Today I suggested to a new user that the style of his answer was not very appropriate for MSE. In searching for links of suggestions on how to write a good answer, I did not find an authoritative reference here in meta such as this one for questions. There is the help center, but its advices are very general and broad. I feel that it may be helpful to have something more elaborate, like in the questions case.

My first question is: Did I fail in my search, and there is indeed one?

If not, my follow-up question is: Why not make one?

EDIT: This question is being considered a duplicate. The concept of the question linked as the source of the duplicate is not the same as this one, which is intended to create an "official" meta-post for how to answer questions, whereas the other has the intention to improve the "How to answer page". However, I agree that the answers of the proposed duplicate align closely with the objective of this meta post, and could fit in such an "official" meta-post. That said, one possible suggestion is to change the other question and make it an "official" one for guidelines of answering questions, or simply amalgamate and improve its answers in another post which is devised (and titled) as an "official one". This last one may be better, since it can be conveyed anew by a moderator and thus give it more legitimacy.

Overall, this meta-post is an attempt to push forward more formally the intentions of this comment, and agrees with its assessment.

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    $\begingroup$ As I have already mentioned in chat, I think that it might be a difficult task, since answers vary much more than questions. I will add link to an oder discussion which seems somewhat related: Possible improvements of the “How to answer” page. (And probably there are several other posts on meta which contain some reasonable advice that could be included in the guidelines for good answers.) $\endgroup$ Apr 29, 2018 at 9:37
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak At first, I also thought that it might be a difficult task because of that. But then I realized, for example, that I've never seen controversy about what is good quality in an answer (the only time where I saw controversy, and arguably not that much, was pertaining to how much it needs to be self-contained. Other than that, the only controversy was whether one should answer a "low-quality" question or not, which isn't really a discussion about quality of answers per se). $\endgroup$
    – Aloizio Macedo Mod
    May 1, 2018 at 3:53
  • $\begingroup$ There are also some answers in that link you mention that could be used to a potential post like the one I suggest. $\endgroup$
    – Aloizio Macedo Mod
    May 1, 2018 at 3:54
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not aware of such a post, but it might indeed be useful. But it should be well-written, including concise enough. My best bet is a list of key things to pay attention to when writing, like: "Explain, don't just state facts." "If you give a link, summarize for those who won't click on it." "Try to write good English in complete sentences. It really makes a difference." "Ask for help if you don't know how to format something." And so on... $\endgroup$ May 3, 2018 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ It would help if the answer wasn't either wrong or partially incorrect, which it often is. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    May 6, 2018 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ I'd start with "Unless absolutely necessary, don't write an answer that surrounds a problem and strangles it to death." But that's easier said than done. $\qquad$ $\endgroup$ May 9, 2018 at 4:11
  • $\begingroup$ There is quite a lot of controversy when questions which ask for hints instead get full answers, or when questions some think are low quality get hints or answers. There is some controversy too when a question is posed in a way which presumes a particular kind of answer (eg induction, calculus) receives an answer which shows a different way through. The issue is whether an answer which helps the particular person in the moment is the ideal (coaching), or whether an answer which improves the site as a repository of mathematical knowledge and technique is most in view. $\endgroup$ May 10, 2018 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHardy can you give an example of an answer that does what you've described, surround and strangle it to death? I did not understand your analogy, an example or some elaboration would help. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – user279515
    May 11, 2018 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Brahadeesh : I see lots of those here. I'll see if I can find one that illustrates the idea clearly. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2018 at 20:06
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Possible improvements of the "How to answer" page $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    May 11, 2018 at 20:37


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