I meet this situation sporadically (example 1, 2). Although I'm sure that they do receive notifications of my reply, I think they just decide to ignore it. Or simply they are overwhelming with the notification or don't know how to answer my comment.

What are my options in this case?

  • Open a new related question?
  • Ping them in the comment to get their attention back? It works sometimes (like this example, I deleted the ping comment when they get back), but I feel it's like an help vampire.
  • Make a slight edit or bounty? Sometimes it seems that the answerer is the only one who can answer or interest the topic. If they don't get back, no one will get back.
  • 2
    Just be patient, they'll get back to you if they can and if they wish to.
    – user273376
    Feb 4, 2015 at 9:59
  • What if they don't wish to?
    – Ooker
    Feb 4, 2015 at 10:28
  • 10
    Then there is nothing you can do about it - remember, no one is obliged to help anyone else.
    – user273376
    Feb 4, 2015 at 10:29
  • that's why I ask this question. Should I open a new question to reach more potential answers? Keep it in a comment may reduce my chance to get it answered.
    – Ooker
    Feb 4, 2015 at 10:31
  • Care would be needed to ensure the new question is not a duplicate of the first.
    – user273376
    Feb 4, 2015 at 10:32
  • yes, of course. But because of it's just an clarifying question and only needs a simple answer, I think keeping them in one question would also help the site.
    – Ooker
    Feb 4, 2015 at 10:36
  • @rene although that question and all dupes can help me raise the traffic, they just don't really answer my question.
    – Ooker
    Feb 4, 2015 at 11:33
  • Ok, how about this?
    – rene
    Feb 4, 2015 at 11:48
  • @rene if you think that getting more traffic is the only way to solve this problem, please consider to make it an answer.
    – Ooker
    Feb 4, 2015 at 12:01
  • 2
    I had a long answer typed out and I was just about to click "post." Alas. Basically, though, I think this is a great question, and I don't really know why people are down-voting it. It's a frustrating situation (I imagine). And while I do agree that the answer to it is probably "post a bounty," I think there's more to be said than that, and I don't think it's a duplicate. Feb 4, 2015 at 12:07
  • 1
    @MartijnPieters the OP claimed that dupe doesn't apply here....
    – rene
    Feb 4, 2015 at 12:10
  • 2
    @rene: that doesn't mean I agreed. We cannot force an answerer to respond, so the only work-around for that then is to attract more attention so others can answer. That's covered in those other posts, there is little point in putting that in an answer and then point to the other post. Feb 4, 2015 at 12:12
  • 1
    @MartijnPieters I think this will be the first time we have to agree to disagree...
    – rene
    Feb 4, 2015 at 12:14
  • 1
    @Ooker: the point of closing questions as duplicates is to avoid duplicating answers. If you found your answer in the duplicate or the chain from there, then the closure was correct. Feb 4, 2015 at 12:32
  • 1
    @MartijnPieters two problems can share a solution, but they are still two distinguished problems. If someone can find a better solution for that, the closure will prevent them to answer.
    – Ooker
    Feb 4, 2015 at 12:37

3 Answers 3


I did what I always do to answers like this, and lost track of myself.

The short answer is down there, in bold.

Obligatory Philosophical Rant

I think this is a great question, and I don't know why it's being down-voted. It speaks to the actual goal of these sites--getting people help from experts. If an expert answers you, then doesn't follow up with an explanation, that's a perfectly reasonable thing to be frustrated about. Obviously, as you suggest, you shouldn't be mad at them, there are lots of good reasons for someone not to respond. But that doesn't really help you.

The best way to approach this situation, in my mind at least, is to look at the fundamental base of Stack Exchange--community. It's kind of a weird topic, and I don't see many references to this particular aspect of it, but I think it's important to remember when working with any site in the SE network that people's actions are typically meant to act on behalf of the community as a whole.

What does that mean? (I promise, I'll get to my point soon) When you or I vote to close a question, we're acting as a representative of the community. When we comment asking for clarification, we're asking on behalf of people who may be able to answer. Essentially, this is highlighted by the lack of a messaging system. There are very few (if any) actions on Stack Exchange sites that highlight individuality. Even posts we do make can be easily edited by other members of the community.

That turns into a really awesome question-answering machine, because it brings out the best in a lot of people. This isn't an awesome example, but if I can write amazing code but I'm really awful at explaining it, I can utilize the community to help build on my answer stub to really round it off.

Actually applying said rant to your situation

The very same principle applies to your case. If someone answers your question, don't think of it as a quick chat with a fellow developer (or physicist, or entrepreneur, or bicyclist, or what have you), think of it as the first step in your "conversation" (quotes since it should really only be a question-answer conversation, which is pretty brief) with the community of members who know the answer to your question. Just because the first one who gave you a hint isn't able to, for lack of time or interest, that doesn't matter, follow through with resolving the rest of the question, doesn't mean the system has failed you.

The best solution here is to do what Rene said in comments above: start a bounty, attract more attention to the question, and someone else may pick up where the first user dropped off. This is the best way to grab the attention of the community of people with answers, who can follow through with the questions you asked of the first representative of them.

