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Not too long ago I asked a well crafted question (really put a lot of work into the question) which didn't get such a good answer. But I had hope. I thought with a few comments we would arrive at a good answer.

I want to tell them: "Hey, I think your answer has the potential to be a good one if you would just explain yourself a bit more."

The problem is that half hearted answers make it look like my question is answered even though it hasn't been. How would you handle it when people provide insufficient answers?

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I'm having a hard time with the selection of bug for this question. – Josh Caswell May 30 '11 at 1:11
This would have been an excellent question if there was one... – Moshe May 30 '11 at 1:12
Edited to reflect the question. Retagged for good measure. – Moshe May 30 '11 at 1:23
@Josh: It's a bug with the answerers :) – Lorem Ipsum May 30 '11 at 1:27
I want to tell them: ... why don't you do so? – user unknown May 30 '11 at 2:13
@Vince - Tags classify the question. Unhelpful people is not a bug in the system. I just retagged because this is a "discussion" question and it should be tagged as such. No offense meant. – Moshe Jun 2 '11 at 18:33
up vote 11 down vote accepted

So here's my policy from now on: I'm just gonna completely blow off people who give terse, impractical, or erudite answers. And I want to tell them so, because it make's it look like my question is getting an answer when in fact it is not. OK.

Whoa whoa, calm down buddy. Blowing off people who are trying to help you isn't going to get you very far. What you think is a well crafted question, need not necessarily seem that way to others. Very often, people make the mistake of assuming that long questions with lots of code constitutes a well crafted question, when in reality, a question that is to the point and carries with it a minimal, yet illustrative example are the ones that get more attention.

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Let me drive that point home a little more. Vince, your posts read more like long streams of consciousness than focused questions. Length isn't everything. Back up a bit and provide some context, and edit! – Michael Petrotta May 30 '11 at 1:07
@Michael Petrotta, "stream..." I think what you're describing is someone trying to ask a question but doesn't even know enough to concisely describe what the problem is. This is akin to my question "Is the documentation for those who don't need it?" which was closed and deleted! I am hoping this is a forum not only for experts but also for diminutives like me who truly want to move forward. – Vince Jun 3 '11 at 19:56
@Vince, you'll need to be able to concisely and clearly describe your problem in order to ask on SO, yes. That definitely doesn't imply that you have to be an expert. – Michael Petrotta Jun 3 '11 at 20:25
@Michael, you are arguing. Do you want to help? – Vince Jun 3 '11 at 21:29
@Vince, I'm really not. But if you don't find this discussion helpful, I'll sign off, no worries. – Michael Petrotta Jun 3 '11 at 21:47

You're venting. Asking questions is harder than you thought. Other people's junk questions get good answers and your good questions get junk answers. Trying to turn junk answers into good answers seems hopeless. Hoping for more answers when you already have several is not realistic. Who's at fault here? Who can we blame? Those pesky blowhard answerers?

It's easy to lash out when you are frustrated but try to maintain some perspective. An excellent question can go unanswered and it's not your fault, nor is it the fault of the answerers. Sometimes things just happen. The system isn't perfect.

Your question does not deserve an answer; it can only earnestly hope for an answer. The answerers are not obligated to even read your question, let alone answer it. Being able to ask a question and being able to have so many answerers even consider answering it is a privilege: a luxury.

So take the good with the bad, the weak answers with the good answers, and be grateful you got any answers at all. Emulate the style of questions that get good answers, do your best to compose your question, and if you don't get the answer you want, feel free to be disappointed. But lashing out at the very people who tried to help, in their own small way, will only alienate you from the very answerers from whom you are and will be seeking help.

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StackExchange has indicators for questions with selected answers. People see the difference between "solved" questions and ones with answers that are not accepted. Usually, activity is good for your question, since it shows people care and will often help "bump" your question and provide exposure for your question.

My advice is: chill, SO is is great at getting answers. People who get flamed for trying to answer just might not try to help you again.

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