So let's say someone asks a question and you know an integral part of the answer, but not the whole thing. An example of one is this person was trying to make a scalable div with some styling. I knew how to do the javascript tidbit, but not the CSS. Would it be wrong of me to post my answer for the javascript but not the CSS? Technically I'm not solving his problem because the CSS portion that he wants to understand is not being answered much in my answer, but at the same time I don't want this to be a barrier for me to contribute something that I can help with.

Any thoughts are most appreciated.

EDIT: Also are there any thoughts on posting unfinished answers? Maybe you're posting part of an answer you want to finish later?

  • You could say that if the question requires expertise in two domains, it is actually two questions and should be split.
    – Mat
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 10:28
  • 1
    @Mat Well not in the js/css case. Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 10:28
  • 2
    Would it be wrong to edit your awnser to a question if I knew the CSS portion? If the awnser is no, then I can't see why partial awnsers are wrong. This is a community afterall and not about scoring points. Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 10:37
  • If it may help someone, do it... Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 13:08

2 Answers 2


In my opinion it's OK and I will explain why.

  • Assuming you answer is good and correct, it has value for other people, even if not answering the whole original question.

  • The question author does not have to mark it accepted, he can upvote and comment "true, but I still need this and that"

  • Assuming other answer give the missing stuff without what you said, the OP can post his own answer combining both and accept it making it community wiki so that he won't gain reputation for contents not his own.

  • 8
    Or combine and not making it a community wiki. I still find that perfectly fine and in the spirit of the Creative Commons license, since he added value by combining the answers. Preferably he still upvotes the other two. Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 10:50
  • @Emil fair enough, I would make it CW and personally won't upvote such a self answer but if others find it useful then I won't stand in their way.. :) Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 11:48
  • 1
    Jeff himself has said that a partial answer is better than no answer. It's also one of the purposes of Community Wiki.
    – ale
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 13:11
  • 1
    Here's a great example of combining partial answers: stackoverflow.com/questions/12573816/…
    – mlai
    Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 3:45
  • 1
    The pattern I've seen in a number of stack exchanges is that such partial answers are normally posted as comments of the original question. One issue you should be careful about is the fuzzy line between answering a question and requesting more information from the poster. Those with a deletionist streak are inclined to downvote answers that say things like "You should try x first, did it work?"
    – Att Righ
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 15:03
  • 1
    @AttRigh that is true, but not much we can do about it. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 21:57

I think it is perfectly fine to post partial answers. It may be possible to figure out the rest on your own, someone else may post the second part of the answer or you can go back to complete your answer later on.

  • 5
    Agreed, but if you knowingly provide a partial answer then you should state that explicitly along with your plans to provide (or not) the complete answer eventually or with an invitation for others to complete your answer. Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 15:55

You must log in to answer this question.

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