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What's the right protocol to engage in discussion with people answering your question?

If someone asks for more details (or posts a suggestion which you've already tried), should you:

  • Edit your original question
  • Comment on their answer
  • Add more details in an additional answer

I'm a new user—it's a little confusing to figure this out.

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migrated from Aug 28 '09 at 1:55

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

Edit your question, then add a comment to the answer(s) you are responding to. The former keeps the question coherent for future readers, while the latter provides a means for those providing answers to notice (via their "responses" page) and perhaps edit their existing answers.

Do not provide additional information by posting an "answer". Doing so effectively splits your question into segments that are not associated by the site, and will likely be missed both by future readers and those who have already provided answers.

Incidentally, you may notice a practice in some older questions where answers form a sort of conversation between the person asking the original question and those responding. These generally date back to the early beta period before the comment feature was introduced - it should be avoided now.

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I would edit your question (and clearly mark the edit) if the answer is asking for clarification, since clarifying the question will help you get better answers. Doing it in the question makes the new information more available to everyone.

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Confused... did you mean "I would edit your question"? – Greg Nov 1 '08 at 21:35
No he's using the "royal I" as in suggesting that "you would edit your answer". – Turnkey Nov 1 '08 at 21:37
I had the question/answer switched in the first phrase. Fixed. – tvanfosson Nov 1 '08 at 22:04

Also, be polite.

If someone gives a good answer to your question, but then you realize you forgot to specify something that would cause that answer not to work, comment on their answer, say thanks, apologize, and refer to the edited question.

Don't just make the edit, then comment "That won't work due to X and Y" when X and Y weren't in the original question. You're implying that the answerer made an error, when in fact you did by omitting pertinent information. That's a rude way to treat someone who's helping you for free.

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It depends on the situation. If it's an important area that needs to be addressed to everyone who will read the question, I'd put any clarifications in the original question. Otherwise, I tend to use a comment. In general, I'd advise against adding anything in an answer if it's not an actual answer or at least a portion of one (sometimes it is valid and even recommended to answer your own question).

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