Beware! This is my first SE post, so some of what follows may be seen as taboo by more experienced or professional community members. I wrote as clearly & well-formatted as I could.
For TL;DR, just read MAIN QUESTION paragraph. (But please read before responding). If you interested but don't have time to read all this, make sure to also read DESIRED SOLUTION.
Prior Hypothetical Context:
This question assumes that you (a person planning on posting a response to a question) have already decided that the content you wish to post is more appropriate to submit as an answer to the question than as a comment, as you believe it to still directly provide information that is potentially useful to answering the main question, and is not simply discussion or counter-questioning better suited to be a comment. (read: I am not asking about whether to post partials as comments vs answers; this is already discussed in posts such as Why do some people answer in comments? (Stackexchange link) ).
When wanting to post a response to a community question (assuming the question is already about something specific such as language/type/structure/method/etc.), if that question asks for a specific type of answer (opinion, code suggestion, example request, problem identification, low / high level explanation, comparison, application, etc.) how would you go about submitting an answer that is only partial or of the wrong type (diverging from/ sidestepping the request of the question) and designating or tagging your answer as such? If there is no way currently, what are the chances & thoughts on a way being implemented? The intent being to let readers know your answer is only a supplement and they should look towards more direct/complete answers first.
I will use the post Accessing dict keys like an attribute? (Stackoverflow Question) & its responses for exemplifying the primary concerns of my question.
In the example post, the questioner posts some code to implement functionality for an alternative -and initially presumed more user friendly- method for writing executable code syntax; he then asks why this functionality is not an in-built feature of the language and wants explanations of the problems associated with using this self-coded syntax.
A concise, detailed, & direct answer by Kimvais naturally is the highest-voted answer for the question. The answer first provides a short suggested improvement to the questioner's code (though it has near identical functionality & involves the same potentially problematic processes). It then quickly describes pros & cons of using the new syntax, provides a clear & likely reason as to why this syntax is not in-built by the developers, as well as a language-level explanation of what the code does and how this translates to differences in functionality. This answer clearly is good enough to be the first a reader sees (voting system handles this fairly well), and on its own can likely satisfy the questioner. (This answer by Doug R. is arguably the best one given, even though it's only the 4th highest rated; however this is not important to my post.)
That is what is normally desired from proper answers, next we will look at other answers that don't quite hit the mark, but are still valuable contributions that provide insight into the subject matter yet are not treated as kindly.
This popular answer by Hery is a great example of a partial answer that -while quite limited in content- still directly & clearly addresses the question by identifying a situation where using the new syntax won't work; this is exactly the type of answer the questioner requested. Expecting a more complete response, a user commented on this answer saying:
How does this answer the question. This answer just says that keys can have any name.
Unhelpful comments & criticisms for not being able to provide a perfect answer only causes pain, and preferably we want these to be avoided if the answerer is already aware that their response is insufficient to resolve the problem. It would be helpful if there was a way to tag an answer like this as "partial" or "incomplete" (I.E. not detailed enough to fully address the question, but still directly useful to the explicit question).
This question by slacy was met with some strong disapproval for not directly answering the explicit question requested (problem identification / comparison), it instead provides an alternative code that is -apparently- superior to the code initially supplied by the questioner. This code is only 60% the length (in both characters & lines), is reported to avoid problems the original might encounter, yet should still achieve the intended functionality. While this answer does not directly address the primary question, it provides a different type of answer that can still provide very useful insight into the problem, which could still lead to a usable solution. Its content could be used to potentially work-around the problem in a way that might even avoid needing the answer to the intended question in the first place. Again however, there is still unhelpful backlash towards this answer; a particularly bureaucratic commenter bluntly responds saying:
"-1 for sidestepping the question" & "Read the full question ... It's not asking about how to do this, but about problems that may arise."
This kind of attitude unfairly punishes an answerer that was genuinely trying to be helpful and positively contribute to the community. While this answer diverged from the explicit request of the questioner, it provides useful material & insight that might not have even been considered by those only caring about the explicit request. It would be helpful if there was a way to tag an answer like this as "an alternative solution" or a "diverging answer" (I.E. not addressing the explicit question asked, but provides directly related details that could implicitly lead to a solution).
This hopefully demonstrates why I believe there is a need to be able to tag these variable "scopes" of an answer before you post it. Others could update this tag when editing it, either to declare an insufficient but useful answer as incomplete or diverging, or to remove these tags after sufficiently updating the answer for it to be considered complete.
With implementation of tagging options such as these, the way answers would be viewed and treated could then hopefully benefit both those answering and anyone seeking answers. When answering one won't have to worry as much about being criticized for answers that aren't explicit and complete, and they may be more willing to submit these smaller answers which would increase the total available answers (each potentially being useful). Those seeking answers could be better directed to what may be most useful to them, with full answers taking viewing order precedence over partials & alternates; this also in general allows splitting up answers into usable categories.
By the presence of these tags, readers would already know not to expect a complete explicit answer. Answers already admitted to only partially answer the question would not need to be down-voted or criticized for not being enough to solve the problem on their own, and could simply be judged by whether they provide any progress or steps towards achieving a solution. Alternative answers could be treated like extended comments, where they would be judged by if they provide useful insight to the situation that might aid in reaching a solution from a different angle or otherwise help improve comprehension for readers that can't follow the direct answer. The reduction in unhelpful comments and destructive criticism towards good contributions to the community would be its own reward.
Notice, that in no way does this "negate the purpose of voting". This should have little bearing on how incorrect answers, answers providing nothing of use (from either lack of content or poor composition), or answers that violate relevant guidelines/rules would be treated. Highly rated answers can have special weightings on their default viewing order based on these new tags. This could reduce situations where a good partial/alternate answer posted shortly after the question is asked gets massive upvotes and ends up completely overshadowing a more complete & useful answer made much later.
Until a more official and functional implementation to achieve this arrives, are there any existing conventions or rules of etiquette when posting answers to informally mark them with these partial/alternate identifiers (even if as simple as writing the tag at the very beginning of the answer)?
If you have read this far, thank you for showing interest in my question and proposition! Please leave a response with any answers, suggestions, or comments you have for me about either the question itself, or my presentation throughout this wordy post.