If it happens very infrequently, I wouldn't mind as an answerer if a user pinged me a second time to grab my attention--it's definitely true that it can be easy to miss notifications. But I'd just make sure you don't do that all the time. If you find a need to constantly double-ping users, that's probably a good sign that something else is going on, and you might want to double-check what information you're including in the original question, and what kinds of questions you're asking to follow up with.

Another alternative if you're desperate and have tried everything else is to send an open message (i.e., without pinging anyone) in chat and ask if anyone can help, or possibly better-yet, if anyone has advice on finding help. You definitely don't want to overdo that, same with any of these options aside from placing bounties, but if you have tried everything else and you're very polite about it, that can be an alternative. Just make sure you remember that nobody in the chatroom owes you an answer, and you might not get any responses. If it isn't too meta, you might even want to ask first in the room whether it's okay to ask for help on a specific question. Different rooms have different cultures.

If your follow-up questions really are unrelated, then of course, that's a good time to ask another question. As I said before, we look for essentially two-message conversations: a question, then an answer. That's the goal. So if your conversation extends into an unrelated aspect in comments, that's not what the system is made for, and another question is ideal.

  • Thanks for writing a very detail answer. I wonder why don't you post it soon? Anyway, what action should be done next if you still don't receive enough attention? It my seems that the answerer it's the only one who can answer the question.
    – Ooker
    Feb 4, 2015 at 13:19
  • @Ooker (Case in point--I'm just getting on SE for the first time today, I was asleep when you sent that!) I think the unfortunate truth it that it just comes down to adding more bounties. Sometimes you might find luck posting links on social media, and if you're very polite and don't do it much, you might get away with asking for some help in chat, or some users offer their email for questions that would be interesting to them that haven't gotten much attention. Again, use that very wisely, and it's almost never the right thing to do. But there are cases where it's okay. Feb 4, 2015 at 21:21
  • But bounties are the right way. Feb 4, 2015 at 21:21

I highly recommend going to the "chat room" of the site where you posted your question. People who answer a lot of questions are frequently in there. You may or may not find the person who answered your question, but you can almost always find someone who'll help you decide how to proceed. I've been in your situation and a kind person in the chat room advised me why and how to split my question. I got the answer I was seeking, a lesson for the future, and made a friend! I've now met wonderful people in a number of rooms. They understand what confuses users and love to help. Plus, people who like to chat often don't mind being pinged, within reason of course!

  • Thanks Sue. I wonder why there are people staying in the chat room trying to help some random person in the internet?
    – Ooker
    Feb 4, 2015 at 22:20
  • 4
    @Ooker Because it's fun - and every human is worth helping, random or otherwise. :)
    – Frank
    Feb 4, 2015 at 23:16
  • Great answer @Sue Looks like I really need to go figure out how such chat could help for some of my ambitions about using SE. I.e. regarding my "New User Experience" initiative for which I'm trying to find support from ... Newbees! Would it make sense to get something going around there for new-users getting together to discuss there Frustrations - Fears - Fights (F3 !!!). If so I'd be happy to eg explain the 'sunami' I ran into earlier today, which kept going on for like 5 hours, really. That was not just a bit scary, I was considering deleting .. my account. But, I stopped .. right on time! Mar 19, 2015 at 22:52

There are many reasons why you might want someone to respond after you've @replied to one of their comments. When they don't respond, what you do next depends on that reason:

  • if your original question is solved, and the commenter seems like a smart person, and you've asked some sort of followup question ("thanks, that worked, now how do I ... ?") and received no reply, treat that followup as a new question. This doesn't mean necessarily to immediately ask it - start with a search to see if it has already been asked and answered.
  • if the comment was asking you clarifying questions ("what version are you using?") and you've @replied, and nothing is happening, edit the clarification into your question. This will help everyone who might be thinking of answering you. (It will also "bump" your question and get it more attention.) Do not ask a new question or ask your original question again.
  • if the comment was part of a conversation that seems to have stopped, there's nothing you can do about that. People don't always come back and continue conversations. Look over the comments to see if you should edit your question or if there are some hints or suggestions that you could explore on your own while you wait for an answer.

In general, be sure to consider the advice in the answers to Getting attention for unanswered questions? when you're trying to get attention for your question. Using @-replies with one person who appears to have engaged with your question is often not the best use of your time at all.

  • Do two examples in the question belong to the third bullet? The comments I made are for asking more detail in the answers that partly answer my questions.
    – Ooker
    Feb 4, 2015 at 17:18
  • I don't feel comfortable enough in the subject matter distinguishing between a rephrasing of the original question and an actual followon question. Presumably you know which you intended? If it's a followon, that's my first bullet, and if it's just a rephrasing then it's the third, and consider editing your question to include that rephrasing so that everything is clear for those who read only your question. Feb 4, 2015 at 17:42
  • Both questions in comment of those examples can be asked in a separate question. But I don't think doing so is the most reasonable since they don't go far enough from the original ones to stand on their own. I think that making them having more attention is the best choice in here.
    – Ooker
    Feb 4, 2015 at 21:53

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