvotes but it doesn't necessarily help the OP and it won't help future visitors if the question is unclear.

One more point; "personal experience" is not necessarily the best way to go. Your experience will help you to quickly pinpoint a problem and to come up with novel solutions to one. It is not a substitute for proof. You should be able to objectively prove that your answer is correct, with code and preferably reference to documentation.

Should we post the answer, hoping that we won't get flamed or should we just move on?

It's the risk you take. You may get flamed in which case just soak it up; downvotes are a lower cost than upvotes. You may not get flamed, in which case you may gain some rep. My own personal preference it to ensure that the question is answerable before answering. If you don't have a lot of upvoted answers it's definitely best to move on as too many downvotes/deleted answers could produce an answer ban.

To a certain extent the length of your suggestion makes a big difference. If it is short then it should definitely be a comment. If you're going into detail then it makes it more likely that you can post it as an answer and "get away with it".

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As "personal experience" I mean "how I solved this error when I had it". And I mostly mean situations like when 10 misconfigurations in 10 different configuration files can cause the same error message. Sure, it may not solve OP's problem, but it may solve other users' problems. Is a question considered answered only if OP gets an answer? No one reads comments, so choices are - you either leave your answer for future generations or delete it cause you don't want more downvotes and future users ask the same question again. –  DJV Feb 28 '13 at 11:22
    
People definitely read comments and when asking for clarification on the question the OP will get notified. –  ben is uǝq backwards Feb 28 '13 at 11:24
    
I meant future users google-ing the same error. –  DJV Feb 28 '13 at 11:28
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I suggest that if you have doubts about a possible option, leave it as a comment. Then if the question author confirms that the solution works, make it an official answer.

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I'm referring to situations like when 10 misconfigurations in 10 different configuration files can cause the same error message. Is a question considered answered only if it fixes OP's issue? What about future visitors? –  DJV Feb 28 '13 at 12:46
    
@DJV In that case I would vote to close the question as too localized. –  Mathieu Imbert Feb 28 '13 at 13:52
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@MathieuImbert But the question may not be too localized - actually it may be just the opposite. The point is that the tendency is that answers are often too localized. And that sometimes correct answers are downvoted based on what works and what doesn't work for the OP. Which IMO is stupid. –  DJV Feb 28 '13 at 13:55
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