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Currently in my free time I am developing an answer for a World Building SE and I notice that it's too big.

The question itself asks how to do an X thing avoiding YZ things, but I have found several ways to achieve that X thing and I want to explain each one... very detailed. And with very detailed I mean really detailed: with tables, equations, photograph, positive and negative sides list, and all the branches that are generated in each way.

I've just wrote half of my first way and I already have a wall of text. Can I make an answer for each alternative solution in order to not make a huge answer?

Edit: Just for clarification. I don't mean split one long answer into several answer posts. I mean making several answer posts, each one with a different answer/way to solve the same problem.

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    In general you could post more then one answer as long as each answer stands on its own. On some SE sites it is frowned upon as you will gain rep over each answer but I wouldn't bother about that. If worldbuilding.se has a specific policy in this regard is better asked at their own meta. – rene Jun 19 '18 at 17:38
  • OK, that seems more reasonable. When you said you 'have a text-wall' I thought you meant that you'd hit the limit. About how many different ways are you planning to discuss? – 3D1T0R Jun 19 '18 at 19:12
  • @3D1T0R I think I want to discuss 3 alternative ways. – Ender Look Jun 19 '18 at 19:18
  • With my current understanding of your answering plan, I would say that you should post separate answers for separate strategies, and each answer should stand alone, as a complete answer using one strategy, not relying on the others. Just be careful to format your answers, so that they remain readable. A wall of text usually becomes unwieldy, both to write and to read. I'll post an answer to this effect later. – 3D1T0R Jun 19 '18 at 19:19
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    I'm wondering about the close votes for "site-specific", myself, since almost all SE sites could reasonably be interested in the question of whether or not to post multiple answers from different perspectives, and there's no obvious reason why WB must have its own unique and quite distinct take on this. – Nathan Tuggy Jun 20 '18 at 0:14
  • Nevermind, HDE's answer covers most of what I was going to say well enough now that it's been edited. Sorry I didn't get to it earlier. – 3D1T0R Jun 20 '18 at 16:43
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Now that you've clarified that your answer is really a compound one, I do agree that splitting it up is the right thing to do. Readability isn't even the main issue, I'd say; it's that some of your suggestions are going to appeal to a given reader and some won't. If you separate them out, users can judge which ones are good and which ones aren't, and upvote or downvote accordingly. Additionally, separating answers makes it clear that some suggestions are different than others.

That said, if two ideas are similar, or even variants of each other, maybe keep them together; you don't necessarily want to fragment variations on a theme. And honestly, if you find yourself writing maybe half a dozen equally valid answers, it's possible that the question itself is overly broad - and, yes, we're Worldbuilding Stack Exchange, but we certainly have standards, just like everywhere else. So consider trying to help the author narrow the question down, or voting to close.


Old answer, for posterity.

There's a limit of 30,000 characters per post, for both questions and answers. 30,000 characters is . . . a lot. A lot a lot. I mean, I write long answers in some cases, but I've only hit that limit a couple of times across the network. In the cases that I remember it was because the answers involved either a lot of code, quotes, and/or citations - in other words, it wasn't just 30,000 characters of plain text.

The thing you have to consider - and the thing I should have considered in those cases - is that there's a point at which adding more information becomes unhelpful. The longer a post, the less likely readers are going to have the stamina to finish it, and if that's true, more detail can, in the end, hurt you. If you're seriously considering splitting an answer up into multiple ones, you might have hit the point where editing down is needed (I'd put that point at about 10,000-15,000 characters for the majority of cases).

Moreover, even if you don't want to edit the answer down, splitting it up is just going to make it a headache to read. For most ways of sorting answers - either by votes or by recent activity - the mini-posts won't always appear together or in the right order. So now you have to link them together, but that still means confusion for the poor reader.

I very much sympathize with you about trying to not make an answer too large, but in the end, even if you split it up into multiple posts, there's still the same amount of information, and it's now in a format that's going to make things confusing and less accessible for readers. Take some advice from someone who's been there, and do your best to edit it down.

  • Sometimes 30,000 characters is not enough to answer the question fully. I recently posted an answer on Mi Yodeya that well exceeded 30,000 characters. The question asked for controversial statements in a specific work. I provided 30 citations which easily exceeded 30,000 characters. Indeed I linked the two answers to each other. It's not the prettiest of solutions but sometimes it is necessary. – Alex Jun 19 '18 at 21:10
  • @Alex I agree there are cases like that where it's justified to write that much. When I've hit the wall, it's been because of quotations and the like. I'm reasonably certain the OP's case doesn't call for the extensive citation list you had to pull out, though. But yeah, you're right, there are exceptions to the rule. – HDE 226868 Jun 19 '18 at 21:14
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    Huge missed opportunity to not post your two answers as separate answers. – Servy Jun 19 '18 at 21:23
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As a general rule, answers should be self-contained. It's okay to post more than one answer to a question, but that's done when you have multiple ways to solve the given problem and each way is explained in its own answer.

The limit to the size of an answer is 30,000 characters. I get that some sites (like Worldbuilding!) might tend to have more verbose answers than others, but 30k should still be enough for addressing an asker's needs in all but extreme cases.

This is the Internet, you have infinite vertical space; I wouldn't worry about length (as opposed to size) as long as your post is well-written and contains useful information.

If you're really having problems, you could always take some of your more ancillary content and post it outside of your main answer body, and then reference it via links.

But, once again, splitting a single answer across multiple posts is not a good idea. If nothing else, this leads to the bad side effect where someone might read the second half of the answer before the first (possibly because of uneven vote distribution), and be very confused.

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