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To reduce the number of comments and follow up questions that get posted as answers, I suggest a "question detection" feature be added to the answer box. This would be somewhat similar to the subjective question detection. It could look for the following words (give or take):

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why
  • How
  • ? [question mark] (except in code of course)

It would simply display a warning saying "If you want to post a followup questions, please use the Add Comment button and post a comment instead." Perhaps this would only apply to users with < 200 or so rep.

Yes, this is imperfect. With any luck, though, it would reduce the number of non-answers posted by newer users.


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I agree with the posters who have noted how annoying this would be. It might be less annoying if it applies only to low rep users. Or perhaps there's a better solution flat out. The real core problem is that new users are being downvoted and scolded when they post followups as answers (SO is not a forum, but it sure does look like one!). If we can't have a way to prevent this behavior, maybe we just need to be a little more gentle.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

I don't think anyone who answers a question would care what keywords were used or where they occurred in the post if it accidentally flagged their answer. If, or when, something like this is implemented, I'm sure that it will annoy a significant fraction of users who get caught erroneously. Why, you ask? Because, the keywords themselves are not adequate to accurately flag a question as a question. Language is more complex than that. That's how I feel anyway.

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2  
+1, nicely done. –  mmyers Nov 17 '09 at 17:17
1  
applause {pad} –  womble Nov 17 '09 at 17:37
    
Um, I did bold the question mark. Check the revision history. –  mmyers Nov 17 '09 at 18:18
    
I bet you're proud of yourself, aren't you? –  user27414 Nov 17 '09 at 18:24
2  
HTML FTW (-15-) –  user27414 Nov 17 '09 at 18:31
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Does Geico sell edit collision insurance? ;) –  gnostradamus Nov 17 '09 at 18:32
    
@gnovice: they might refuse to pay if the edit was done while driving a car. –  perbert Nov 17 '09 at 20:24

I don't think there are enough cases of follow-up questions to justify such a measure which would annoy many users.

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I don't think this would work very well for SF, even for users with low rep. Many many times we need to precede an answer with a question for more information. There is typically more dialog back and forth on SF than on SO because of the troubleshooting nature of the posts on SF, and that requires asking questions back and forth.

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I think you mean precede rather than proceed –  Rich Seller Nov 17 '09 at 15:24
    
And you would be right. Thanks mmyers. –  squillman Nov 17 '09 at 16:00

new users are being downvoted and scolded when they post followups as answers (SO is not a forum, but it sure does look like one!). If we can't have a way to prevent this behavior, maybe we just need to be a little more gentle.

We already have prevention for this. To post an answer in your own question requires clicking through a JavaScript dialog telling you this is not a good idea.

Try it. You'll see.

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