I'm frequently getting "blind guess" answers, i.e. "try that" or "check this article" - without having any real knowledge of the problem.
Do you think this type of answers is acceptable?


Without specific examples is hard to tell, but check this article usually qualifies as a link-only answer, so it's definitely not a good answer and it's discouraged.

On the other hand, Try that answers sound more like a comments, so they are usually not in an acceptable form.

Notice my wording: usually. There are cases in which a try that leads to the solution and it was exactly what you needed. Also if the people answering are guessing, it might be that your question is not that clear or thoroughly explained.

For instance, in this recent question of yours

How to debug the logstash file plugin

the answer qualifies as a try that, but it provides a good solution to your problem, which - to be honest - wasn't exactly exposed in the best possible format.


Given the question you linked in the comments

Files: how to distinguish file lock and permission denied cases?

I can add a few considerations.

Comments are right place for trying to narrow down the problem. I'm not familiar with the specific topic, but if people are guessing, it probably means you didn't provide enough information to answer the question.

Having people asking you for further details is good behavior and not something to be irritated by. Comments are meant for this, whereas answers are not, but you didn't get any guessing answer to your question.

I don't see anything wrong with that question, except your aggressiveness towards people asking for details you didn't provide.

  • the problem is not a presence of the word "try" itself, in this particular case author of the answer certainly has knowledge of the problem. Some really poor answers and comments were (deleted) in my question here stackoverflow.com/questions/16642858/… – user626528 Oct 24 '13 at 4:00
  • btw, what is wrong with my question format? – user626528 Oct 24 '13 at 4:02
  • I don't see any deleted answer in the question you linked. Also the question is not including your attempts. My first comment would have been asking you what you tried already. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/156810/… – Gabriele Petronella Oct 24 '13 at 4:05
  • hmm, only deleted comments? "Also the question is not including your attempts." - this must be a difference between high-context and low-context cultures. I made an assumption that readers should understand, that all obvious attempts already have been made. – user626528 Oct 24 '13 at 4:06
  • 4
    Are you also assuming people have a crystal ball telling them exactly what you tried? You cannot give for granted that people will know what's in your mind. You have to formulate precise answerable questions, and that takes a lot of effort, which is expected on SO. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/182266/… – Gabriele Petronella Oct 24 '13 at 4:14
  • I see. There are high requirements for questions, but low for answers. – user626528 Oct 24 '13 at 4:26
  • 1
    There are high requirements for both. I think you confuse answers with comments. Low quality answers get downvoted as much as questions. On the other hand comments are third-class citizens on SO. In the specific question you linked, you get a answer that you accepted, given a bounty to and that got 3 upvotes. Wasn't it a good answer? – Gabriele Petronella Oct 24 '13 at 4:28

Agree 100% with Gabriele Petronella, but don't kill the messengers right away. Oftentimes, a try this answer, followed by you trying it, can lead to a clarifying comment from you that helps the answerer write an even better answer that does solve your problem.

Ideally, we wouldn't see try it answers, and for the ones that appear, hopefully we as a community can help those authors improve those posts in order to create a lasting resource that helps others.

  • +1, Nice point about the messenger – Bala Oct 24 '13 at 5:35

I notice that your questions range across many different tags.

The different tags tend to be answered by different groups who focus there. So a question style that works well in one of these SO enclaves doesn't fly so well in another enclave. See, for example, the different way weakly researched or poorly worded questions are handled in [Java] and [C++].

While I would not criticize your questions, I would say that we have to mindful of our readers, and write accordingly. That said, a great question will fly with any SO reader.

Also, the "try that" or "check this article" I saw on your recent questions were comments, not answers. I see don't any harm in them (apart from your reading time): ignore them if they don't help, thank them if they do help.

  • "I see don't any harm in them (apart from your reading time)" - this leads me to another issue; sometimes I see upvoted answers that are poor, or completely incorrect. – user626528 Oct 24 '13 at 3:23
  • @user160319 Downvote them if they're poor or incorrect. Then, if you think it warrants it, enter a chat room that covers that topic to see what the other participants think. Some downvoting might occur to ensure a bad answer is signalled as such - or someone might point out a way in which it is actually a decent answer. – doppelgreener Oct 24 '13 at 3:23

I think they can be ok answers, depending on how much information they give. Sometimes, on questions I have, one clue may be all I need to figure it out myself. Any help is appreciated.

  • +1, Yes, with the clue you can at least get ideas to solve the problem, when you face the blank situation. – Bala Oct 24 '13 at 5:33

You must log in to answer this question.

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