As the sites become older, more and more questions are being answered already. Stack Overflow (and all Stack Exchange sites) have a "strict" policy against duplicate questions, often closing them faster than anyone can react (it seems :P).

However, quite often I stumble now on questions that I want to ask - which are answered already. However, when looking through the answers I don't "understand" the answers, I'd like to question those answers. "Why is it so?" questions.

Now obviously I could post a comment. - However, those are often ignored by the general public. And with older questions, the one who answered that question may have left the sites already, or at least not care about the question anymore.

So what to do now? - Ask a duplicate question and clearly indicate the reasoning (as I did here)? - Or are there better manners?


5 Answers 5


Ideal way is to set Bounty on the question, asking for more attention and even better solution.

If you don't have enough reputation, or prefer not to "waste" it then yes, posting new question referring to the other one might be acceptable, after you carefully explain what exactly you didn't understand.

Don't take me for granted, your question might still be closed but personally it looks like valid action.


Updated: I must confess to having scan read this question and the original title suggested it was any question rather than the OP's own. However I think it's still fair enough advice.

There's nothing wrong with referencing a previously asked question and its accepted answer to ask about why the solution works (and perhaps doesn't work for you), but with some caveats:

  • ideally try to get the author of the accepted answer to explain the solution more clearly by adding a comment. On older posts this might not always be fruitful.

  • make sure you've read the answer and any comments thoroughly, it's possible you might have missed something important

  • at the very least try using the solution in the accepted answer

  • if you can't get the accepted answer to work for your scenario (if it's not a question you asked) then demonstrate to us how you're using the solution and, as always, screenshots, stack traces etc all add grist to the mill

  • make it abundantly clear what it is you don't understand

  • if the answer employs an API then make sure you've done some homework and read the docs for said API and that it's evident you've done this in your question

If you've done all of the above then go ahead and ask a new question.


When you really don't understand the answers then you can probably turn that in a (slightly different) question.

When the answers don't solve your problem then that is a reason to post a more specific question.

In both cases, link to existing questions and state why you need to ask it again.


That's what are bounties for. Offer a bounty, add a comment that you haven't understood the answers or that you're looking for better solution.

  • +1 for bounty (great minds think alike ;)) but he already mentioned the comment option in the post.. Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 13:04
  • @ShadowWizard: I have meant the bounty comment :)
    – Martin.
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 13:05
  • Oh sorry.. then +1 without further ado Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 13:06
  • Well bounties are so damn expensive :( - especially as I'm really learning to program as a hobby. Questioning everything I keep reading (and I actually am spending often houres browsing through "related" questions just for fun :P). reputation isn't something I just throw around me thinks.
    – paul23
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 13:13
  • @paul23: Hmm. Give me the link to the question you're having problems with please
    – Martin.
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 13:19

If it's a handful of items you don't understand, pop into a chat in a room associated with the language, and ask if anyone is able and willing to offer assistance. The more specific (your) questions are, the better.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .