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I'm aware that it could be me be missing on something here, but... but... what? screenshot

Later edit: Yes, I'm aware of most of the points raised in answers and comments. The thing is I'm a regular user who doesn't care much for points and all the gamification stuff - I do like getting help when I need it and I gladly offer it when I'm able to. I am "sparse", I'll admit to that. I'm also happy getting even the "sparsest" answer possible as long as it gets the job done. But often I (and so many other people) get absolutely none - and I wonder if whomever does get to see the question and also have the answer might be discouraged to post it (or simply don't want to "break flow" themselves getting in too much detail for trivial stuff). So, while not claiming some kind of entitlement to suggest policy, I thought it may be helpful to raise this issue. Thanks for the feedback, I hope it may be of use to someone, either way.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Patrick Hofman, Infinite Recursion, rene, gnat, Anthony Pham Jul 19 '15 at 21:09

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    People accept all sorts of things, including blatantly wrong answers; so just the fact that something has been accepted does not prove that it actually is an answer. – chirlu Jul 19 '15 at 2:09
  • @chirlu: Especially since it's possible to accept an (instant-)self-answer. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 19 '15 at 2:12
  • wholehartedly agree! but shouldn't the "true" answer be given as well? or at least a hint of why it's wrong, instead of a line taken directly from a prefab library? – Lucian Davidescu Jul 19 '15 at 2:13
  • @chirlu - The OP never meant (nor implied, in my view) that the answer being accepted proves anything. He was simply asking why "This does not provide an answer to the question"? So, your comment is true, but it does not aim at the question posted. – sancho.s Reinstate Monica Jul 20 '15 at 5:26
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Strictly speaking, this auto-comment from the LQP review queue is inappropriate. This is an answer, it just doesn't have a lot of detail to it. It's so sparse, in fact, that it fits the sloppy pattern a lot of users have of answering trivially in comments … and a comment isn't an answer, so they assume it should be flagged accordingly.

There's no real reason to delete this answer, but it would certainly benefit from e.g. example code, or a more thorough explanation; in its present state, there's not much keeping anyone from at least downvoting it if they want to.


Regarding your edit, note that reviewers, while generally technically knowledgeable (they have to have 2k rep on the site, after all) need not and usually do not have any particular expertise in the question topic. There's no realistic way for 95% of reviews to mention any specific corrections to technical details, and the other 5% usually leave it out for efficiency: stopping for fifteen minutes to write up an answer breaks flow something fierce.

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    So I get it's either be verbose or not help at all :D – Lucian Davidescu Jul 19 '15 at 2:38
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    @LucianDavidescu: It's more that giving the bare minimum doesn't help very much; the explanation doesn't have to be super-long, but thoroughness is really what's desired. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 19 '15 at 2:49
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    Not sure I fully agree. The answer helped the OP. proven by the fact they accepted it. So based on what argument should the answer be "more info" if it resolved the OPs question, and so arguably other users' with the same question? How do you improve on answering the question if the answer actually answers the question? "More info" just because there is "little info" is a presumption, and not the correct course of action if the answer is perfectly adequate. Consider: Q "How do I start PHP code?" A "Use <?php" - should there be more than this in the answer just because it's "little info"....? – James Jul 19 '15 at 13:28
  • @James: Just because the answer gets the checkmark doesn't mean it deserves any upvotes. That's what I'm basically describing here: an answer that just barely answers the question without teaching anything at all beyond that isn't a very good answer. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 19 '15 at 13:36
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    I never mentioned upvotes based on check mark. "an answer that just barely answers the question without teaching anything at all beyond that isn't a very good answer" this is not always correct, see my example from my last comment. Should that answer have more info? I agree with this answer 100%: meta.stackexchange.com/a/129021/230506 The answer we''re discussing "could" be better, but it's still perfectly valid as it is. – James Jul 19 '15 at 13:41
  • @James: Yes, that's what I'm saying. An answer that should not be deleted == an answer that is valid. I'm also encouraging higher quality, though, not just toeing the line of "not actually worth deleting". – Nathan Tuggy Jul 19 '15 at 13:51
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    Ok, I'll end with this comment - my point is the answer is arguably fine, but you seem to be stating the answer is not good: "It's so sparse, in fact, that it fits the pattern a lot of users have of somewhat sloppily answering trivially in comments … and a comment isn't an answer." and "in its present state, there's not much keeping anyone from at least downvoting it." While the latter might be factually true, I disagree it should be happening. The answer is fine, users should either upvote, or move on, but not downvote. – James Jul 19 '15 at 13:55
  • @James: It's factually true and quite common, so it's in there just to explain what's likely to happen, not what should happen. Edited to clarify that a little more. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 19 '15 at 14:00
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The apparent situation is that the answer was useful for the OP. But some other community members thought that the answer was not useful (see tooltip for downvoting, e.g.)

I have seen quite a few similar cases, where comments are left asking for more detail without downvotes. After some time, if the answer does not get expanded (perhaps meaning that the answerer is not willing to "help more"), it may start getting downvotes. This might even be due to Bandwagon effect.

Different community members have various perceptions of and attitudes towards different types of questions/answers. The answer to a given question may be simply 42. You may post 42 and still get downvotes. Some would also argue that a short answer is more worth a comment (even if it is the answer). There is no consensus on this. Discussions raised by this question point out different scenarios. Setting aside generic comments, in your case, the answer appears to me good enough, and "This does not provide an answer to the question" would be undeserved.

On the ohter hand, you might expand somewhat your answer, with a code snippet, e.g., to help making it more useful. You might be also pleasing others that, perhaps unconsciously, factor in the length of an answer at the time of appraising it.

  • Downvotes are one thing, but an editors' note that "this is not an answer" on something that actually is the answer (especially without any further follow-up), may be confusing for whatever future visitor of the thread - as they may be tempted to take the long path to nowhere (as suggested by the detailed, conforming but wrong answers) instead of the sweet, short path to there. – Lucian Davidescu Jul 20 '15 at 1:37
  • @LucianDavidescu - Agreed, in your view of the comment you are referring to, and on your focus on building a useful SO, regardless of rep. – sancho.s Reinstate Monica Jul 20 '15 at 1:57

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