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If you go to the page "How do I write a good answer?" in the Help Centre, the first two points are:

Pay it forward

Saying “thanks” is appreciated, but it doesn’t answer the question. Instead, vote up the answers that helped you the most! If these answers were helpful to you, please consider saying thank you in a more constructive way – by contributing your own answers to questions your peers have asked here.

Have the same problem?

Still no answer to the question, and you have the same problem? Help us find a solution by researching the problem, then contribute the results of your research and anything additional you’ve tried as a partial answer. That way, even if we can’t figure it out, the next person has more to go on. You can also vote up the question or set a bounty on it so the question gets more attention.

I think the "Pay it forward" part is confusing to have as the first item on how to write an answer. This should be (and already is) covered as part of "What should I do when someone answers my question?".

"Have the same problem?" feels related to answering alright I guess, but don't think it should be the second thing you see on this page if you're looking for "How do I write a good answer?".

To be honest, it feels like a question about asking rather than answering along the lines of "What if my question already exists but it has no answers?".

I think though it’s fine to leave it there, but it would be better if the other of points was:

  1. Answer the question
  2. Provide context for links
  3. Write to the best of your ability
  4. Answer well-asked questions
    1. Have the same problem?
  5. Always be polite and have fun
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    And perhaps something about you don't own the answer, so that you don't get upset that others improve upon your answer.
    – Luuklag
    Aug 5, 2021 at 8:49
  • And something about propper attribution when re-using work from other as well
    – Luuklag
    Aug 5, 2021 at 8:51
  • @Luuklag This is always a recurring problem. Ownership vs. Contribution. Some users dislike spell correction and formatting so much because they can not imagine how it might appear to someone else.
    – user728672
    Aug 15, 2021 at 15:18

1 Answer 1

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Perhaps we can all chip in to improve this text collectively. Hence I start this CW answer. Feel free to improve upon it.

Keep parts that are unchanged from the original text quoted please, so that it is easy to keep track of changes.


How do I write a good answer?

Thanks for taking the time to contribute an answer. It’s because of helpful peers like yourself that we’re able to learn together as a community. Here are a few tips on how to make your answer great:

Answer the question

Read the question carefully. What, specifically, is the question asking for? Make sure your answer provides that – or a viable alternative. The answer can be “don’t do that”, but it should also include “try this instead”. Any answer that gets the asker going in the right direction is helpful, but do try to mention any limitations, assumptions or simplifications in your answer. Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better.

The area titled Answer is reserved for providing an answer. It should not be used for asking questions, making comments, or for chit chat like saying thanks.

Provide context for links

Links to external resources are encouraged, but please add context around the link so your fellow users will have some idea what it is and why it’s there. Always quote the most relevant part of an important link, in case the external resource is unreachable or goes permanently offline.

When quoting a substantial part from elsewhere be sure to use proper attribution. Check the source of your quote for their licensing and attribution terms.

Write to the best of your ability

We don't expect every answer to be perfect, but answers with correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar are easier to read. They also tend to get upvoted more frequently. Remember, you can always go back at any time and edit your answer to improve it.

As we like to collaborate on sharing knowledge other users can also make edits to your posts. They can be as small as fixing a missed letter but also be quite large and significant. If you feel the edit deviates too much from your original answer you can always undo the changes, but please keep in mind most users are just trying to improve your work.

Answer well-asked questions

Not all questions can or should be answered here. Save yourself some frustration and avoid trying to answer questions which...

  • are unclear or lacking specific details that can uniquely identify the problem.
  • solicit opinions rather than facts.
  • have already been asked and answered many times before.
  • require too much guidance for you to answer in full, or request answers to multiple questions.
  • are not about [site topic] as defined in the help center.

Don't forget that you can edit the question you're answering to improve the clarity and focus - this can reduce the chances of the question being closed or deleted.

Can I answer my own question?

Help us find a solution by researching the problem, then contribute the results of your research and anything additional you’ve tried as a partial answer. That way, even if we can’t figure it out, the next person has more to go on.

This also works when you come across a question and you have the same problem but there are no current answers. (In that case, you can also vote up the question or set a bounty on it so the question gets more attention.)

Always be polite and have fun

It’s fine to disagree and express concern, but please be civil. There’s a real human being on the other end of that network connection, however misguided they may appear to be. We’re here to learn from our peers, not yell at each other.

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