I have recently been seeing a lot of questions which amount to the OP showing a decent amount of code and effort, with a "I got stuck here" conclusion. I suppose this is actually something which has been present for a long time.

Aside from when it started or if it is pervasive, I am curious whether or not it is more helpful in the long run to explain the whole position of why the OP got stuck with the hopes it will prevent this in the future for others, or if it is more helpful to directly show the missing code in their current (what is sometimes localized) example.

I know that in the past when I got stuck, looking at real code in other questions was helpful. However, so was a thorough explanation of the topic.

Should we aim at educating future visitors or at coding local examples?

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    Why favor one over the other? You can both explain the whole position of why the OP got stuck with the hopes it will prevent this in the future and directly show the missing code in your answer. – Frédéric Hamidi Apr 24 '13 at 22:02
  • @FrédéricHamidi - Usually I will do some of one, and some of the other. But overall I tend to see only one flavor of this. Also, no one seems to acknowledge an answer which is purely explanation of the topic because it does not exactly address all of the localized concerns. – Travis J Apr 24 '13 at 22:04
  • Local examples are often very helpful to future users. – user206222 Apr 24 '13 at 22:27

If I examine how I use answers, it's usually looking for a piece of code and mentally thinking "Aha!" when I find it.

Where it's available, I usually then consume the information and detail around it; other related posts, understanding the context. It may be a brief description with a few links or it might be a longer more detailed post on background, pitfalls, caveats, other peoples experiences and influencing factors... If I know I can add value through experience to an answer, I'll always add to it in the hope that someone, somewhere will benefit from it.

Thus, I think a great answer is one that doesn't just answer, but informs and educates too - a subject that's been in focus to some extent today.

People tend to take what they need from answers, but the more you provide (within reason), the better the likelihood of educating them and perhaps cajoling them into writing better answers themselves.

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