Are there guidelines for what constitutes a good answer? Let's discuss. Perhaps, we can come up with some ideas for the FAQ.
How to Write a Good Answer
Be accurate and correct.
Link to more information and further reading.
Quote relevant material to keep the user from having to click on every link given to get basic information.
Revise your answer to include more information as it comes along.
Be sure to monitor your answer for comments so that you can reply with explanation if questions come around about your answer.
Don't duplicate other answers.
Actually answer the question. Do not post an answer stating you have the same problem or one which only answers a question different from the one that was asked.
I blogged about this a while ago. The bullet points from that article:
- Read the question (carefully)
- Code is king
- Answer the question and highlight side-issues
- It's okay to guess, but be honest
- Raise the overall accuracy level
- Provide links to related resources
- Care about your reader: spelling, grammar and style matter
- A time-limited answer may be better than no answer at all
- Don't be afraid to delete (or edit heavily) useless answers
- Be polite
- Don't "answer and run"
- Have fun
(Obviously the post goes into rather more depth on all of them :)
You might also want to read the answers to this rather similar question (now deleted; visible to those with 10k+ rep).
Good answers do more than simply reference an external site and suggest that the OP refer to it. Answers that primarily reference an external site should include a summary of the information so that it becomes a primary source as well as a reference. This will help the answer to stand the test of time.
Don't just provide the code which solves the problem - try to help the OP understand this code as well, and why it works. This also helps others who come along afterwards.
The accepted answer has good points, but I think an important one is missing:
- Keep to the point; the answer should be as brief as possible for a complete answer. Don't write about other things than what the question asked for.