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Is a question with many words and information better than a short question with only the information that you think is useful?

  • Sometimes people post questions that is hard to figure out because it's long
  • Sometimes people post questions with only very little information, but you can still answer it

Which one is better?

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8  
A well written question. Show your work and get to the point. If it has to be a little long, so be it. And a fancy quote to go with it: “I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter." ― Blaise Pascal, The Provincial Letters. –  TsSkTo Dec 2 '13 at 11:12
    
With a long question it can sometime be helpful to get to the point quickly and then explain the background in a seperate section –  Richard Tingle Dec 2 '13 at 11:19
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best questions are those that dominate web search results –  gnat Dec 2 '13 at 11:21

2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

You have to find the golden middle.

There are 2 points to consider:

  • People have to fully understand your problem.
  • Too long questions scare off

So try to put your problem in as few words as possible!

Often, it is useful to add a little context to your question. Explain why you do it and what the problem is. Also what the result should be.

But many don't even read the question if it is a long read or looks complicated: Avoid chatting. You could also reduce your problem to a minimum by rewriting your code to a simple example. That makes it also useful for future visitors who need to identify if they have the same problem as you.

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Why were this question deleted and then undeleted again. But I'm still happy it's not deleted anymore. Now I have an answer. –  LightningBoltϟ Dec 2 '13 at 11:23
    
I was still editing it. So I removed it until I was finished. –  juergen d Dec 2 '13 at 11:26

Summary

Where a question is very long it is often a good idea to provide a summary section that quickly gets to the main points, this allows anyone reading to quickly establish if they are likely to be interested in the rest of the question and provides a core reference for people looking at the question. Of course you should ideally make a question exactly the length to explain everything and nothing more.

Considerations for code and an SSCCE

A pattern that I have seen effectively exploited is one in which the key problematic method is brought out in something like a summary section but an SSCCE is still provided as additional information. As always the SSCCE should be as short as possible but still replicate the problem

Background

This section is to explain that you should include a background section to include anything that may be useful but isn't critical. It's included to provide context as to the answer to the question you asked

Example

As always adding an example can often be useful

Summary

Where a question is very long it is often a good idea to provide a summary section that quickly gets to the main points, this allows anyone reading to quickly establish if they are likely to be interested in the rest of the question and provides a core reference for people looking at the question

Background

This section is to explain that you should include a background section to include anything that may be useful but isn't critical. It's included to provide context as to the answer to the question you asked

Example

Adding an example can often be useful:

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And this is a long answer to a short question :D –  Laf Dec 2 '13 at 16:33

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