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I saw a question where a person describes their context, to which I have a considerable amount of information that I am certain the user (and similar users like him) will find useful, but none that actually answer their specific question. Should I respond with an answer, maybe prefacing it with a disclaimer that it doesn't answer his specific question? The user did title and preface their concrete question with 'best practices', indicating that they would be interested in additional context beyond their question.

Normally I would put such information in a comment, but in this case the amount of information would far exceed both the appropriate length as well as styling options for a comment.

I have wondered about this before, so the actual question link doesn't seem terribly relevant; if requested I will add a link, though I would prefer a more generic discussion/response on how I should act in such situations.

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    There are many posts which were posted as answer because they were "too long for a comment" so if the information is relevant I would say go for it, as, if nothing else, it might bringer the asker closer to solving his problem
    – user13267
    Feb 26 at 8:54
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    Use comments to narrow down the question so you can answer, or in case of an X-Y question, use comments to have that sorted out. Do not use Se sites as a forum, aka: here is an interesting side-story for you only to be followed by 6 to 8 other "answers" that have similar side-stories.
    – rene
    Feb 26 at 8:55
  • maybe related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/144452/…
    – rene
    Feb 26 at 9:02
  • maybe related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/301807/…
    – rene
    Feb 26 at 9:06
  • Thanks @rene, your links do seem very relevant. For what it's worth, my answer would not be a "here is an interesting side story" but more of a "this is how we solved your situation, which is not identical to your approach but addresses multiple aspects you have asked about in ways you could either use or adjust to your needs"
    – Torque
    Feb 26 at 9:10
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    Ask yourself this question: Is any future visitor that has the same problem as the OP where my answer will solve their problem, recognize that the question is indeed a match for their problem. If no, the question needs to be improved so future visitors can connect the dots.
    – rene
    Feb 26 at 9:23
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    @Torque: That definitely seems like it'd be a good answer! Even if it's not the exact method OP asked about, if it solves their problem, then it should be posted as an answer.
    – V2Blast
    Feb 26 at 17:27

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In general, I think any question asking for “best practices” should be voted for closure for being opinion-seeking and/or lacking focus.

Unless you are able to provide a direct answer to the single focused question asked I think you should refrain from writing an “answer” and perhaps comment instead.

An alternative to doing that will be to try and help the asker improve their question by using comments and/or edits.

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