10

This question crossed my mind when I saw this question Automatically open google chrome, click button, and close chrome C# WinForms where I understood what the OP wanted but was able to only come up with an answer which solved half his problem.

  • Was it okay to post my answer?
  • Or should I have just told him the bit I knew in a comment?

Also, what if there is no direct answer for what the OP wants (as I felt was the case in that question) and on his querying me further said that in a comment.

How should one proceed in situations such as these?

7

Generally, if there is no existing answer that solves the full problem, it is often worthwhile to post an answer that will solve half the problem. However, it's important to explain clearly in your answer what part it does solve and what part it doesn't solve.

I noticed that the answer you linked to just shows some code, but doesn't mention that it solves only half the problem and doesn't explain what part it left unsolved. Since you asked for feedback, it would be better to edit your answer to incorporate that information as well.

Also, if you're posting an answer that only solves part of the problem, be careful that you're solving an important, substantial part of the problem. If you're only solving an incidental or minor or secondary part of the problem, posting such an answer might not be as useful.

In your specific case, I view your answer as borderline. The question asks for a way to open Google Chrome, click on a button, and then close Chrome. The author knows how to open Chrome. Your answer shows how to close Chrome, but not how to click the button. I would consider clicking the button to be essential to the question and the primary task; arguably, closing the window is secondary. Answering only the secondary part might not be super useful in this context. I don't know of any rules that prohibit such an answer, but readers are free to judge your answer accordingly and to upvote or downvote based on their own personal assessment of how useful it is.

Also, if the question is actually a combination of two or more distinct questions, then you might want to vote to close the question as "too broad". Generally, we expect people to post one question per question; if they have two distinct questions, it is usually better to post them in two separate posts.

16

If that half of the answer is useful on its own (e.g. it's something the OP probably didn't know that gets him/her substantially closer to his/her goal), I would post it anyway, while making clear that you don't know how to solve the other half of the problem.

If no one ever posts a full answer, then your answer is much better than none at all. If someone does post a full answer, then it will probably get more upvotes or get accepted; I don't think your half-answer being there first would prevent that from happening.

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You shouldn't post an answer if it solves only the half of OP's problem. Answers are expected to answer the question completely. If you think that the question is fully answerable but know only part, you can comment, if you have 50 reputation.

If you believe that there is no direct or complete answer to the question, you shouldn't answer it also. Those types of questions aren't welcomed and shouldn't be answered at all; they typically closed as "too broad", "primarily opinion based".

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  • 6
    "Answers are expected to answer the question completely" Where/who states that? Rather than just receive nothing from a specific user, I'd prefer to receive an answer to half my question which might be really useful to me, perhaps a different angle to another answer which answers in full.
    – James
    Mar 27 '15 at 20:16

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