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I found this question which has a perfect answer. However, I noted that the OP does not seem to understand well some point of his own problem - specifically, how the Python unicode() function works and, in fact, how encoding works as well. I was almost posting an answer complementing the previous answer, explaining how the function works and suggesting this link about encoding.

However, I stopped and wondered if it would be acceptable. It may have some problems:

  • it can sound as an arrogant commentary answering what was not asked.
  • I may look like some guy posting vaguely related answers trying to get some vote.
  • It could be considered just plainly off topic.

On the other hand, it can be a good thing to do:

  • It can make it clearer to the OP.
  • Some people who finds this question in Google may find my answer useful.
  • My answer would give some theoretical background to the straightforward answer.

What do you all think? Would it be acceptable or recommended to post my answer?

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1  
Well, I guess this was not implemented in meta! –  jmfsg Jun 6 '11 at 21:00
    
@Juan - I think it was, but briefly. Check the version numbers - we're at release 5 for today. –  ChrisF Jun 6 '11 at 21:02

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Would it be acceptable or recommended to post my answer?

From what you tell, sure, absolutely!

SO's mission is still to provide the as much knowledge and in-depth information on a question as possible.

If you're unsure how it's going to be received, it usually helps (and is good form) to give kudos to the accepted answer ("@xyz answers the question perfectly, but I thought I'd add some background...")

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There is another option... Just edit the existing answer, adding an explanation of why the asker is seeing what he's seeing. If you feel the existing answer is nearly perfect but could use a little bit of additional information, this is a fine alternative to commenting (comments tend to be less visible to readers, and can even be misinterpreted as criticism).

it can sound as an arrogant commentary answering what was not asked.

As Pekka notes, you can certainly add another answer. My preference is to make it as complete as possible, reiterating or summarizing what's already been said and then adding the information you feel is missing.

Like I've done here...

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I like your suggestion, although I'd not follow it in this case because my comment is not so short. I'd cogitate to create a more complete answer, however. –  brandizzi Jun 6 '11 at 21:29
    
Editing the answer to add something completely different might not be the best idea. Extending an answer is always welcome, but I'm note sure what happens if you leave the scope of an answer with an edit. –  Time Traveling Bobby Jun 6 '11 at 21:59
    
@Bobby: I hesitate to remove or contradict existing information, but there's no reason why adding to / expanding on the information presented should be a problem. Naturally, if the original author rolls it back you should respect that and simply post a separate answer. –  Shog9 Jun 6 '11 at 22:19
    
@Shog9: Of course does the author have the last word. But I think that different information should go into a separate answer. Otherwise there's the risk for comments like +1 for the first part, -1 for the last if people disagree with that part. It should also be easier for the OP to react to this new information, ask for further clarification etc. . –  Time Traveling Bobby Jun 6 '11 at 22:27
    
@Bobby: Perhaps we're thinking of different sorts of edits here... If someone's willing to down-vote an answer because it contains too much relevant information, that's pretty random. Obviously, if you want to write an opinion piece do it in your own answer (or... take it somewhere else). –  Shog9 Jun 7 '11 at 19:18
    
@Shog9: It could be that we're talking at crossed purposes. I just think that if an answer has a specific topic, like say a question about PHP and SQL Injection, and the answer is about mysql_real_escape, it shouldn't be extended by someone else then the author with information about PDO or mysqli, because that's outside of the scope of the answer. –  Time Traveling Bobby Jun 7 '11 at 20:22

I haven't looked at the specific question closely, but it does happen that sometimes you think the asker has asked the wrong question, and while there's a good answer for the literal question that was asked, it may not actually solve the actual problem. If this is the case, then sure, try to answer both the literal question and the implied question. And if someone has already done half the job, posting to do the other half (citing the existing half, the way you've done) is not only allowed but even desirable in my book.

If you see a one-liner answer with correct code but no explanation of why it works, and you think that, given the asker's level, this requires more explanation than would fit in a comment, it's similarly a good idea to write another answer with a detailed explanation, including similar code. This is not a duplicate of the earlier answer: an answer is not just the recommended technical solution, it's also the way you explain that solution.

In either case, my message is that if you have a substantial amount of information that is directly relevant to the question, and that information is not present (or not well-explained) in existing answers, it's fine to post a new answer. If you only have a sentence or two to add, write a comment; if you have three paragraphs to add, write an answer.

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