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Is answering beyond the scope of the question a valid thing? Or should we just stick to the question asked and ignore any potential bugs which might be present (of course OP is unaware of that, as of now).

To make myself more clear, please have a look at this question.

There are 3 answers which talk about the issue asked and that's it. If you look at my answer, I've added an additional point about a potential bug which the OP has missed now (may find out later). So is it a good thing to point out such potential bugs or not? Should this practice be encouraged?

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    Of course this is a good thing. Keep doing it. – juergen d Oct 11 '13 at 10:36
  • Because we have seen many people say things like, this is out of the scope of this question and must be posted as a new question later. – SudoRahul Oct 11 '13 at 10:37
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    @R.J That's mainly people having questions about things in the question or an answer. – michaelb958 Oct 11 '13 at 10:38
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    As long as you do cover the scope itself, it's OK :) – Mołot Oct 11 '13 at 10:41
  • related: Is “Don't do it” a valid answer? – gnat Oct 11 '13 at 10:47
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    How do I write a good answer? – huMpty duMpty Oct 11 '13 at 10:55
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    @huMptyduMpty - Thanks for the link, but I've already read that and it did not say anything about the scope(or going beyond the scope, in my case) and that is why I had asked this question. – SudoRahul Oct 11 '13 at 10:59
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    If you answer the question, and beyond - do it. If you only point out a different issues, I believe that a comment is more appropriate. Also note that some people create "dummy" examples to illustrate a point - so the potential bug or problem may not be relevant for the "real" system. – Ophir Yoktan Dec 10 '13 at 15:22
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Answering beyond the scope is good because:

  • You are warning the user about a potential bug he will come across. If he do not recognize it then results might be worse. I prefer up voting such answers just because of a such warning.
  • Do not forget, all questions and answers in here are also future reference for other users. Many other users will have a such problem and read your notice about the bug. Also users having a problem (which is related to the bug) may also find answers. So your answer (in this form) offers help for more people than he question itself.

Answers expected to be about the question being asked and giving additional information is not bad, in most cases, it is good indeed.

19

You should definitely answer beyond the scope, in particular if you see something bad being done that should be fixed.

One common example is with SQL - many questions have users concatenate SQL parameters, which is a bad practice leading to SQL Injection vulnerabilities.

You can answer their question and leave it at that, or add information about SQL Injection, why SQL concatenation is bad and what the correct way to handle it is.

The second option is much better.

14

Yes, this is a very good thing.

The OP may well have not realised that there were other problems, and you just caught a showstopper (like an SQL injection vulnerability). Or you guessed at the real reason behind an XY problem. Or something else good.

If you give more information, more can be useful to the OP and future visitors. Besides, if it turns out to be wrong, you can edit it out.

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