Suppose I posted a question and someone responded with an answer in which they provided some advice, but also asked for clarification on several points. It seems that the questioner should generally edit their question to improve clarity as described in this post.

However, in the case I'm facing, it seems like the best thing to do would be to edit the answerer's post with my response in a way that makes it clear that the edit is my response, like I've done in the example below:

Begin Example Answer


How do you perform some hypothetical action with the code in your question?

Questioner's Response:
This is how you perform that action, Bud.

End Example Answer

Would this be considered an acceptable practice? I wouldn't want future readers to read the answerer's question and then have to go hunting through the comments or through my question for the edit that addresses it. If it's not acceptable in this specific example, when would it be appropriate for a questioner to edit an answer?

  • 1
    That's what comments are for... – cde Feb 8 '16 at 21:14
  • I suppose I'm just worried about congesting the comment thread with a lot of content. – Jeremy Caron Feb 8 '16 at 21:16
  • 2
    Unrelated or messy Comments will get pruned eventually. By that time, ideally, you and op will have edited your posts to reflect that. At worst, you can "take it to chat". There is no congestion to worry about. – cde Feb 8 '16 at 21:20

It is your description of

an answer in which they provided some advice, but also asked for clarification on several points

that concerns me, and I think leads to your quandary.

I think an answer should consist only of statements. If an answerer still has a question then they should:

  • ask a question in a comment to seek clarification
  • turn the question into an assumption (statement)
  • ask a new question (when it is outside the scope of the original question)

Anyone can edit any question or answer, albeit subject to the review queue initially, and is encouraged to do so as long as those edits are in line with the help.

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  • My general thought is that answers that ask questions are not the best answers in general. An answer should address the question(s) proposed in the question body in my opinion unless were talking about, an obvious question, simply asked in a question – Ramhound Feb 8 '16 at 23:57
  • @Ramhound I think there should only ever be one question asked per question to keep the Q&A as clear as possible. – PolyGeo Feb 9 '16 at 0:00
  • 2
    I agree. I just am instantly turned off on answers if they ask questions themselves. – Ramhound Feb 9 '16 at 0:14

There are 2 acceptable ways to handle this sort of situation.

  1. Use comments. Instead of including it in the answer, the answerer should post "How do you perform some hypothetical action with the code in your question?" as a comment to the question.
  2. Each user should edit their own post. The questioner should edit the question to include the detail that the answerer has requested in the answer. Then the answerer should edit the answer to address the updated information.

I think in general, #1 should be used, unless the answerer's question requires all the detail/context that they're including in the answer.

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Answers are where you answer the question, not where you ask clarifying questions of the question author. Simply remove the clarifying questions from the answer entirely, as they don't belong there at all.

If the question results in you realizing that your question is lacking some important information, feel free to include that information in the question. There is no reason to phrase it as a question and an answer; it should look to any future reader as if the information had simply been there from the start.

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