I just tried to add an answer to this question, and it took me 4 tries and extra crappy text because the new triviality algorithm kept making my answer a comment.

This question had no need of a long answer, it only needed a statement and a link. Penalizing answers just because they're short, is short-sighted.

You can easily see this on the Review->low quality answers page because it cues off of short answers, and most are just fine and to the point. An algorithm just based on answer length or link content will create way to many false postives, and only frustrate answerers.

Terseness should be appreciated and encouraged.


I understand that statistically, this kind of filtering manages to remove a lot of bad content, but for people who contribute here daily, it feels terribly annoying to be unable to post a to-the-point reply (that is a perfectly fine answer, which can happen) because it doesn't match some automated criteria.

Why are the team not willing to trust at least higher-rep users enough to remove this filter (and the "problem" one, and I can think of several others)? Jeff, I'm sure you have data on bad questions and answers entering the system that show this specific attribute. How many of those come from >3k users? How many come from >10k ones?

Being told by some filter what is worthy of being an answer and what isn't - instead of the community mechanism that is supposed to judge the quality of our contributions also known as voting - is not the way to go. At least not for us 1k+, 3k+, 5k+, 10k+ users who are supposed to be trusted by the community!

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    The "team" is a singular unit and takes a singular verb, it should be "Why is the team" in correct english. – Lance Roberts Oct 17 '11 at 19:37
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    I guess I'm feeling argumentative today, but anyway "the team is" is correct US English, and "the team are" is correct UK English. Or possibly the other way around. As a Canadian I have learned to accept both forms. – Kate Gregory Oct 17 '11 at 20:27
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    @Lance You’re thinking of American English. In colloquial British English, collective nouns can be either singular or plural. See itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001874.html – user156620 Oct 17 '11 at 20:31
  • "The team are" is BE rather than AE? Paint me surprised. – Pekka Oct 17 '11 at 20:45
  • Hmmm, I had no idea that they handled 'number' differently when it came to nouns. I seem to learn something new every day on SO. – Lance Roberts Oct 17 '11 at 22:24
  • It's because it's a collective noun BE tends to treat them as plural but they're used interchangeably. – ben is uǝq backwards Jan 4 '13 at 9:09

Your answer was converted because it was a short answer with a link to another post, which is typically a good indication that the answer is just serving as a "close as duplicate" notification.

You can always expand on the link if you really feel that an answer is necessary in those cases.

  • OK, edited question to reflect that. My answer wasn't serving as a duplicate notification, it was pointing to the original source of the issue. – Lance Roberts Oct 17 '11 at 17:34
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    Since the question was closed as a duplicate of the one that you linked to, I suppose that's open to interpretation. – Tim Stone Oct 17 '11 at 17:36

It's there for a reason.

extra text because of the onerous new triviality algorithm

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    Sure, but it's a great example of a bad algorithm. – Lance Roberts Oct 17 '11 at 17:00
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    Why not answer your own question with a better algorithm? – The Unhandled Exception Oct 17 '11 at 17:00
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    I don't think there is a simple enough algorithm for the case of autoconverting answers to comments. It's much too complex for SE to implement. But if I did try to write one, it wouldn't be based on length. – Lance Roberts Oct 17 '11 at 17:02
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    I feel strongly that removing the algorithm altogether is not a better solution. – The Unhandled Exception Oct 17 '11 at 17:03
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    I have a better algorithm: if (rep < 1000) employ_filter(); else leave_user_alone(); – Pekka Oct 17 '11 at 18:54
  • I disagree @Pekka, there are plenty of users with 1k who've asked 300-400 questions most of which should barely qualify. I'd prefer something like if (rep * no_of_answers < 100000) employ_answer_filter(); else leave_user_alone(); (or whatever) – ben is uǝq backwards Jan 4 '13 at 9:12

Good questions, pretty much by definition, encourage good answers. If you find that the only reasonable answer to a question is "yes, that's how it is now" then you know what? That's a bad question, and we shouldn't answer bad questions. Can you point to an announcement? Do you know why the answer is just plain yes or just plain no? Can you see a meta-question hidden in the question - like why? or "for how long?" or "what can I do about now?" that you could answer?

Write a helpful answer, for this person and those who follow, or vote to close as general reference (or too localized if you believe this is the only person who doesn't know the information.) A helpful answer will never be a single word, or even 3-5 of them.

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    Actually, I did point to the announcement. It didn't help get past the algorithm. – Lance Roberts Oct 17 '11 at 17:05
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    I certainly disagree that you can't have a good short answer. If I ask a yes/no question, then one word can be good enough. I usually have more text than that, but I don't need an essay, I need a good answer. I also disagree that questions that can be answered with short answers are bad. The question I linked to is just a standard support question, which this site is designed for. – Lance Roberts Oct 17 '11 at 17:06
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    Why does having a simple answer mean its a bad question? – kekekela Oct 17 '11 at 17:08
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    @Lance, I disagree. Say I ask whether I should do something perfectly ordinary that everyone does - wear a sweater when I'm cold, for example. You can just say yes. But how is that helping? I asked because I am unsure. A great answer will figure out from my question, or comment/chat, why I hesitate, then reassure me about those technical concerns. Or maybe I ask if the rules have changed. A great answer will tell me yes they have, and here's why, and here's what it means for you. If there is no better answer than "yes" surely it's either NARQ or TL. – Kate Gregory Oct 17 '11 at 17:10
  • While I still disagree, I actually wouldn't have problem with answer composed of only "yes" or "no" being converted, a little explanation is always good, but it doesn't need to be much sometimes. – Lance Roberts Oct 17 '11 at 17:11
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    The set of short answers where the answer is good and the question is good also seems to be very small from what I've seen. Catching it like this seems quite reasonable – Flexo Oct 17 '11 at 18:21
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    I do appreciate the calm arguments expressed in your answer, and very very often, this is completely correct. But sometimes, there simply is nothing more to say than what was said. Why should one be forced to say more just to satisfy an arbitrary automated mechanism? – Pekka Oct 17 '11 at 18:55

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