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What makes a good answer?

+1 vote
What makes a good answer on this site?

Should answers provide citations to sources? Is individual expertise or experience a valid basis for an answer? Can answers respond to other answers, in a discussion-like style? Is opinion allowed?
asked Jun 26, 2014 by ChristiePeterson (590 points)

3 Answers

+3 votes

Being brand new to the site, much of the value I see in this format comes from the ability for back-and-forth, voicing of differing opions, and sharing resources.  Citations to sources, resources and tools are always welcome, don't get me wrong.  But fuzzier sources of knowing, like experience and expertise are often difficult to share in a more formal setting; the same goes for opinions.  I like the ability of the Q&A/comment format to dig deeper and to spark conversations around issues we're all facing.

So to me, what makes a good answer is something that is on-topic, that attempts to bring something new to the thread (that hasn't been covered yet), that is transparent in the source of that content (opinion, outside source, personal experience, etc -- which are all acceptable.), and that is respectful of the asker and the other answerers (even when it offers criticism or dissent).

Of course, this is all just my opinion.wink

answered Jun 27, 2014 by sarah.barsness (1,240 points)
+2 votes

This site is building from a previous effort on the StackExchange platform, which had good advice for their users. To me, the 2 most important points are:

  1. Contextualize links - The question asker is looking for help with an answer, not for a new reading assignment. If you post a link, include quick analysis or pointers to the specific information they need.
  2. Share your knowledge - If you face a similar problem as an existing question but have additional research, contribute it. Even if it doesn't answer the question completely, it spurs conversation.
answered Jun 27, 2014 by nkrabben (1,990 points)
+2 votes

I think a good answer should at least do the following:

  1. Directly answer the question. Answers may also include extensive commentary but if an answer is only commentary/discussion that discussion should instead be included in the comments
  2. Cite any claims made (citing your experience should be ok)
  3. Be answered in plain english
answered Jun 27, 2014 by euanc (3,930 points)