I want to answer a question, but I need clarification from the author first. But I don't have enough reputation yet to comment, I can only answer. So how can I answer if I can't get clarification? Should I just move on to another question or am I missing something?
I want to answer a question,
but I need clarification from the author first.
Yes, we're sorry. Not all questions that get posted are of substantial quality and the guidance we have for users is either scattered around, inconclusive, presented after the fact and unclear on how to proceed. The work to get that fixed has been started but might take another 6 to 8 weeks before that goes live.
Do know that you can also flag unclear questions. By flagging you basically send an invite to users with review privilege to have a good look at the question and take appropriate action. If the question has merit it will be salvaged and with that it becomes answerable. Otherwise it gets closed so the OP can make the needed edits and you don't spend time on answering an unclear question.
But I don't have enough reputation yet to comment, I can only answer.
Yeah, commenting is so common on most traditional forums and it gets so out of control often (not by you off course) that on SE you need 50 reputation. That is to make sure you've seen enough of the sites Q and A's to know when comments are appropriate and what their goal is.
So how can I answer if I can't get clarification?
I'm afraid right now you can't do much. You either have to do extra research on your own to have a better understanding of the problem presented in the question or you have to find other ways first to gather the required 50 reputation. One relatively easy option is to suggest 25 good edits to existing posts. Each accepted edit will earn you 2 rep. So with a bit of time you can be at 50 rep in a day.
Should I just move on to another question or am I missing something?
Yes, if you can find another question that you can answer without the need for any clarification then that is preferred. You can then leverage your knowledge from the start and if the answer is useful for future visitors it will earn you the reputation a tad quicker, assuming the voters agree that your answer is good.
No, you're not missing something. It is just the labyrinth on rules and guidance and faq's that makes this place sometimes seem like a nightmare if you're new to the network.
We're not that bad. Just a bit quality minded and that is governed by a bit more rules. But most of us don't bite, maybe a bit direct in our communication style. Once you're past that hurdle you'll be fine.