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I see a lot of questions being answered in coding languages which haven't been tagged or even mentioned by the original poster.

What is the etiquette around providing answers for questions in regards to the tags provided?

I understand that some people just aren't aware of their options and that there could be a much easier way to solve the problem using a particular language or library. However most of the time (from what I've seen) it's not the case. It seems silly to instantly put a answer in with details about something the original poster hasn't asked or tagged.

Wouldn't it be better to first post a comment and flesh out what the restrictions are to the problem and then provide the answer?

Thanks in advance.

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It depends.

I try to answer the specific question, then enumerate better options if it seems reasonable to do so.

If the only good answer falls outside the bounds of the specific question, I'll generally ask if the restrictions are actually as stated, or try to pin down the reasoning behind then to see if they can be redefined, restated, or relaxed.

If no restrictions are stated, then it's a legitimate free-for-all.

  • Thanks for your thoughts Dave. I agree with you and think that this is logical and the most helpful approach. Do you think then that earlier posted answers which suggest untagged solutions should be down voted? – Mal May 20 '13 at 2:08
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    @Mal I think it really depends on the specifics; I personally tend to comment rather than downvote, saving downvotes for issues of quality rather than content, unless it's clearly wrong, harmful, misleading, etc. – Dave Newton May 20 '13 at 2:18
  • I know I've generalized a bit with this question, the situation is different each time but I think you've clarified a lot for me. Thanks. – Mal May 21 '13 at 0:53
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As someone who regularly (or at least when I have time to answer questions) answers C#-tagged questions with VB.NET answers, it depends upon how closely the relationship is with the question, the language requested (tagged), the platform/environment, and whether the answer highlights a point in the requested or used language.

If I don't think it warrants an answer, I may just mention the alternate solution or point to be made in a comment. Occasionally, I've posted a comment as an answer purely because more room was needed.

Also, as discussed on another meta question, in some people's opinion, the tagged language shouldn't be needed to determine how to answer the question.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I was hoping to get some different angled opinions. I think the root of this all seems to be how descriptive the question is. I work on the assumption that in order to make the problem statement as succinct as possible, question asker's 'want' answers to be relevant to tags, etc (unless stated otherwise). – Mal May 20 '13 at 6:01

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